Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive
doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and
conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, has
lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly
debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been
published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and
websites all around the world.
Read more by the Author
The week of May 21st proved to be quite eventful
regarding the subject of the sinister use of
language. Let me explain…
Even with Arabs continuously murdering each other by
the tens of thousands in the region, the attempt by
many--both in and out of the so-called "Arab"
world--to redirect the focus of scrutiny onto the
Jews remains ever vigilant. The Boycott, Divestment,
and Sanctions movement and Apartheid Israel Week
especially come to mind. But, for a good portion of
the last century (not to mention the earlier
atrocities), literally millions of native, non-Arab
peoples fell victim to Arabs the same way fellow
Arabs are now doing today. The fear that some
fifteen million native, pre-Arab/non-Arab Egyptian
Copts now feel over what bodes for the future of
their country is shared by many others as well.
Besides the sword, there are other methods used to
insure victory to the cause, and both Arabs and
those who succeeded them as Muslim rulers in the
neighborhood became ardent proponents of such
tactics. While it's hard to find any human society
which is blame-free, certainly some examples stand
out more than others…or, at least should.
It is thus beyond ironic that the society which, at
least in the Middle East and its environs, has tried
the most to make fair accommodations with its
national competitors and enemies is the one which is
constantly the most criticized.
I am speaking about Israel, of course. No doubt,
there are also things there that could be improved
upon regarding relations with the one-fifth of the
country which is Arab. The same could also be said
regarding relations between the various Jewish
communities and others as well.
But, in the greater perspective (which is too often
ignored by Israel's numerous duplicitous critics),
Arabic is the second national language of the land,
and Arabs who side with Fatah and Hamas (both which
aim and/or openly call for Israel's destruction)
serve in Israel's Parliament, teach in its schools,
freely protest against "nasty Zionists" on campuses
and elsewhere, intimidate their Jewish neighbors,
etc. and so forth. And when there are alleged
problems, Arabs take Israel to court and frequently
win their cases.
To any truly objective observer, there is simply no
comparison between what an Arab can expect living in
Israel and what a non-Arab usually experiences
living in an Arab country. That Israeli Arabs are
having a fit fearing that they may fall under Arab
rule instead of Israel's in any future land swap
also speaks volumes.
It is no mere accident that the Foreword to my book
on the quest for justice in the region
(http://q4j-middle-east.com) is written by a Kurd,
and some of the major jacket comments are written by
an Amazigh ("Berber") publisher. Together, these two
gentlemen alone represent about eighty million
non-Arab people in the region (which Arabs routinely
refer to as "purely Arab patrimony") who have had
their cultures and languages periodically outlawed
by their Arab and other Islamic conquerors--notably
Turks. And this does not include scores of millions
of other subjugated, non-Arab peoples living nearby
as well. That brings me back to the two news
articles mentioned above…
Let's start out with the story in The New York Times
by Jodi Rudoren on May 22nd,
It seems that Hamas has decided that the Arabs of
Gaza should once again learn Hebrew and will, after
a long hiatus, begin offering it as an elective in
its schools. Here's the reasoning…
“Through the Hebrew language we can understand the
structure of the Israeli society, the way they
think,” explained Mahmoud Matar, director general of
the Hamas-run Ministry of Education here.
“The Arabic language is a basic thing for the
Israelis, and they use it to achieve what they
want,” Dr. Matar added. “We look at Israel as an
enemy. We teach our students the language of the
Hey--whatever the reasons, on the balance sheet, I
see this as a good thing.
Sure, some will probably use their new knowledge of
Hebrew to carry out Hamas' overtly genocidal agenda
towards their Jewish neighbors. More Israeli
soldiers may wind up being kidnapped, other Jews
will become even more vulnerable and victimized,
etc., etc., etc.
But, the more Arabs learn about those nasty
Zionists, the more at least some of them may indulge
in some serious soul-searching.
While the Muslim Brotherhood clone Hamasniks have an
Islamist agenda, who knows what unexpected
consequences may yet result in the process of
expanding some minds? There are Arabs right now who
started out as Israel's sworn enemies who can now be
counted among its friends.
Contrast the above story, again, to that regarding
how Arabs have routinely dealt with their own
enemies--and not only Jews…Kurds, Berbers, Copts,
native Jews (one half in Israel who were Jewish
refugees from "Arab"/Muslim lands and many other
such Jewish refugees who now live elsewhere),
Assyrians, native Semitic but pre-Arab Lebanese,
black Africans in the Sudan, and so forth.
Frequently, as part of the forced Arabization
process, the conquered native peoples' own languages
and cultures were declared illegal--to the point
where parents were/are even forced to name their own
children with approved Arab names. Do not bother,
however, to search for such information in your
typical college text, in the typical college
classroom, written by your typical allegedly
While these disturbing facts are well-documented
elsewhere, more often than not if the alleged sins
were/are not Israel's, they have not been worthy of
inclusion for debate,www.ekurd.net
discussion , or inclusion on academic syllabi--and
not by accident, either. There is no doubt that too
often one set of lenses has been used to judge and
study the sole, minuscule, and
yes--imperfect--Jewish State, and quite a different
set--if any at all--used to study the rest of the
neighborhood in which it lives.
