Friday, July 27, 2018

Israel's State Law: Turkey and Arab states are hypocrites

 Israel's Nationality Law has provoked a furious reaction around the world. Some have criticised it because they are not comfortable with any expression of Jewish self-determination.  It has been pointed out that many countries around the world, including European democracies, have similar laws asserting the pre-eminence of the majority ethnic group, religion and language, but only in Israel's case is this deemed 'controversial.'

(Others - including in Israel's own government -  think that more should have been done to reaffirm minority rights in Israel, pointing out that  the 'downgrading' of Arabic from an 'official' language to one of 'special status' has frightened loyal minorities such as the Druze.)

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League countries have joined the chorus of disapproval. Jews who have lived in Arab countries - and were forced to leave them -  can only marvel at their monumental hypocrisy: not one of these countries has every treated their minorities fairly and nearly all are Judenrein, yet they have the gall the lecture the Jewish state.

Naturally, the Turkish dictator Tayyip Erdogan has not missed this opportunity to slam Israel.  This post from Elder of Ziyon is interesting because Erdogan is often blamed for a resurgence of Turkish antisemitism. Secular, westernised Turkey under Mustapha Kamal Ataturk is held up as a model for Muslim nations to follow. But as this snapshot of the anti-Jewish atmosphere in 1934 shows, not only were Jews at the mercy of the mob, but Ataturk himself declared himself unwilling to stand between the Jews and the destructive will of the people.

 From the blog of Yekta Uzunoglu, quoted in Elder of Ziyyon (with thanks: Jeanette):

May 25, 1934

The Jewish community in Turkey, in despair and fear of the coming pogroms, approached the Prime Minister Ismet Inönü himself and to the Minister of Interior Affairs Sükrü Kaya and appealed for protection provided by state authorities, against the attacks by crowds, goaded by mysterious forces… The appeal was never answered.

June 14, 1934

The Turkish government responded in a special way, by approving a shameful fascist law aimed especially against the Jews and their properties.

The law begins with a quotation: This law has been approved to make sure that one language is spoken in the country, there is one thought, one and identical feeling and consciousness, especially for the Islamic homeland, and therefore:

a) The areas where Turkish culture represents a minority are nationalized
b) All of the areas and regions, where representatives of Turkish culture could be relocated, are nationalized
c) All of the buildings, facilities, including houses and factories belonging to those who are not Mohammedan, are nationalized. They will serve for our health, culture, politics, army and civil guard.
Section 11 of the same law states:

 “Those who do not speak Turkish as their mother tongue have no right to set up new neighbourhoods, new villages, new workplaces, artistic groups or societies, new schools, and they have no right to cede their trade, their professions or companies to their descendants, relatives or people of the same origin.”

June 21,  1934

The Turkish Government issued the Surname Act

All minorities living in Turkey were obliged to accept the Turkish surnames they were assigned etc. They were the Jews, Kurds, Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Roma, simply all of them. A new wave of forcing minorities to become Turks began and it continues until now. Just exceptionally, a member of such a minority succeeds in making the Turkish authorities to approve the change to the original surname. Well, in recent years some of them may have succeeded in claiming the original surnames back but it happened only due to bribes, but the ban is still in force. The order was not related just to peoples’ names but also to the names of mountains, rocks, streams, animals, plants or even flowers.

Immediately, after the law was passed, a lot of Jews dwelling in the European part of Turkey, i.e. near the borders with Greece and Bulgary, were relocated to the steppes of Central Anatolia, under the pretext of intelligence activities.

June 21, 1934

In the City of Dardanelles, where nearly 1500 Jews lived at that time, attacks were started against Jewish shops. “Unofficial” guards were standing in front of the shops and did not let citizens enter. They placed notices on Jewish house doors, with a threatening appeal saying that the people must leave the city immediately to avoid being murdered.

June 25, 1934

All of the Jews of Dardanelles and the city of Gelibol left the cities and they were allowed to take just personal belongings with them… On the same day, “purely by coincidence”, the city was visited by the Turkish President Atatürk, the Father of all Turks, accompanied by the Iranian Shah Riza Pehlevi… they came as conquerors. And they were greeted by applause and cheering by the fanaticized crowds…

Mustapha Kamal Ataturk meeting Shah Reza Pahlavi I of Iran

One of the witnesses described the arrival of “the Father of the Turkish Nation” Atatürk, just on the fatal day when the Jewish residents were forced to leave the city, saying:

“… the crowd cheered at Atatürk’s arrival, shouting “May he live forever!” and Atatürk’s car stopped among the cheering crowds, he got out of the car, more self-confident than ever, his appearing put the crowd to the top of ecstasy. Atatürk enjoyed the feeling of being admired, as the person giving wealth to his pears, he walked among them, stopped for a while, and at that moment a citizen broke away and ran towards him. The guards tried to stop him but Atatürk, believing that the man is one of his admirers, ordered the guards to let him come and they had to obey.

The disillusioned citizen knelt down on the ground and raised both arms towards heaven, saying in despair,

“-My Pasha, for the God’s life, are they driving us out of our own city? Where are we to go? What shall we do, oh my God?”

Atatürk understood immediately who the man was and what he expected from him, nevertheless he asked him ironically and in a mocking way, “-Who are you?”

“-My Holy Pasha, I am a local Jew from Dardanelles, Avram Palto.”

“-And who is driving you out? The Government? The Laws? The Police? The Gendarmerie? Go ahead, tell me”!

The Jewish citizen of Dardanelles, who was to lose all his property on that day and to leave his own city, replied in despair,

“No, my Almighty Pasha, the people are driving us away!”

And Atatürk started laughing and then said with a strict look,

Well, if they are the people, nothing can be done, if the people wished, they could drive away even myself,” and he returned to his car where there was his guest, the Shah of Iran.

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1 comment:

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

since the 1920s, the supposedly secular-democratic govt of Turkey has gotten away with murder literally and figuaratively. The image of Ataturk has been idealized and left unjustly untarnished since 1920s. Yet he drove the Greeks out of Anatolia, naturally killing many in the process as well as killing survivors of the Armenian genocide.

The story of the Jews and other minorities in Turkey during the years of WWW2 is an ugly one but is seldom told.
a reminder for Europe of some buried history. search for Smyrna on these blog posts: