Select Page

Did Someone Say “an Apartheid State”?

Did Someone Say “an Apartheid State”?

As always, “right-wing” Turkey is furious because “right-wing” Israel did something “right-wing.” Right-wing is “right” “wing” only when the official Turkey practices it.

The usual Turkish ire –which Turkish diplomacy has a tendency to deplore with the words “null and void” or “we reject it”—was about a law passed in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, declaring that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country: the nation-state law.

The law can always be criticised in its content which is hardly liberal. It can even be condemned, rejected, as the Turks prefer to do, or questioned about the motivation behind it. All the same, when all the ire comes from Ankara it provides material for dark humour.

Vice President Fuat Oktay rejected the Israeli legislation and talked, in his Twitter account, about “the Israeli parliament that ignores fundamental rights and freedoms” and about “violations of universal legal principles.” That’s fine.

Then Turkey accused Israel of being an “apartheid state and renounced it as racist. That’s fine, too. A view is a view, after all. There is no harm about views.

Then Ibrahim Kalın, the presidential spokesman, talked about “this racist move that amounts to erasing the Palestinian people from their homeland physically and legally.”

Never mind if the objectors are good friends with people like Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Omar al-Bashir of Sudan – both of whom were guests at the presidential oath-taking ceremony on July 9th. Never mind that they are close allies with the mullahs in Iran or with the emirs of the Gulf while at the same time calling a country a where all signs come in three languages including Arabic, an apartheid state.

But let’s have a close look at the constitution of the country where Kurds account for anywhere between 15 percent to 20 percent of the population. A country that is not an apartheid state. Some constitutional excerpts:

  • Affirming the eternal existence of the Turkish Motherland and Nation and the indivisible unity of the Sublime Turkish State…
  • The absolute supremacy of the will of the nation, the fact that sovereignty is vested fully and unconditionally in the Turkish Nation…
  • That no protection shall be accorded to an activity contrary to Turkish national interests, Turkish existence and the principle of its indivisibility with its State and territory, historical and moral values of Turkishness…
  • … Has been entrusted by the TURKISH NATION to the democracy-loving Turkish sons’ and daughters’ love for the motherland and nation.
  • The Turkish Nation shall exercise its sovereignty through the authorized organs…
  • Judicial power shall be exercised by independent courts on behalf of the Turkish Nation.

What, really, is the homeland of the Kurdish people? Alaska, like, in the Islamist view, the right homeland for Jews? Where is the Kurdish nation in the Turkish constitution? Do Turkey’s Kurds have a right to self-determination?

Is Turkey, then, an apartheid state? Has Turkey, since its foundation in 1923, been trying to erase the Kurdish people from their homeland physically and legally? Has the Turkish Republic, since its inception, been based on the idea of nation-state? Is nation-state-building a right exclusive to the Turkish nation and should be denied to other nations?

Welcome to a nation that lives in an extremely fragile glass house.

About The Author

Burak Bekdil

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based Turkish political columnist who wrote for Hurriyet Daily News [formerly Turkish Daily News] for 29 years. He has covered Turkey for the U.S. weekly Defense News since 1997. Previously, Bekdil worked as Ankara Bureau Chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He contributes to annual national defense sector reviews for anti-corruption institutions like Transparency International and Global Integrity. Bekdil is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Middle East Quarterly. He also contributes to Perspectives, a journal of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv. James Cuno, art historian and President of the J. Paul Getty Trust, describes Bekdil as "a frequent critic of Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan." In 2001, a Heavy Crimes Court in Ankara sentenced Bekdil to a suspended, 20-month prison sentence for his column in which he satirized corruption in the judiciary. Bekdil's comments, quotes and articles have been published in international media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, The Commentator, New York Times, Kathimerini, National Review Online, Algemeiner, NPR, Washington Times, Die Presse, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Toronto Star, Financial Times, Al-Monitor, Le Figaro, ABC, El Pais, Stern, Al-Arabiya, Helsingin Sanomat, Racjonalista, Defence Greece, Moyen-Orient, Courier International, ISN Security Watch and Coloquio (of Congreso Judio Latinoamerico) and the Jewish Chronicle (London). (Born: Ankara, 1966; Undergraduate: Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; Post-graduate: Department of Economics, University of Surrey, United Kingdom)

More in Israel, Nation state, Right-wing politics, Self-determination
Erdogans Turkey
Erdoğan’s Turkey: Unwanted in Arab Lands

Erdoğan in fact has succeeded in a rare achievement: making his country equally unloved by Muslim nations and Israel at...

Close