this sunday in the new york times

From Sunday Book Review, The Jewish Question: British Anti-Semitism, by Harold Bloom:

(The author) is a truth-teller, and authentic enough to stand against the English literary and academic establishment, which essentially opposes the right of the state of Israel to exist, while indulging in the humbuggery that its anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.

and more

The new English (and Continental) anti-Semitism is hatred for Israel, which among all the nations is declared to be illegitimate. The United States remains almost free of this disease, and any current writer would not be tolerated for portraits like those of Hemingway’s Robert Cohn in “The Sun Also Rises,” Scott Fitzgerald’s Wolfsheim in “The Great Gatsby” or the several Jewish males who are Willa Cather’s villains. This is hardly to congratulate ourselves, but to point out that the United States, despite bigots left and right, does not encourage the genteel anti-Semitism that is woven into the English academic and literary world.

and more

Of the nearly 200 recognized nation-states in the world today, something like at least half are more reprehensible than even the worst aspects of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians.

Lessons:

  1. Anti-Zionism = Anti-Semitism
  2. If you write a literary piece with a less than amazing Jewish character in it, you are anti-Semitic.
  3. There are other states who oppress, torture, kill their minorities/those they occupy, so Israel shouldn’t be criticized. Instead Israel should continue to be seen as a bastion of democracy in the Middle East and receive billions of dollars in aid from the US and the EU.

You gotta give it to the New York Times.

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QDN decides to comment on the Protocols now that they’ve gone to shit*

This just in: The parties represented in the political coalition of the National Assembly of Armenia came forth with a joint statement today, which runs as follows:

The constructive efforts of the Armenian side and the expectations of the international community faced the Turkish inconsistent policy of evasion and preconditions, which brought the process of ratification of the Armenian-Turkish within a reasonable timeframe into a deadlock.

So it’s dead, *for now. Not gone to shit per se, but shelved for the time being, until a solution can be found for the deadlock. Either way, here’s my issue with how the deadlock has been presented in the media: everywhere (and I mean everywhere, not just the Armenian press) I see the same statement repeated: that Turkey is putting forth the settlement of the Karabakh conflict as a precondition to normalized ties with Armenia. This is misrepresentation that’s distressing to me. Turkey’s precondition is simple: that Armenia evacuates Kelbejar and Lachin, two (2) of the seven (7) surrounding regions -meaning: nothing to do with Karabakh itself- that it has been occupying without any attempt at reviving or populating and with the admitted intention of using them later as bargaining chips. “The settlement of the Karabakh conflict” is not going to happen in 3 months, as any owner of a brain can tell – that is not the precondition. Evacuating these two pathetic little rayons IS the bargain Armenia has been waiting for, and this “precondition” is completely sensible.

Why is it sensible? Because Turkey closed its border with Armenia over that country’s occupation of Karabakh. The occupation has continued for the past 19 years, and the border has been closed for the past 19 years. How does it make Turkey look and feel if after 19 years of a fat utter nothing done over the stated reason for the closed border, Turkey just decides to open it. All sides have suffered in different ways during these 19 years, but giving without taking is not how international politics works.

What is NOT sensible in this picture, is that Turkey entered the Protocols saying they would not have preconditions, whereas they did and they knew they did. Why even bother with it if they knew Armenia would never agree to their preconditions? Erdoğan says that the Protocols talk about actions “towards ensuring regional peace” and this demand for Lacin and Kelbejer are justified within that clause, and that they thought Armenia and Azerbaijan were closer than ever to a breakthrough at the time the Protocols were signed (I wanna make a joke about them ever being wrong, but I also feel for them. Who even knows these things anymore). Was someone not clear enough? Maybe next time they should hire us to go over those texts. For now, good luck to everyone in dealing with this mess.

