It is widely known that not so long ago the government of Turkey manifested its commitment to the cause of peace in the Middle East by being instrumental in establishing contacts between our country and Arab forces hostile to us. Turkey’s initiative in this direction, its modest results notwithstanding, was highly appreciated by Israel.
At the same time, there are grounds for the assumption that, unfortunately, the Turkish government has not always been consistent in its attitude towards different conflicts in our region. In light of the Turkish government’s special interest towards the problem of inter-ethnic relations beyond Turkey's borders, we find it appropriate to offer a number of considerations to be taken into account by that government.
In so doing, we are motivated by the desire to contribute to a peaceful solution of a conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish people over the question of establishing an independent nation-state on the land of Kurdistan. This conflict is pregnant with yet another bloody war in a region within an immediate vicinity of our national borders. What could contribute to the normalization of the situation in this troubled region of the globe is the recognition of a number of undeniable facts by the interested parties. It is obvious why we draw a parallel between the so-called Palestinian problem and the problem of the Kurdish people fighting for its national independence.
- The Kurds are deprived of a nation-state of their own.
The Arabs of Palestine have an independent state. 77,5% of the territory of Palestine (under the British Mandate) is occupied by a state of Palestinian Arabs – Jordan.
- The problem of Kurdish independence has not been artificially created for the purpose of discrediting Turkey and questioning the legality of its existence as a nation-state. The Kurds are the autochthonic population of Kurdistan. They are an ethnic group that was formed in, and has prevailed since, ancient times and which is not ethnically related to the Turks.
Conversely, the myth that in 1967 the Arabs of Palestine, residing on both sides of the River Jordan, separated into two different peoples – Palestinians and Jordanians, serves only one end: to create an image of “Palestinians whom Israel has robbed of their right to an independent state”.
Even the “Palestinian Charter” doesn’t deny the fact that the Arabs residing on both sides of the River Jordan represent one and the same ethnic group. This is being cynically declared by all the terrorist leaders, who, from various international platforms, accuse Israel of depriving the Palestinian people of the right to independent statehood. An overwhelming majority of those who pass today for “Palestinians” are none other than grandchildren of foreign workers who arrived in Palestine from various mid-east countries. In the middle of the last century they were locked in refugee camps and denied the right to return to their native lands whence they came to Palestine to earn money from us. Today their grand-children and great-grand-children are still kept in “refugee camps” by the will of their Arab brethren.
- The Kurdish people’s striving for national independence does not clash with the right of the Turkish people to have an independent state on their historically owned land in Turkey.
Conversely, forces seeking to create a second Palestinian state are striving for Israel’s elimination. Their ultimate goal is to establish a Palestinian state in an addition to the already existing one in Jordan. They don’t try to hide that this state is to be created in place of presently existing Israel.
- Turkey is categorically opposed to the establishment of a Kurdish state not only on the part of Kurdistan presently under Turkish control, but it also doesn’t conceal that it will use military force against the Kurds if they declare an independent state even on that part of Kurdistan which today constitutes a part of Iraq.
Conversely, in spite of the fact that 77,5% of Palestine presently occupied by the Palestinian state of Jordan constitutes part of historical Eretz Israel, our country has never demonstrated any intent to obtain this territory by military means. The reason for this originates in our national-religious tradition which relates the spread of our sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel to the Mashiach epoch. While having one of the best armies in the world, Israel, nonetheless, recognizes the existing political reality, doesn’t try to change it and strives to keep and maintain normal and good neighborly relations with the Palestinian Arab state of Jordan. There have been periods in the history of Israeli-Jordanian relations when Israel’s armed forces fulfilled the function of the guarantor of existence of this Arab state by deterring a potential aggressor from military interfering in Jordan’s internal affairs.
-The attitude of Turkey's leadership towards the Kurds living in Turkey is open knowledge. Even permission to speak in the Kurdish language is regarded as a great accomplishment of recent years. The Turks still deny the existence of the Kurdish people as an ethnic group separate from the Turks. (Similarly, Turkish authorities refuse to recognize the existence of the Turkish Circassian minority numbering four million people, even though the Circassians don’t demand independence on Turkish territory.) The Kurdish striving for independence is being trampled by all means at the disposal of the Turkish government. The Turkish Air Force systematically bombs predominantly Kurdish population centers in Iraq, thus expanding this problem beyond Turkey's borders. According to the Turkish media, within the last 30 years, Turkey has spent 420 billion dollars for its armed struggle against the Kurds. This incessant war is being waged against the people whose leaders have never set the goal of eliminating Turkey as a state, and never denied the Turkish people's right to independence.
