Turkey, Israel and a Middle-East Firestorm

Barry Gander
13 min readDec 3, 2023

How personal agendas could expand the conflict into a regional war

This dangerous geopolitical moment was called to my attention by a co-author on Medium and Substack, John Hardman. I am grateful for his insights. As he said: “Fasten your seatbelt, we’re in for a bumpy ride…”

Improbably as this evolution sounds — that Turkey could coalesce Arab states into a war against Israel — I am writing this in apologetic recognition of two forecasts that failed because I thought too much of humanity:

I thought that Putin would not be stupid enough to invade Ukraine…at least not with 300,000 men, when everyone with a knowledge of WW2 knew that it would take at least 3 million men…

And I thought (hoped) that the Gaza cease-fire could lead to peace. As Netanyahu’s predecessor Rabin understood, more violence is not a solution, it is a prequel to an even larger explosion.

Both of those mistakes were caused by a mis-judgement of the characteristics of the leaders. They were indeed rock-solid stupid. In light of human-kind’s history of brain-dead decisions, I should have known that the oppression of a people for 75 years and the invasion of a neighboring country were not recognized as possible irritation points.

The singular oppression of the Palestinian people is the driver to all that follows. For a thousand years Jews and Muslims had lived in peace together, and then came Zionism, and their world divided.

When the current Gaza conflict first opened, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was shocked at the level of violence used by Hamas. He reached out to his Israeli counterpart, Isaac Herzog. However, the wave of public support for Hamas in Turkey and the cruelty of the Israeli bombardment made him shift his position swiftly. The tone of his criticism of Israel for its campaign in the Gaza Strip has progressively become more strident.

Today he issues searing denunciations of Israeli operations — criticism so fierce he is upsetting Turkey’s ties to Israel, the United States, and Europe. This is a big swing of the needle: Turkey had been the first Arabic country to recognize Israel, in 1949.

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Barry Gander

A Canadian from Connecticut: 2 strikes against me! I'm a top writer, looking for the Meaning under the headlines. Follow me on Mastodon @Barry