In the wake of Kurdistan’s recent independence referendum, all manner of creative accusations have emerged alleging that the referendum was part of a secretive Israeli and/or Jewish conspiracy. Admittedly, Israel has been supportive of an independent Kurdistan, but Kurdish national aspirations predate Israel’s existence. The Kurds were first promised an independent state in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres, following World War One.
As previously discussed here on FreshAir, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Israeli flags seen at a Kurdish celebration proved that the Kurdish government had “a history with Mossad (Israel’s intelligence service), [and] they are hand-in-hand together.”
This led to a response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stated: “I understand why [the referendum] is uncomfortable for those who support Hamas and want to see the Mossad everywhere, but Israel had no part in the Kurdish referendum – apart from the deep, natural sympathy that the people of Israel have had for many years for the Kurdish people and their aspirations.”
Turkey has also “tried to extort Israel to withdraw its support [for an independent Kurdistan], threatening to end the process of normalization unless it does so”.
In another incident, the pro-Erdogan Turkish tabloid Güneş reported that Erdogan was shown a photograph of Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani sitting with former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and renowned French public intellectual and Kurdish advocate Bernard-Henri Lévy. Erdogan reportedly pointed to the picture and stated: “You have the former foreign minister of France (Kouchner) to your right-hand side, and another Jew (Lévy) to your left-hand side, working at a table with them (Barzani and his colleagues)”. The tabloid then went on to claim that Lévy was a Mossad agent.
Levy described Erdogan’s antisemitism as “the crudest, the worst, because it is nourished by the most deplorable conspiracy theories”. This is not the first time that Erdogan has acted in this way. In 2013, Erdogan claimed that Israel was behind a popularly backed coup which removed then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. As reported in the New York Times, Erdogan stated that “we have evidence” of a longstanding Israeli plot, and cited comments made two years earlier by Levy who “is also Jewish”.
In addition, a number of media outlets loyal to Erdogan put forward the spurious claim that Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani is hoping to attract Israelis of Kurdish origins – a community of 200,000 people – and had secretly entered into a deal with Israel to repatriate them.
Erdogan and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have also frequently described the Kurdish referendum as an Israeli plot to create a “second Israel” in the Middle East. This attitude has also been picked up by far-right parties in Turkey. In early September, Israel’s embassy in Ankara was “evacuated during a demonstration protesting the creation of a ‘second Israel’ in Kurdistan”. As reported by the Times of Israel, Utku Reyhan, secretary-general of the Homeland Party, said in a press statement that the referendum was a “declaration of war by US imperialism and Israeli Zionism against countries in the region.”
These protests followed multiple demonstrations in July during which protestors attacked Istanbul’s Neve Shalom synagogue, throwing rocks at the building and kicking its doors in response to Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount following a Palestinian terror attack.
As Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz points out, “Turkey strongly supports statehood for the Palestinians but not for their own Kurdish population… No one who supports statehood for the Palestinians can morally oppose Kurdish independence. But they do, because double-standard hypocrisy, and not morality, frames the debate…”
Image source: i24 News