Sunday, June 6, 2010

This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man

I am reading the letter from Namik Tan, Turkish ambassador to the US,  published in Washington Post and I must say that it is quite an amazing letter. The document is so pathetically dishonest and internally contradictory, that  the most suitable response to it would be to quote the reply that Secretary of State Cordell Hull gave when he had received Japanese declaration of war in 1941: "In all my fifty years of public service I have never seen a docu­ment that was more crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions‑infamous falsehoods and distortions on a scale so huge that I never imagined until today that any Government on this planet was capable of uttering them."

The article starts with author declaring that evil Jews slaughtered 9 "peace activists" who were merely guilty of trying to deliver "humanitarian aid to ease the desperate lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip". This by itself is a falsehood, since the "peace activists" publicly declared that their main goal was to break the blockade that Israel maintains around Hamas-controlled territories - and any aid to Gazan population was completely accidental. Moreover, same "peace activists" were given the chance to deliver all the aid they brought - with a simple condition that Israeli troops check the ship and make sure that the peace activists are not trying to smuggle any illegal goods or weapons. It does not help Namik Tan that the "peace activists" openly proclaim that they accepted only two options for themselves (and they were happy about both of them) - either break the blockade or become "martyrs" - martyrs for Hamas.

The next line of thought presented in the article was equally puzzling - even though Namik believes that Israel owes Turkey an apology - he publicly proclaims that Turkey had nothing to do with this flotilla - it was all an initiative of private individuals of the world. In effect, Namik builds up a human shield of respectable participants in his effort to prove how peaceful the "peace activists" were.
It was an international aid convoy made up of nationals of 32 countries taking food, toys, medical equipment and similar aid to the people of Gaza, who have been deprived of these basic commodities for years. Among the ships' 600 activists were Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, European lawmakers, journalists, business leaders and an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor -- hardly targets who could pose a threat to Israel's well-trained commandos.
This line of reasoning begs the question - why then Israel owes Turkey an apology? What's so special about Turkey? He later concedes that the participants of the international convoy used somewhat inappropriate language - namely the battle cries of Mohhamed's hoards before they slaughtered the Jews in the 7th century. Moreover, same peace activists were kind enough to tell the Jews to go back to Auschwitz. According to Namik, no one should mind those understandable outbursts of antisemitism and bigotry among the "peace activists" - it's a freedom of speech issue, nothing more - something we all celebrate. It remained unclear from his explanation whether it was the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan-Maguire who screamed about killing the Jews, the European lawmakers, journalists, business leaders or an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor - I guess we will find out this later.

But this is really besides the point, since everyone supports freedom of speech - everyone except very few isolated extremists. Sadly, the prime-minister of Turkey (and Namik's boss) Recep Erdogan is among those isolated extremists - and he is quite vocal about the limits of freedom of speech when it concerns Islam. For example, Erdogan called on the international community to declare the enmity against Islam a “crime against humanity”. Prime-Minister Erdogan expects "members of other civilisations to declare Islamophobia a crime against humanity, especially while we say that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity.” Turkish press quotes him as saying: "Caricatures of prophet Muhammad are an attack against our spiritual values. There should be a limit of freedom of press."
There may be even more that meets the eye in Namik's article. According to ambassador, "In any democratic country, people have freedom of expression so long as they avoid violence." And Namik is not shy to point out that he views Turkey as "a redoubt of secularism and democracy in our region, striving hard to protect its own citizens." As I showed earlier, this is a remarkable statement, given Namik's boss calls on the world to jail those who draw caricatures of Mohammed. It becomes even more remarkable, when we find out that Turkey jails her citizens for insulting "Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, or Turkish government institutions". Here is what it says in Turkish Penal Code, Article 301:
1.A person who publicly denigrates Turkishness, the Republic or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and three years.
2.A person who publicly denigrates the Government of the Republic of Turkey, the judicial institutions of the State, the military or security organizations shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years.
3.In cases where denigration of Turkishness is committed by a Turkish citizen in another country the punishment shall be increased by one third.
4.Expressions of thought intended to criticize shall not constitute a crime.
Mind you, that as late as 2007, Arat Dink and Serkis Seropyan were convicted to one-year suspended sentences under Article 301 for printing Dink's claims that the killings of Armenians in 1915 was a genocide.

