As reported by the Jerusalem Post on June 9, 2010, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) has revealed the close ties between the most violent operatives from Turkey’s jihadist IHH organization on board the Mavi Maramara ship, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AKP government.
Salient details of these connections from the ITIC analysis — based upon statements given by Mavi Maramara passengers after the vessel was towed to the port of Ashdod last week, as well as findings from IHH members’ computers seized by the Israel Defense Forces — included:
- The Mavi Maramara was purchased by the IHH from a major shipping company owned by the Istanbul Municipality, which is operated by the governing AKP party. A computer file showed that the IHH purchased the Mavi Maramara from a Turkish company called IDO, which was founded in 1987 by the city of Istanbul, an AKP-run municipality. “It is not conceivable that the IHH’s Gaza operation could have been carried out absent high-level government sanction,” as per Svante Cornell, a Swedish scholar specializing on politics and security issues in Eurasia.
- The passengers, including the IHH operatives, maintained that there were close relations between the organization and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, and that the Turkish government was involved in preparations for the flotilla.
- Files found in laptops seized from IHH members contained a letter written in Turkish from IHH head Bülent Yildirim to Turkish President Abdullah Gül. The letter requested Gul’s assistance in efforts to release an IHH operative, named Izzat Shahin, from an Israeli prison. Sahin was arrested by Israeli security forces in the West Bank on April 27 on suspicion of transferring cash to Hamas under the guise of charitable aid. He had since been deported from Israel “at the request of Turkish officials.”
- A journalist on board the Mavi Maramara, described as having good links with the heads of the Turkish government and Bulent Yildirim, head of the IHH, had stated, “The flotilla was organized with the support of the Turkish government and Prime Minister Erdogan gave the instructions for it to set sail. That was despite the fact that everyone knew it would never reach its destination.”
- The IHH operatives acted according to a clearly defined internal hierarchy and boarded the ship in the port of Istanbul without undergoing a security inspection, as opposed to the other passengers who boarded in Anatolia after a full inspection.
- The IHH operatives’ preparations included handing out walkie-talkies as they boarded the ship, taking over the upper deck, setting up a situation room for communications, and a briefing given to them two hours before the confrontation by IHH head Bülent Yildirim, who was on board the ship and commanded his men.
- On June 4, 2010, Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) released footage of a speech made by Bulent Yildirim, head of IHH, in Gaza during February of 2009.Yildrim’s utterances, which were peppered with references to “martyrdom,” included the statement, “All the peoples of the Islamic world would want a leader like [Turkish prime minister] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”
Independent reports confirm that this same violent Mavi Maramara contingent, while in transit, chanted, “Khaybar, Khaybar ya Yahud, jaish Muhammad sa ya ‘ud”(“Jews, remember Khyabar, the army of Muhammad is returning”). This is a classic motif of Islamic Jew hatred which celebrates Muhammad’s massacre, rapine, enslavement, and subjugation of the last bastion of Arabian Jewry free from Muslim domination. The survivors were relegated, at best, to the humiliating status of prototype dhimmis — non-citizen tributaries, and pariahs in their own former lands.
Moreover, following the deadly violence that erupted after the Mavi Maramara’s IHH jihadists attacked Israeli commandos enforcing the Gaza blockade, Prime Minister Erdogan stepped up his incendiary rhetoric against Israel, while encouraging the tens of thousands of Turks who have taken to the streets of Istanbul each day vilifying Israel and praising Gaza’s Hamas jihadist rulers. And after recalling Turkey’s ambassador from Tel Aviv, Turkish President Abdullah Gul opined that relations with Israel would “never be the same.”
