Shelomo Alfassa: May 2007 Archives

(This Original Essay is Copyrighted by Shelomo Alfassa - All Rights Reserved)

The Ottomans experienced their highest point of strength during the 16th century, as Turkey was trampling across Europe gaining victory after victory. As the Ottoman soldiers pushed into new areas of the continent, the Europeans increasingly became fearful of the Turks. Yet, even after the Ottoman Empire lost its great status and became the "Sick Man of Europe," a hatred and dread for the Turkish people remained. This was a lingering of ethnic and religious loathing against a people of unknown background; It was a vile revulsion by Christians against the Muslim Turks-a people that did not profess a belief in their man-god. "The Turk is a great barbarian," stated 16th century German humanist John Adolph Muelich. In the German language, turken ("to Turk"), still means "to hoax, to deceive."

The 18th and 19th centuries witnessed Christian missionary adventurers roving the Orient probing for new victims to entice into their fold. In addition, Western intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals traveled to Asia in search of undiscovered ancient worlds, and throughout their voyages into Ottoman lands, wrote profusely about the Turks-the less than human savages. In an early account about Palestine, an American wrote that the Turkish army provides a "severe beating" to its new soldiers, including those which were "sick." He documented that "some of the new recruits die" and that "the whip of soft, flexible, stinging leather, which seldom leaves the Turkish officer s hand, was never idle."

In a popular 19th century British travelogue, the Protestant author calls the Turkish people both "savages" and "cunning misbelievers." In this same volume, the office of the Sultan is referred to as "faithless." The author writes, "The Turks abated nothing of the cruelty in which their race has always taken in delight." This Christian author also uses the term "stubborn." The term stubborn is one that was frequently used by Christians against non-Christians. It is essentially a slur, which dictates that there is something wrong with the non-Christian for not accepting the Christian faith. We repeatedly see the use of the word stubborn used against the Turks, as well as the Jews for not believing in Jesus. This word has been employed by Christian missionaries both in centuries past, as well as present. Hugh Latimer, the chaplain to King Henry VIII wrote in one of his sermons, that the Turkish people were not only stubborn, but he wrote, "It is a great ignominy and shame for a Christian man to be bond and subject unto a Turk." Reformist Martin Luther himself wrote extensively about the "Turkish problem" and considered the Turkish people "servants and saints of the devil." Turkish people were so vilified and associated with negativity, that the term Turk was (and is) itself used as a slur, even when not talking about Turkish people.

The Republic of Turkey is a nation that over the past sixty years has become a truly modern nation. And as their society seeks entrance into the European Union, it continues to struggle because of persistent age-old negatives. For Turkey to be viable as a member state of the EU, the civilized world must expunge old stereotypes. The world must also recognize that the Republic of Turkey, although principally a nation made up of people born into the Muslim faith, is not an Arab nation with discordant goals and attitudes like those that fester inside the Arab world. In April of 2007, when over one million Turks marched in the streets against a potential pro-Islamic Turkish government-we were once again assured that Turkey remains a free and modern nation.

As Turkey aims to enter the EU, the other major obstacle it faces, are claims by the Armenian genocide lobby. Because the Turks deny there was an organized attempted genocide against the Armenians, Turkey remains a villain among international political circles. This begs the question, why should the modern government of the Republic of Turkey accept blame for the result of warfare between the Ottomans and the Armenians anyway? And, since it has been established that this was a brutal and tragic war, and that both sides suffered greatly, why are the Armenians fostering a political claim? Even without answering these questions, the never ending ranting by the Armenians against the savage Turks has fallen upon the ears of the Western world and has been responded to in knee-jerk fashion. The Armenians have not only gained the support of the Christian world, but also the main stream Jewish establishment. Even when esteemed historians with no Ottoman or Turkish allegiance, such as the late Prof. Stanford Shaw (UCLA), Prof. Bernard Lewis (Princeton University), and Justin McCarthy (Univ. of Louisville), all agree that the so-called Armenian genocide was no genocide.

The saddest truth in this whole matter is that without deep investigation or analysis, many people have emotionally and completely sided with the Armenian Christians against Turkish Muslims. Recently, a (Jewish) US Congressman spoke at a pro-Armenian rally in New York City, where he claimed the Jewish people "all supported" the recognition of the alleged genocide; this was not the first time a Congressman spoke out on the issue, nor the first time a Congressman was mistaken. The establishment should not allow their emotions dictate their responses. They must realize that because Armenian Christians accuse Turkish Muslims of committing genocide, it does not mean that it actually happened.

