This was a blog post I intended to write when I learnt President of Israel, Shimon Peres was reported as accusing the English of being antisemitic. Something which he denied. You can read Melanie Philips No-win journalism and Richard Millett Is the Independent anti-Semitic? for different takes on the story.
Whether the POTSOI† was carelessly quoted or not it does raise the question of how do we decide if a country is antisemitic? Perhaps, given the antisemites that any Israel Advocate faces, all of whom deny it, there are no longer any antisemitic countries?
Let me play Devil’s advocate here. You can put up an argument that Germany during Nazi and Weimar times wasn’t an antisemitic country. True the Nazis were in the streets screaming Death to the Jews. True they were boycotting, divesting and sanctioning long before it became a fashion. True Germany had a long history of oppression and discrimination. But they never had the electoral support of the majority of the German people. Some 70% of the Germans did not vote Nazi.
Some Germans went out of their way to protect Jewsº and other oppressed groups especially in the early days. Most of the Germans didn’t take part in the Shoah but on the other hand neither did they do anything to stop it. They remained, for many different reasons, neutral.
So, how does this work with Turkey? Is Turkey an antisemitic country? In the 2007 general elections, the AKP received 46.6% of the votes. Granted that’s a lot more than Adolf”s boys but still less than a majority. When all the shouting has died down Israel and Turkey do plenty of business – about 3.3 billion dollars’ worth. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli tourists used to visit Turkey each year although that has dropped enormously since the Turkish government supported the Mamara thugs‡.
Is there a point to this rave?
As Israel advocates how should we deal with Turkey (or for that matter Great Britain)?
What is there that gives every country the right to insult Israel in terms they wouldn’t use for China or Yeman? What is there about Israel that they don’t reply in kind. Pres. Peres might have been wrong in fact but was he tactically wrong?
More specifically should we play hard ball?
- Should we take on the case of the Kurds if Turkey doesn’t back off?
- Should we be pressing for investigation of charges of war crimes including chemical weapons?
- Should we be pressing for a judicial investigation of the Armenian massacre?
- Should we be attacking Turkey’s far-from-glowing human-rights record?
- Should we be actively opposing Turkey’s entry to the European Union?
- Should we be targetting Turkey’s foreign language press?
† Think POTUS.
‡ Anecdotally at least, the Israelis have transferred their tourist business to Greece. This is quite ironic because the Greeks have in recent years been the least sympathetic European country to Israel
º My late father used to tell the story of being trapped in a Jewish owned butcher shop while a non Jewish employee, who was a German heavyweight boxing champion, kept the mob away with a club.