Beyond that, he is one of the most outspoken regional leaders criticizing Israel. According to the polls, his stance is popular in Turkey and the Arab world according.
The two countries had been close friends and military allies until Israel launched the deadly Operation Cast Lead against Gaza, just as Erdogen was acting as a negotiating go between Israel and the Palestinians. When Tel Aviv started blowing up Gaza, they also blew up those discussions and embarrassed the Turks and Erdogen.
When an NGO humanitarian group in Turkey, IHH, sent an a flotilla of aid ships to Gaza, Israeli special forces boarded the lead Turkish Ship, the Mavi Marmara and killed 9 people, 8 Turks and one Turkish American.
Not surprisingly, Turkey went ballistic after this massacre in the Mediterran. When the Israeli government refused a demand for an apology, Turkey sent the Israeli Ambassador home and broke off military cooperation. (What's not widely known is that there are many Israelis here, many coming for travel and business. Some Turkish Jews moved to Israel but retained family ties and are frequent visitors.)
Turkey has also been playing a close advisory and political support role for the Palestinians in the attempt to win a new status at the UN. Israel and the United States oppose that policy and a US veto is likely after Barack Obama speaks at the UN this week.
There are also simmering tensions between Turkey and Israel on two other fronts. There are strong rumors that Israel may support--or is supporting--the Kurdish PKK, a group Ankara sees as terrorist.
If true, this will provoke a serious response here.
Also Israel is aligning with Greek Cypriots to explore for oil in a country still divided between Greeks and Turks. The Turkish prime Minister has threatened to send war ships to stop this, arguing than any oil found off the Island nation should belong to Turks and Greeks. This tension may easily expand into open hostilities if cool heads don't prevail. Israel says it will defend its interests.
And now, the Israeli Lobby in America is reaching into its one note playbook and starting to brand Turkey as anti-Semitic on the familiar knee jerk grounds that any opponent of Israel must, by definition, hate Jews.
Watch for more hateful denunciations in the name of fighting hate.
I have already received a propagandize email appeal with the title: " BOYCOTT TURKEY"
"Anti-Semitism is prevalent in many parts of the world and is gaining momentum in Europe and Britain. Synonymous with this ancient form of bigotry is anti-Israelism....
"At this moment, Turkey, which until recent years had enjoyed a decent relationship with Israel , changed dramatically following the election of the Tayyip Erdogan government which is unquestionably aligning itself with Islamic groups who are far from being well disposed towards the Jews and Israel, and is currying favor with such charming people as Ahmadinejad of Iran."
This is preposterous on the face of it. Iran and Turkey are not on the same page. Iran is a Islamic Republic, Turkey a secular democratic one. The former is largely Shia; Turkey is mostly Sunni but they also have major political differences.
This is more guilt by association to demonize a government that has been aligned with Israel because it is furious that its citizens were gunned down on the high seas.
Forget the facts, forget the differences. The pro-Israeli hardliners always need fresh enemies to raise money on the back of, and get attention, so there they go again, asking, "So what should we as Jews do?"