‘Missing Hitler’s Spirit’: The Problematic Post-Flotilla Discourse in Turkey


On June 5, at a demonstration organized in Istanbul by the Islamic Saadet Party, one of the banners read, in Turkish: “Legendary leader Hitler, our patience is running out, we need your spirit.” The incident was just one of countless anti-Semitic statements, slogans, and banners made during rallies in Turkey after the Israeli attack on the flotilla of ships attempting to break the blockade on Gaza. I spoke to writers and activists from Turkey about the implications of this discourse.

“Israel’s lawless and irrational act of violence unleashed an exaggerated display of bravado on the part of the government in Turkey,” said Ayse Gunaysu, a human rights activist from Turkey. Gunaysu’s concerned about the anti-Semitic discourse used by the protesters and the way that Turkish intellectuals have been overlooking its dangerous undertones, even before the attack on the flotilla. She gives the example of a public rally on May 8, during which one speaker said, “From now on all Jews everywhere in the world and even all Jews in Turkey are our targets.”

“The protesters are not concerned about peace,” Gunaysu explained. “They are calling for more violence and more bloodshed. Because they—particularly Islamic protesters, at times backed by leftists groups as well—are not against a particular Israeli government and its particular policies, but against the existence of Israel itself.”

“It is sickening to hear the government suddenly assume the role of champion of international law, never mind that in 1974, the Turkish armed forces crossed the international waters, invaded a sovereign country [Cyprus], and its occupation continues to date,” she added. “Not to mention the decades-long war in Turkey [against the Kurds], which has caused tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of disappearances, and the destruction and evacuation of thousands of villages.”

For Gunaysu, the hypocrisy is astounding. “The killing of civilians by the Israeli special forces is outrageous. But it is equally upsetting to know that there is such fury here against what happened to fellow Muslims in another part of the world, while Turkey feels quite alright with its own denial of the genocide of Asia Minor’s Christian population, a legacy on which the Turkish republic was founded.”

On May 31, Bilgin Ayata, a scholar from Turkey, was in Taksim Square, where several rallies were held. She recounted what she saw: “The general atmosphere was very tense and full of anger, and some of the slogans targeted Jews, not just the Israeli state. The angry atmosphere takes sustenance from Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s fierce comments and attitude that fuels the anger against Israel.”

Ayata also raises the issue of hypocrisy. “There is a strange schizophrenia at place: Erdogan described the attacks of Israel as ‘state terrorism’ and declared that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. It would be nice if he would apply the same standards to his own country. Unfortunately, it seems that the opposite is happening. On June 4, Sevahir Bayindir, a Kurdish MP, was attacked by the police and hurt in Silopi during a protest against the military operations in the Kurdish regions. A day earlier, Firat Basan, a 14-year-old Kurdish boy, was killed when a tank rolled over him during a similar protest in Sirnak. Also on June 4, Irfan Aktar, a Kurdish journalist, received a prison sentence of one year because of an article he wrote on the Kurdish issue in a magazine. Over 1,400 members of the pro-Kurdish party DTP are in prison since 2009—some of them are elected mayors and prominent members of human rights organizations. More than one million Kurds have been displaced in Turkey in the past decade, and they can not go back to their villages because the state does not clear landmines. Paramilitary forces and military operations are leading even to new cases of displacement.”

“I wholeheartedly condemn the violence employed by the Israeli state last week, just as I did when I was actively working in the region and writing about the Palestinian issue,” said Talin Suciyan, a journalist from Turkey. “But the social and political atmosphere created in Turkey has other dimensions. On the one hand, there are journalists, artists, and public opinion leaders talking about ‘banging up Israel’ with literature and arts, while there are others who carry posters asking Hitler to send them his spirit. And frequently, ‘Tekbir’ (chanting ‘Allahu ekber’) accompanies these. In the past, such reactions have invariably led to hostile attitudes against citizens of Turkey—in this case the Turkish Jews. One always has to keep in mind that the republican and also pre-republican history is full of such attacks against Armenians, Greeks, and Jews, incited in the aftermath of international events.”

