Upon returning from a visit to Saudi Arabia late on Thursday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cited a striking example to illustrate his quest for consolidation of executive powers.
Per a recording broadcast by the Dogan news agency, Erdogan invoked Adolf Hitler’s Germany as an effective presidential system, stating, “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.”
Clumsily attempting to explain away Erdogan’s unambiguous remarks, a senior Turkish official claimed the good President intended to highlight Nazi Germany as an example of “how not to implement” such a system, averring, “There are good and poor examples of presidential systems and the important thing is to put checks and balances in place.”
Citing Hitler is sadly concordant with the current Turkish President’s well-established animus towards Jews—rooted in Islam’s conspiratorial Jew-hating canon within Turkey and beyond.
For example, Erdogan’s religiously-inspired Jew-hatred did not pass unnoticed by Gabby Levy, an Israeli ambassador to Turkey, as recorded in a WikiLeaks cable from October, 2009, sent by the US embassy in Ankara, Turkey. Levy’s views were validated by US ambassador James Jeffrey in “C O N F I D E N T I A L ANKARA 001549. SUBJECT: ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TRACES HIS PROBLEMS TO ERDOGAN. REF: ANKARA 1532. Classified By: AMB James F. Jeffrey.” Here are relevant extracts from Ambassador’s Jeffrey’s 2009 cable:
Levy dismissed political calculation as a motivator for Erdogan’s hostility, arguing the prime minister’s party had not gained a single point in the polls from his bashing of Israel. Instead, Levy attributed Erdogan’s harshness to deep-seated emotion: “He’s a fundamentalist. He hates us religiously and his hatred is spreading.” [US ambassador Jeffrey’s observations] Our discussions with contacts both inside and outside of the Turkish government on Turkey’s deteriorating relations with Israel tend to confirm Levy’s thesis that Erdogan simply hates Israel. xxxxx discusses contributing reasons for Erdogan’s tilt on Iran/Middle East issues, but antipathy towards Israel is a factor.
As I further described in my 2012 book, Sharia Versus Freedom, former Turkish prime minister Necmettin Erbakan (1926–2011), founder of the fundamentalist Islamic Milli Gorus (National Vision; originated 1969) movement, mentored current AKP leaders Abdullah Gul and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both of whom began their careers as active members of Erbakan’s assorted fundamentalist political parties, serving in mayoral, ministerial, and parliamentary posts.
As I have detailed in the past, Erdogan wrote, directed, and played the leading role in a theatrical play titled Maskomya, staged throughout Turkey during the 1970s. He was serving as president of the Istanbul Youth Group of Erbakan’s National Salvation Party at the time. “Mas-Kom-Ya” is a compound acronym for “Masons-Communists-Yahudi” — “Jews” — and the play focused on the evil nature of these three, whose common denominator was Judaism. When Valley of the Wolves was released in Turkey in 2006, it became the most expensive film ever made in Turkey. The film included a “cinematic motif” which featured an American Jewish doctor dismembering Iraqis allegedly murdered by American soldiers in order to harvest their organs for Jewish markets. At the time, then-Prime Minister Erdogan not only failed to condemn the film, he justified its production and popularity. His wife, Emine, also attended a gala screening of the film and sat next to the movie’s star.
Erdogan’s perfidious tribute to Hitler’s executive attributes is compounded by his morally cretinous equation of Jews/the Jewish State of Israel with the Nazis and Hitler, across two decades. As Istanbul mayor, during a June 1997 celebration of the mass murderous 1453 jihad conquest of then Byzantine Constantinople, Erdogan declared: “The Jews have begun to crush the Muslims of Palestine, in the name of Zionism. Today, the image of the Jews is no different from that of the Nazis.”
Nearly 20 years later, addressing an August 2014 rally prior to his election as President of Turkey, Erdogan intoned, “Just like Hitler tried to create a pure Aryan race in Germany, the State of Israel is pursuing the same goals right now.”
Yet in June, 2006, despite Erdogan’s (and his coterie’s) already well-established public record of visceral Islamic Jew-hatred, the Anti-Defamation League [ADL] awarded, and Erdogan personally accepted, the ADL’s “Courage to Care Award.” Then-Prime Minister Erdogan even had the temerity to claim in his acceptance speech, “Antisemitism has no place in Turkey. It is alien to our country.”
