Turkey’s Anti-Semitic, Anti-Democratic, Pro-Erdogan Hit Television Drama

One of Turkish television’s most popular series, The Last Emperor, tells of the final years of Sultan Abdulhamid II—before he was overthrown in 1909 by advocates of constitutional monarchy. While Abdulhamid is still remembered by many in Turkey as the ruler who revoked the Ottoman empire’s short-lived first constitution, instigated bloody pogroms against Armenians and other minorities, and cultivated a pan-Islamist ideology, the show makes him its hero. Aykan Erdemir and Oren Kessler describe its depiction of his opponents:

Of all the series’ villains, none are more sinister than the Jews. Two minutes into its very first scene, Abdulhamid is riding in a procession in Istanbul when a mustachioed onlooker flips a coin into the hand of one of the royal guards. The soldier opens his hand to find the coin is etched with a Star of David surrounding a squat cross in the style favored by Crusaders and Freemasons. The signal thus received, dozens of his fellow guards turn around and open fire on the royal carriage. The screen fades to black—and to the crescent moon that accompanies the mournful opening theme.

Later in the episode we learn that underneath the coin-flipper’s Ottoman fez is the black skullcap of a Catholic priest, for he is a Vatican emissary working for none other than Theodor Herzl, the Jewish Austrian journalist who founded modern Zionism. Herzl, his beguiling assistant Sarah, and their various co-conspirators are forever haunting Istanbul, meeting with wayward members of the sultan’s family who are themselves intoxicated by deviant, imported ideas such as popular sovereignty. Herzl is the series’ arch-villain, so perfidious as to hold his penniless father imprisoned without his mother’s knowledge — all because the old man opposes Zionism. . . .

As with much of The Last Emperor, most of [what involves Jews is inaccurate]. . . . . [But] this revisionism would be less egregious if the show portrayed itself—accurately—as historical fiction. Instead, a split-second screen at the start of each episode declares that the program is “inspired by real historical events.” . . . President Erdogan [praised the show himself], telling state TV, “The same schemes are carried out today in the exact same manner. . . . What the West does to us is the same; just the era and actors are different.”

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Anti-Semitism, Arts & Culture, Ottoman Empire, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Television, Turkey

 

To Defeat the Legacy of Islamic State, Start Rebuilding the Communities It Destroyed

Now that the borders of Islamic State (IS) are slowly contracting, argues Alberto Fernandez, there is a moral and strategic imperative to reconstruct some of the non-Muslim communities that it has destroyed—and the U.S. should encourage local government to help:

Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate is crumbling, if all too slowly. Sadly, though, its ultimate collapse will not be the end of the story. It will leave behind a still-lethal insurgency that will almost certainly attempt to stage terrorist attacks around the world as well as a wide swath of physical destruction and devastated lives stretching from Aleppo to Ramadi.

And yet, even while the Islamic State is “losing,” there is no denying that it has also “won” some things. It has created grim facts on the ground. It has wiped out communities that will never rise again. Many Yazidi villages and towns within its orbit are destined to remain permanently empty because of slaughter and the flight of despairing survivors. IS jihadists also succeeded in destroying the ancient Christian community of Mosul, whose surviving members were robbed of everything they had when they were expelled from the city in July 2014. Many of the survivors of these same minority groups remain scattered around the region, and some still haven’t decided whether they should stay, with all the risks that it would entail, or leave forever. Islamic State has torn a hole in the fabric of the region’s millennia-old diversity that can never be fully repaired. . . .

But we should consider fresh ways for Muslim leaders to show concrete support for restoring what IS sought to exterminate. Even the resurrection of a single community would be a powerful message of solidarity and diversity in a Middle East that is becoming increasingly monochrome. . . .

In . . . Israel, one kibbutz incorporated and commemorated survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and other Jewish partisans. Imagine the resurrection of a non-Muslim community that the Islamic State sought to exterminate. What a powerful message that would send. And the message would resonate even more strongly if the work were to be done with the support of Muslim states.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: ISIS, Middle East Christianity, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Yazidis