Sunday, January 25, 2009

Turkish antisemitism is nothing new

An alarming spike of antisemitism (in which the government is complicit) over Israel's war in Gaza, has shaken Turkish Jews. But as Dr Andrew Bostom reminds us in Front Page magazine, Turkish antisemitism is nothing new:

On August 28, 2007, the same day that Abdullah Gul became Turkey's President -- replacing his secular predecessor, and further consolidating the ruling Islamic AK (Adalet ve Kalkinma) Party's (AKP) hold on power -- MEMRI published excerpts from a chilling interview given by former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. The interview originally aired July 1, 2007, as part of Erbakan's campaign efforts in support of Islamic fundamentalist political causes before the general elections of July 22, 2007, and the AKP's resounding popular electoral victory over its closest "secularist" rival parties.

Erbakan, founder of the fundamentalist Islamic Milli Gorus (National Vision; originated 1969) movement, mentored current AKP leaders President Gul, and Prime Minister Erdogan, both of whom were previously active members of Erbakan's assorted fundamentalist political parties, serving in mayoral, ministerial, and parliamentary posts. During Erbakan's pre-election campaign stops before throngs of tens of thousands of supporters throughout Anatolia (including cities such as Trabzon, Elazig, and Konya), as well as cosmopolitan Ankara and Istanbul, he reiterated the same virulently Antisemitic statements captured in the July 1 interview, and other interviews.

These interviews and more expansive speeches were rife with allusions to Zionists/Jews (deliberately conflated), as "bacteria," and "disease," conspiring to dominate the contemporary Islamic world ("from Morocco to Indonesia,"), as they had attempted unsuccessfully during the 11th and 12th centuries when Jews purportedly "organized" the Crusades, only to be stopped by the Turk's/Erbakan's Seljuk "forefathers." Ultimately, Erbakan claimed, modern Jews/Zionists wished to establish "a world order where money and manpower are dependent on [them]."

For over thirty years, Necmettin Erbakan a former chairman of the fundamentalist National Salvation Party, and its numerous offshoots, have represented the most significant examples of Turkish Muslim political organizations exploiting systematized anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist bigotry. Erbakan's ascension to Deputy Prime Minister in January, 1974, was marked by Pan-Islamic overtures, along with increasingly strident verbal violence against Jews, Zionism, and the State of Israel emanating from the National Salvation Party's organs, especially its daily Milli Gazete (The National Newspaper), published in Istanbul since January 12, 1973.

The modern fundamentalist Islamic movement Erbakan founded has continued to produce the most extreme strain of antisemitism extant in Turkey, and traditional Islamic motifs, i.e., frequent quotations from the Koran and Hadith, remain central to this hatred, nurtured by early Islam's basic animus towards Judaism. Milli Gazete published articles in February and April of 2005, for example, which were toxic amalgams of ahistorical drivel, and virulently antisemitic and anti-dhimmi Koranic motifs, including these protoypical comments based upon Koran 2:61/ 3:112:
In fact no amount of pages or lines would be sufficient to explain the Qur'anic chapters and our Lord Prophet's [Muhammad's] words that tell us of the betrayals of the Jews... The prophets sent to them, such as Zachariah and Isaiah, were murdered by the Jews...
The April 2005 edition of the monthly Aylik, produced by a Turkish jihadist organization which claimed responsibility for the November 15, 2003 dual synagogue bombings in Istanbul, contained 18 pages of antisemitic material. An article written by Cumali Dalkilic entitled, "Why Antisemitism?", combined traditional Koranic antisemitic motifs with Nazi antisemitism, and Holocaust denial. Another article's title repeats the commonplace, if very pejorative Turkish Muslim characterization of Jews, "Tschifit," which translates as "filthy Jews" (a pejorative term for Jews whose usage was recorded by the European travelers Carsten Niebuhr in 1794, and Abdolonyme Ubicini in 1856, based upon their visits to Ottoman Turkey), i.e., "The Tschifits [The Filthy Jews] Castle."

Read article in full

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Çıfıt is a indeed a derogatory term for "Jew" in Ottoman and modern Turkish. Translating it as "filthy Jew", however, is misleading. The word can also mean "miser." When used in reference to Jews it implies miserliness and sometimes disorder or deviousness. The word is still current and still used, sadly enough. It is also still in use in former parts of the Ottoman Empire, e.g. "Chifuti" or, as a contemptuous form of address "Chifo," in modern Bulgarian. One hears this term quite often in Bulgaria, where antisemitic stereotypes, conspiracy theories, and "jokes" became and remain all the rage after the fall of communism, and where antisemitic verbal slurs are part and parcel of polite society. SL