In 1989, as Armenian lobbyists were making headway in the Congress for the US to recognize their genocide claim, Los Angeles based Rabbi Albert Amateau (1889-1996), an orthodox rabbi, attorney and social activist, told that as a young man in Turkey, he was mistakenly considered a Christian because of his French name. Because of this, Armenian students felt that they could freely discuss their membership in Armenian secret societies around him, and openly discusses their active participation in secret military exercises to prepare themselves for military duty in their planned subversive war against the Ottoman Empire and nation, in alliance and collaboration with Czarist Russia. In a sworn statement, Amateau told that he was:

"Amazed that intelligent and politically astute gentlemen, such as Senator Robert Dole, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, and others.have been importuned to sponsor [a] resolution without any proof of the veracity of the Armenian claims...They have been duped to believe the Armenian allegations as true."

Combining a lack of knowledge of Ottoman and Balkan history with the deeply entrenched pro-victim attitude existing on modern university campuses, allows the leftist university professors to continue to teach that the Armenians experienced a genocide. As stated earlier, even though there was a war between the (now long gone) Ottoman Empire and the Armenian people-and we know it was a universal tragedy-there is no reason to blame the government of the modern Republic of Turkey. War, is war-one side wins, and another loses. Because there is no Sultan to defend himself against Armenian allegations, does not mean that those allegations are now established as factual.

Western cultural arrogance combined with a limited world-view contributed toward the initial hatred of the Turkish people, and their subsequent slanderization over the centuries. British Professor Richard G. Cole summarized the problem in one sentence; he wrote in 1972 that a stereotype of the Turk was, "frozen into print culture in the late 15th and early 16th century and remained there." Today, in 2007, Christian elitists with pro-European attitudes and a hatred for all Muslims, remain focused against the Turkish people.

Turks do not deserve to wear the title of savage or ethnic cleanser. Historic descriptions of the Turkish people are remarkably biased and inaccurate and remain a blight among all decent and civilized people. Modern society must scrub away the vestiges of a lingering harmful and unfair typecast.




VIDEO OF PROF. BERNARD LEWIS

"From the 14th century until 1922, the area, which is called Turkey, more correctly as the “Republic of Turkey” today, was a part of the Ottoman Empire, which was a multi — religion and multi — national state. Just as it is wrong to accept the Habsburg Empire to be equivalent to the Republic of Austria of today, it is also wrong to accept the Ottoman Empire to be equivalent of to the Republic of Turkey..." (1985) [Agreed by...]

Prof. Avgdor Levy - Brandens University
Prof. Bernard Lewis - Princeton University
Prof. Stanford Shaw - UCLA
Prof. Walter Weiker - Rutgers University
Prof. Dank Wart Rustow - CUNY
Prof. Roderic Davison - George Washington University
Prof. Walter Denny - Massachussets University
Prof. Daniel G. Hates - CUNY
Prof. Alan Fisher - Michigan University
Prof. Timothy Childs - Johns Hopkins University
Prof. John Masson Simth, JR - Cal Berkeley
Prof. Peter Golden - Rutgers University
Prof. Tom Goodrich - Indiana University
Prof. Rhoads Murphey - Columbia University





(This Original Essay is Copyrighted by Shelomo Alfassa - All Rights Reserved)

Geopolitics of the early twentieth century twisted and tore at the fabric of world Jewry. The generation of Jews that had been living with their feet in the sands of North Africa and the Levant during the inflammation that Europe would experience in the 1930's, would live to see the end of their communities. If they themselves weren't directly touched by the hand of the German war machine that sought to destroy world Jewry, then they lived to see the end of their ancient communities as a result of the Nazi-Arab partnership. The conclusion would be the total dispossession of their way of life, their property, their belongings, and their tranquility. Nine hundred thousands Jews were affected, but the silence about their plight continues to be deafening.

It is especially important for young people to realize that their grandparents and great-grandparents lived in a world much different then they do today, in a world that had a significant culture, one which destroyed by forces outside the Jewish community, either directly, or otherwise. In an effort to present the reader with a 'look back,' we have chosen a selection of statements from the 1923 edition of the Jewish Encyclopedia, editing them only slightly for clarity. Six decades after the Holocaust and all that was associated and linked to it—we can only look back and remember, the great Jewish communities of Alexandria, Algiers, Beirut, Fez, Mosul and Tunis:

Alexandria: The Jewish community of Alexandria, numbering (in 1900) 10,000 persons, is governed by an elective body of prominent men called the 'Communità.' This body numbers sixteen members, four being elected annually to serve for four years; only those contributing to the congregational treasury have the right to elect...Many of them are bankers and capitalists; while merchants, commercial travelers, scribes, and artisans are numerous among them. They are also represented among the lawyers and officials of the courts. The languages spoken by the Jews of Alexandria represent many tongues. They are of various nationalities, and include Syrians, Turks, Rumanians, Russians, Austrians, Germans, Italians, and Frenchmen, with all the diverse characteristics and customs of each nation....A most important Jewish schools has been established by Baron J. L. de Menasce at a cost of more than $25,000, this is pleasantly situated in ample grounds. In 1900 it had 160 pupils, who received free education in the Torah and secular subjects. French Arabic (the language of the country), and, of course, Hebrew were taught... There also exists a Home for the Aged, devoted in part also to the reception of convalescents from the Menasce Hospital, who frequently need more care and nourishment than their own homes afford.

