The sleuths in charge of Turkey’s governing AK Party have been trying to figure out what sinister forces are responsible for the unrest in their country. Clearly, their own policies cannot be responsible; that must be obvious to a child. There must then be some hidden hand, some evil conspiracy leading people astray. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has already blamed the euphemistically named “interest rate lobby.” Now one of his deputies has laid all his cards on the table: It’s the Jews’ fault—more specifically, the Jews in the diaspora. Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay explained it all in a speech. The Hurriyet Daily News:
“There are some circles that are jealous of Turkey’s growth. They are all uniting, on one side the Jewish diaspora. You saw the foreign media’s attitude during the Gezi Park incidents; they bought it and started broadcasting immediately, without doing an evaluation of the [case],” Atalay said.
“Great Turkey,” Atalay reassures us, will not be halted in its forward progress by a nasty Jewish rabble.We’re very interested to see whether Prime Minister Erdoğan thinks his deputy has correctly identified the sinister “interest rate lobby” that he knows is responsible for Turkey’s woes. If he doesn’t slap Atalay down, it’s a problem—and not least for President Obama, who has reportedly spent more time in discussions with Prime Minister Erdogan than with any other world leader.At Via Meadia, we are fans of Turkey and believe its emergence as a prosperous and self-confident middle class country is a blessing for the whole world. While certain aspects of AK Party policy disturb us (the imprisonment of journalists, the excessive zeal in prosecuting military officers, some authoritarian tendencies), we are not blind to the historic opportunity the emergence of a modernizing political movement with roots in the Turkish business community and in Islamic ideals presents, both for Turkey and for the region.But when we hear senior party officials spouting ugly, delusional nonsense, we worry. Anti-Semitism is not just a grave moral error and a sin against God and man; it is the sign of a deep intellectual debility, an inability to understand cause and effect in the world of contemporary politics. Those in the grip of this weakness will misjudge one event after another. They will mistake the true sources of their problems. They will be unable to understand the motives of either friends or enemies. And they will make one stupid, blundering policy move after another in political and economic matters. They are blind guides, and will lead all who depend on them into a pit.One of the reasons Turkey has been more successful than its neighbors is that the disease of anti-Semitism has been kept under control there. While Syria, Egypt, Iraq and others whipped themselves into frenzies of paranoia and idiocy, making one foolish and self destructive policy choice after another, the Turks kept cool and got on with the business of life.For the sake of “Great Turkey,” the insidious and destructive plague of anti-Semitism must be stamped out. Otherwise, Turkey’s historic moment will slowly but surely fade away.UPDATE: The Hurriyet Daily News reports, “Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay has denied media reports that he blamed the Jewish diaspora for the Gezi unrest.” Via Meadia hopes this turns out to be true. We’d rather think a Turkish journalist got something wrong than that a senior member of the government is expressing anti-Semitism.[Image of Prime Minister Erdogan and Deputy Prime Minister Attalay courtesy of Wikimedia]