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holler if ya hear me

not much is changing over here

I just wanted to share with my fellow Caucasians that when applying to colleges in the US, I gleefully checked the “Caucasian” box among the races on the common application form: My emotions upon seeing that word there fought with my logic telling me a tiny region no one gives a shit about would not be included with “all the major races” (it stopped short of arguing those from the region cannot make a race) and sadly, the former won that battle. Later I learned that apparently in the West, Caucasian means white. Nah, the ones I know and like are hairy folks with monobrows, quite the black hair and big dark eyes and prominent noses and they don’t age so well but they can do a mean Kafkaz dance at any age and give a great toast when the occasion arises, and they make sure the occasion does arise. How did that come to mean white people? And what was I supposed to check on that form?

change we can believe in

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the 6th one

Speaking of good stuff, news came today that the government is finally going to make sure the children of the illegal immigrants from Armenia can go to school (Google Translate is not so bad to get the gist of the story). As noted in the research by Alin Ozinian that I mentioned before, these children constitute the biggest -or “the most heartbreaking”- issue in the situation of these irregular migrants (as children often do):

These stateless children can’t go to any public school or minority school. Some young Armenians try to educate children at home, but these lessons have no continuity and stability. Most of these uneducated children spent their lives playing on the streets. They are prone to have bad habits and develop a criminal personality.

There was already talk of including these kids in the Armenian minority schools last December, and perhaps the latest mini-scandal prompted the government to speed up the process. Of course, when I say “news came”,  I do not mean this news is everywhere in the major outlets, like Erdoğan’s remarks that were interpreted as Turkey being on its way to a second genocide. Luckily, GoodNews Watch is at your service.

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behold: I might have some good news

Friends, this list has not been easy to put together. I remember taking note when Finkelstein said that History is the recording of disruptions to peace. Good news is not often news it seems, and rarely does it become history. Random acts of kindness, peaceful coexistence or just decent human behavior are not worth being written down, especially if they are not a sharp change from the usual (you know, gorging on that Haterade). So I present you with 5 good things that recently happened in the hood, at the same time reminding you that “this is how it should be to begin with” or “it could have been better” are not legitimate reasons to ignore or belittle the positive in these happenings. Here is what I came up with:

1. Partners in awesomeness, Onnik Krikorian and Arzu Geybullayeva just did a 3-Part “Facebook Diary” for BBC Azeri on “Social media and Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict transformation”.

2. There is a Turkish Film Festival in Armenia.

3. The AKP Government in Turkey prepared the Draft Bill of the Anti Discrimination Law and sent it to various institutions for feedback. It really is quite far-reaching and Bianet likes it, which says a lot.

4. The US and Russia concluded a deal to cut their deployed arsenals of nuclear missiles by 30%, in the biggest breakthrough for arms control for two decades.

5. 

Four days before the game between the two archrivals of Istanbul, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe, for which in a regular season a mini police-army is summoned, thousands of Fenerbahçe fans stood up and applauded Özhan Canaydın, Galatasaray’s President who passed away earlier in the week. Canaydın was known for his adherence to fair play and sportsmanship, one of the more memorable gestures of which was his applauding the opponent at the infamous derby that Galatasaray lost 6-0 (Yes, really. I still don’t know how they let that happen). This gesture on the part of the fans, who only had to stand in silence for a minute, also led to the first YouTube video in history (meaning, that I have seen) that does not contain obscene cursing in comments but appreciation and gratitude instead. Thanks to a man who kept his head cool and chose to do good in his lifetime. Good 1 – Evil 0. At least for now, at least for that moment.

Stay tuned for more.

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that’s what he said

People (news outlets, politicians, journalists, bloggers, commentators, etc.) have been running a festival with what Erdoğan said about irregular Armenian workers in Turkey the other day, and frankly I can’t blame them.