In this light, some of Namik's claims can be read as a brave indictment of brutal Turkish regime, which violates the most basics principles of free speech - and I am openly worrying for his safety. What if Turkish Prime Minister reads this article and finds out that according to Namik, "people have freedom of expression so long as they avoid violence" - does this not sound like a direct challenge to Turkish laws? Is he saying that Turkey is not democratic? And should we assume that Namik is upset that his boss demanded the world community to jail people for insulting Islam? Never mind that, my reader, don't you worry for the Turkish bureaucrat - his views extend only to the Jews - and any attempt to apply his free-speeching views to Turkey will be struck down by Namik himself as an insult to Turkishness. He may even try to jail you...

Another interesting perspective on Namik's unfortunate comments about antisemitism as freedom of speech lies in connection with Namik's insistance on calling the antisemitic scum - as "peace activists". If I were to make an analogy - who hasn't seen civil rights activists running around screaming about "niggers" and "kikes" and "wetbacks" and "japs" - this is what they do on a regular basis in America. Which is why it is not shocking that "peace activists" armed with knives and baseball bats, violently demanding second Holocaust and dreaming about dying for the glory of Hamas are innocent peace loving civilian angels according to Namik. Anyone who does not see this is guilty of insufficient understanding of cultural diversity - not all things are viewed similarily in the Islamic world and the Western civilization. For example, while Westerners normally stay away from Hitler,  Mein Kampf is the best-seller in the moslem world - including "secular, democratic Turkey". This too explains why moslem peace activists seem foreign to an untrained Western eye - but give it time, and we shall get more accustomed to the view.

Another peculiar feature in the article is Namik's insistence that Turkey is a secular republic. Just a few days ago, the secular leader of secular and democratic Turkey, prime-minister Erdogan publicly proclaimed that Sudanese government cannot possibly commit genocide in Darfur because "It’s not possible for a Muslim to commit genocide. That’s why we are comfortable [with the visit of al-Bashir, Sudanese president].” He was equally empathetic towards Hamas - for example he said: “I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization. They are Palestinians in resistance, fighting for their own land.” While all religions are equal in Turkey, some religions are more equal than others. Back in 2004, Turkey denounced Israeli assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as a "terrorist act". It also described the Israeli policy in the Gaza Strip as "state-sponsored terrorism." Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza and described Israel's actions as a "crime against humanity." [These are same Turks who have no problem bombing Kurds into oblivion]. And the moderate secular democratic prime-minister of seculare Turkey said in 1998: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers". If this does not sound like secularism - then nothing does!

In the end, I want to note that Turkey's government is tirelessly working for peace in the Middle East. Just recently they gave Iran another opportunity to flunk the world sanctions. And now, Turkish Prime-Minister is threatening to send Turkish fleet (under his own command) to break through Israeli blockade and finally deliver all the humanitarian aid that Hamas so severely requires - chocolate, cement and a few Skuds to terrorise protest those pesky Jews. After all - this is what the friends are for. Of course, Turkey may be on thin ice here - since Israel may decide that Kurds are indeed worthy of statehood, and deserve humanitarian aid - which can include a little bit of training with Mossad and a moderate amount of explosives. Moreover, Turks are not known for their naval glory - so Turkish PM may indeed prepare for martyrdom. It's a bit unpractical for him to leave the quiet of his official residency and wander too close to Israel - the Jews may decide to bite him.

1 comment:

Trestin Meacham said...

I think it's safe to say we have lost Turkey. We had better keep an eye on the stuffing.