Turkish-Jewish Community

Desecrators of History

Author: Mahmut Esat Ozan

Published in The Turkish Times - November 1, 2000.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a fellow Galatasaray alumnus, Dr. Jacques Botton, of Lynchburg, Virginia. It contained an article entitled "Listen to Israel's Enemies" written by a columnist, Joseph Farah of the "World Net News." Jacques is a Jewish Turk and very proud of his ethnicity. A retired neurosurgeon, he had been instrumental, not so long ago, in establishing , what I consider 'a viable dialog with Governor Gilmore of his state concerning our causes. He and I do presently serve on the Board of the GSUSA, a non-political organization dealing with the affairs of our fellow graduates. I am not medically knowledgeable, he may not be inclined in things I am involved in , nevertheless, he and I see eye to eye when it comes to the common denominator of many variable interests of our country of origin, Turkey. We are, part and parcel, of the Ataturk Revolution, and we consider ourselves children of that generation.

On the subject of Turkish-Israeli friendship and association our views are indelibly the same. My philosophy on the rapprochement and cooperation of my people with the citizens of the State of Israel goes back to the late Fifties. Unlike today, it was, at that time, not so fashionable to side up with the newly established Jewish nation of Israel. Some of my Turkish friends and other casual acquaintances had somewhat heated discussions with me on this very subject. Some among them defended the Palestinian Arabs and were not so happy that those people were being deprived of their own land. The fact that the Palestinians were Muslims may have played a role in the formation of their attitude toward Israel. However, they were forgetting conveniently that Jewish people had lived in those lands as long a time, if not longer than the Palestinians. The traditional historical land space called Judea and Samaria, which I remember from my school days were territories which belonged to the Jews. So then what was the fuss about / or over?

Well, according to Mr. Joseph Farah, whose name was mentioned earlier, the Palestinians have never accepted the existence of Israel, 'deep down inside', and they may appear to be interested in a peace accord to be obtained in those lands they insist belonging only to them. Mr. Farah writes: "If you think you get an accurate idea of what Arab leaders believe when you listen to Hannan Ashrawi interviewed on "Nightline" or on CNN, think again. Yasser Arafat has played a skillful media manipulation game in the West, helping to persuade most Americans that the Middle East crisis can be settled by rearranging a few borders-by Israel exchanging more "land for peace." Farah says: "It's just simply not so. He goes on adding, "as I attempted to point out recently with some historical perspective. But forget the history. You've all seen the inflammatory quotes from Arab leaders when they are not on western television and talking only to their own people. The hatred is palpable. These are not the kind of differences that can be worked out over a negotiation table. And it's getting worse, not better. Look at what a leading cleric in Gaza had to say in a sermon just last Friday:

"None of the Jews refrain from committing any possible evil," said Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabita, former acting rector of the Islamic University.... The Jews are the Jews, whether Labor or Likud...They do not have any moderates or any advocate of peace. They are all liars . They all want to distort truth, but we are in possession of the truth." Mr. Farah says: 'I would like to repeat that this is part of a sermon--a sermon! But it gets even worse." 'O brother believers, the criminals, the terrorists are the Jews., who butchered our children, orphaned them, widowed our women and desecrated our holy places and sacred sites, they are the terrorists. They are the ones who must be butchered and killed, as Allah the almighty said : Fight them: Allah will torture them at your hands, and will humiliate them and will help you overcome them, and will relieve the minds of the believers.' "There is more-if you can stomach it." 'This is the truth, O brothers in belief, this is the case. From here Allah the almighty has called upon us not to ally with the Jews or the Christians, not to like them, not to become their partners, not to support them, not to sign agreements with them , and he who does that, is one of them, as Allah said: 'O you who believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies.... they are against you, O Muslims.' Yes this is a worldwide "jihad" 'Have no mercy on the Jews. Fight them wherever. Wherever you meet them, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them.'

