A large number of the citizens of Turkey, a NATO member, see Israel and the United States as enemies.

A survey conducted recently in Turkey found that nearly half the country’s citizens (42.6%) see Israel as the biggest security threat, followed by the United States (35.5%), and only then Syria (22.1%).

How do they visualize Israel, a country with which they have made several military and trade agreements, as being a security threat? Do they think Israel would ever invade Turkey? Bomb Turkey? Nuke Turkey? This view seems to be based on either religion-induced paranoia caused by Islamic anti-Semitism, or else their understanding of reality has been distorted Nazi-style by Turkish leaders and the media.

The problem is that the false myth of Israel’s being an «occupier» and «troublemaker» has been indoctrinated into the minds of most Turkish children from their early years. Almost all of us — including myself — grew up with an extreme prejudice against Israel. The media’s unethical coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict — including both the Islamist and Kemalist (secular nationalist) media — seems to be the number one reason why people in Turkey have remained so misinformed and brainwashed about the issue.

Only the intensity of the prejudice changes according to what newspaper or TV channel you follow or what family raises you. Islamic anti-Semitism, even if we might not be aware of it, has a lot to do with this kind of upbringing.

A short scanning of Turkish newspapers and TV channels would also clearly show their continual hateful propaganda against Israel.

No other state or organization has been demonized and delegitimized by the Turkish media to this extent.

Unfortunately, even the media that calls itself «progressive» has bought and reproduced the propaganda that Israel is the «invader» and the «oppressor.» One of their most popular slogans is, «We are not anti-Semitic, but just anti-Zionist.»

Zionism defends the concept that Jews — like any other people — have human rights, and are entitled to live their original Biblical homeland. Although forced out of their land many times, as by the Babylonians or the Romans, they never entirely left it.

If the demand of Jews for equality and independence disturbs anyone, it is due to his own racism — in whatever name he is trying to dress it up — and not to anything the Jews might have allegedly done. It is not just anti-Semitism, but also anti-Zionism, that is racist and hateful.

Every person who comes up with the genius idea of «not being anti-Semitic but just being anti-Zionist» should also offer their idea of what kind of a Jewish state they would like to see or whether they would like to see a Jewish state at all. If it is the political system of Israel they oppose, then they should clarify how their own alternative system would be better than the current one, and what they would do to convince Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to achieve peaceful coexistence with Israel.

They should also clarify why they are so obsessed with Israel, which has the most democratic political system in the Middle East, while autocratic, theocratic, despotic regimes abound in the region.

They might also please explain what makes the non-existent, imaginary «democratic Palestine» preferable to already existing, thriving and democratic Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah is essentially no better than Hamas; just sometimes less violent. The Palestinian Authority (PA), as stated in its charter and «phased plans,» says it prefers to displace Israel diplomatically, through the dictator-controlled United Nations and European governments, and economically through boycotts and sanctions, rather than with missiles.

Turkish President (then Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, meeting with Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal (center) and Ismail Haniyeh on June 18, 2013, in Ankara, Turkey. (Image source: Turkey Prime Minister’s Press Office)

Now that so many Jews are all in one place, the progressives can pretend to themselves that it is «just Israel,» and not «the Jews,» who are the target of their hate. As the former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said, Israel, only slightly bigger than the city of Beijing, is a «one-bomb country.»

The progressive media’s representation of Israel as an «occupier» only caters to the genocidal desires of these anti-humanitarian regimes or groups. They never point to Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus, China’s occupation of Tibet, or Pakistan’s occupation of Kashmir — not to mention Russia’s recent flamboyant occupations.

For the past 2000 years, Jews have been exposed to unending persecution accompanied by expulsions, forced conversions, mob attacks, pogroms, property confiscations, massacres, and the 1938-45 Holocaust. Attacks against Jews in Europe continue today.

After Jews were forced from their Biblical home into the Diaspora, their lives were painful for centuries. When they were in exile in Europe, they were disposable. Now that they are back home in Israel, they are «occupiers;» again not wanted.

Under Nazi rule, Jews were «illegal,» slaughtered wholesale, tortured with fake «medical experiments» and not even considered fully human.

To end their history of 2000 years of suffering and to finally be free, Jews have returned to their home, Israel.

They have brought their light back to the land and presented gifts to the Middle Eastern peoples that no other nation there has experienced: democracy, tolerance, freedom of speech, human rights — as well as countless medical and technological innovations. This tiny country has produced some of the most brilliant minds in history, and has become the second most educated nation on earth.

What they have done is to build a truly open and productive society on sand dunes and deserts, where even the Muslim citizens, who make up 20% of Israel’s population, have the freedom to say the most horrendous things about anyone they wish, including the prime minister — and they do. In short, even the Muslims in Israel enjoy privileges that in any other country in the region would get them incarcerated.

Israel’s neighbors, however, have not shown much appreciation for these admirable traits — only more jealousy and hatred.

