Last Thursday, two Turkish businessmen stopped for lunch in a fish restaurant during a business trip to Edirne in the Babaeski region.
At some point during their meal, the restaurant owner figured out that they were Jews.
Rather than show them the hospitality Turkey is renowned for, he said he won’t serve Jews, and began cursing them and the Torah. He then took a long knife off the counter and threatened to kill them.
The men ran for their lives.
Anti-Semitic attacks have become regular events in Turkey. In December, after leaving an anti-corruption rally in Istanbul, a young woman was attacked by 10 to 15 supporters of Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan who had just left a support rally for the premier.
They accused her of being a Jew, as they beat her up.
In an interview with The Times of Israel, Turkish opposition MP Ayken Kerdemir said that Erdogan has cultivated Turkish anti-Semitism. “He is not only capitalizing on the existing sentiments, Kerdemir explained. Erdogan is “fueling some of that anti-Israel and anti-Semitic feeling… with his rhetoric, conspiracy theories, campaign slogans and actions.”
Kerdemir explained that Erdogan’s cultivation of anti-Semitism in Turkish society will continue to affect Turkey’s behavior and social values long after he is gone. “Even after Erdogan and AKP are gone, even if [the opposition party] CHP comes to power, it will take us quite some time to mend inter-societal relations through dialogue, awareness raising and sensitivity training.”
Once you let that genie out of the bottle, it is very hard to stuff it back inside.
Erdogan’s anti-Semitism is not opportunistic. He isn’t simply exploiting a popular prejudice for his own benefit. He is an anti-Semite. And his anti-Semitism informs his behavior toward Israel.
In Kerdemir’s view, Erdogan’s uncontrollable hatred of Jews makes it impossible for him to agree to reconcile Turkey’s relations with Israel.
It isn’t simply that Erdogan cannot reconcile with Israel because he hates Jews. As is almost always the case with anti-Semites, Erdogan’s anti-Semitism is part of his general authoritarian outlook informed by a paranoid mindset.
Erdogan sees a Jewish conspiracy behind every independent power base in Turkey. And his rejection of Israel is an integral part of his rejection of all forces in Turkey that are not dependent on his good offices.
Over the past 10 years, and with ever increasing brutality, paranoia and intensity, Erdogan has sought to destroy all independent power bases in the country. He purged the military by placing hundreds of generals in prison in his delusional Ergenekon conspiracy in which they were accused of seeking to overthrow his Islamist government.
He has destroyed most of the independent media in the country and sent hundreds of journalists and editors to prison.
The same is the case with independent businessmen.
Over the past year, Erdogan destroyed whatever remained of the plausible deniability he initially fostered between himself and the systematic abrogation of civil rights and the rule of law in Turkey.
This week, 17 people were sentenced to two years each in prison for “deliberately insulting the premier and not regretting their actions,” during a small demonstration in 2012 protesting the government’s health policy.
Also this week, Erdogan acknowledged that he calls television broadcasters in the middle of news shows and orders them to stop the broadcast of information he doesn’t want the public to know. This has included ending the live broadcast of a speech in parliament by the opposition leader, ending coverage of the mass anti-government demonstrations last summer, and removing a news ticker that reported on the corruption scandals surrounding Erdogan and his cronies.
Erdogan has also reacted to the corruption investigations of his cronies by firing the public prosecutors and police officers involved in the investigations.
To maintain the public’s support for his burgeoning dictatorship, Erdogan has adopted populist economic policies that have sunk the Turkish economy. To buy the public’s allegiance, Erdogan has borrowed heavily internationally and artificially lowered Turkey’s interest rates, even as the local currency dropped in value in international markets and Turkey’s current accounts deficits outpaced Greece’s on the eve of its economic meltdown.
As David Goldman explained last week in a financial analysis of Turkey’s incipient economic meltdown in The Asia Times, rather than raise consumer interests rates, Erdogan has blamed the Jews by railing against “the interest rate lobby.”
Indeed, since he first invoked the term during the anti-government demonstrations last August, Erdogan has taken to blaming the interest rate cabal for all of Turkey’s woes.
Goldman argues that part of Turkey’s credit crisis owes to its apparent reliance on interbank loans from Saudi Arabia. In part due to their anger at Erdogan for his support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudis have apparently stopped loaning to Turkish banks.
The Saudis’ action has pushed Erdogan into the waiting arms of Iran’s ayatollahs. In an interviewwith Business Insider, Australia, terror financing expert Jonathan Schanzer said Turkey and Iran were able to minimize the impact of the international sanctions on Iran’s energy sector. Between June 2012 and June 2013, the Turkish-Iranian “gas for gold” sanctions-busting scheme brought Iran $13 billion in hard currency.
Erdogan’s hatred of Jews, his authoritarian mindset and his Islamist ideology informed his decision to transform Turkey into one of the leading sponsors of terrorism. In addition to its massive support for Hamas, beginning in the 2006 First Lebanon War Turkey began providing assistance to Hezbollah.
Then there is al-Qaida. Turkey has long harbored al-Qaida financiers. And according to IDF Intelligence head Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Turkey hosts three al-Qaida bases on its territory that enable terrorists to transit between Europe and Syria.
Erdogan’s ideological underpinning directs his embrace of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaida. But his decimation of Turkey’s economy has made him view Iran as Turkey’s economic savior. And that in turn pushes Turkey even deeper into the jihadist camp.
Obviously in this situation, the chance that Turkey will agree to reconcile with Israel, at any price, is nil.
Read the rest of this important article at Caroline Glick’s blog
- Be Careful What You Say in Today’s Turkey (clarionproject.org)