Erdogan’s mendacious hypocrisy notwithstanding, 69% of Turks share his intense level (i.e., affirming ≥ 6/11 antisemitic stereotypes) of Jew-hatred according to the ADL’s own 2014 “Global 100: A Survey of Attitudes Toward Jews in Over 100 Countries Around the World.”
The Islamic revival movement of Erdogan’s mentor Erbakan, which spawned the current ruling AKP party, has always employed a virulently Jew-hating discourse, hinging on canonical themes from Islam. Thus central to this hatred are frequent quotations from the Koran and hadith [traditions of Islam’s prophet Muhammad and the early Muslim community], nurtured by early Islam’s basic animus towards Judaism. For example, Milli Gazete, mouthpiece of the traditionalist Islamic revival, published articles in February and April of 2005 rehashing toxic amalgams of ahistorical drivel and virulently Jew-hating and anti-non-Muslim “dhimmi” (per Koran 9:29). The articles used Koranic motifs, including these prototypical comments based upon Koran 2:61/3:112, which stamp eternal humiliation on the Jews for numerous transgressions, including “prophet killing”:
In fact no amount of pages or lines would be sufficient to explain the Koranic 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…
Also in April 2005, a Turkish jihadist organization monthly, Aylik, published 18 pages of antisemitic material produced by those claiming responsibility for the November 15, 2003, dual synagogue bombings in Istanbul. “Why Antisemitism?,” an article written by Cumali Dalkilic, combined traditional Koranic Jew-hating motifs with Nazi Jew-hatred and Holocaust denial. Another article’s title, “The Tschifits Castle,” repeats the very pejorative if commonplace Turkish Muslim characterization of Jews, “Tschifit,” which translates as “filthy Jews“—a debasing 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.
Nine years later, AKP lawmaker Cuma Icten lauded as a “magnificent speech” Imam Sait Yaz’s July 2014 sermon in Diyarbakir, broadcast on Oda TV, punctuated by these comments, redolent with Koranic themes:
The most rabid and savage enemies of Islam on Earth are the Jews. Who says this? Allah says this [Koran 5:82]… The Jews and the Christians will never accept you unless you submit to their religion [Koran 2:120]. These Jews spoil all the agreements on Earth [2:100–101; 5:13] and have murdered [Koran 2:61/3:112] 17 of their own prophets… And I declare here: All Jews who have taken up arms to murder Muslims must be killed, and Israel must be wiped off the map! And it will be wiped out with Allah’s help!”
Moreover, it is well past time to dispel the corrosive myth of an alleged half millennium of Ottoman Turkish comity towards the dhimmi Jewish communities it ruled under the Sharia. This false narrative, as I detail in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, has been perpetuated and projected on to the comportment of the modern era Turkish Republic by Turkey’s oppressed dhimmi Jewish community, and mimicked in the behaviors of major Jewish organizations outside Turkey, notably the ADL. Courageous historian Rifat Bali, a Jew who still resides in Turkey, condemned these local and international Jewish communal attitudes and [in]actions, after the November 15, 2003 Istanbul synagogue bombings: “…all seemed determined to ignore…[rather than] to confront face to face the anti-Semitism which is incorporated in the political Islamic movement…[i.e., which currently governs Turkey].”
Bali also summarized [circa 2003], unabashedly, the predicament of Turkey’s Jews within the modern Turkish Republic, a contemporary legacy of Islamic Jew-hatred, and de facto ongoing imposition of dhimmi status.
Every [Turkish] government since 1950 bears the responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in today. This is because they remained silent with regard to the hateful rhetoric against Jews, and took no steps to make the Jews feel like real Turkish citizens… Also responsible for this situation are the writers of yesteryears’ “religious,” today’s “Islamist” media, and all “opinion makers” who, since the establishment of the State of Israel, have incessantly and untiringly engaged in a rhetoric of hatred against Jews and continue to poison the minds of the future generations… Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP government must publicly denounce [both] the antisemitic discourse of political Islam, from which he emerged and which he declared later to have abandoned, and those who insist on perpetuating such discourse. Turkey’s Jews are not dhimmis in need of the tolerance and the protection of the Muslim majority. They are citizens of the Republic of Turkey [emphasis added].