As thanks for the endless good the Israelis bring the region and the world, they are vilified by the anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, Jew-hating, politically-driven blocs in the Arab countries, Turkey, Europe and the UN, which clearly want to destroy them, on one pretext or another.

The houses and apartments Israelis build in their historic homeland are called «illegal settlements.» But there were no «settlements» before 1967. What, then, were the Israelis supposedly «occupying» between 1948 and 1967? Why was the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) even then trying to destroy Israel? What did it think it was «liberating»?

This «occupation» myth seems, instead, to have a lot to do with the «Islamization» of history and geography.

According to Islamic ideology, all history is actually Islamic history and most of the major historical figures were actually Muslims. Islam does not recognize other religions as either genuine or original.

Since the creation of the world, it goes, there has been only one religion: Islam. Others are irrelevant, fabricated by those who came later but went astray. All our religion teachers have taught us that the earlier prophets — Issa [Jesus], Musa [Moses], Davut [David] and so on — were Muslims, and that the original religions they brought were Islamic. These prophets, we are told, preached the teachings of Allah, but their followers, who came later, distorted their messages, changed the writings in their holy books, and fabricated those fake, untrue religions called Judaism and Christianity. Then Islam came as the last, the perfect and the only true and unchanged eternal word of Allah, which led to the coming of Muhammad to this world as a «liberator.»

If someone says «there is a place related to King David and it is a Jewish place,» then a Muslim would say «Yes, but David was also a Muslim. So this place actually belongs to Muslims.»

The Islamization of history leads to the Islamization of geography. All those religious figures were Muslims, so the places in which they resided were also Muslim places. So Muslims never call their invasions «invasions.» They consider them all liberations of former Muslim places. There is never Islamic invasion; there is only Islamic liberation.

This view is the view behind the recent call of Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for «Liberating Jerusalem» from the Jews. «Conquest is Mecca,» said Erdogan in a speech in Istanbul on June 1, before millions who were celebrating the 562nd anniversary of the fall of Constantinople. «Conquest is Saladin,» he said, «It is to hoist the Islamic flag over Jerusalem again; conquest is the heritage of Mehmed II and conquest means forcing Turkey back on its feet.»

Erdogan is calling for an invasion of Jerusalem, which basically means a call for death and destruction. He was doing that just prior to the elections, because he knew that such anti-Semitic outbursts will most likely increase the votes of the AKP party.

The biggest problem is that this statement was made by the head of a NATO member.

Why would a Turk or a Muslim want to «liberate» Jerusalem? To turn it into another Muslim land where discrimination and persecution against minorities and all kinds of human rights violations run wild? Turkey does not even treat its own minorities with respect and discriminates against them daily, for instance by not giving the Kurds even the right to be educated in their native language. For what purpose, or based on what right, should Turkish authorities want to rule over Jerusalem?

Do they want to slaughter the Jews just as they slaughtered Christians in 1915, and still deny it even today? Do they want to ban the Hebrew language just as they ban the Kurdish language in Turkey? Do they want to rape Jewish women as they raped Kurdish and Greek Cypriot women during ethnic cleansing campaigns? Do they want to convert Israel’s synagogues and churches into stables as they did those in Turkey? Or do they want to turn Israel’s prisons into centers of torture just as they did in Turkey’s Kurdistan? What on earth could Turkish authorities give to Jerusalem if they could capture it?

These people need to understand and accept the fact that the Ottoman Empire is dead and that none of its former colonies wants it back.

This is not the first time that anti-Semitism is promoted by a Turkish state authority. Anti-Semitism has a very long history in Turkey. Some of the most horrible crimes committed against Turkey’s Jews happened during the 1934 pogrom, when about 15,000 Jews in Thrace were forcibly driven out of their homes. During the pogrom, Jews were boycotted and attacked, their property was looted and burned down, and Jewish women were raped.

Just prior to the outbreak of the 1934 pogrom, Ibrahim Tali Ongoren, the inspector general of Thrace (the highest state official in the region) made a four-week inspection tour of the province. According to Tali Ongoren’s report, «The Jew of Thrace is so morally corrupt and devoid of character that it strikes one immediately.» The Jew, he wrote, possessed a «fawning, deceitful character that hides its secret intentions, always applauds the powerful, worships gold and knows no love of the homeland.»

«The Jews represent a secret danger and possibly want to establish communist nuclei in our country through the workers’ club and it is therefore an indispensable necessity for Turkish life, the Turkish economy, Turkish security, the Turkish regime and the revolution in Thrace and for Turkish Thrace to be able to recover, to finally solve [the Jewish] problem in the most radical way.» [1]

According to the historian Corry Guttstadt, although the 90-page report Ongoren prepared for the government and for the ruling Republican People’s Party (CHP) contained a wide range of topics, he seemed to be, «outright obsessed with the ‘Jewish problem,’ which comes up in nearly every chapter.»

