Recalling terrorists and ‘lesser terrorists’ Part: I
The prime minister and his chief EU negotiator finally spoke the truth! As more large groups of coffins wrapped in the Crescent and Star kept on arriving in various Turkish towns last week, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said something only a lunatic could object to: “To remain silent [in the face of terror attacks] is to approve [terrorism]...” And Egemen Bağış complained that: “Some EU media [outlets] present the PKK [terrorists] as if they are freedom fighters. PKK is a terrorist organization. It is on EU and U.S. lists of terrorist entities.” Right? Right. The only problem is that Messrs. Erdoğan and Bağış are not behaving as they would expect others to behave.
Five years ago, when the world’s now most famous Israeli soldier had been kidnapped, Mr. Erdoğan said that it was “most natural” if Hamas asked for “something” in return for the release of Gilad Shalit. Asking whether he would apply the same logic if a Turkish soldier were kidnapped by the PKK, I wrote in this column:
“Terrorists kill; ‘lesser terrorists’ do not – they merely side with terrorists on the basis of common political/religious ideology or strategic interest.
“Lesser terrorists may be statesmen or common people. They may be scholars, politicians or even ‘peacemakers.’ They do not necessarily take up arms; but they feel a silent, pathetic content along ideological and/or pragmatist lines when ‘their comrades’ tend to kill ‘their enemy.’ That’s why they are not terrorists, but lesser terrorists. They do not kill; they are just ideological sadists,” (“Terrorists and ‘lesser terrorists,’” Turkish Daily News, July 19, 2006).
After five years and hundreds of bodies scattered through Anatolian graveyards, I see that Mr. Erdoğan has moved from “PKK is terrorist and Hamas is freedom fighter” to “PKK is terrorist and Hamas is freedom fighter and we accuse the West of hypocrisy.” By 2016 he may even add more glitter to his reasoning and claim that “PKK is terrorist and Hamas is freedom fighter and anyone who thinks Hamas is terrorist is terrorist himself and we accuse the West and Israel of hypocrisy.”
Perhaps the problem is in the Turkish-Islamist thinking. In 2006, one certain day when thousands of Turks were mourning their dead soldiers – a day exactly like last Friday – even bigger crowds, on exactly the same day, were holding funeral prayers in absentia in several Turkish cities for Shamil Basayev, the legendary commander of Chechen terrorists, who, among an assortment of others, was responsible for the Beslan massacre in which hundreds of Russian schoolchildren were killed.
Why, really, do the Turks get offended when Kurds mourn the dead PKK men and declare them as their martyrs, like they do for “Chechen or Palestinian freedom fighters?” Is there no upper limit to this international theater of unpleasant hypocrisy? Lost in such childish thoughts and reading the hero’s welcome for the Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for Mr. Shalit, I recalled one man, Samir Kuntar, who had been released in 2008 in exchange for the body of Ehud Goldwasser, one of the three Israeli soldiers abducted in 2006.
Today Mr. Kuntar is a hero among Palestinians, other Arabs and possibly some Turks too. What had made him a hero? He had killed an Israeli man in front of the man’s 4-year-old daughter and then killed the daughter by bashing her head with his rifle. Hence, a hero Mr. Kuntar is. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also a friend and brother of Mr. Erdoğan, gave Mr. Kuntar a medal for “supporting the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance.”