A seven-page report released in late January of this year by the Israeli Foreign Ministry (i.e., its “Center for Political Research”) accurately highlighted Erdogan’s personal role in fomenting anti-Semitism among the Turkish populace — particularly, his granting legitimacy to anti-Israeli television programs (Valley of the Wolves) and newspapers (Vakit) rife with blatant anti-Semitic content. The report concluded, aptly:
For Erdogan, Israel-bashing is a way of bolstering his status with Islamic and Middle Eastern states, which Turkey would like to lead, and against the Turkish opposition, as well as with his own party’s target audience and nationalist elements of the Turkish public. For Erdogan and some of those around him there is no distinction between “Israeli” and “Jewish,” and therefore, [their] anti-Israel fervor and criticism become anti-Jewish.
Although it provides a useful introduction, the Israeli Foreign Ministry report fails to elucidate any of the critical doctrinal and historical context reflected in Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s attitudes. Erdogan and his ruling AKP’s posture toward Israel and Jews represents the apotheosis of Islamic Jew hatred manifest in Turkey for a half-millennium. It has been revitalized during the past 50 years by an indigenous Muslim fundamentalist movement eager to exploit both the traditional anti-Semitic motifs of Islam, and those of European origin — especially Nazi and Czarist Russian (i.e., The Protocols of the Elders of Zion).
In 1974, Erdogan, while serving as president of the Istanbul Youth Group of his mentor, former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan’s National Salvation Party, wrote, directed, and played the leading role in a theatrical play entitled Maskomya, staged throughout Turkey during the 1970s. Mas-Kom-Ya was a compound acronym for “Masons-Communists-Yahudi” — the latter meaning “Jews.” The play focused on the evil, conspiratorial nature of these three entities whose common denominator was Judaism.
More recently, when Valley of the Wolves (released February, 2006), the wildly popular, most expensive film ever made in Turkey, included a “cinematic motif” which featured an American Jewish doctor dismembering Iraqis supposedly murdered by American soldiers in order to harvest their organs for Jewish markets, Prime Minister Erdogan not only failed to condemn the film, he justified its production and popularity.
On August 28, 2007, the same day that Abdullah Gul became Turkey’s president — replacing his secular predecessor, and further consolidating the ruling Islamic AK (Adalet ve Kalkınma) Party’s (AKP) hold on power — MEMRI published excerpts from a chilling interview given by Erdogan’s mentor, former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. The interview originally aired July 1, 2007, as part of Erbakan’s campaign efforts in support of Islamic fundamentalist political causes before the general elections of July 22, 2007, and the AKP’s resounding popular electoral victory over its closest “secularist” rival parties.
Erbakan, founder of the fundamentalist Islamic Milli Gorus movement (National Vision; originated 1969), mentored current AKP leaders President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan. Both were previously active members of Erbakan’s assorted fundamentalist political parties, serving in mayoral, ministerial, and parliamentary posts. The IHH — whose violent operatives featured prominently in the Mavi Maramara anti-Semitic incitement and subsequent bloodshed — has its origins in this same Orthodox Islamic Milli Görüş movement. During Erbakan’s pre-election 2007 campaign stops before throngs of tens of thousands of supporters throughout Anatolia, he reiterated the same virulently anti-Semitic statements captured in the July 1 interview and other interviews.
These interviews and more expansive speeches were rife with allusions to Zionists/Jews (deliberately conflated) as “bacteria” and “disease” conspiring to dominate the contemporary Islamic world (“from Morocco to Indonesia”), as they had attempted unsuccessfully during the 11th and 12th centuries when Jews purportedly “organized” the Crusades, only to be stopped by the Turks’/Erbakan’s Seljuk “forefathers.” Ultimately, Erbakan claimed, modern Jews/Zionists wished to establish “a world order where money and manpower are dependent on [them].”
For over thirty years, the fundamentalist National Salvation Party (of which Erbakan was a chairman) and its numerous offshoots have represented the most significant examples of Turkish Muslim political organizations exploiting systematized anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist bigotry. Erbakan’s ascension to deputy prime minister in January of 1974 was marked by Pan-Islamic overtures, along with increasingly strident verbal violence against Jews, Zionism, and the state of Israel emanating from the National Salvation Party’s organs, especially its daily Milli Gazete, published in Istanbul since January 12, 1973.