Gaza is no ‘national cause’

Gaza is no ‘national cause’

We, in fact, are discussing neither about Israel nor about Gaza but about Turkey. Israel and Gaza constitute not the subject but the object of the discussion.

The subject of the discussion is Turkey’s torn identity and her tattered spirit.

If we are looking for a national cause, we could hardly find one that is truer and more urgently in need of a solution. After all, the cause is about who defines what constitutes “national.” This cause is about our future. This cause is related to whether Turkey will emerge with a new social contract through a period marked by a clash of values and whether it will be able to move ahead without being physically fragmented.

Will Turkey succeed in advancing its secular democracy and spread it to the masses while repairing its democratic roof? Or, in the end, will it be a country that is neither secular nor democratic? Personal rights and liberties, the rule of law, the freedom of faith, the liberty of expression, press freedoms and pluralism...

These constitute our true national cause; our cause lies within ourselves.

Now, let’s look at this issue from the point of view of how Turkey is defined by whether Gaza constitutes a national cause or not...

If you define Turkey and her foreign policy within the parameters of the values of either classical or neo – Islamist ideology...

And if you happen to be looking at Gaza through the prism of the “Sunni Islamic Ummah,” then it is natural for you to see a “national cause” or even the subject of a “jihad” here.

In that case, it is also natural for your foreign enemy number one to be none other than Israel.

Your despotic and anti-democratic political culture would also easily allow you to see as the “enemy within” those who criticize you for the true meaning of your perspective on Gaza. In other words, those people represent for you “the advocates of the archenemy Israel,” “those who fill the vacuum left behind by Israel’s ambassador.” That is how a vital debate that needs to be conducted within the framework of fairness and mutual respect for our democracy’s future gets drowned by means of such fascistic style. It is also because you look at your own citizens through the prism of the Sunni Islamic Ummah that you see “sectarian solidarity” behind dissident and contradictory views over Syria that require democratic tolerance. Those who are not of your own sect, on the other hand, or those whom you do not count from among the ummah are also equal citizens of this country whose rights are constitutionally ensured.

Do you not end up dividing your own countrymen and countrywomen, and sow discord among them by throwing sectarian discrimination into the whole affair?

Speaking of countrymen and countrywomen... They live on this “country.”

Had you looked at Gaza not through the prism of the ummah, but through the prism of the country, you were not going to see any “national causes.”

And you were not going to attempt moves that could incur great economic, political and military costs that also include the potential for armed conflict with another country’s army.

For those who see Gaza through the prism of the “country,” no direct, vital, clear or present threat exists toward the country’s soil, borders and the security and well being of the people who live on it.

Seeing the problem of Gaza not as a “national cause” but as a humanitarian tragedy experienced by a people living under embargoes and blockades, and who are close to us both geographically and historically, as well as culturally, would not require Turkey not to get involved in this matter anyway.

If you ask about the cause of the nine activists massacred by Israel...

It is the obligation of the Turkish Republic to settle the account of her citizens killed in international waters by the security forces of another state by utilizing to the full all rights and authority granted upon her by international laws.

“Nine martyrs”... Agreed.

But I would also remind you of our armed citizens who roam the mountains of this country wearing a different uniform than that of the state and martyr more than nine people every week, as well as the cause of our citizens wearing official uniforms who kill just as many of these citizens of ours as a “requisite for being a state.” And that a certain section of our society sees those killed by the state as “martyrs”.

I also believe that far greater causes could befall upon this country as you consume this nation’s energies and resources on causes that are, in fact, nonexistent, without solving this real cause through this country’s prism.

Kadri Gürsel is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was originally published Sunday.