The Inventors of Chutzpah

September 23, 2010 Topic: History Region: Turkey Tags: Gaza Strip

The Inventors of Chutzpah

The Turks have a lot of nerve accusing Israel of atrocities.

"Chutzpah' is a useful word, which is why it is now common coin in a variety of languges. I used to believe that it was of Yiddish origin. I am now not so sure. Indeed, I tend to think it might be Turkic in provenance. Certainly, if there is any justice in this world, it should be chalked up to the credit of a handful of brazen, chuckling sages in Istanbul. They win the laurels, hands down, no contest.

In January 2009, at Davos, Switzerland, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told fellow panelist Israeli President Shimon Peres: "When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill,” before rushing off the stage in (pretend) anger. He was protesting against what he saw as Israel's unacceptable behavior in that month's brief war with the Hamas in Gaza.

A year later, in May 2010, Erdogan charged Israel with violating "international law" and implementing "inhumane state terrorism" over its raid on the Turkish ship "Mavi Marmara," which was trying to run Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. (The Hamas seeks Israel's destruction and Israel refuses to allow free passage of arms to the Hamas-controlled strip.) Nine Turks, who attacked the raiders with guns, iron bars and knives, were killed by the Israeli commandos.

Now let's look for a second at Turkish behavior.

The Turks no longer dispute the fact that they deported and murdered hundreds of thousands of Armenians (and Greeks) during World War I (they continue to dispute the number "1.5 million" Armenian dead and that the killings were a result of a systematic policy of "genocide,” orchestrated by Istanbul), forcibly converted many thousands of Christians to Islam, and kidnapped, raped and virtually enslaved many thousands of Armenian (and Greek) girls.

But this was (mainly) during Ottoman times. Old history, you may say.

Let us look at some facts of more recent vintage. The European Commission of Human Rights in its report of 10 July 1976 concluded, after a lengthy investigation, that the Turkish troops invading northern Cyprus in 1974 killed Cypriot Greek civilians en masse. Turkish "troops were responsible for wholesale and repeated rapes of women of all ages from 12 to 71." After the fighting, according to the report, "the aim [of Turkish behavior] was to terrorise, destroy and eradicate the Greek population of the Turkish occupied area"; "the atrocities were deliberate tactics"—and resulted in the flight of hundreds of thousands of Greeks southwards.

In the 1980s and 1990s, according to Wikipedia, Turkish security forces levelled "3,000" Kurdish villages in Turkey—3,000!—leading to the displacement of close to 400,000 Kurds. Thousands of Kurdish villagers were killed and tortured as Turkish troops tried to suppress Kurdish demands for a measure of autonomy.

And Erdogan pretends fury when nine aggressive Turkish militants, set on provoking Israel, are shot dead by Israeli troops in self-defence. I challenge anyone to match, let alone surpass, this display of chutzpah, and hypocrisy.

I wonder whether the Turks actually use the word "chutzpah.” Or do they have an equivalent word? Or don't they—and if not, why not?

(Image by Segafredo18)