Lately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been campaigning to win a referendum that would open up his way to grab more powers. He has jailed (and abused) countless military, police, journalists, bloggers, etc. with the excuse of a botched coup.
Was this a Marinus van Der Lubbe style attack (planted by the Turkish Government) or a real attempt to overthrow democracy? I don’t know, but by reducing Free Speech, the Turkish president shows to be on the side of dictatorship – that’s for sure.
This all has intensified the trouble in Turkey’s long-standing strained relationship with Europe.
Subsequently, he called the Germans and the Dutch: Nazi’s, fascists and the like. As a proud Jew, whose four grandparents were gassed in Auschwitz, I feel a need to stand up for Germany against this foul slander, for two reasons.
Much as confronting anti-Semitism should not be left to the Jews (and actually any oppression should be interrupted by allies rather than the targeted oppressed themselves), here too it behooves non-Germans to speak out against these scandalous words, and especially Jews.
If there is one people in the world that collectively repented its troubled past then it’s the German People. Therefore, to call them Nazi’s is way beyond the pale. One doesn’t bring up misdeeds that went before to people who have admitted, acknowledged, apologized for and disavowed former times, paid reparation and are showing great solidarity and affection with the main wronged party – in this case the Jewish People and Israel, the Jewish State. Then to still rake up the past is so low that it should only damage the speaker’s reputation.
A second reason to forcefully denounce the insults by the Turkish leader is that it’s Turkey itself that failed to address genocide on its own soil in a recent past, 101 years ago. It has never admitted, acknowledged, apologized, disavowed, paid reparation for or showed any solidarity or affection with the wronged party – in this case the Armenian People.
Israeli school children learn that the Armenian Genocide opened the door to the Holocaust. When people close to Hitler said that he would never get away with murdering all the Jews, he reportedly asked rhetorically: Whoever still speaks about the Turkish genocide of the Armenians?
Germany is showing the whole world (Turkey, are you paying attention?) that to acknowledge and reject a terrible past and make a clean sweep are not degrading, but rather the only way to stand tall and live well.
Yes, Erdogan’s oversized ego and his thin skin make him easily feel hurt when he is opposed or criticized, which he frequently perceives as insulting, inside or outside of Turkey, leading to a legendary number of court cases supposedly to protect his honor. (He is very careful not to disturb the lucrative trade between The Netherlands and Turkey.) That does not give license to insult.
Clearly, the rhetoric of the Turkish strongman is only meant for internal consumption. He does not care about the morality of Germans. Rather, he aims to collect votes of Turks who like to support a leader tickling their nationalistic pride bone.
However, even if his verbal abuse is only meant to find favor with his voters, these words are unacceptable and must be widely rejected. Such a rejection shows how abject unbridled nationalism is, how unfit Turkey presently is to join Europe, and that Germany has friends that stand by her.
One could think how to help Turkey not move further away from modernity. It used to be such a nice example of a marriage between Islam and democracy. For starters, a distinction should be made between (still) innocent Turks and Turkish despots. (As soon as a Turkish majority has voted for Erdogan’s absolute reign, it will be as guilty as the Germans who voted Hitler into power.) But in any case, insulting Germans cannot be tolerated. Duly noted!