Jack Mendel
The Online Editor at the Jewish News

Where were the activists as Turkey’s tanks rolled into Syria?

Local residents applaud as a convoy of Turkish forces trucks transporting tanks is driven in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria  (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis via Jewish News)
Local residents applaud as a convoy of Turkish forces trucks transporting tanks is driven in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis via Jewish News)

Turkey’s offensive in Northern Syria should have led to outrage, but it hasn’t; because there isn’t the ideological framework to mobilise would-be angry activists.

Last week President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of troops in Northern Syria, which has led to Turkish tanks rolling over the border.

An estimated 100,000 Kurdish civilians have already been forced to flee their homes, while hundreds of ISIS affiliates have escaped from Kurdish jails.

This is a catastrophe for the region, with the potential for igniting extremism, and further destabilising one of the most already unstable places on earth.

So where are the campaigners, who usually need no excuse to pick up their BDS placards?

One would expect this violation of international law by a Nato member would lead to a big demonstration in the heart of London, maybe government meetings, condemnations, an arms embargo?

Yet little has been done.

It isn’t on the front pages, it’s barely on television or social media, and anger is not apparent on the streets.

The reality is, Turkey does not evoke the same passions as Israel-Palestine, where a wall rhetoric mobilises campaigners. There is no movement similar to anti-Zionism for Turkey.

In other words, it is not seen as the ‘issue of our time’, as Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is routinely portrayed.

This has led to 45 percent of motions at the United Nations Human Rights Council being tabled about Israel, and it having a ‘standing agenda item for Israel’ every time it meets (article 7).

Criticism of Turkey has been toothless. If only the UNHRC had a special motion to discuss it.

Britain has also decided not to join Germany and France in pledging to halt arms sales to Turkey, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called on Turkey to “exercise maximum restraint and to bring an end to this unilateral military action”.

This comes after Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatened  to send some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees his country hosts into Europe, if Europe dare brand his offensive precisely what it is – an ‘invasion.’

If rumours began circulating that Israel planned a mere fraction of what Turkey is doing there would rightly be anger.There’d be protests, strongly worded letters in the Guardian signed by Ken Loach and co and statements in the Commons.

This conspicuous lack of opprobrium exposes the insincerity and agendas of so many so-called human rights campaigners.

The international community does not just disproportionately criticise Israel and fail to hold genuine abusers like Russia, China and Turkey to account – an entire eco-system is in place enabling criticism of Israel to rise to the top as rapidly as possible – which exists for no other country. Why might that be?

About the Author
Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.
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