News outlets continue to cover President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s criticism of Israel and the West as his questioning of “hypocrisy” and “double standards” unsettles Israel’s most ardent supporters in politics and the media. That is because the Turkish leader’s remarks encapsulate the international community’s conscientious voice – which causes pro-Palestine protests to erupt across the West and the East.
Nowadays, the Western media fixated on President Erdoğan’s following comments at the 62nd General Assembly of the National Turkish Students Association (MTTB) on his visit to Germany: “The idea of Crusaders and the Crescent hasn’t ceased to exist.” Whereas some outlets portrayed that sentence as a sign of hostility, others argued that the Turkish leader drew parallels between the Western nations and the Crusaders. Meanwhile, in Türkiye, some observers accused him of “reducing the Palestinian cause to religious war.”
However, President Erdoğan has been trying to prevent the idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict represents a war between different faiths or civilizations from taking hold. That is why one should analyze his warning about the “fight between the Crusaders and the Crescent” within the context of his public statements since the Gaza crisis erupted.
Specifically, the Turkish president brought up “the Crusaders and the Crescent” over the West’s unconditional support for Israel’s massacres and rejection of a humanitarian cease-fire as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some members of his Cabinet invoking religious war with Torahic references. In other words, he highlighted how Zionists were exploiting the Prophecy of Isaiah for the sake of expansionism and added that anyone keeping silent in the face of such developments should be ashamed of themselves.
Erdoğan urges global conscience
If memory serves, President Erdoğan had asked whether there was an attempt to restart “the fight between the Crescent and the Cross” at the Great Palestine Meeting on Oct. 28. Later, on his flight back from Saudi Arabia, he stressed that “this war won’t turn into a war between the Crescent and the Crusaders because it has already become a war between good and evil, lies and the truth, the oppressed and the oppressor, and the righteous and the superstitious” (Nov. 12, 2023).
Three days later, Erdoğan made the same point as he asked world leaders – with reference to the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack – why they weren’t marching over the death of nearly 13,000 innocent Palestinians: “Do you have no conscience nor compassion? This is a question of Crusaders and the Crescent.”
In recent days, the Turkish president made headlines with his following remarks: “The whole world is monitoring the Israeli-Palestinian issue right now. Is this what Muslims deserve? No. But we made mistakes and we have shortcomings. Look at the unity of the Western world, the crusader-imperialist structures. Unfortunately, that is what I encountered (in Berlin). That is what I saw in President (Frank-Walter Steinmeier) as well. The other was no different either. They keep saying Hamas, Hamas, Hamas. They argue that Hamas’s actions triggered this situation. Obviously, I told them that Israel has killed 13,000 children, women and the elderly, and asked why they wouldn’t speak up.”
At the same event, Erdoğan warned that Türkiye was “essentially surrounded by a ring of fire” and stressed that “the idea of the Crusader and the Crescent hasn’t ceased to exist.”
Israel using Torah as pretext
As the above quotes clearly show, President Erdoğan has been opposing the transformation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a question of the Crusaders and the Crescent. He highlights the danger of Western statesmen endorsing Israel and the attempt to legitimize Israel’s massacres with Torahic references.
Indeed, the Turkish leader recalled at the joint press conference in Berlin that there was no room for bombing hospitals and killing children in the Torah, insisting that he rejected anti-Semitism: “We did not go through the Holocaust. We do not happen to be in such a situation either. That’s because we show a different kind of respect to human beings. I took a clear stance against anti-Semitism as prime minister. No other prime minister in the world may have taken that position, but I have back then. That is why we are not indebted to anyone.”
Moreover, Erdoğan recognizes how people from different religious and national backgrounds have been speaking up against Israel’s massacres worldwide: “At a time when the governments of Western countries find themselves essentially imprisoned by Israel, the awakening and objections among their people gives us hope regarding (the future of) humanity.”
To conclude, the Turkish leader wants to work with his Western counterparts to rescue the hostages, broker a cease-fire and facilitate the two-state solution – which is what he offered to President Steinmeier and Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Germany. At the same time, he urges people around the world to oppose the ongoing massacres and oppression.