Friday, January 30, 2009

Erdogan's Troubling Quote

My very good friend David Adler, a New York-based journalist who often writes about the intersection of music and politics, has an important post up on his blog about one of the more disturbing – and so far not much talked about – aspects of the Erdogan-Peres row in Davos: the Turkish PM’s quoting of musician Gilad Atzmon as part of his final remarks.

“This is also very interesting. Gilad Atzmon, a Jew himself, says: Israeli barbarity is far beyond even ordinary cruelty,” Erdogan told the audience just before storming off the stage. It seems that Atzmon’s only credential for being quoted by the Turkish leader is simply his being Jewish. But just who is Gilad Atzmon? Adler’s description: “a UK-based jazz saxophonist and political loudmouth” and the author of “foul anti-Semitic writings.” (For more about Atzmon, take a look at this post on Oliver Kamm’s blog, where he writes: “Atzmon's beliefs are a case apart because of their malevolence as well as their stupidity.”)

As an example, here’s what Atzmon wrote in an editorial that appeared on a website called Al-Jazeerah (not to be confused with the news network Al Jazeera) during the 2006 Lebanon war, which contains language very similar to that in the quote Erdogan cited:
“To regard Hitler as the ultimate evil is nothing but surrendering to the Zio-centric discourse. To regard Hitler as the wickedest man and the Third Reich as the embodiment of evilness is to let Israel off the hook. To compare Olmert to Hitler is to provide Israel and Olmert with a metaphorical moral shield. It maintains Hitler at the lead and allows Olmert to stay in the tail.”
“While Nazism was a nationalist expansionist movement with extensive yet limited ambitions, the Jewish State and its Zionist lobbies are trying to revive the spirit of a global crusade in the name of a bizarre religious war (Judeo-Christian versus Muslim).”
(the full piece can be read here.)
For the leader of a European Union-candidate country to approvingly cite Atzmon on the world stage is disturbing stuff. One wonders what other source material Erdogan has or is being fed on the Israel-Palestine conflict. At the rate things are going, we may find out soon.

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