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An Open Letter to the Government of Israel: Stand Proud and Defiant against Turkish Intimidation and Bullying

Professor Elihu D Richter MD MPH, Jerusalem Centre for Genocide Prevention, August 16, 2011

I am an epidemiologist specializing in the investigation of the role of incitement of all kinds as early warning signs, predictors, promoters and catalysts for conflict, terror, mass atrocities, war and genocide. In the past year my research team and I have worked on methods to advance the measurement and prevention of incitement of all kinds.

In the past three years, my research team has been tracking Turkish state sanctioned incitement and hate language and other early warning signs of  genocidal agendas directed against Israel and other non-Muslim groups. The key facts are well known:

Turkish TV programs have recycled old blood libel motifs against Israel in particular--an extremely dangerous warning sign.

Erdogan's Turkey is becoming ever more prominent as a leader in a coalition of nations and organizations with hostile agendas towards Israel.

Erdogan himself now is taking step after step to dismember the checks and balances inside Turkey against Islamization, and he suppresses and persecutes dissent and fosters discrimination against other non-Muslim groups, notably Christians and Kurds persist.

In retrospect, all the foregoing were warning signs of the Mavi Marmara episode. Now Turkey is demanding an apology and compensation for the deaths of a group of thugs sent by IHH--a terror organization. These thugs were shown to be using clubs, crowbars, and hatchets to resist peaceful boarding and searches of the Mavi Marmara.

It would be a horrible mistake to capitulate to Turkish demands for an apology and compensation as a condition of what it calls normal ties.

Here is why :

1. It is always wrong for sovereign independent nations defending the lives and safety of their citizens- to succumb to such threats. Capitulation to Erdogan's demands will invite more demands. Life and safety are the most basic of human rights, and take priority over all other rights.

2. Israel, by standing up to Erdogan, sends a strong message to other countries and peoples in the region who have been victims of Turkish intimidation, coercion, brutality, notably its invasions, conquests and genocides directed against Armenians. Cypriotes, Greek and Assyrian Christians, Kurds, Yezidis and more.

3. Israel has gained new respect from these peoples by standing up to Erdogan’s bullying, threats, intimidation and coercion. Israel should be signaling its intent to forge new alliances with these peoples to counter such Turkish bullying.

4. Israel, by standing up to Erdogan, sends a strong message to the large minority of Turkish citizens who are ever more uneasy as the country drifts towards dictatorship and islamic rule and would like to preserve its secular free traditions.

5. Erdogan is showing all the signs of becoming another Mussolini. Now is the time to call his bluff, and the sooner the better. By doing so, `Israel will embolden the strong opposition to Erdogan. By succumbing to Erdogan’s threats, we weaken the opposition to his Mussolini type posturing.

6. Israel should officially recognize the Armenian, Greek, Assyrian and Yezidi genocides –not as a political bargaining ploy, but as the right thing tho do.

7. Last, and most importantly, Israel should demand a permanent end to Turkish state sponsored incitement on its media. (e.g. Valley of the Wolves).  Israel should warn Turkey it is playing with fire by allowing such incitement to be broadcast on its airwaves. Such incitement is itself an early warning sign of genocide, and a strong case could be made for it being a crime against humanity. Israel should require the establishment of a commission to monitor such incitement, and if such there is no commission, it should do this monitoring itself.

My impression is that Erdogan and his foreign minister are trying to revive the lost Ottoman Empire and its past power. Genocide scholars know that past defeats--Turkey's loss of the Ottoman Empire -- are a driving force for future genocides. (e.g. Hitler's Germany in the wake of defeat after WW1.)

But there should be strong positive messages as well.

Israel should extend a hand of friendship in providing leadership in matters of protecting life and health and safety--e.g. water and food security, Mediterranean environment, earthquake protection, disaster response. Turkey and Israel should be regional leaders in all these issues. Its message should be that Israel and Turkey promote respect for life and human dignity for all.


Professor Elihu D Richter MD MPH
Genocide Prevention Program 
and Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention

Editor's Question To Prof Richter:  Does your opinion re: apologizing to Turkey change at all since the  American administration is now telling Israel to apologize to Turkey in order to assist the U.S. in convincing countries to vote against the upcoming  unilateral Palestinian bid at the  U.N. for recognition of a Palestinian state?  

Richter's response:On the contrary, standing up to Turkey will win the respect of Greece,Armenia, Bulgaria, the Kurds, the Assyrians, as well as Christian minorities in the Arab world..And more so, we should as a matter of  principle, not realpolitik, realize the Armenian, Greek, Assyrian and Yezidi genocides. Richter's

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