Debunking antisemitic conspiracy theories

News website in Turkey spreads concocted tales as other Muslim countries follow suit.

placards from an anti-Israel rally (Illustrative). (photo credit: REUTERS)
placards from an anti-Israel rally (Illustrative).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Throughout the Islamic world, conspiracy theories against the Jewish people are quite common. From an Israeli eagle in Lebanon to an Israeli shark off the coast of Egypt, conspiracy theories claiming that animals are in fact spies are common occurrences. In the wake of this atmosphere in which conspiracy theories against Jews have become the norm in the Islamic world, I myself fell victim to an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
Not too long ago, I wrote an article for The Jerusalem Post titled “Now is the time to act against Iran.”
Islamist groups in Turkey that are associated with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were outraged by the article. Akit News published an article titled “An arrogant declaration from an Israeli journalist,” in which it claimed that both Israel and the US were planning on helping the mainly Kurdish People’s Protection Units or YPG. It asserted, “During the days that the terrorists are wiped out from the Turkish borders [Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist organization], journalist Rachel Avraham betrayed American and Israeli secret plans. Avraham says to give air support to the YPG will help close the corridor from Iran to the sea and the status of the region may change in the favor of Israel and the US.”
First of all, most of my article spoke about Iran, not Turkey. The main purpose of the article was to take a stance against Iranian aggression in the Middle East and to promote the idea of both America and Israel assisting their Kurdish allies. All that was said related to Turkey was that the Kurds are weaker after Turkey and its Islamist allies attacked Afrin and the surrounding areas, but that this damage can be undone with Israeli and American air support. It never said that Israel and America should support the YPG.
Personally, I support the Kurds as a nation and any Kurdish group that is struggling for a democratic and more humane society. Based on this definition, I do support the YPG in its struggle against ISIS in Syria, but I do not support PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) suicide bombing attacks against Turkish civilians. Nevertheless, the Turkish article claimed that I support terrorists against the Turkish state, which is simply not true.
Furthermore, my ideas and opinions do not represent the position of the Israeli government. Israeli officials often speak about the importance of preserving the June 2016 reconciliation agreement with Turkey. While Israel did support Kurdistan’s independence referendum last September, the Israeli government never made a declaration that it would defend the Kurds in Syria or that its support for an independent Kurdistan implies Turkish areas would be included in such a state.
WHILE ISRAELI and American air support to the Kurds in Syria would help Israel’s position in the region and could halt the progress of the Shi’a Crescent, this air support does not need to be interpreted as support for the YPG. As part of an agreement, in exchange for defense support, Israel could have handed over the Kurdish areas of Syria to the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, a dissident group with no links to the PKK.
In this way, Turkey would not have the excuse that it is ridding its borders of the PKK. At the same time, Turkey’s Islamist allies would not have taken over areas that were living in relative harmony prior to the Turkish invasion. And with Israeli and American air support, I am positive that there would have been no confrontation between Turkish and Israeli or American forces, for the Turks would effectively be deterred from attacking. While Erdogan often rants against Israel, at the end of the day, Turkey does benefit economically from having a relationship with Israel. If it did not, there would have been no reconciliation agreement.
Of course, if any journalist working at Akit News or any of the Islamist Turkish news websites that reprinted the Akit story bothered to contact me, I would have explained all of this. But they preferred to twist my words in order to create an antisemitic conspiracy theory that the Jews are responsible for the Kurdish resistance at Afrin. According to Turkish Jewish journalist Rafael Sadi, these people are worse than Erdogan and often call him a Mossad agent for writing liberal articles in Turkish for Oda TV.
Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut, however, claims that they are Erdogan supporters and just want to make Erdogan more radical. Regardless of which Turkish journalist is correct, neither speaks well for Akit News or any of these Turkish Islamist websites as an objective news source. 
Turkey is not unique in this matter. Israeli Druse diplomat Mendi Safadi, who heads the Safadi Center for International Relations and Public Relations, has been called a Mossad agent by the Bangladeshi government due to his work on behalf of the Hindu community within the country. Bangladeshi opposition leader Aslam Chowdhury has been accused of seeking to overthrow the Bangladeshi government in a military coup merely for meeting with Safadi. It is natural for such conspiracy theories to exist in a country like Bangladesh, which has zero diplomatic relations with Israel and declares that such relations won’t exist until there is an independent Palestine.
It is understood why Bangladesh, a Muslim country that has a history of oppressing minorities, is so hostile toward Israel despite the Jewish state’s support for Bangladesh during its 1971 Liberation War. But it is less understood why Erdogan, who seeks to become a sultan and recreate the Ottoman Empire, seeks to model his country after the pan-Islamist Sultan Abdul Hamid II, who oversaw a period of decline, instead of the more tolerant Sultan Bayazid II, who was known for his statesmanship and intellectual abilities, and who led his empire to doing great things after the Ottomans under his rule accepted Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition.
The writer is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency. She is the author of
Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.