Two major Middle East leaders addressed the United Nations General Assembly this week and spouted a litany of lies.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey suggested that Israel has been deliberately grabbing land from the Palestinians and likened Israel’s policy on the Gaza Strip to the Nazi mistreatment of Jews during the Holocaust.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran asserted that Israel supports the Islamic State organization and funnels weapons to it.
Their respective claims are baseless, crude and contemptible, totally unworthy of the mantle of leadership.
As he delivered his speech on September 24, Erdogan held aloft four maps to illustrate his specious argument that Israel has purposefully expanded its borders since the United Nations passed the 1947 Palestine partition plan.
What he cynically left out of his speech requires elaboration.
Israel acquired more territory than it was allotted by the United Nations for one compelling reason: Neither the Palestinians nor their Arab allies accepted partition and Jewish statehood. Having completely rejected the United Nations peace plan, Palestinian forces attacked Jewish settlements throughout the country. With Israel’s declaration of statehood, five Arab armies attacked the new Jewish state.
Arab aggression forced Israel to respond militarily yet again in the 1967 Six Day War.
Egypt’s president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, closed the Strait of Tiran and ejected United Nations peacekeeping troops from the Sinai Peninsula, both of which were acts of war against a neighbor. Nasser also threatened to annihilate Israel.
On the first day of hostilities, the Israeli government warned Jordan to stay out of the war, but King Hussein, having invited Iraqi troops to Jordan, ordered the Arab Legion to bombard western Jerusalem.
Syria, for its part, opened fire on Israeli settlements and attempted to invade one of them.
By the sixth day of the war, Israel had captured the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Since then, Israel has relinquished the Sinai and unilaterally withdrawn from Gaza.
This is not a history lesson. It’s common knowledge. Yet Erdogan had the temerity to falsely declare that Israel has been conquering Arab territories as a part of a master plan to enlarge itself. He puts the cart before the horse, of course. He should know better.
Erdogan, a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, went off the deep end by conflating the plight of Gaza with Germany’s campaign of extermination against the Jews of Europe. In a reference to Israel’s air, sea and land blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, he said, “We view the Holocaust in the same way we view those besieging Gaza and carrying out massacres in it.”
Erdogan must surely be aware that Israel imposed the siege of Gaza after Hamas’ violent takeover in 2007. In light of Hamas’ dedication to Israel’s destruction and its constant bombardment of Israeli communities, Israel had no choice but to blockade the coastal enclave to prevent the smuggling of arms and munitions. And rather than developing Gaza, from which Israel withdrew unilaterally in 2005, Hamas focused its efforts on building up its military capabilities.
This is something that Erdogan did bother bringing up in his one-sided speech.
Erdogan’s comparison of Israel’s defensive policy in Gaza to Germany’s evil attempt to eradicate European Jews is factually grotesque and utterly stomach-churning.
Does Erdogan have no shame? Apparently not.
Rouhani, whose nation blatantly opposes Israel’s very existence, was equally shameless when, on the following day, he claimed that Israel is “certainly and undoubtedly” supporting Islamic State in Syria, which has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011.
He based his brazen lie on reports that Israel has extended medical and military assistance to middle-of-the-road Syrian rebel factions fighting to overthrow the totalitarian Baathist regime of President Bashar al-Assad, whom Iran supports politically, militarily and economically.
Turning reality on its head, Rouhani declared, “Israel is the country that takes care of injured Islamic State fighters, and they make weapons available to them.”
This is an absurd accusation entirely devoid of the truth.
Islamic State is Israel’s mortal enemy, and Israel would never even consider helping this awful jihadist group, regardless of its attitude toward Assad.
In fact, Israel’s actual position with respect to Islamic State is of no interest whatsoever to Rouhani. Like Erdogan, he prefers the simplicity of rhetoric to the complexity of reality.