Those terribly tempestuous Turks

Yesterday at a rally in Istanbul attended by thousands of protesters denouncing Israel and the USA for President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as our capital, the leader of that once-liberal Muslim country, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,  spewed violent and hateful words against Israel and Israelis.

Like the blood libels of Christian Europe, he accused us of murdering thousands of Palestinian children.

The truth is that if children were killed in any battle or attack, it was never intentional on the part of the Israeli military. Those children were caught up in the missile fires and street riots. Our military did not go knocking on Arab doors in search of children to be killed.  God forbid!

Erdogan accuses Israel of violation of international laws and human rights. He is the pot which calls the kettle black. His Turkey has never acknowledged the genocide of 1915-1917 when the Ottoman Turkish forces massacred more than one million Armenian and Greek Christians who had lived in Turkey for hundreds of years.

Those Turkish forces went from door to door throughout the cities and villages in Turkey seeking out Christian men, women, children and babies for extermination. Hundreds of the Armenian refugees found shelter in Jerusalem where their children and grandchildren live in peace and prosperity today.

Most of the voices of the Christian world were stilled.  1915-1917 was the era of too many Silent Nights. So some 20 years later, Adolf Hitler in Germany remarked “the world does not remember the Armenian massacres in Turkey; they will not lift up voices in protest of our anti-Jewish policies”.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a military officer in the Turkish army during World War I, was also a noted revolutionary who organized a revolt against the Ottoman Turkish government and who signed the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 which changed Ottoman Turkey into the Republic of Turkey. He became the first president of the modern Turkish republic from 1923 until his death in 1938.

He is regarded to this day in sacred memory as the father of modern Turkey. He liberalized the country introducing democratic rule, abolishing the fez and head coverings and dress of women, he changed the Arabic script into Latinized letters, and he gave freedoms to his people such as they had not known before.

He must now be rolling over in his Ankara grave in shame of the Erdogan government. He had given freedom of the press, right to free speech and assembly….all things which Erdogan has criminalized. Turkish jails are crowded with journalists who wrote things unfavorable to President Erdogan. Free speech is challenged and anyone who speaks against him or his government is subject to arrest.

For some reason, Turkey has been a very popular vacation site for Israeli tourists. Gold jewelry, leather goods and luxury items which are so costly in Tel-Aviv shops can be purchased much cheaper in the bazaars of Istanbul. It would be extremely advisable for Israeli citizens to plan their vacations and shopping sprees elsewhere.

For the present moment, those terribly tempestuous Turks are not our friends and our safety and our lives cannot be assured while traveling along the beaches and roads of that country.

For too long, Israel has played the role of the harlot, the prostitute. A nation which suffered the murders of six million of our people has never lifted up its voice in condemnation of the Turkish genocide. Our government has kept silent because we needed the aid and support at the UN and other international conferences of a friendly, modern Muslim nation. And Turkey fit that role perfectly, until recently.

We owe an overdue support to our Armenian Christian citizens. We should join with them in their un-ashamed outcry and together formally issue a condemnation of the Turkish genocide in 1915-1917.

If we as a Jewish State which represents Jews across the globe hold our tongues and remain silent, we cannot criticize Holocaust deniers.

Those terribly tempestuous Turks will survive without our tourism and our shekels. Their dictator Erdogan will be only too pleased to see his country Israeli-rein.

And our Jewish consciences will be uplifted as we support the human rights for all people in all lands.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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