‘Exterminate Jews like the Germans,’ wrote Hüseyin Nihal Atsız.
The Istanbul metropolitan municipality’s naming of a park after a writer who showed great sympathy for the Nazi movement’s lethal antisemitism, has largely been ignored in the media outside of the Republic of Turkey.In November, the Istanbul city government named a park after Hüseyin Nihal Atsız (1905–1975) who is considered by experts of Turkey to be a raging racist and antisemite.
“It’s not shocking for those who know Turkey well that Ekrem Imamoglu, the supposedly ‘social democrat’ mayor of Istanbul, supported and approved a bill to name a park in the city after a prominent ultra-nationalist writer and Nazi sympathizer. Turkish ultra-nationalist and supremacist ideology is not a marginal phenomenon, but rather the mainstream,” Dr. Nikos Michailidis Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Mediterranean Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and an expert on Turkey, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist and distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, documented a number of Atsiz’s tirades against Jews. Atsiz wrote that “The Jew here is like the Jew we see everywhere. Insidious, insolent, malevolent, cowardly, but opportunistic Jew; the Jewish neighborhood is the center of clamor, noise and filth here as [the Jewish neighborhoods] everywhere else… We do not want to see this treacherous and bastard nation of history as citizens among us anymore.”Atsiz wrote that “The creature called the Jew in the world is not loved by anyone but the Jew and the ignoble ones… Phrases in our language such as ‘like a Jew’, ‘do not act like a Jew’, ‘Jewish bazaar’, ‘to look like a synagogue’… shows the value given by our race to this vile nation.”ATSIZ’S RHETORIC mirrored the genocidal antisemitism of the Hitler movement. “As the mud will not be iron even if it is put into an oven, the Jew cannot be Turkish no matter how hard he tries,” Atsiz wrote in 1934. “Turkishness is a privilege; it is not granted to everyone, especially to those like Jews… If we get angry, we will not only exterminate Jews like the Germans did, we will go further…”
The academic Corry Guttstadt wrote in her book: Turkey, the Jews and the Holocaust that “Nihal Atsiz was an avid Nazi sympathizer. He called himself a ‘racist, pan-Turkist and Turanist’, and was an open antisemite.”Jacob M. Landau, the late professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote that “Atsiz was a great admirer of the race theories of Nazi Germany, expressing some of them repeatedly in his works during the 1930s and 1940s (with the Turks labeled as the ‘master race’). For years, his haircut resembled Hitler’s, and his posture had a military way to it.”Writing on the website of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Dr. Efrat Aviv, a senior lecturer in the Department of General History at Bar-Ilan University, noted that “Atsız still has many fans in Turkey. His commemorative ceremony, which is conducted by youngsters from the İyi Parti, is held in Istanbul, an event that attracts members of all other parties as well.”The Post sent press queries to Turkey’s embassy in Israel, the Turkish foreign ministry in Ankara, and to Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), an opposition party and the oldest political party in Turkey.
MICHAILIDIS SAID that, “With the exception of the pro-Kurdish HDP, and some liberal as well as a few social democrat politicians, all the other parties in the Turkish parliament are inspired – to different degrees – by openly racist ideologies and employ relevant rhetoric, with either an Islamist or a Kemalist façade.” Kemalism is the founding ideology of modern, secular Turkey, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.He continued that, “if we consider the rhetoric of the regime media, then the situation becomes even more disturbing. It seems that this is an ideology that goes beyond one party and embraces the whole state system. Racism and hate speech against Jews, but also against Greeks, Armenians, and of course Kurds – all victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing – is a constant characteristic of the Turkish Islamo-nationalist public rhetoric and ideology that is employed by even some so-called ‘left wing’ parties in Turkey.”When asked about the glorification of Atsız and what the EU and the US can do, Michailidis, who speaks Turkish, said that, “primarily through extensive sanctions and with the use of other innovative diplomatic, economic, educational and cultural tools, the EU and the US can design and implement policies for the ‘de-Nazification’ of the Turkish political system and its irredentist, nationalist ideology.
“The current US administration can very well start by recognizing the genocide of the Armenians and the other Christians of Asia Minor committed by the Young Turks and their successors,” he said. “The Turkish state’s persistent denial of atrocities committed in the past enhances and reproduces hate speech, racism and aggressive behavior against citizens (Kurds, Alevis and others) and neighboring countries today.”Michailidis added that “We are talking about an ideological and political cancer that has been normalized and whitewashed for decades. This is a huge problem and the key to understanding Turkish internal and foreign policies. While the EU and the US strongly criticize and oppose the rise of Nazi ideologies in European countries, and rightly so, they fail to raise the same criticism when it comes to Turkey, a NATO member-state and once an aspiring candidate for EU membership. This is especially troubling when considering that in Turkey, this phenomenon is not marginal, but rather mainstream.”The Post also contacted members from Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, who have seats on the Istanbul Municipal Council.