Dear Mr. Kiniklioğlu,
I write in response to your op-ed article, This Israeli Government Has Gone Too Far, in last Wednesday’s International Herald Tribune.
“It makes yer sick . . .” So a dear, late uncle of mine would commence his not infrequent tirades against the hypocrisy and double standards of the international community and media in its treatment of Israel. And, after reading your ill-thought-out piece, I have not been able to get Uncle Stanley’s words out of my head.
As Deputy Chairman of External Affairs in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Spokesman of your parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, I would have expected you to know at least a little of your own country’s human rights record, however uncomfortable the facts.
From the opening, however, of your article’s second paragraph – “I have many friends in Israel . . .” (the equivalent of the anti-Semite’s familiar “Some of my best friends are Jews . . .”) – I feared the worst. And your description of the raid on the Gaza flotilla and of its “peace activists” – they of the delightful “Go back to Auschwitz” call – flies in the face of all the evidence, which clearly shows an attempted lynch of IDF soldiers.
How would Turkey respond to another country daring to interfere with its treatment of the Kurds? And how would your soldiers respond to beatings with iron bars, to having their weapons grabbed and turned on them, and to being thrown off the deck of a ship? Would Turkey provide the “independent investigation”, “apology”, “compensation” and “punish[ment]” which you now demand of Israel?
Your reference to the war which Israel “unleashed” in Gaza totally ignores its cause: eight long years of Hamas rocket attacks (still continuing). Turkey has hardly been a model of restraint when it comes to its Hamas, the Kurdish PKK. Moreover, conditions in Gaza make it seem like The Ritz compared to Turkey’s savagely neglected Kurdish hinterlands.
Turkey is not one-tenth of the democracy that Israel is (and after only 62 years of existence). Seeing as your Masters in International Relations would appear to have excluded them from its syllabus, here are just a few of the uncomfortable details:
- In 2008, Turkey ranked second (after Russia) in the list of countries with the largest number of open human rights violation cases at the European Court of Human Rights (source, and see this table).
- In addition to thousands of “disappearances”, by the close of 2008, a total of 2,949 people had been killed by unknown perpetrators and 2,308 by extrajudicial executions in the, primarily Kurdish, southeast and eastern regions of Turkey (source).
- Turkish politicians, trade unionists, journalists and human rights activists (genuine ones!) have been convicted merely for having used the word “Kurdistan” (source), while Turkey has a long history of deaths at demonstrations due to excessive police force, with 13 killed during a PKK funeral as recently as March 2006 (source).
For details of Turkey’s “cultural genocide” of the Kurds, its invasion, occupation and ethnic cleansing of northern Cyprus, and – most heinous of all – its extermination of up to one a half million Armenians, see here, here and here.
Where do you find the gall, Mr. Kiniklioğlu, to lecture Israel (or any country for that matter) about “blatant disregard for international norms and law”, to quote Amnesty International – whose website dedicates one hundred webpages solely to Turkey (and, then, only going back to 1994!) – or to moralise about what “the conscience of the Turks” can or cannot “carry the burden of”? What contemptible hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness!
The feebleness of your argument (if indeed there is one) is reflected in your desperate, shameful references to how the Turks “welcomed the Jews escaping from the Inquisition in Spain in 1492” and to how your “diplomats have risked their lives to save European Jews from the Nazis” (according to my research, a total of three Turks have been honoured by Yad Vashem).
You conveniently (cunningly?) omit to mention, however, the self-interest inherent in the Sultan’s and Atatürk’s aforementioned actions, and the subsequent huge contribution – especially commercial – of Turkish Jewry to your country. You also overlook, inter alia, Turkey’s racist 1942 Wealth Tax, its role in the Struma disaster of the same year, and the no less than three terrorist attacks on Istanbul’s Neve Shalom Synagogue.
Have you forgotten, too, the hundreds of Israeli search and rescue workers who risked their own lives in order to save Turks in the aftermath of the 1999 Izmit earthquake?
You seem to consider that Turkey has been doing Israel a huge favour, all these years, by accepting arms supplies and upgrades, together with military intelligence and know-how, from our vastly superior army and air force.
No, it was not “the Israeli raid”, as you mischievously (duplicitously?) suggest, that “was a turning point for Turkish attitudes towards Israel” or which “crossed a critical threshold” . . . but rather your prime minister’s and party’s decision to realign Turkey with the terrorist states of Syria and Iran (you disingenuously also throw into your article mention of “the tension surrounding Iran’s nuclear program”, in which Turkey is now an accomplice). In such circumstances, writing that “Turks regard the current Israeli government as unfriendly” would be akin to Hitler having said that about the Russians, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union!
It is worrying that the International Herald Tribune sees fit to publish such dangerous, ill-thought-out drivel, merely by virtue of its author being a member of his country’s parliament. Had you submitted the same as part of an undergraduate degree in Politics at a British university (or even at a former polytechnic), it would have received a straight “F”.
To give you some idea of the strength of feeling here about your country’s double standards, an Israeli artist friend of mine – by no means a right-winger – related to me over coffee yesterday morning how he had walked 45 minutes to the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv merely to “give it the finger” (literally). And I, too, give you the finger, Mr. Kiniklioğlu, together with your vile, knuckle-dragging nation of hypocrites.
If you have anything to say in your defence – as to why you believe that your sickening hypocrisy and double standards should not earn you June’s Mook of the Month (with your reputation, from Web searches of your name, being forever associated with mookness) – I invite you to post it to
[I have e-mailed this post to Mr. Kiniklioğlu via the contact page of his website.]