Israel Turkey Palestine Kurdistan


Anyone interested in Israel and Palestine might want to look on as ethnic Turks and Kurds in Turkey seek to establish the constitutional identity of their “nation.” What does it mean to define national identity as “Turkish” when a large minority does not define itself as such, defines itself as other or even in opposition? The case of Turkey suggests that much of the arguments about citizenship, national identity, and Zionism are not unique to Israel.

Perhaps then there is no “inherent contradiction between “a Jewish state” versus a democratic one as often gets said, and that the problem is very much imbricated in the always tense relations between majorities and minorities as they constitute themselves historically and in the present.

Apparently Prime Minsister Erdogan has been talking of late less about “Turkey,” preferring the word “the nation.” This reminds me of how Israeli Jews refer to Israel as “Ha’aretz,” the land, a moniker which is nominally neutral and includes all the peoples who inhabit it. It’s a good thing Ben-Gurion and the founders of modern Israel did not name the country something more “Judean.” That would have made for a much bigger notional mess, although I would guess that the decision not to name the new country Palestine, or the Jewish State of Palestine was meant to distinguish a new national beginning in “the country.”

The bit about Turkey, I’m getting from Mustafa Ayfol and Burak Bekdil, two columnists and sparring partners at Hurriyet Daily News, in English, obviously:


About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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