Me, the undercover Israeli agent

Me, the undercover Israeli agent

Recently, I came across an entertaining blog page in Turkish where the “hero” was none other than myself. The page actually opened with the line “The name of our hero is Burak Bekdil,” after an introductory title that read, “Efforts to strain and tarnish our defense industry.”

And the page went on to say: “He directs nonsense political criticism [at] our defense industry.” Followed by a link to an article I had written in this column (“We’ll make fighter jets! And spaceships too!” Hürriyet Daily News, Dec. 16, 2010).

Then a blogger’s comment: “How can Hürriyet allow this writer to insult our defense industry? This writer behaves like an undercover Israeli agent.” And another blogger: “Nowhere in the world would such an important media group allow a writer to humiliate his own country. Criticism is fine, but this is mockery.”

Another blogger has the diagnosis and the cure: “We must raise our voice to this writer. He tends to underestimate the Turkish [defense] industry. Does he think no one will understand because he writes in English?” Someone was less polite but poetic indeed: “The dogs bark, the convoy marches on.” Another thinks I am someone who thinks he is Turkish. “In fact,” the blogger wrote: “I believe his [Turkish] name is a nickname.” And one blogger had found out the mystery behind my article: “This is Israel’s psychological warfare against the Turkish nation.”

It is always amusing to learn that there are people around who can detect someone else’s nationality just by reading an article. It is even more amusing that the honorable insiders of Turkey’s defense industry are so smart that they can smell a foreign country’s psychological warfare operation against Turkey just by reading a newspaper article.

I may be a “barking foreign dog” but I felt pride that Turkish defense industry insiders protect “their industry” like a mother would protect her child. We journalists can criticize an industry (an industry!) but cannot use mockery as a means of criticism. Or else our dear “industry” could get offended and perhaps even weep. And anyone who uses mockery cannot be a person other than an “undercover Israeli agent.” Perfect! But the missing element is a Turkish prosecutor who should prepare an indictment like this: “It is evident from the article that the writer humiliated the pride of our national defense industry… It is also evident from his mockery that he operates within a clandestine network as part of an Israeli psychological warfare operation.”

I am not surprised at all that we live in times when any text critical of any topic with a “national flavor” would automatically make someone an undercover Israeli agent (funny, though, the article for which I had become one did not even contain any of the words “Israel” or “Israeli”). The smart people of the holy Turkish defense industry uncovered that I am not Burak Bekdil, that this is a mere pseudonym. They may have discovered from my photo that I am a crypto-Jew too. These are the contemporary features of the “new Turkey.”

But dear insiders; instead of making ethnic guesses from passport-sized photos and busying your precious minds with cheap espionage conspiracies, I would have expected you to ask yourselves one question I asked in that article:

Why did the $350 million of the total $500 million budget for the four prototypes of what will become Turkey’s first national, all-Turkish main battle tank have to go to foreign manufacturers instead of the Turkish undertaker if this tank, the Altay, is going to be entirely Turkish and entirely national? Try to find the answer to that question and perhaps you might wish to add it to your already-too-colorful blog page. Then you can go back to your ethnicity-guessing and espionage games.

But I have good news for you. Before our defense industry – God bless it – could finish the Altay, or begin building an all-Turkish fighter jet, our maverick institutions have set out to work on a plan to build missiles with an impressive range of 2,500 kilometers. And I’ll come to that on Friday.