Barry Rubin: Bülent Yildirim, the main organizer of the Gaza Flotilla, explained at a Hamas rally in Gaza that the operation was no humanitarian effort but part of a global Jihad to overthrow governments and install Islamist dictatorships. He made no secret of that fact, as shown in the MEMRI translation and video.
Keep in mind as you read this that his group originated the project and was the main funder, that his followers controlled the biggest ship, and that they were most of those who attacked the Israeli soldiers. Thus, more than any other individual, Yildirim represents the thinking behind the operation, its direction, and the organization of a militarized group that started the violence in order to achieve the intended result. Notice, too, that he–and thus the organizers of the operation and those who created the violence–are totally indifferent to the loss of life they cause.
“My brothers,” he begins, “I have brought you the blessings of Saladin and Sultan Abd Al-Hamid. There are 70 million Sultan Abd Al-Hamids in Turkey, and they all support you. We congratulate you on your victory.”
Saladin, of course, defeated the Crusaders and destroyed their kingdoms, an analogy often drawn about Israel by Jihadists. Sultan Abd al-Hamid was the last of the Ottoman Empire’s Islamic-oriented rulers. He thus represents what Yildirim sees as an Islamist Turkish state. He was also a caliph, that is, the leader of the Muslim world as successor to Muhammad. Many Islamists want to reestablish the caliphate, a single Muslim ruler over the whole Muslim-majority world (or even the whole world period). The Turkish Islamists hate Kemal Ataturk for establishing a republic and ending the caliphate (along with the Young Turk secularists).
Their goal is not to succor the people of Gaza but to wipe out Israel and kill the Jews as “rightful” (his words, not mine) successors to Muhammad in continuing this task:
“Three to four years ago, some claimed that Hamas was a terrorist organization. When the Jews would kill our women and children, they would say: ‘Muhammad died and left only daughters.’ We are here, in Turkey, in Egypt, Syria, and everywhere, and our daughters and our boys can also defeat you.”
From this point it is interesting how the Arabic translator misstates what Yildirim actually says:
Arabic Translator: “We are here, in Egypt, in Sudan, in Syria, in Turkey, and everywhere. Our women, our children, and our men support you.”
Remember, Yildirim is explicitly talking only about Turks (though he does mean all Muslims also) but the translator turns it into a more Arab-oriented statement by mentioning three specific Arab countries. It’s a subtle sign of how even Arab Islamists don’t quite feel comfortable with the non-Arab Turks.
Bülent Yildirim: “Allah Akbar. Allah be praised. Allah Akbar. Allah be praised. Allah Akbar. Allah be praised. They have bombs, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, but we have our hearts, we have our courage, and we are not afraid of anyone but Allah.”
This is the typical Islamist trope: they are stronger but we court martyrdom and we have the deity on our side. Of course, it is always better if the other side is never allowed to use its weapons in self-defense because that is deemed illegitimate and your Jihad is interpreted as a peaceful humanitarian effort by those who don’t listen to what you are actually saying.
Arabic Translator: “They have used their nuclear and chemical weapons, and all their weapons, but all we have, after Allah, are our courageous hearts and our men.”
Note the difference. Yildrim only says they have the weapons, but Hamas-in its decidedly non-moderate way-says these weapons have been used. I hesitate to say it but it is by no means impossible that in many places there will soon be claims that the Israeli soldiers used chemical weapons on the ship. Oh, yes, that claim has already surfaced in non-Muslim Portugal.
Bülent Yildirim: “Let me tell you that if it were not for the ceasefire, Istanbul, Ankara, Diyarbakir, and all of Turkey would be in Gaza.”
The ceasefire is that between Hamas and Israel. In other words, if the fighting renews, all Turks would go and fight for Hamas. This is not realistic, of course, but is a sign that Yildirim views the issue as a war of extermination against Israel. And, by the way, if he is advocating war this shows he puts Jihad and battle over the humanitarian well-being of Gazans. How many Gazans would be killed in that war? And what would those casualties be in terms of suffering compared to the delivery of outdated medicines and various other goods in the ships?
Yildirim continues by saying that if Allah so wills there will be no more embargo. This would mean, of course, that Hamas could get all the arms and military equipment it wants. Notice he doesn’t call for an easing of the embargo just to let in humanitarian needs and consumer goods. But wait! If Hamas spends the money on arms then that will reduce the living standards of Gazans!
So Yildirim, like Hamas, tells the people of Gaza: Don’t moderate! Don’t make peace with your neighbors! Fight the Jihad and be a martyr! Raise your children to be suicide bombers! And if the embargo is reduced and Western countries cozy up to Hamas there is good news and bad news.

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