by Burak Bekdil
Once again, half the world is fighting alongside the Hamas jihadists and their Jewish nemesis. First, some facts:
- In June, when there were no bombs and rockets travelling between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, three Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, were kidnapped. Eighteen days later their bodies were found.
- The kidnapping was a cause for celebrations in Gaza where crowds cheered. Palestine’s experimental unity government handed out sweets in celebration. Palestinian youths brandished a new salute, raising three fingers and showing joy at the kidnapping. Hamas’ political leader, Khaled Mashaal, also Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ideological next of kin, said: “We congratulate the kidnappers.”
- After the killing of the Israeli teenagers, a young Palestinian, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, disappeared, and was later found to have been brutally murdered. Israel acted quickly and arrested six radical Jews as perpetrators, three of whom confessed to their crime. Israel labelled the murderers as murderers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Khdeir’s father to offer him condolences. Strong expressions of condemnation were heard across the political spectrum, including from Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali, one of the murdered Israeli teenagers. Israelis had woken up to a new world in which Jews, too, could act as if they were terrorists. Most Israelis agreed that the murderers should get the most severe punishment for their barbaric act. The father of one of the suspects said: “I am ashamed of him.”
- Then came the usual war. Hamas, which does not hide that it stores, stockpiles and launches rockets from the midst of Palestinian civilian concentrations, and uses Gazans, often elderly women or children, as human shields, fired (as of July 14) over 500 rockets into Israel, where a majority of the population is within range of the missiles. Israeli air defenses successfully intercepted most of the enemy rockets, and the Israeli Defense Forces counter-attacked by bombing what it said were the homes of terrorists or homes where enemy weapons were hidden. Despite warnings for the evacuation of these declared targets, Hamas instead keeps on locating civilians whom its ideology believes would be martyrs when killed. More than 150 martyrs so far.
- Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said: “All Israelis are legitimate targets.” What would the Palestinian death toll be if Mr. Netanyahu’s spokesman declared all Palestinians as legitimate targets? But no, the cliché and boring underdog-nation romanticism tells us Israel should not respond when under rocket attack because it is capable of intercepting the rockets.
But would, for instance, Erdoğan, who thinks a 15-year-old boy is a terrorist and should be shot by a gas canister, tolerate over 500 rockets over Turkish skies? Would he advise restraint if any group, party or country declared that all Turks are legitimate targets? Would he ignore it if any group, party or country pledged to fight down right to the last Turk?
But he has finally exhibited some honesty and admitted that: “We are never neutral when it comes to the Palestinian cause.” Thank you, Prime Minister, for confirming this columnist when he wrote in 2009 that Turks as honest brokers between Arabs and Israelis sounded much like Greeks as honest brokers between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
All the same, Mr. Erdoğan’s rhetoric was not equally honest when he said, “There were no rockets fired into Israeli territory because there were no Israeli deaths.” Was Mr. Erdoğan denying Hamas, who says it happily fires scores of rockets? That there are fewer Israeli casualties does not mean Hamas does not want to kill; it just means Hamas, for the moment, cannot kill.
Jihadists keep on saying that “they love death more than we love life.” Good for them.
Then there are the proxy jihadists. In 2012, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said that, “Iran provided the Palestinian organizations the technology to produce Fajr-5 and other missiles, and they can now produce these missiles themselves in large quantities.” Apparently, Iran will fight Israel down to the last Palestinian. And so will Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the Sunni mullah. It’s one of the rare qualities Sunni and Shiite Islamists feature: They have an obsession about fighting Israel at times when their Sunni and Shiite militants are not busy killing each other.
A recent front-page headline in Turkey’s flagship newspaper, Hürriyet, was particularly revealing: They (Israel) bombed a mosque in Gaza! Including the exclamation mark! Yes, the exclamation mark, at times when sectarian mosque bombing is so routine that it cannot find even a few column inches of space in Muslim newspapers. A quick internet search, if you typed the words “mosque bombing Shiite-Sunni,” would give you 782,000 results on July 16.
But again, the “they-(Israel)-bombed-a-mosque” shock on Muslim faces is not too unfamiliar. From my column on June 3, 2010, “Why is Palestine ‘a second Cyprus’ for Turks?“:
“But why do the Turks have the ‘Palestine fetish’ even though most of them can’t point the Palestinian territories out on a map? Why did they not raise a finger when, for instance, the mullahs killed dissident Iranian Muslims? Why did the Turks not raise a finger when non-Muslim occupying forces killed a million Iraqi Muslims? Why did we not hear one single Turkish voice protesting the deaths of 300,000 Muslims in Darfur?
