November 18, 2003

The attack in Turkey

I didn't write anything about the attack in Istanbul as I wasn't sure I could add anything to what has already been said.

I've been thinking about Turkey a lot since the attacks. I've been to Turkey and consider it among my favorite places on earth. I had been living in Scotland and was meeting my parents in to spend a week with them and my brother traveling around Turkey. I arrived in Istanbul late at night and waited to go through immigration. As the line moved along, we were told that we had to pay a visa fee to enter the country- $20 or 20 British pounds. I got to the front of the line with my 20 pound note and was met with confusion and questions. What was this, they asked, holding up my 20? Um, a Scottish 20 pound note? They said that they had never seen one before and couldn't accept it and asked me if I had any other money. I said no but that I had an ATM card. A policeman walked me to an ATM in the airport and I tried my card. My password was 7 numbers long. The ATM machine took a maximum of 4. I wasn't getting any money. I was starting to panic. There was talk of putting me on a plane back to Amsterdam (my flight from Scotland had made a stop-over in Amsterdam, a place where they happily accepted my Scottish notes in the casino in the airport). The policeman who had been my escort suddenly paid my fee. I was so grateful. I gave him my 20 pound note and assured him that it was real money. He seemed skeptical in the face of my guarantee that when the banks opened the next day they would surely exchange it for him.

I spent that night in the airport (I had a ticket to take a flight in the morning to Izmir to meet my parents but since I had no recognizable money, I couldn't afford a cab into town to get a hotel room) and the next week enjoying Turkey and the Turkish people. It had a really terrific time. I met some incredible people, including a bartender in Izmir who I'm in touch with to this day. One guy offered my dad 200 camels for me. My dad said he wouldn't accept anything under 300.

Anyway, I write all this because I love Turkey and I respect the Turkish people and respect them all the more for their reaction to the bombings: "Turkey and Israel, vowing not to let the blasts damage rare close ties between the Jewish state and a Muslim nation, have vowed to track down the perpetrators of the attack," Reuters reports. "Working side-by-side and inch-by-inch, Turkish police and Israeli Mossad secret service teams combed through the wreckage outside the two synagogues."

BOTW has an editorial from the Jerusalem Post that is a necessary read:

This attack illustrates the indivisibility of terrorism. The issue is not whether it was against Jews, Turkey, or the West: it was all of the above. The attempt to dissect such attacks is often, consciously or not, an attempt by those not yet affected to pretend that the circle of victims will not spread to them.

Jews were attacked because of hatred of Israel, we are told. Or Turkey was attacked because it is close to America and Israel. Maybe, so goes the logic, if we do not cooperate with America or Israel, we will be spared.

Don't count on it. How many countries have to be hit before Europe concludes, in an operational way, that we are in this together?

The heart of the strategy of terrorism is to bank precisely on Europe's ability to deceive itself. If the West were as united and single-minded as its attackers, the terrorists would not stand a chance. . . . The terrorist network sees that this is not happening and concludes, with some logic, that continued terrorism is necessary to reenforce and deepen the divisions between Europe and the United States.

For all its high moral and strategic pretensions, the European strategy amounts to this: lie low. Maybe the bullets will fly overhead. Maybe the outlaws will not train their guns on us.

A group called Fuel For Truth, that I plan to get involved with (but at the moment am busy so am merely on their email list), sent an email about one of its members being at the bombing. The email contains the story of the horrific scene, the blood, the bodies, but it ends with a Jewish prayer: 'Ose shalom bimromav, u berahamav yaase shalom alenu veal kol amo Yisrael, veimru. Amen.' Loosely translated: 'Do peace upon high, and upon high do peace for G-d and the whole nation of Israel will say Amen.' I just want to note that this is someone who survived a terrorist attack and is still preaching peace. Not that Jews can ever be right anyway, but I just thought I'd mention it.

Posted by Karol at November 18, 2003 11:38 AM | TrackBack
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I have really liked the Turkish people I have met.

Monday I walked by a small group of Turkish people demonstrating in front of the UN.

Posted by: PAUL at November 18, 2003 12:56 PM

The attempt to dissect such attacks is often, consciously or not, an attempt by those not yet affected to pretend that the circle of victims will not spread to them.

That's an excellent point. I often think hatred of Bush is strongest in people who fear being victims of terror, and find it easier to rail against an imagined threat than to rail against a real threat that might respond.

Posted by: mark at November 18, 2003 01:09 PM

I wish you had a comment section under your story about your visit to Turkey. I really liked it; you have an amazing anecdotal writing ability that puts the reader right there with you. Since, I can't very well have only positive things to say about your post, I will add: if I were your dad, I would have taken the 300 camels and split before the poor guy realized his bad bargain!

Posted by: Dawn Summers at November 18, 2003 01:25 PM

no less than 300 camels huh? how many camels did it cost you peter?

Posted by: scot at November 18, 2003 02:03 PM

Peter's not paying for camels, he got the whole cow! at least I think that's the saying the nuns taught us.

Posted by: Dawn Summers at November 18, 2003 03:09 PM

Are you calling me fat?! :-P

Posted by: Kashei at November 18, 2003 11:40 PM

With my boyish good looks and winning smile, I didn't need any camels at all.

Posted by: Peter at November 19, 2003 12:27 AM

How come you have no camels then ?

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