ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–Activist and journalist Naomi Klein, a staunch critic of Israel’s policies in Gaza, turned her guns on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday for ignoring human rights violations both domestically and internationally.
Klein was speaking at a conference at Istanbul’s Bogazici University, held in memory of slain Turkish–Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. In her remarks, she criticized the Turkish government for ignoring the rights of its own Kurdish and Armenian population while voicing solidarity with the plight of Palestinians. She said it is easy to stand up for Palestinian rights in Turkey because it is “popular, populist.”
“How can we simply cheer that solidarity when it comes out of a system that persecutes Kurdish citizens or denies the existence of the Armenian Genocide?” she said. “How can we simply cheer when it comes from a government that claims with regards to Sudan, and this is a quote, ‘that it is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide?’”
“How can we cheerfully defend freedom of speech for Turkish TV to show the brutality of Israeli soldiers…when Hrant Dink lies dead because of state prosecution and persecution of his freedom of speech here in Turkey. How can we simply cheer?” she said.
“Hypocrisy is collectively corroding us, making us suspicious of gestures we would so love to simply celebrate,” she said.
“Demonstrating a commitment to universal standards makes the argument for Palestinian rights stronger not weaker. Not only is it simply just, but it takes away Israel’s most potent political tool, which is the claim that its critics are hypocrites,” she said.
“This principal needs to be understood everywhere in the world including here in Turkey. Because as difficult as it may be for me to voice solidarity with Palestinians in the strange North American context, voicing solidarity with Palestinians is as easy here as it is difficult in North America. It is popular, it is populist, it’s a way to get votes, it isn’t a risk,” said the Jewish Canadian, who has written books critical of the Western economic and political system.
It was “enormously” important for Erdogan to speak out in Davos against Israel and its Gaza war crimes last year “to pierce that little bubble,” said Klein, in reference to when Erdogan walked out of a discussion panel in the Swiss town after voicing serious criticism in the face of Israeli President Shimon Peres.
“Consistency is not an intellectual exercise it’s not about making ourselves feel good,” Klein said. “It is about building a movement that is actually credible enough to win some victories for some people who desperately need them.”
“For that we need not look further than Hrant Dink’s legacy of commitment to human rights,” Klein said.