Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Follow Up: More on Turkey's State-Sanctioned Antisemitism

In a recent article in Haaretz, I outlined a growing trend of state-sanctioned antisemitism in Turkey. Not only is hate against Jews (and other groups) spread in pro-government media, but also members of the AKP government are on record of making blatant antisemitic remarks.

Following writing the article, in addition to the positive comments, I also received some hate messages directed at me on twitter. One of these came from a university professor in Turkey, Ali Ihsan Goker, who serves as the chair of the Physics department at Bilecik Seyh Edibali University, and has a PhD from Rice University. Mr. Goker attacked me with antisemitic hate speech, stating: "Treblinka will be ready soon-Constructing the railway tracks at the moment." Even worse, it was reported on the online Turkish newspaper, Diken, that he also tweeted that if he was in Erdogan's place he would gather up all the local Jews and send them to concentration camps.

First, I would like to thank all the people who supported me in the face of attacks I received for writing the article. Also, my special thanks goes out to a Turkish internet newspaper, Diken, who has followed up on the case, and are still awaiting word from Goker's university rector concerning any possible sanctions that might be taken against the Turkish state employ for his blatant hate speech and threats.Well-I guess we should not hold our breath since last week Goker was awarded a prestigious Tubitak government research grant. Yes. Rather than being punished, he has been rewarded by the government.   

Is Turkey exporting Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial?

Reading antisemitic Akit on a recent flight from Rome to Istanbul
While the Turkish government does not seem worried about rampant antisemitism in some of the the pro-government press, this might not hold true with other governments in Europe, where they have laws against Holocaust denial and racist incitement. As an avid flyer of Turkish Air, I am always shocked at the fact that antisemitic papers, such as Yeni Akit (and others) are distributed on board Turkish Air. Not only are they offered from a wide-selection of papers passengers can chose from before boarding in Turkey (some papers that are highly critical of government are not offered, such as Zaman), but they are also distributed at airports worldwide just before boarding (in other words, on foreign soil). 

For example, material appearing in Yeni Akit, such as the Hitler crossword puzzle (see below), or the recent article claiming Jews as collaborating with the Nazis  in the genocide of Europe's Jews (the whole article is blatantly antisemitic), could violate German law. Legally speaking, it does not seem that a passenger, who disembarks the plane with the illegal material is in violation of the law. However, the case becomes much more complicated when Turkish Air distributes the antisemitic (and other forms of hate speech) material in the German airports just before passengers board the plane. Here, it seems that this could be in direct violation of German law, and other countries such as France, who have laws against genocide denial or incitement of hate.

Was this crossword puzzle praising Hitler
passed out in German airports, perhaps violating
German Law?

Rather than testing the waters of European law, perhaps it might be wise for the Turkish government to ensure that its national airlines offer a hate-free zone for both their Turkish and international passengers. On a personal note, it would certainly make my experience on Turkish Air even better than it already is.



  1. shameful for a state airline to distribute such newspapers

  2. The good thing is that Turkey will never get into the EU & this neo-Ottoman zero problems policy with the "neighbours" works like a treat.
    The irony of AKP Islamists getting shafted by other Islamists is most likely lost in 'modern' Turkey.

  3. Are you surprised ?