TEL AVIV – The failed military coup in Turkey could trigger anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment, a former Turkish lawmaker warned Saturday, underscoring a “dramatic rise in vigilantism and Islamist hate speech,” the Times of Israel reported.
While the ongoing rapprochement between Jerusalem and Ankara has prevented Turkish politicians from blaming Israel directly for the coup, the Turkish public is likely to use the Jewish state as a scapegoat sooner or later, said Aykan Erdemir, who served as a member of parliament for the opposition CHP party from 2011 until 2015.
“Since the failed coup attempt, there is a dramatic rise in vigilantism and Islamist hate speech on Turkish streets. It is only a matter of time [before] the crowds scapegoat minorities,” Erdemir told the Times of Israel.
Erdemir noted that both Jerusalem and Ankara were making unprecedented overtures to normalize relations with Israel that are being “welcomed across the political spectrum in Turkey.”
However, even while Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government continues to improve ties with Israel, supporters of his AKP party “could take advantage of the current unrest and mobilization to propagate anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic messages,” Erdemir, who is currently a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, said. “This could be an unforeseen result of AKP supporters’ street activism.”
The unrest at home could have the adverse effect of improving relations between the two countries, Erdemir said, since “the less secure Erdogan feels at home, the more likely he is to mend ties abroad.”
Erdemir said that “the U.S. has replaced Israel as the main scapegoat of populist politicians for now,” with officials such as Turkish Labor Minister Süleyman Soylu pointing the finger at the U.S. for triggering the failed coup.
However, according to Nimrod Goren, a Turkey expert at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the coup attempt will likely decelerate the process of restoring diplomatic relations.
“I estimate that the failed coup could slow down the normalization process — not because of lack of political will but because Turkey’s domestic focus will be elsewhere,” Goren told the Times of Israel.