Algiers: Out of a total population of about 97,000, the Jewish residents of Algiers numbered in 1900 nearly 10,000, of whom 1,200 are of foreign birth. Large numbers of Jews are engaged in commerce and petty traffic; but since the charge has recently been made that they have unfairly monopolized all the trade in Algiers, it may be well to present some figures showing the proportion among them that follow handicrafts. At the head of the community are a consistory and a grand rabbi, the latter being appointed by decree of the president of the French Republic on the recommendation of the Central Consistory of Paris. There are, in addition, a considerable number of native rabbis and of minor officials, appointed by the consistory and paid by the community, and six honorary officials called gizbarim. Algiers has nineteen synagogues, of which six are official and thirteen private. The oldest of the former was founded in 1866; of the latter, nine existed before the conquest, the remainder being of comparatively recent establishment…There are 250 shoemakers; 155 tinners and blacksmiths; 200 tailors; 40 joiners and cabinet-makers; 70 house-painters; and 100 watchmakers and jewelers.

Beirut: In 1889 the Jews of Beirut numbered 1,500 in a population of 20,000. In 1901, numbering 5,000 in a population of 180,000, they had for their spiritual leader Moses Aaron Yedid Levi, and for their official representative hayyim Murad Yusuf Dana. They have a large synagogue and twelve 'midrashim' (meeting-houses), called generally after their founders...There are two benevolent societies at Beirut: the Bikur-holim, founded in 1890 for assisting the sick poor; and the Misgab-Laddak, founded in 1896 for placing youths in apprenticeship. Although not far from Damascus, where Jewish studies are still pursued, Beirut has neither a body of rabbis nor any Jewish writer of importance. Yet in the Midrash Stambuli there is a room set apart for study, the yeshibah, where old men and pious Jews meet daily to read from the Zohar, the Talmud, etc.

Fez: There are nineteen synagogues, many of which possess very old scrolls of the Law. They are mostly named after their founders, as Keneset Jonathan Severo, or Keneset Rabbi Judah Attar. Fez possesses a Talmud Torah attended by about 500 pupils, and two schools founded by the Alliance in 1883 and 1899, attended respectively by 103 boys and 80 girls. A synod of six rabbis whose salaries are paid from the meat-tax takes charge of the spiritual interests of the Jews. There are no Jewish government officials. The Jews of Fez are by preference shoemakers and grocers. The richer are money-lenders…Early marriages are the rule.

Mosul: In 1903 there were 1,100 Jews in a total population of 45,000. The affairs of the community are directed by the chief rabbi, hakam Jacob, assisted by a court composed of three members. The community is not organized as such, levying no taxes; nor are there any benevolent societies…There are two synagogues: the Large Synagogue, which is very ancient, and the Bet ha-Midrash, founded in 1875, which serves also as a school (250 pupils). Benjamin of Tudela says that in his time the tombs of the prophets Obadiah, Nahum, and Jonah existed at Mosul; and the natives say that beside the tomb of the last-named a bush springs up every year, recalling the 'kikayon' (the fast growing protective desert bush) of Jonah. Thirty hours by horse to the north of Mosul is the village of Bar Tanura, inhabited exclusively by Jews, who claim that their ancestors have lived there since the return from Babylon, and who support themselves by manual labor.

Tunis: The Tunisians preserve many peculiar religious customs which are not followed elsewhere. Their ritual, especially for the divine service on festivals, differs from the Sephardic as well as from the Ashkenazic. Some of the prayers are in Arabic. The first of every month the Yom Kippur Katan is celebrated with great pomp, and the rabbis proclaim publicly full absolution from all sins. Passover cakes, as made in other countries, are wholly unknown to the Tunisians, but they use a peculiar method of their own in fashioning the unleavened dough into sticks, by joining the ends of which the cakes are made in the form of rings…Brides of twelve or thirteen are not uncommon among the Tunisians. The marriage ceremony is performed by a rabbi, and usually takes place in the synagogue. The bride and bridegroom are seated on chairs placed on a table, and a tallit covers the heads of both. Two witnesses stand one on each side, while the officiating rabbi takes his position in front of the table, with the prayer-book in one hand and the cup of blessing in the other. It is customary among the Tunisian women to appear every Friday in the cemetery with a small earthen jar containing slaked lime, and a brush, with which they clean and whitewash the tombstones of their relatives and friends.

 

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Shelomo Alfassa in May 2007.

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