Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90
Palestinian Authority students in Gaza rallying for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit the enclave in 2011. (archive)

On Feb. 27, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a conference in Vienna, “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.” His calling the Jewish nationalist movement that built the State of Israel a “crime against humanity” prompted widespread criticism, including by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

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On Mar. 19, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced, “I stand behind my remarks in Vienna.” Nonetheless, on Mar. 22, Binyamin Netanyahu issued the long-awaited apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident. His statement made it clear “that the tragic results regarding the Mavi Marmara were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life. In light of the Israeli investigation into the incident, which pointed out several operational errors, Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation.”

My take: Erdoğan’s government has mastered the art of provocation and is being rewarded for it. The Israelis should not have apologized but should have demanded an apology from Ankara for its support to the terrorist-connected group that undertook this aggressive act.

Now that the deed is done, can we expect a change in Turkish policy toward Israel, an end to its aggressive statements and support for its enemies? That would surprise me. Rather, I expect the AKP government to pocket this apology and use as a building block for its neo-Ottoman empire. (March 22, 2013)

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review Online, The Corner, March 22, 2013.

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Daniel Pipes is a world-renowned Middle East and Islam expert. He is President of the Middle East Forum. His articles appear in many newspapers. He received his A.B. (1971) and Ph.D. (1978) from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard, Pepperdine, the U.S. Naval War College, and the University of Chicago. He is a board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace and other institutions. His website is DanielPipes.org.

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