Friday, May 01, 2015

01-May-15: Turkish mayor's rudeness provokes US ambassador to change hair color but the background is far uglier

Ankara's mayor, Melih Gökçek
Funny-strange more than funny-ha-ha, and a conspiracist
to boot
Reports are circulating in the media today about the long-time mayor of Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and the juvenile rudeness he has just directed against Obama administration officials in Washington. The Guardian reports it this way today:
The mayor of Turkey’s capital city has been accused of hypocrisy after tweeting a string of sexist and anti-American comments against a US official – but launching hundreds of lawsuits against people who use Twitter to criticise him. Melih Gökçek directed his remarks at Marie Harf, the acting spokeswoman for the US State Department, after a Turkish pro-government newspaper criticised her for being “silent” on unrest in Baltimore despite repeated US government criticism of Turkey during the violent crackdown on Gezi Park protestors in the summer of 2013. One of Gökçek’s tweets included pictures of Baltimore police tackling a protester, alongside an image of Harf, above the words: “Where are you stupid blonde, who accused Turkish police of using disproportionate force?” Above the image, Gökçek wrote: “Come on blonde, answer now!”
The Guardian's editors go on to recite some of the history of this "notoriously Ankara mayor". It also notes that he's a hypocrite and something of a coward who
"regularly lashes out at his opponents on Twitter [but] is less happy to be the subject of online criticism... Mayor of Ankara since 1994 and a veteran member of the ruling Justice and Development party (AK), Gökçek is one of the most polarising figures in Turkish politics."
US ambassador Bass and today's Instagram image
[Image Source]
An AFP report this afternoon ["US envoy hits back at Ankara mayor: ‘We’re all blonde’"] makes some similar points while reporting on a novel kind of push-back from the US ambassador to Turkey:
The US ambassador to Turkey on Friday hit back at sexist remarks by Ankara’s maverick mayor to the US State Department spokeswoman in unusual style, posting a picture of himself with blond hair. Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek, a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had on Wednesday fired off an extraordinary diatribe on Twitter over the Baltimore rioting, telling the US State Department acting spokeswoman Marie Harf to “come on blonde, answer now.”...Harf herself had refused to rise to the bait of the comments, saying in Washington: “I really don’t think I’m going to dignify them with a response.” But US ambassador to Turkey John Bass took to Instagram to make his response, posting a picture of himself with his normally brown hair turned blond. “American diplomats: we’re all blonde,” he wrote in English and Turkish. [AFP, May 1, 2015]
Trouble is, both articles fail to point out that the Turkish politician, a close ally of Turkey's rather difficult president, is a lot worse than just a fat-mouthed crank. There's considerable malevolence in the man and his career, as we wrote some months ago ["14-Jan-15: A reminder that hateful conspiracy theories are not only found in dark corners"] in a post focusing on him. 

We quoted a news report from a serious Turkish source that eventually got almost zero news coverage, though it was tied to the tragic terror killings of French Jews in Paris this past January. Here it is again:
Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek has alleged that last week's deadly attacks on a French satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris that left 17 people dead are the result of France expressing support for Palestine, and that Israeli intelligence is behind the attacks, the semi-official Anadolu news agency reported... Gökçek attended the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Gölbaşı youth branch fourth ordinary district congress on Sunday and mentioned the terrorist attacks in France. He said Israel was annoyed with the lower house of French parliament for voting for the recognition of a Palestinian state and with France's vote in favor of a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for the same recognition. “Israel certainly doesn't want this sentiment to expand in Europe. That's why it is certain that Mossad is behind these kinds of incidents. Mossad enflames Islamophobia by causing such incidents,” Gökçek said. He claimed that after the Paris attacks, around 50 mosques and some Muslim individuals had been targeted but such incidents were not reported on by the international media. “Palestine being recognized as a state is why these [attacks] have taken place,” he concluded. [Today's Zaman, a major Turkish newspaper, January 12, 2015 - as quoted in our earlier blog post]
Half a year earlier, in July 2014 Gökçek supported the antisemitic tweet made by Turkish singer Yıldız Tilbe: "God bless Hitler, it was even too few what he did to the Jews, he was right" and "The Jews will be destroyed by Muslims, in the name of Allah, not much time left for it be done". [Source: Wikipedia]

When public figures, especially those in ambitious, aspirational states of the Middle East, take the lead in propagating anti-Jewish conspiracies against a background of murdered Jews. we don't have much of a sense of humour. 

We wish the news-reporting industry took a little more trouble in the profiles they publish of jackasses like Gökçek. He's not a mere buffoon, and taunting him with dyed hair is missing the point: this is a rabble-rousing antisemite whose dignified public office provides him with cover to sow the seeds of anti-Jewish sentiment - as if there were not enough already - in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. 

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