If you want to undermine the image and prestige of those who raise views that are different from those of the government in the “new Turkey,” the best thing you can do is accuse them of being traitors or pro-Israeli or pro-American.
Central Bank of Turkey Governor Erdem Başçı is the latest to face accusations of treason by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Previously, Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD) Chairman Muharrem Yılmaz was also subjected to the same treatment. Those who feel close to the Hizmet movement have been dubbed traitors for over a year.
Blaming someone for being pro-Israeli or pro-American is pretty effective because Israel and the US are the two countries that Turkish society views as the greatest threat to national security. So you can just claim a link between the people you dislike and these two countries. And you do not need to be consistent or present proof. And if you are not concerned about telling the truth, those who love you take your word without questioning your credibility.
Those who advise Erdoğan first accused the Hizmet movement of cooperation with the CIA. And Erdoğan made a statement that undermined this allegation: The CIA and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) would collaborate against Fethullah Gülen. Nobody asked about the previous allegation that the Hizmet movement was controlled by the CIA, given that MİT and the CIA planned a joint operation against the movement. Besides, all these allegations were made by Erdoğan unilaterally. The US did not make any statement confirming them. In addition, the pro-government media -- which argued a few months ago that Gülen received money from the CIA -- published reports arguing that the CIA was coopering with MİT.
In late January, Erdoğan blamed the Hizmet movement for cooperating with the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad. Again, there was no evidence or proof to back this allegation. The pro-government media used this allegation and lie for days. Interestingly, this media -- which recognizes no legal or moral boundaries -- depicted the Hizmet movement in its publications for the Western world as a radical and anti-Vatican actor and movement.
What is even more interesting is the silence of the Erdoğan government, which tells grave lies about the Hizmet movement without presenting any evidence vis-à-vis its allegations, over the fact that it actually maintains good ties with Israel. According to the documents revealed by deputy Aykut Erdoğdu in Parliament, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) -- which presents itself as an ardent supporter of Palestine and a staunch opponent of Israel -- actually paid $65 million to lobbying companies in the US to present itself as pro-Israel. These documents are contracts made with companies performing lobbying activities to prove that the AKP is a pro-Israeli and pro-Western actor. For instance, the job description in a contract finalized by the Turkish Embassy says that the company should hold events for the Jewish community in an attempt to show that Turkey is a pro-Israeli and pro-Western country.
The problem here is not Turkey making a deal with a lobbying company; the problem is that a government presenting itself as aligned with Palestine and opposed to Israel in domestic politics promotes itself as pro-Israeli in the international arena. And in addition, while it was acting so hypocritically, the same government blamed the Hizmet movement for cooperating with the CIA and Mossad without presenting any evidence.
More interestingly, Erdoğan -- who has blamed innocent people for collaboration with Israel, Mossad and the US without presenting any proof -- is the only Muslim leader who has received an award from the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the most important institution of the Jewish lobby in the US. The increased size of trade with Israel, the commercial ties of the Erdoğan family with Israeli firms, the privileges recognized to Israel in taxation and its visa regime as well as the lifting of the veto in respect to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) membership can also be added to the list.
These are all normal in bilateral relations between two regular countries. What is weird is to use this as a tool in domestic politics and to spend a lot of money for lobbies while presenting itself as anti-Israeli in domestic politics. It is also weird to ignore the documents revealing the relationship of the government with Israel and to blame others for cooperation with Israel and Mossad. Lies on a wide range of matters, including the Kabataş incident and the Sümeyye Erdoğan assassination plot, are the most visible indicator of this.
Published on Today's Zaman, 06 March 2015, Friday