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Mordechai Kedar: What Drives Turkey?

Palestinian and Turkish flags

Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Gul also does not relate to the issue of joining the European Union, and he ignored the insult that Europe caused to Turkey when it refused to accept it into the Union. In light of the present economic condition of Europe, he, and many other Turks are fairly content that they were not accepted into the European Union, because the last thing that Turkey wants is to support the Greek economy. Compared to the economic disaster of Europe – economic growth of approximately one percent – Turkey is an economic paradise with an average eight percent growth in all recent years.

Here it is fitting to bring two responses that were attached to Gul’s article on the Internet site “Elaf.”

Under the title “Turkey and its Democracy” al-Batifi, who, according to his words, lives in Iraq, writes:

“Turkey has not achieved anything relating to the problem of the [Kurdish] people with whom the Turkish share their state. Moreover, the Kurdish people in Turkey, which is half of its residents, suffers from poverty, unemployment, ethnic oppression and repression of free thought. And while Erdogan sends support to Somalia and the rest of the African states, victims of earthquakes that struck Van, the Kurdish city, did not merit any support. And worse, the support that was sent to them [from abroad] was stolen on the main streets under the open eyes of the military personnel and the police who did not lift a finger. You, the Turks, were heroes when you killed dozens of young Kurdish men and boys as they smuggled food and fuel to their indigent families, and you did it using American and Israeli drones, until one of the American newspapers revealed this terrible crime. The criminals who committed this terrible crime were not brought to justice, and the hypocritical world who supports you in the West [The U.S.] and the East [Russia, Iran] is clearly your partner. Turkey will have no rest and will not progress in development if the Kurdish people within it does not receive all of its legitimate rights”

In another response, under the title “Racism”, Izat writes:

“Abdullah Gul speaks about all the problems of the world, but he forgets the problem of a large part of his people, who are the Kurds. He doesn’t relate to this problem at all, despite the armed struggle that arose involving tens of thousands. This is the Turkish racism that dwells in the hearts of both the nationalists [seculars] and the Islamists [religious] as one.”

Regarding the Kurdish issue, which the president of Turkey elegantly avoided, and relating to which the respondents quoted above hold up a mirror to his face, it is fitting that the State of Israel do some soul searching. Israeli weapons that have been sold to Turkey for many years served the regime in its war against the Kurds, and in Israel they were well aware of this. It is right that the PKK organization is defined as a terror group, and it is right that the violent struggle that it conducted in the streets of Turkey and its mountains perhaps justified this definition, and despite the fact that we have our parallel problem with the Palestinians, and Kurdish success in freeing itself from the Turkish yoke of oppression would perhaps encourage the Palestinian struggle against us, still it is appropriate for us to raise the ethical question of whether the price that Turkey has paid – and perhaps is still paying – for Israeli weapons is worth our pangs of conscience for supporting the oppression of the Kurds.

I don’t claim that Israel must supply weapons to the Kurds, which might encourage them to start a general rebellion that perhaps they will succeed in. However, it is appropriate to consider the ethical issue regarding Turkey, the regional power, concerning questions that involve oppression of the Kurds today as well as with the slaughter of the Armenians in the past. I am not a fan of Yosi Sarid, and I don’t share his opinions, but his demand to include the Armenian genocide in the Israeli curriculum – when he was Minister of Education during the Rabin government after 1992 – still echoes in my ears. He was silenced then in the name of “interests”, but I felt that he was right. We can support the Kurds, for example, by filing suits in the international courts against the Turkish officers about the way they treat the Kurdish population in Turkey and in Iraq. We can teach Turkey one of the rules of proper behavior: “He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones”.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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