The Caliph and the Sultan

The American famed fighter for the freedom of his people, Martin Luther King, had a dream. And eventually, his dream came true, largely because it was the right kind of dream meant to free people from racial bigotry and oppression.

In modern Turkey, Erdogan also has a dream. His dream is to become the Caliph and Sultan of his country. But his dream is not for the welfare of Turkey but rather for the autocracy of his personal regime.

By definition, the Caliphate is ruled by the religious and political leader of absolute Muslim authority, ruling by Sharia law.

The word “caliph” comes from the Arabic “khalifa” which means “succession”. The caliph is regarded as a successor to the Prophet Mohammed.

The Sultanate, on the other hand, is a more secular form of government led by a political and military leader, the Sultan, whose powers are basically only in those two spheres.

After the Ottoman defeat of the Mamluks in 1517, the titles of caliph and sultan were joined as one.

In the 20th century, a bright army officer who rose up from the Ottoman defeat in 1918, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (father of the Turks) succeeded the sultanate-caliphate and became the founder of the Republic of Turkey, serving as its first president from 1923 until his death in 1938.

He abolished all previous claims to the sultanate and caliphate and succeeded in secularizing Turkey and bringing it closer into the westernized world.

He introduced European forms of law codes, he changed the Turkish alphabet from Arabic script to Roman script, he abolished calls to prayer in Arabic and required them to be in Turkish, he closed all the religious courts and schools in the country and adopted the Gregorian calendar in place of the Islamic calendar, and he changed the day of rest from Friday to Sunday, as observed in European countries.

Ataturk was the greatest hero of modern Turkey. And he was never associated in any way with the massacre of the Armenian Christians during the war in 1915.

To its past credit, Turkey had been hospitable to Jews fleeing from the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century and Jewish documents written in Ladino testify to Turkish kindness in that period.

Also, in 1948 after our independence, Turkey was the first Muslim country to grant us recognition and for several years following,our relations were mutually cordial and profitable for both nations.

Enter onto the scene of an autocrat named Erdogan. He revoked most of the secularized laws of Ataturk and restored Islamic law to the Turkish nation. His dream was (and is) to restore Turkey to its ancient glories under rule of caliph and sultan, both titles to which he aspires.

In his dream to be the prime Muslim ruler of the Middle East he has supported Hamas and other terrorist groups in their efforts to create terrorist activities in and against the Jewish State of Israel. His actions, past and present, are those of a dictator who seeks total control of his people and is willing to destroy the press and media of the country which contradict his policies.

Now he has undertaken to go one step further. His dream is to depose Jordan of its authority over the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem and to replace them with Turkish authority.

To that end, Turkey has “invaded” east Jerusalem, providing hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair dilapidated homes and to feed the hungry Muslims in east Jerusalem. His actions are not from the charity in his hardened heart but rather solely for political supremacy of Turkey as the guardian of the mosques on Haram al-Sharif.

How Israel can permit Turkish “invasion” into the sovereign territory of Israel, how Israel can close its eyes to the Turkization of east Jerusalem, remains a mystery which only Bibi’s government can answer.

The failure of the Turkish flotilla to bring aid (and weapons) into Gaza, an attempt to break the blockade which resulted In Turkish deaths and the breaking of diplomatic relations with us, should be a visible sign of Turkey’s intensions.

Erdogan has a dream. Israel must at all costs prevent his dream from becoming our nightmare !

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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