Anti-Semitism Growing in Turkey As EU Considers Membership Talks

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Harut Sassounian Commentary 2004 December

Turkish officials often boast that there has never been any anti-Semitism in their country. Such patently false claims are made by Turks for the sole purpose of ingratiating themselves to American Jews and the government of Israel. In return, the Turks expect to secure Jewish lobbying assistance against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the U.S. Congress. The fact is that Jews, like all other minorities in the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey, were subjected to all sorts of inhuman treatment. As a result, very few Jews, Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians remain in Turkey today.

As evidence of growing anti-Semitism in today's Turkey, in October 2004, the Turkish Birikim magazine published a petition titled, "Zero Tolerance for Anti-Semitism." It was signed by more than 100 prominent Turkish and Jewish individuals of various professional backgrounds living in Turkey and abroad. Here are some excerpts from that petition:

"As long as a danger is not properly pronounced, it cannot be fought against. On the contrary, vague words can only serve to hide the evil.

"We the undersigned wish to draw attention to the ever-present and steadily increasing ANTI-SEMITISM in Turkey.

"The various historical examples of racist violence and discrimination against non-Turkish, non-Muslim, non-Sunni citizens of the Turkish Republic have been, even though to a limited extent, pointed out and criticized, whereas anti-Semitism remains, with few exceptions, a subject which is met with silence, underestimation, or outright denial.

"Organized groups in Turkey that had never before found common ideological ground have come together, especially since the outbreak of the Iraq war, in an unprecedented coalition based on opposition to the State of Israel.

The Islamist sector, whose hatred of Jews is embodied in the State of Israel, joined the leftists in parades chanting the slogan, 'NO to the Iraq War.'

"Groups that proclaim opposition to bloody nationalistic animosities, imprisonment, and militarism, are unabashedly taking sides in the Middle East conflict. Instead of condemning the violence on both sides and seeking peace and non-violent solutions which are so urgently needed, they condemn and demonize Israel, calling it 'more illegitimate,' 'more dangerous' than other nations on earth, even sharing with the Islamists a call for its destruction, while embracing the perpetrators of violence in the other side of the conflict as 'victims' within a rhetoric of solidarity with the oppressed.

"Publications have become the vehicles for promoting confusion of concepts like Nazism, fascism, Zionism, the Holocaust, genocide, etc., emptying these of their contents and blurring their differences. They debase the Holocaust by depriving it from its historical uniqueness, thus giving a green light to those who deny the Holocaust.

"Anti-Semitism today is most actively perpetrated by the Islamist press, a large segment of which has gone so far as undauntedly praising Adolf Hitler for his 'foresight.' Concurrently, there has been an unprecedented array of publications and campaigns against so-called 'Sabetayists' [descendants of followers of Shabbatai Zvi], whose Jewish roots are traced down and underscored in a manner reminiscent of the Nazi obsession with creating a 'pure race' targeting them as the evil-intentioned people of a secret sect which is integral to the 'Jewish plot to dominate the world.' "This rising tide of anti-Semitism has been allowed to flow unhindered in the channels of the Islamist as well as the mainstream media and to settle into the Turkish daily life and discourse. It is now second nature to find a 'Jewish finger' under every stone, and to invent various conspiracy theories with 'the Jew' as the villain. "We hereby proclaim our objection to this unquestioned and pervasive pattern of anti-Semitic presumptions, and our determination to have ZERO TOLERANCE TO ANTI-SEMITISM, to get informed, to object, to write, to draw, to raise our voice and to be in solidarity with all who feel and think likewise."

Interestingly, among the signatories are not only righteous Turks like Taner Akcam and Ragip Zarakolu who write truthfully about the Armenian Genocide, but also historical revisionists like Ergun Kirlikovali and Mahmut Esat Ozan who actively and constantly deny the Armenian Genocide.

It is significant that even these Turkish propagandists are openly stating that there is growing anti-Semitism in Turkey. Even more amazing is the fact that these two individuals, who parrot the misinformation spewed by the Turkish government, have actually signed this petition acknowledging that "racist violence" has been committed against "non-Turkish, non-Muslim" minorities in Turkey - possibly an admission of the Armenian Genocide!