“If this is an issue of condemning state violence,” she continued, “I have to say I have not, to this day, encountered such decisive attitude, when it comes to issues concerning the people of Turkey itself.”

Ayata agrees. “If PM Erdogan really has a problem with state terrorism, he should stop it in his own country.”


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  1. john papazian said:

    Swasticas and the cressent moon,what a perfect combination.And America is still thinking they need this bloodlust evil country.I wonder if the FOX News people will show this picture,Glen Beck would be proud,he’s a good little bundist.It’s time for Americans to wake up,if thats possible.How can the sniviling little UN types not be in a state of moral outrage? Easy they don’t have morals. For Hitler to sight historical presedence and the Turks to celebrate his name should be more than enough to show the world what the Turk is all about.Even the Turk in the UK.Nazis and Turks,made from the same evil scum of this earth.Hile Er DOG an.Sorry no offence to dogs

  2. F.Munoz CL said:

    That’s right, they are a terrible combo… But -however- some euro-blinded ”hippie-style” politicians are commeting the same stupid mistakes as occured before WWII. As like easing the ”turkish baby’s” complains at every problem, and believe their ”taqiya” policies without criticise their negligences; just because they ”need” Turkey in the current conflicts. EU and USA must understand that the steps that is taking Turkey will only cause more and more problems, instead of the benefits that they could bring.
    Furthermore, the West should be aware to the fact that a gradually stronger Turkey, will cause gradually worse tensions; not only in the Middle East, but in the Caucasus, Russian Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. All of that by the reason of an economic stronger Turkey (and at the same time, a military stronger Turkey).
    The USA-EU boosted -as example- the chinese economic power (and military ties) during the last two decades, and now the West is trying to ”contain” their expansive influence and military power in Asia… But i think it is too late for the USA.
    The West must understand that they mustn’t enhance unreliable and militarist countries, because those are the first to ‘double-cross’ the West in the future. Besides, Turkey is nothing more than a ”undercover Nazi Cumhuriyeti” that have desires of resurrect the ”Ottoman-zombie Empire” and their imperialist direct-intervention (militarly, obviously) policy. BE CAREFUL!

  3. areg minasyan said:

    Wake up! The turks, the blight of this earth are screaming wolf. The turks will always remain turks. The above picture tells it all.

  4. Vazken said:

    Picture tells thousand words-
    I like to ask my Palestinian friends: have they contracted out to Turks their flags, and fight for Justice for Palestinians?

  5. Rita said:

    Vasken- I am Palestinian-Armenian

    The struggle of Armenian and Palestinian is the same.

    The Turks were never the friends of Palestinians, they are trying to take advantage of a situation.

    Soon enough, Israel Turkey and Azeris will be best friends again

  6. sebouh from australia said:

    For those who dont speak Turkish, the writing underneath the swastika sign says”Bless your Hands”, ie, bless the hands of the Nazi’s for what they did…….do the Jews and the US still want to back this dirtry , filthy , evil, race of dirtbags now….if they do….they are lower than any whore I have met!!!!!!!

  7. john papazian said:

    God bless the USA and keep her from evil…gimmie a break.The American mainstream never even said a word about the NAZI/TURK and they never will.And to think I waisted three years of my life serving this morally bankrupt country. A lesson to all Armenians,America is nothing to aspire to.

  8. Pingback: State of Denial.It’s time for Israel to rethink its rejection of the Armenian Genocide.There has been speculation about Turkey’s shifting international ties ever since the election of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of the Islamist AKP party,

  9. vrejepashpane said:

    Turks are worse than Nazis, because Nazis were a political party, Turks are a people bent on genocide and terror. The picture is very befitting to the Turkish people. It is natural that they should like Nazis, Nazis learnt from Turks.

  10. turksareimperialists said:

    who gave muslims the right to be “tolerant” towards others? who gave turks the right to be “patient” about others?

    they make me wanna throw up!