Dec 07 2018

Turkey hasn’t changed since the 1980’s, just its victims – expert

Turkey hasn’t changed politically since the 1980’s, only its victims have, according to Israeli scholar Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak.

People used to suffer greatly in the secular old Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s people were incarcerated, just as the secularists are the ones imprisoned in Turkey today, Yanarocak said in an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“The point is that in Turkey there isn’t really a culture of pluralism and coexistence,” he said. “Whoever is behind the steering wheel tries to run over the other.”

Born in 1984, Yanarocak grew up in Istanbul and emigrated to Israel when he was 22 because of Zionism. He went to a Jewish school and then studied political science at Istanbul University. He returns to visit and lecture seven or eight times a year.

“There’s always someone in jail. One time it’s the religious, another time the secular, one time it’s a supporter of Erdoğan, the other time an opponent of Erdoğan.

“It’s a preventative attack. Whoever is in power feels that if he doesn’t imprison his opponents today, they might imprison him tomorrow.”

Yanarocak, an expert on Turkish foreign policy at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, said people in the West identify with the imprisoned of Turkey today because they are secular liberals who are closer to our lifestyle.

“When I was growing up in Turkey, Atatürk (Mustafa Kemal) was a demigod. I am certain that if he were to suddenly appear in 2018 Turkey, he too would face opposition.”