Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has recently adopted a policy of inflammatory rhetoric and hypocrisy in favor of a level-headed approach to diplomacy, angrily marched off stage on Jan. 29 during a political summit entitled "Gaza: The Case for Middle East Peace," held in Switzerland.
After complaining he wasn't given enough time to speak his piece, Erdogan said, "I don't think I will come back to Doha [Switzerland] after this," unhooked his microphone and stormed off stage. Throughout the peace summit, the Turkish prime minister verbally attacked both Israeli President Shimon Peres and the state of Israel numerous times.
This has to be hypocrisy and political theater at its absolute height. Prime Minister Erdogan preformed a truly masterful display of political duplicity that has driven his popularity in Turkey through the roof and has made him the darling of the Islamic world.
Erdogan's outburst in Switzerland was in response to Israel's recent campaign inside the Gaza Strip against the democratically elected fundamentalist Hamas Party. Hamas is the current government organization in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
Erdogan, along with many others in the international community, has criticized Israel for the unequal response, including the use of vastly superior technology and devastating aerial bombardments, on the part of Israel to counter Hamas rocket attacks. Erdogan shouts his displeasure and highfalutin shock at the Israeli government for their apparent disinterest of the safety of civilians in the Gaza Strip all while brushing the bodies of hundreds of Kurdish people under the rug.
The Turkish government's prolonged conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party inside of Turkey and neighboring Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Kurds and displacement of millions more. This "unequal response" has bordered on the territory of genocide for decades. Throughout its short history as a country, Turkey has attempted to wipe out the Kurdish identity numerous times by outlawing the Kurdish language and culture.
For the prime minister to criticize Israel for the recent conflict in Gaza while neglecting to confront Turkey's substandard treatment of the ethnic Kurds is shameful. The Turkish state is not a harbinger of peace and Muslim unity and is, in fact, quite the opposite.
Political favor is fickle and a future misstep will cause Erdogan's popularity to fall. In the long term the newly damaged relationship between Israel and Turkey will outlast any ephemeral popularity he enjoys. Israel and Turkey have in the past benefited from a very amiable relationship; Turkey was the first Muslim country to accept Israel's statehood and a close commercial relationship between the two countries has produced billions in trade.
The long-term effects of the prime minister's actions on the relationship between these two countries are yet to be seen, however it is clear that attitudes in both countries have taken a dark turn. Erdogan has done what is politically expedient to gain popularity in his own country to the detriment of everyone else, all while ignoring his own country's human rights abuses. He who has not committed international genocide among you, let him cast the first stone.
Andrew Rudansky is a sophomore English major who frowns upon Turkish showboating.