Thinking that Mr. Yasser Arafat is a leader in that organization, or as many believe the only accepted leader of the PLO, and again, remembering the Turkish heads of State of the past and of the present having their pictures taken walking hand in hand, or kissing each other from cheek to cheek gives me an uncomfortable feeling. Turkey was the first Muslim country in 1948 to recognize Israel, because Turks and Jewish people have had a quicentennial friendly relationship with the Jews dating back to the 1492 expulsion of them from the Iberian peninsula. I keep on repeating this, and I shall never get tired of doing so, that at a time no Christian Kingdom was willing to admit them into their territory, the Turkish, Muslim Sultans not only invited them into their vast realm of the Ottoman Empire, they even sent naval galleons to transport them, free of charge, anywhere they wanted to settle. Most chose Istanbul and Selanik, 'Tsalonika' of today in Greece. In a drastic contrast as a student of history no one can remember anything but revolt, strife and miserable comportment from the Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular, against the Ottomans.

On another phase of the continuing belligerence in the area, the leader of the PLO, Mr. Yasser Arafat had considerable problems with various Arab leaders. He and his people were thrown out of Jordan following a lengthy guerilla type war. Palestinians were no longer welcome in the lands they had invaded in Jordan . Mr. Arafat was especially despondent when in July 1944, the late King Hussein and the Israeli Prime Minister , the late Yitzhak Rabin signed a declaration ending the state of belligerence between the two countries. A peace treaty between the two countries was signed on October 26,1994. However, a clause in it calling the King Hussein of Jordan the "custodian" of Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem angered the PLO and its Chairman Yasser Arafat. The new King of Jordan, Abdullah, and Arafat may be kissing each other, but how sweet that embrace can retain its sweetness for either one of the two gentlemen involved is anybody's guess.

On the subject of the recent developments concerning the withdrawal of the H.Res, 596 from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, my friend the good Doctor Jacques Botton from Virginia has this to say: " It is sad that a tragedy which occurred in the Middle East with all the bloodshed and threats to Americans around the world was the deciding element in the withdrawal of HR 596. I hope that the Turkish government will finally undertake an extensive effort in bringing this issue to an end. It really should be the No 1 priority at this time; certainly in my view, more urgent and important than Turkey's entry in to the European Union." I couldn't agree with Jacques more. An Argentinean writer of Jewish extraction, Julian Schwindlerman, has some thought- provoking words about the Palestinians who listen to Muslim clerics mentioned above and kill in the street battles for the sake of reaching heaven. He says the recent attacks and the almost total destruction of the recently renovated Joseph's tomb by the Palestinian mobs indicated to him that they were determined in a methodical way, to eradicate all traces of Jewish history and culture wherever they encountered them. These abominable actions were direct reply to the Jews that they were ready to build a Mosque right on top of the Jewish shrine. This news item was confirmed by Ghessen Shaka, the Mayor of Nablus where the tomb of Joseph is located . Some time ago the term "ethnic cleansing" was in vogue in using bloody relationships among ' human beings.' What the Palestinians seem to be doing now, is the application of the new phase of the old practice. We may call it " cultural cleansing" . Their constant efforts in destroying and obliterating existing buildings, shrines, monument, etc, dating to the Judean, Samarian and Roman times, simply belie and contradict the fact that the Jews were not a part of that area, and that Palestinians were the only residents of those lands.

I remember that prior to the establishment of a Jewish state on the ancestral lands of the Jews in Palestine, the local Arab population was offered a 'shared -ownership' of the existing lands. Palestinians refused that offer categorically. In the ensuing several bloody wars initiated by the Arabs, Palestine and the Palestinians, and repeatedly won by the Israelis in each and every instance, they now bank on the world opinion expressed by the United Nations favoring their losses. There is an inquiry in the U.S. Senate chambers of a memorandum which was stopped to be sent to the proper authorities in the U.S. government by an individual or individuals sympathetic to their cause, who stymied the effort citing the fact that the death of 17 American naval personnel paled in comparison to the hundreds of Arabs killed by Israeli fire. I have one question to ask. Who is desecrating whom?