“Subconsciously (and sadly) the Muslim-Turkish thinking tolerates it if Muslims kill Muslims; does not tolerate it but does not turn the world upside down when Christians kill Muslims; pragmatically ignores it when too-powerful Christians kill Muslims; but is programmed to turn the world upside down when Jews kill Muslims.”
What else, other than that hatred, could bring two otherwise unmatchable people into precisely the same line of thinking? One is an Egyptian cleric with the typical bigotry of an Egyptian cleric; and the other is a Turkish-Kurdish female singer who burst onto the pop song scene along with a life full of scandals, including drug abuse and a conviction.
Muhammad al-Zoghbi, the Egyptian cleric, said in a May 3 television interview that, “not a single Jew will remain on the face of this earth.” The TV program’s theme was, “The war on the Jews, their annihilation or the eradication of their country.” But here comes into the picture the charter of the organization Mr. Erdoğan does not hide his deep admiration for: Hamas.
Hamas’s charter is must-read fun. My favorite section prophesizes that: “The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the (last) Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'”
Mr. al-Zoghbi’s interviewer must be an intellectual man, as he asked the cleric if the section about speaking trees and stones was an allegorical expression, to which Mr. al-Zoghbi replied: “Whoever says this is an allegory (that trees and stones will speak) is wrong. The trees will actually talk. And the walls as well.”
But Yıldız Tilbe, the Turkish-Kurdish pop star, is apparently less patient than waiting for the moment when the trees and stones will guide Muslims to the last standing Jew so that they can kill him. Hers is a nostalgic, probably too-difficult-to-fulfil wish, unless Arabs, Turks or her Kurdish kin invent the time machine.
On her Twitter account last week, she wrote: “May God bless Hitler. He did far less (than he should have).” And that: “It will be Muslims again who will bring the end of Jews.” To which the honorable mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek replied: “I applaud you.”
Part II of this mini-series ended with a colorful quote from the Turkish Kurdish pop star, Yıldız Tilbe, whose tweets wished God to “bless Hitler,” and predicted that, “It will be Muslims again who will bring the end of Jews.” Perhaps Ms. Tilbe thinks (or hopes) Hitler was Muslim.
No doubt, thanks to her tweets, she has the talent to rise even higher in the hall of fame. Such tweets are absolutely normal in a country where the Islamists’ occasional after-Friday-prayers slogan, “Now I understand Hitler,” has always won hearts and minds. It is also the country where, a few years earlier, even a union of school teachers (yes, school teachers!) gathered in a demonstration “to commemorate Hitler.”
But we all know Turkey well enough to guess that the Hitler-fetish is not a reflection of any possible feeling of admiration for the 20th century’s greatest psycho. Instead, it is a childish expression of the oriental thinking that adores “the enemy of my enemy.”
Last year, in the EU-candidate Turkey, a world-renowned pianist, Fazil Say, was sentenced to a (suspended) 10-month sentence for re-tweeting a few lines dubiously attributed to Omar Khayyam, a 12th century Persian polymath. The judges ruled that his tweets “endangered public order and peace by insulting religious values embraced by whole or a part of the society.”
In the “new Turkey,” where the abnormal is the new normal, Ms. Tilbe’s tweets blessing Hitler cannot have insulted the religious or ethnic values embraced by the extremely small part of the society — because they are too small.
So, in the EU-candidate Turkey, a pianist, Mr. Say, should be punished for his re-tweets, but a pop-singer, Ms. Tilbe, should be congratulated for her first-class racist hate-speech.
This is contagious. When, in society and politics, an abnormal practice becomes the norm, the abnormal becomes “the new normal.” Take Anti-semitism in Turkey, a craze becoming increasingly as trendy as a ‘selfie,’ and mixed up with opportunism. It can come from a bureaucrat who wants to win promotion; from a pop star who wants to look charming to the government to boost his or her popularity; from a corporate employee who wants a better position or salary. Or it can come from a politician who wants to address the largest possible chunk of the voter base.
For example, the opposition’s presidential candidate, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, otherwise a most refined gentleman with an impressive academic and diplomatic background. When asked by reporter from a state-run news agency to clarify his earlier statement that “Turkey should be impartial over Middle Eastern disputes,” he quickly sensed that this was a trick-question aimed at portraying him as an “unbiased man” in the Arab-Israeli dispute. But of course he was partial. He spoke for several minutes, listing his career achievements — proving how deeply he felt for the “Palestinian cause” — which included a decoration.
