Why ‘Zionists’ might give me an award
You might have heard that there are dozens of journalists in Turkey’s prisons. For sure, this is a serious problem for Turkish democracy, and hence I have been critical of the laws and legal mindset that has caused these detentions. However, for the sake of presenting Turkey with all its nuances, let me also shed some light on what sort of “journalism” we could be talking about here.
The majority of the journalists in jail are supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and they have been accused of venerating the PKK’s terrorist actions. Recently, a prison sentence was given to a headline which read, “Suicide bombing: the road to Kurdish liberation,” which would be a crime in some EU states as well. (Mere sympathy for the PKK, however, should of course be free. But our illiberal laws disagree.)
The most controversial cases are those of almost a dozen journalists who are accused of making propaganda on behalf of the would-be juntas in the Turkish military. And most of these are affiliated with a popular website called “OdaTV.”
Frankly, I am not an avid reader of OdaTV, but recently one of their pieces made my day. For it was about no one else but me and had a most interesting headline: “Why will a Zionist foundation give an award to Mustafa Akyol in March?”
“The jury will announce its decision in March, but let me tell you in advance,” asserted Mehmet Şekeroğlu, the writer of the article. “The award will be given to Mustafa Akyol, who had long been chosen.”
What Mr. Şekeroğlu was talking about is the Lionel Gelber Prize, which is presented annually to the best non-fiction book of the year. I have been indeed lucky enough to have my book, “Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty” (W.W. Norton) as one of the 10 nominees of this year, along with titles by Henry Kissinger and Francis Fukuyama. But why Mr. Şekeroğlu defined the Canada-based Lionel Gelber Foundation as “Zionist” is beyond me. It is probably the result of the paranoid anti-Semitism that is prevalent in many other “news stories” of OdaTv.
Yet why in the world would a “Zionist foundation” reward me? For my great contributions as a veteran Kibbutznik? Well, Mr. Şekeroğlu had an even better explanation. “In the recent years,” he wrote, the “tarikatçı-Zionist media” had told me, “go on my son, write and speak.” (“Tarikatçı” is someone who is a member of an Islamic sect; so I was lucky to have both Islamists and “Zionists” as my mentors.) These forces had in fact done the same polishing for Orhan Pamuk, who, according to Mr. Şekeroğlu, was rewarded for betraying the Turkish nation by supporting “the Armenian genocide libel.”
But what was my treason to the Turkish nation? Mr. Şekeroğlu wisely explained:
“Mustafa Akyol... is a sworn enemy of socialism, and a defender of capitalism whose wildness have penetrated into all his senses and bones... His biggest mission is to convince the poor masses that their dire conditions are a part of their ‘fate,’ and not the product of capitalism... So, there is nothing more normal than a liberal-Zionist foundation giving an award to Akyol.”
In other words, I was a distributor of the “opium of the people” (a.k.a. religion), and hence came my bribes from the world’s capitalist cabals.
Mr. Şekeroğlu’s piece went on and on with such demonizing rhetoric, as many other pieces in OdaTV do. Since I am familiar with such bilge, I did not take it seriously. Moreover, I am ready to defend the right of Mr. Şekeroğlu and other Oda TV writers to keep on pushing their ideology – a toxic blend of socialism, nationalism, secularism and anti-Semitism. But I would also disagree with anyone who thinks that this is the type of “journalism” that Turkey needs to become a saner country.