What I have seen so far:

  • An Armenian news site quoting a Yılmaz Özdil article suggesting Turkey is turning into Nazi Germany, with pictures of Erdoğan and Hitler next to each other for good measure.
  • Baykal, leader of the main opposition party CHP (that opposes the Protocols, by the way), condemned the speech saying it would be a violation of human rights, while Canan Arıtman of the same party (may God protect us from her), protested, saying this was really her idea first. I think they really want credi for this, together with Onur Öymen. The Hitler imagery always cames in so handy.
  • A law suit at the Supreme Court for potential crime against humanity confession of a crime.
  • Radikal, among others, called it “the second Deportation.”

Questions:

  • Will Turkey be deporting all the other illegal workers? Nigerians, Moldovans, Azeris, Iranians, Afghanis, Iraqi Kurds, etc.?
  • What special “tolerance” are we showing to Armenian workers that we are not showing to illegal workers of other nationalities? This is not charity. They work for money, just like other illegal workers. A majority of them are actually employed by Turks, and not Turkish Armenians. Is there an understanding that turning a blind eye to workers from countries with which you have no diplomatic links is sign of great tolerance compared to those from countries with which you do have ties? Maybe I am in the dark here.

(Edit: I think this is what he means by tolerance:

In response to a parliamentary question brought by ultranationalist party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), deputy Hakan Coşkun, who reiterated claims raised by Elekdağ earlier, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay said eight Armenians were deported in 2007 and only one as of March 2008. In comparison, more than 50,000 Armenians passed through the Turkish border checkpoint in 2007, making the number of deportees seem almost insignificant.

I have no idea what the numbers are for other nationalities, so this might be positive discrimination. Doesn’t change what is wrong with the latest statement though. Moving on.)

  • If not, how is it justified to punish thousands of people for some political decisions taken in a country they have no control over, by people they have no way of influencing?
  • What does “if it becomes necessary” mean? How exactly will it become necessary? If you are frustrated with Armenia, it could be a legitimate diplomatic move to stall/cancel/etc the Protocols, but HOW would this be justified?

Some more bullet points:

  • On the other hand we need to calm down a bit, since this deportation will not happen: The Times says “Turkish politicians have in the past threatened to throw out these Armenians in retaliation for international recognition of the genocide but this is the first time that the threat has come from the country’s leader.” I believe they are wrong about the second part, as Çiller has made the same threat in the past, but the point here is that these workers have been seen as political chips for a long time. You (by which I mean “I”) expect better from a politician who has built an entire image on how powerful his conscience is. I very much hope this is another fragment of his style, and refer you to Cengiz Çandar’s and Yıldırım Türker’s articles (though the latter rightfully shows how this is part of a horrible nationalist rhetoric) that I will translate in the next posts.
  • If anything, these workers have a positive effect on Turkish-Armenian reconciliation. According to the same reasearch, “all of the Armenian migrants interviewed stated that their opinions on Turkey have completely changed shortly after going there. This may be an indirect benefit to irregular migration.”

Lastly, this is what he said a while ago:

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, dismissed flatly, however, any suggestion that Armenian workers should be deported in order to pressure the Yerevan government. Putting the figure at around 40,000 in a speech he delivered in January, Erdoğan said: “They [Armenian workers] fled the country, they could not sustain themselves in their homeland, and we opened our doors. We could deport them, but we are not doing so.”

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Filed under elements of style, idiotloji, turkey

stop wasting Juan Cole’s time

Juan Cole on the shit he has to deal with:

You always think you can defend your position in an honest debate. You aren’t prepared the first time someone says, “How do you justify your spirited defense of Pol Pot?” Horowitz had some Kahaneist string together a series of statements I never wrote and published them in a book on the supposed 101 most dangerous professors (as if anyone is more dangerous to our Republic than a lying rightwing demagogue). What I really mind is that he never sent me so much as the T-shirt. Also, students still don’t seem sufficiently impressed by the title to get their papers in on time.

There is funnier stuff later, but of course the main premise is a very sad one. I just want to note that if I were Juan Cole’s student, I would hand in my papers on time.

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