For understandable reasons, Mr. Ihsanoglu enjoyed reminding reporters of his “lifelong struggle devoted to the Palestinian cause.” He further decorated his campaign speech by adding that it was his honor to have prayed at the al-Aqsa mosque (in Jerusalem), and that the rest, for him, was unimportant.
No reporter present at Mr. Ihsanoglu’s campaign launch speech thought about asking him if his commitment to the “Palestinian cause” included an affirmation of the Hamas Charter, in particular a section that says, “The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the (last) Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'”
How fabulous that, after a foreign minister whose greatest foreign policy goal is to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque “in the Palestinian capital Jerusalem,” now we have a presidential candidate who too is proud to have prayed at the same mosque.
Meanwhile, more and more Palestinians are dying as Turkish (and Arab and Persian) dignitaries remain wholeheartedly committed to the Palestinian cause — in words. But our Palestinian brothers keep on dying happily, do they not, for us? Is that not a stairway to heaven? And all while the poor victims’ masters and brothers remain so proud to be committed to the Palestinian cause.
Finally, Adolf Hitler is a Turkish hero! With the current pace of events, a boulevard in Ankara can be named after him.
But the Turks’ newfound Holocaust-fetish is not a response to one of the 20th century’s greatest crimes; nor is their love affair with the funny moustached little man.
The Fuhrer also once said something that might perfectly fit Turkey seven decades later: “I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.”
Turks love Hitler because they hate Jews (not Israelis or the Israeli government). Why, otherwise, would Turks be targeting, in every way possible, Turkish Jews — who are full Turkish citizens like themselves?
Bulent Yildirim, for instance, one of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s favorite Islamists, said that, “Turkish Jews will pay dearly for Israel’s actions.”
According to Prime Minister Erdogan, Israel, with its offensive on Gaza, which has killed more than 2000 people, “has gone beyond Hitler.” Mr. Erdogan knows that 2000 is not greater than 6 million. So what makes him think that the deaths of 2000 Palestinians is “genocide” but the killing of hundreds of thousands by his good friend Omar al-Bashir in Sudan was not genocide? Well, Mr. Erdogan once explained that Muslims don’t commit genocide. Good.
Mr. Erdogan’s top Islamic cleric, however, has offered a different — and, no doubt, more accurate account — about Muslim deaths. Professor Mehmet Gormez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, said: “A thousand Muslims are being killed each day, and 90% of the killers are other Muslims.”
If Professor Gormez is not a Zionist agent, Mr. Erdogan’s (and half the Turks’) Jewish witch-hunt cannot be a response to “Muslims are being killed”: no one, for instance, has even attempted to destroy the diplomatic missions of Iraq where the latest Gaza death toll could be merely any month’s count.
It was the usual “We-Muslims-can-kill-each-other-but-Jews-cannot” hysteria. In a way, “it’s religion, stupid.”
During the past few weeks, there have been democratic protests against Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in many cities across the world — except in Arab cities.
In the West, protesters marched, chanted slogans, carried placards and protested Israel peacefully — over political disagreements. Because for them this is a political dispute and they side with the Palestinians. That’s all perfectly democratic.
In Turkey, however, the protests were not peaceful. They included smashing a sculpture that was neither Jewish nor Israeli. But the Turkish protests featured something different from the others and quite revealing: they were constantly accompanied by Koranic rehearsals, Muslims prayers and the famous Arabic slogan “Allah-u akbar” [Allah is the greatest].
If the Turkish crowds were wherever they were to protest against Israel for killing Palestinians in a political dispute, why Koranic slogans? Why were they protesting in Arabic rather than their native language? Do Turks chant German or Portuguese slogans when they gather to protest nuclear energy, or negligence regarding the deaths of more than 300 miners in Soma? So, what makes Arabic the lingua franca at every anti-Israel (more realistically, anti-Jewish) protest? Is this a mere coincidence that repeats itself every time, everywhere?
The title of this four-part series was intended to be a forceful reminder at times like this that Hitler was right to think that (religious) emotion is reserved for the many and reason for the few.
Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel, had a perfectly realistic point when she said that peace in the Middle East would only be possible “when Arabs love their children more than they hate us.” I now think her line was incomplete: Peace won’t come just when Arabs love their children more than they hate Jews; it may come when they also love their children more than they hate ‘other’ Muslims.
Burak Bekdīl, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily News and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.