MIDDLE EAST FORUM
Sorry to Remind You, but Golda Meir Was Right - Part III
By BURAK BEKDIL
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 the '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.
First published in Hürriyet Daily News and Gatestone Institute on August 29, 2014. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4658/golda-meir-was-right
Burak Bekdīl, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily News and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.