In contrast, Israel doesn’t deny the right of Arabs residing on her territory to see themselves as part of the great Arab nation, doesn’t regard them as Jews of the Moslem faith, doesn’t force them to convert to Judaism, doesn’t prohibit or prevent them from learning their mother tongue and native history, or prevent them from observing their religion and national tradition. Israel recognizes as a political fact the existence of a Palestinian state on a large chunk of original Eretz Israel. An overwhelming majority of Arabs in whose name purport to speak the leaders of the organizations working for Israel’s destruction and denounce terrorists, curse the very idea of creating another “Palestinian state” next to the one that already exists.
Those among them who don’t want to conceal their views and who declare they don’t consider themselves Palestinians but rather representatives of the great Arab nation which is to reach peace with Israel, are subject to inhumane tortures. People in Gaza fear being suspected of any familiarity with the ideas of Sheik Abdul Hadi Palazzi who is opposed to the idea of another Palestinian state and advocates an administrative autonomy with granting Jordanian citizenship to its Arab population. Even after emigrating to the United States, the Arabs who sympathize with our country and the Zionist idea, don’t feel safe.
Enraged mobs in Gaza, demanding Israel’s destruction, which the whole world, Turkish viewers included, see on their TV screens, are fully analogous to the mass demonstrations of “people’s support” of the communist regimes in Moscow, Warsaw, and Berlin. Once the criminal regime crumbled, those who had been forced to march and glorify it in chorus, sighed with joy. There were no crowds to cry over the much belated demise of the Soviet empire. The same fate is in store for the criminal regime in Gaza, which in today’s Turkey is presented as “expressing the will of the Palestinian people”. One can say with full confidence that our comrades-in-arms, the Arabs, Druze and Circassians who side with our just struggle for national independence, contribute significantly to Israel’s struggle against her enemies who murder innocent civilians and put Islam to shame.
Under the circumstances, to demand yet another Palestinian state in Palestine, and accuse Israel of “depriving the Arabs of statehood” means to conduct a policy of provocations against our country and our people. Such are the facts which Turkey's leadership carefully conceals from its public.
There can be no comparison between the struggle of the Kurds for their national independence and the war being waged by terrorists and their patrons against Israel. The Kurds’ right to independent statehood is legitimate and cannot be doubted. It is necessary to undo the huge historical injustice of denying statehood to an ancient people numbering 30 million people, while at the same time demanding a second “Palestinian state” for a ‘people’ whose first mention dates back to mid-1968! The same forces in our region which opposed the rebirth of our own statehood, are presently opposing the rise of an independent Kurdistan inspired by Israel’s example. We are proud of the fact that already at the early stages of its existence, our state rendered military help to the Kurds by sending our military experts to train the fledgling army of Kurdish Independence Movement.
We feel solidarity with Kurdish people and support its struggle not only because we share with it the ties of origin, of blood, and of destiny in the face of enemies denying our national rights. We side with the Kurdish people because we consider its struggle just, and this is what defines our feeling towards this heroic people. If the Turkish, or any other, people had to conduct a similar struggle, we would support it as well. Nowadays Turkey wants to look like a democratic state, trying to obtain full member’s status in the European Union. It could then display its difference from such countries as, for example, Iran and Syria, by allowing self-expression in the mass media to those of her citizens who side with the Kurds’ struggle for their national independence and with Israel’s struggle for her existence.
The Turkish people have a sense of justice in no lesser degree than any other people in the world. It is not the Turkish people but certain circles at the country’s helm that perpetrate crimes against the Kurds. It is not the Turkish people that tried to test the strength of our borders by sending a bunch of murderers, passing them for members of a “humanitarian mission” to aid the population of Gaza. There are no doubts that Turkish people will find in itself the strength and stamina to get rid of the power that manipulates it and perpetrates in its name a greatest historical injustice.
A nation cannot be truly free if it denies another nation’s right to independence.
Comprehending this simple and irrefutable truth will contribute - in deeds rather than in words - to achieving a strong and just peace in the Middle East.
The author is a fellow at the Centre of Applied Ethno-Psychology “Bava Kabir”, a non-profit organization no. 8-0129674
Translation from Russian by Eleonora Shifrin