«Tali’s report» Guttstadt wrote, «is laced with the crudest of anti-Semitic stereotypes. This contradicts not only the government’s assertion that anti-Semitism in Turkey was only a fringe phenomenon [Tali was the highest ranking official of the Republic in this region] but must also be considered proof that the expulsion of the Jews from Thrace and from the Dardanelles was in keeping with the state’s objectives, just as foreign diplomats had reported.

«The rights of the non-Muslim minorities were protected by the international Treaty of Lausanne, at least on paper. To circumvent these legal obstacles, The Turkish authorities had apparently opted for the strategy of putting the Jews under such pressure with boycott activities and anonymous threats ‘from the population’ that they would leave the area ‘voluntarily’.

«The period that followed was characterized by further boycott attempts and intimidation in Edirne and even in Istanbul.»[2]

While these crimes against Jews were committed, there was no Jewish state in Israel. But Jew-hatred was clearly rampant.

The main offenders to be held responsible for anti-Semitism in Turkey are the Turkish state authorities. A state that is an EU candidate, as well as a NATO member, is supposed to be a true ally of the West. It is supposed to fight anti-Semitism and promote a peaceful, diverse and pro-Western culture. It is supposed to provide its schoolchildren with a kind of education in which the children will rid themselves off the traditional Jew-hatred and other racism, and embrace at least some humanitarian values that will help them recognize all peoples as equal and worthy of respect.

Sadly, Turkey has done none of that. It has made a record number of military and commercial deals with the state of Israel, but domestically it has systematically propagated anti-Semitism and racism, as well as Turkish-Islamic supremacy, through its institutions and media. As a result of this propaganda, a great number of Turkish people see Israel and the USA as the biggest security threats today.

In Turkey, being Westernized has been restricted to benefiting from the technical and material innovations of the West, but rejecting the social values of the West on grounds that those values would not fit into the Turkish culture. More perplexingly, being politically and socially pro-Western is almost associated with being a «traitor.»

«Israel wants peace. Period,» wrote the journalist Israel Kasnett. «The Jewish people have never held a desire to rule over others and this remains true today. Not only are we ohev shalom [‘lovers of peace’], but we are also rodef shalom [‘active pursuers of peace’].»

Is anyone listening? Are Turks listening? Many, apparently, are not.

Throughout much of the world are bloodbaths and persecution of human beings, but it is only Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East, that is targeted and singled out for defending itself, and is accused of «occupation.»

To many of the people here in Turkey, the problem does not seem to be whether Israel wants peace, or whether Israel is a democracy, or whether Palestinian Arabs are really suffering, or why. If these people truly cared about Palestinian Arabs, they would do their best to stop the killings and incitement and to help achieve a sustainable peace where both Arabs and Jews would be safe.

But they do not really care about the Palestinians. They do not want peace. They do not want a «two-state solution.» They want to see Jews dead. And they could not care less about how many Arabs will lose their lives in the meantime.

But there is one thing they do not seem to be aware of: Their genocidal Jew-hatred can never strip Israel off its right to self-defense. It can only empower and further legitimize this right.

Uzay Bulut, born and raised a Muslim, is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara, Turkey.

[1] Guttstadt, Corry (2013). Turkey, the Jews, and the Holocaust. Cambridge University Press. More slurs include: «Although (the Jews) underwent natural selection as a result of constant mixing with different blood in the last century and have almost entirely lost the physical characteristics specific to Jewry, they have completely retained the typically Jewish fawning, deceitful character that hides its secret intentions, always applauds the powerful, worships gold, and knows no love of the homeland, and have even developed these harmful traits so much further that they could inflict torment on humanity.

«In the Jewish value system, honor and dignity have no place. The Jews of Thrace owe their rise to the destructive effects of the wars on the Turkish population, that is how [the Jews] have become rich and enchanted their influence.

«The Jews of Thrace are intent on making Thrace the equivalent of Palestine. For the development of Thrace, it is of the utmost necessity that this element [the Jews], whose hands are grabbing for all the treasures of Thrace, not be allowed to continue to suck out the Turks’ blood. In the establishment of new military facilities… we must keep our administrative and military activities entirely secret from this element [the Jews].

«Above all, it is essential that this element [the Jews] be neutralized so completely that they cannot engage in spying…»

[2] Guttstadt, Corry (2013). Turkey, the Jews, and the Holocaust. Cambridge University Press.

«In the light of this, it hardly seems coincidental that Tali himself had travelled the entire region until a week before the events erupted and then remained in Ankara during the boycott activities and the threats. It seems that the operations then ‘got out of hand’ locally, with the nationalist mob putting itself in charge in some places and committing looting and acts of violence.

«After the reports of the riots reached the international public, the government was forced to condemn both the events and anti-Semitism in general. In the end, however, the episode achieved, for the most part, the intended goal and largely ‘solved’ the ‘Jewish problem’ in Thrace in the way favored by Tali.»

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