I maintain, consistent with the historical data adduced in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, that ceasing the disgraceful and delusional behavior epitomized by the 2006 ADL award to Erdogan begins with putting an end to the hagiography of Jewish life under Ottoman rule (including Jews living within Istanbul’s ghettos and Ottoman Palestine), and using precise, accurate, and appropriate terms that describe this half-millennium of history: jihad, sürgün (forced population transfer), and chronic dhimmitude.
When the Ottomans accepted a relatively modest number of Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th century, it was not out of “humanitarian” motives. Much larger numbers of Jews were accepted in other parts of Christian Europe itself. Indeed, these skilled Jewish refugees whom the Ottomans re-settled in their burgeoning empire conveniently filled the vacuum created by the Ottoman jihad conquest of Byzantine and Venetian territories, and their Jewish populations – i.e., Jews who were subjected to the Ottoman jihad, including massacre, pillage, enslavement, forced conversion, and surgun deportation. Joseph Hacker’s seminal research (as summarized in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism) highlights the 1523 book of the Talmudist Eliyah Kapsali (Seder Eliyah Zuta, composed in Crete) and its embellishment by the 17th century Egyptian chronicler Rabbi Yosef Sambari (in Sambari’s Divrei Yosef)—rather crudely redacted characterizations which became the version accepted by modern historiography of the history of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire:
…the sürgün [forced population transfer] phenomenon and all its attendant [discriminatory] features was not considered at all. If the sürgün was mentioned at all in the writings of the [Jewish] scholars of the Empire, it was held to be an insignificant, indecisive episode in the history of the Jews. The relations between Jews and Ottomans were thus felt to be both idyllic and monotonous from their very inception, no distinction being made either between kinds of Jewish populations or between one period and another throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Kapsali conceals all criticism and tries to cover up and obliterate inconvenient facts… This is also apparently the reason for his utterly ignoring the Romaniot [Byzantine] Jews and their fate at the time of the conquest of Constantinople, and of the suffering of the others exiled there after the conquest.
Hacker portrayed he 16th century dhimmi Jewish leadership’s deliberate misrepresentation of the actual plight of Ottoman Jewry with obvious contempt. More ominously, comforting happy talk narratives also ignore the chronic, grinding Jew-hatred and vestiges of dhimmitude to which Turkey has subjected Jews throughout the history of 20th century Turkey, even before 1950, and Turkey’s open embrace of Islamic revivalism. These phenomena include the large, government organized Thracian pogroms of 1934, and the deliberately pauperizing varlik vergisi taxation scheme and later deportations of Jewish business leaders to “Turkish Siberia” during World War II.
Such persisting discrimination contributed to the rapid exodus of 40% of Turkey’s Jews after WWII to Israel within two years of its creation. This flight was followed by the steady, continuous attrition of the Turkish Jewish population—their departure accelerating again after the notorious Istanbul pogrom against Greeks, Armenians, and Jews in 1955—so that only 17,000 (or fewer) of Turkey’s 77, 000 post-WWII Jews remain.
This pathological behavior persists, inexcusably, five centuries later among contemporary Jewish leadership elites, who have proven themselves incapable of identifying, let alone combating, resurgent jihadist Islam in Turkey. The ultimate outcome if such self-destructive dhimmitude is not reversed was depicted, evocatively, by gifted writer Diana West: “in denial there is defeat.”
It is a travesty, that till now, the contemporary leadership of the Turkish Jewish community, Israel, and American Jewish advocacy groups never mustered the intellectual courage to overcome their own cowardly denial. Galvanized, in concert, a decade ago, they might have confronted Erdogan’s AKP government over the ugly living legacy of discrimination against Turkey’s Jews, and the intimately related Turkish support for the jihad against Israel—rooted in Islamic jihadism, canonical Islamic Jew-hatred, and perpetuation of dhimmi status. But nothing of the sort was ever done.
Instead, absent this bold, forthright action – joint “anti-dhimmitude” – we see an emboldened Neo-Ottoman, jihadist Turkey holding Israel and American Jews hostage to the whims of an oppressive Turkish government which openly espouses annihilationist Islamic Jew-hatred.