Antisemitism in Erdogan’s Turkey is a feature, not a bug
By Bridget Johnson, Fox
In Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s post-coup purge of any entity
deemed to have the slightest opposition to his authoritarian rule, he’s closed
down 187 media outlets under the guise of being Gülenist – a synonym for any
Turk not fawning at the feet of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
But even before summer 2016’s short-lived coup, the Turkish
president was embarking on a war against free speech. Bugün TV, which was
stormed on a live broadcast two years ago by government forces unleashing tear
gas, water cannons and gate cutters, was seized by the regime “to prevent
After the coup attempt, confiscated media outlets went on
sale. The state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund found a buyer for the TV
station: the killer of a Jewish businessman.
Sancaktar Media owner Burhanettin Türkeş was convicted in
the 1995 murder of Nesim Malki, who was shot while driving in the northwestern
city of Bursa. Türkeş was sent to prison in 2004 and released five years later.
Now, Türkeş is promising to tow the Erdoğan line in Bugün
It’s not a surprising turn of events under a regime where antisemitism
is a feature, not a bug, and the Gülen boogeyman meme takes on shades of “must
be the Jews” as well. Pro-Erdoğan media have claimed that exiled cleric
Fethullah Gülen must have Jewish lineage, thereby putting Jews at the center of
the supposed coup plot.
Gülen is sharp witted. He quickly smells of money and power. Because he is a
Jew. That’s the reason he loves Israel almost to the point of sickness,” Sabah
columnist Ersin Ramoğlu wrote in December. “…Where his cunning comes from, why
the CIA has gotten hold of him and his love of Israel can be understood from
the family of this clown.”
Minister Veysel Eroğlu, in a December parliament speech, predicted Gülen would
die in the U.S., where he has lived in self-imposed exile since 1999, “and he
will be buried in a cemetery with Jews.” The party refrain on Erdoğan’s top foe
is that traitor must equal Jew.
For more rank antisemitism,
see the “not in my backyard” stunt: Before Kurdistan’s independence referendum
at the end of September, pro-Erdoğan media frothed at the mouth spreading
Jews-at-the-border fake news that KRG President Mahmoud Barzani planned to
flood a new Kurdish state with 200,000 Israelis. That whipped up an ultra-nationalist
protest that forced the evacuation of the Israeli Embassy in Ankara.
media breathlessly carry the president’s Rosh Hashanah best-wishes statements,
but consider that Iran’s regime issues those empty felicitations as well. Propaganda
and policy speak loudest. Turkey praised the reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah
this month, with Erdoğan spokesman Ibrahim Kalın declaring, “Israel should
end its siege on Palestinian lands and avoid any movement that would harm the
reconciliation process.” On a delegation to Tehran, Hamas deputy chief Salah
al-Arouri confirmed, “We’re not in the stage of recognition [of Israel]; rather
we are now in the stage of preparing to eliminate the Zionist entity.”
accused the Jewish state of “keeping Hitler’s spirit alive.” In May, the
president said of Israel, “They feel they are immune to any punishment for
their crimes, but the international community needs to stand up against them.”
protesters threw rocks at the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul and kicked the
doors in a fit of, as many antisemities call it, anti-Israel sentiment.
community in Turkey is now fewer than 17,000 people. As Erdoğan pushes Islamism
into Ataturk’s secular republic, as he holds onto power with a white-knuckle
grip, as he arrests 60,000 Turks for perceived threats to his power and accuses
them of all being magically woven into a Gülenist ouster plot – and his
acolytes dutifully tie Gülen to Jews – the community has much to be nervous
Bridget Johnson is a senior fellow with the news and public
policy group Haym Salomon Center and D.C. bureau chief for PJ Media.