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Erdogan Feasts with Israel, Weeps with Gaza

Never thought I would quote an article from Aydin Unal one day, but here it is. And it came at just the right time. Moreover, Aydin Unal, a former Member of Parliament, and columnist for Yeni Şafak, who used to write speeches for President Erdogan, perfectly captured my sentiments.

The agenda is clear.

Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza continues relentlessly. There are many dimensions to discuss and talk about this issue, but there is one matter that is uniquely associated with the Erdogan regime and Turkey. More precisely, it is a situation characteristic of ‘Political Islam’ and AKP supporters.

While Netanyahu’s government’s attacks on Gaza, except for a brief ceasefire, continue unabated, ships are flocking from Turkey to Israeli ports. The ships are primarily owned by leading AKP figures, including Erdogan and Binali Yildirim, as revealed by investigative journalism from Metin Cihan.

According to data extracted entirely from open sources, ships owned by Erdogan’s son, Burak Erdogan, are extensively engaged in trade with Israel. Indeed, commercial relations between the Erdogan family and Israel have never been severed.

Even after the infamous ‘One Minute’ incident, when Erdogan declared, ‘We are cutting all ties with Israel!’ Burak Erdogan’s ship was in Israel. This matter had even turned into a parliamentary question at that time.

Let’s be clear.

Trading with Israel is not a crime. Like everyone else, Erdogan and prominent AKP figures can engage in trade with Israel. What we object to is the simultaneous action of not making a peep about Palestine and then sending ships, including military supplies, to Israel.

If it were just about sending winter clothes to Israeli soldiers, it would be one thing. But today, it’s not surprising that some of the bombs raining down on Gaza originated from the port of Mersin.

Let’s heed Aydin Unal at this point: “Cutting off trade or ship traffic with Israel requires sacrifice, courage, and a cost far beyond a mere boycott. On one side, let’s set aside the Islamic dimension, there is a human and national issue; on the other side, there are thousands and millions of dollars coming from Israel. Those who pretend to be devout, deliver fervent speeches on the Palestinian issue, and secretly trade with Israel have no moral ground to stand on; at least they shouldn’t damage the sincerity of the cause. They eat with the wolf and cry with the shepherd.”

It’s a bit of a lengthy quote, but every sentence is crucial.

Aydin Unal, who has been part of Erdogan’s inner circle, served two terms as an AKP member of parliament and is currently in a high-ranking bureaucratic position, is indeed doing commendable work. After all, no other AKP member has dared to make even this mild criticism.

However, there is a fundamental question that needs to be asked of Aydin Unal: Whom are you talking about? Why is the subject of your criticism absent? The ships making millions of dollars from Israel that you mentioned in your article, who owns them?

Your description, ‘Pretending to be devout, delivering fervent speeches on the Palestinian issue, and secretly trading with Israel, they have no moral ground to stand on,’ inevitably brings Erdogan and Binali Yildirim to mind.

So who are the ones ‘Feasting with the wolf and crying with the shepherd’?

Or is your courage not enough to write these explicitly?

Ismail Kilicarslan follows a similar path. He consistently tweets about Palestine and Gaza, organizes boycotts, but there is no subject of his criticism.

He criticizes, but whom?

Look at one of his tweets, for example; @kilicarslan_is

“Can’t we really close our ports and airspace to this inhumane enemy terrorist organization Israel? Seriously, can’t we do this? I don’t understand what we’re waiting for. I really don’t understand.”

It’s clear that Kilicarslan, who has been in the Political Islamist neighborhood for so many years, is ‘pretending to be knowledgeable.’ Because criticizing the Palace, Erdogan, is not everyone’s cup of tea. At the end of the day, there is the risk of losing positions, salaries, and bonuses. If you go further, there’s imprisonment and exile.

Another tweet from Ismail Kilicarslan is almost tragic. Because he shares things he hesitates to say himself through the words of Nuri Topbas.

Of course, Topbas’ criticism is also without a subject. Everyone understood who it was addressed to, but no one can express it. Not a single member of their religious communities or even their sects dares to come out and say to Erdogan, “What are you doing?”

In short, the human tragedy unfolding in Gaza has many aspects that hurt us, but the two-faced attitudes of our Political Islamists intensify this pain.

As I said, trading with Israel is not a crime. You can say, ‘Trading with Israel is one thing, defending the Palestinian cause is another.’ Its correctness or incorrectness can be debated, but at least it would be an honest act. But what we are witnessing is Erdogan and leading AKP figures, in front of the cameras, making ‘commitment’ speeches for Palestine while secretly engaging in trade with Israel where millions of dollars are involved.

According to the documents presented by Metin Cihan, trade is continuing without interruption, with hundreds of ships and thousands of tons of shipments. Air shipments continue daily. Erdogan’s son, Binali Yildirim’s son, an AKP member of parliament… They not only make shipments but also provide maintenance services to Israeli state tankers at their shipyard.

MUSIAD member Icdas meets Israel’s steel needs. According to TUIK data, we have sent weapons materials to Israel.

The hypocrisy of the Erdogan regime is now on the world agenda. Looking at the reactions in the Arab world, especially on social media, everyone is aware of this reality.

Except for the AKP voter base.

They are busy internalizing the arguments produced by trolls affiliated with Fahrettin Altun and Ibrahim Kalin. According to the statements of the ruling circles, the ports are private, trade is done by private companies, and the state has no involvement!

Recalling Cem Yilmaz’s line ‘Eat spaceberries if you can!’ and concluding with the impactful reminder in Aydin Unal’s article; ‘They eat with the wolf and cry with the shepherd…’

Unfortunately, even shattered children’s bodies could not restrain their greed for money and power!”

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Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Aslan is a leading Turkish investigative journalist in exile based in Washington, D.C.
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