As a card-carrying member of the London-based
Anti-Slavery Society decades ago, I knew quite well
what Arabs were doing in black Africa--and not only
in the Sudan, where millions of blacks were being
murdered, raped, maimed, enslaved, turned into
refugees, and so forth…without a peep out of the
mouths of the same scholars who never missed a
chance to dissect and take Israel to task.
Moving on to the second Article…
On May 26th, there was an interesting op-ed written
by Mustafa Akyol in the Turkish publication,
Hurriyet, "Kurdish As Official Language For Turkey"
On an official visit to Finland, Mr. Akyol
discovered that even though Swedish-speakers account
for a mere 7 % of the population, Finland has made
Swedish the second official language of the nation.
This, inevitably, reminded me of the debates around
the status of Turkey’s Kurdish citizens, which make
up some 15 percent (actually, at least 20%--there
are 15 to 18 million Kurds in Turkey) of the
population. For decades, our paranoid state, whose
fear of “division” overshadowed its already-fragile
commitments to human rights, had banned the use of
the Kurdish language. There were times that
Kurdish-speakers on the street were fined and
harassed, and Kurdish-language songs were
criminalized as “separatist propaganda.”
Indeed, the stench of the hypocrisy of the Turks on
such matters is as at least as bad as that of the
Turkey has the same mix of Turks to Kurds in a
Turkey geographically almost forty times the size of
Israel as there are Jews to Arabs in the latter.
Turkey's total population is about ten times that of
Israel is surrounded by Arab and non-Arab enemies
sworn to its total demise. The Turks have no such
existential enemies, and besides Turkey, there are
another half dozen Asiatic Turkic states in
Despite this, while the Jews and Israel have
respected the culture and language of the very folks
who want them dead and repeatedly act on those
wishes, the Turks have engaged in cultural genocide
against the one fifth of their own nation's
population who are Kurds (and others as well).
Notice, please, that I'm only focusing upon the
cultural and linguistic aspects of this genocide.
Unfortunately, history adds another more bloody
dimension to this story as well…and not only
Let's check out a few more excerpts from Mr. Akyol.
While speaking of some progress in recent years, he
then went on to say…
However, none of these moves are enough, at least
for the millions of Kurds who are proud of their
language and want to see it even more established.
So, here is my heretical idea: Why does not the
Turkish government take a bold step and consider
making Kurdish a second official language for
Turkey? Why don’t we use Kurdish in official
documents and street signs, restaurant menus and TV
channels, and courthouses and Parliament sessions?
I call this a heretical idea for I am sure that many
Turkish nationalists – the bulk of Turkish society –
will find it disturbing and dangerous. And their
reaction will come from not only an emotional
distaste for anything other than Turkish, but also a
fear that more Kurdishness will divide Turkey and
pave the way for an independent Kurdistan in the
But I think that this fear is based on a totally
mistaken notion: that a more Kurdish-friendly Turkey
will end up being torn into two. The truth, I
believe, is quite the opposite: Turkey will be saved
from ethnic partition only when it becomes more
This is the case, because, besides the totalitarian
ambitions of the PKK (the outlawed and terrorist
Kurdistan Workers’ Party), the real Kurdish
political aspiration in Turkey is to have a
homeland. The Turkish Republic as we know it has
never been this homeland, for it always suppressed
Kurdish identity. So, either the Kurds will keep on
hoping (and fighting) for a Kurdistan in the
southeast, or the rest of Turkey will become a bit
Turkish nationalists, in other words, need to
understand that they can’t have their cake and eat
it too. They can’t keep Turkey fully Turkish and
intact at the same time. They need to make a
decision, and they had better make it soon.
It is very refreshing to hear a Turk speaking such
language. I've been writing and spouting such stuff
for over four decades now, as have some (but not
enough) others as well. Too often, even leading
specialists on Turkey in academia barely mentioned
or wrote of the plight of the Kurdish people--and,
again, this was no accident.
For far too long, too much of the world, for one
reason or another, the hypocrisy practiced by Ankara
regarding Israel and the Arabs in contrast to its
own dealings with native Kurds who pre-date them in
the land by millennia and whom they renamed
"Mountain Turks" has been given a free pass.
It is time for this to end because it's also long
overdue that the same standards of morality
routinely used to critique Israel also be applied to
Arabs, Turks, Iranians, and others whose sins in the
region in reality dwarf those of the Jews.
Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has
done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern
Affairs. He has created and conducted counter-Arab
propaganda programs for college youth, has lectured
on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has
publicly debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles
and op-eds have been published in dozens of
newspapers, magazines, academic journals and
websites all around the world. Visit his
Gerald A. Honigman, a longtime contributing writer
for ekurd.net. Honigman has published a major book,
Quest For Justice In The Middle East--The
Arab-Israeli Conflict In Greater Perspective."
By Gerald A. Honigman for EKurd.net, May 31, 2012. You may reach the
author via email at: honigman6 (at) msn.com.
Copyright © 2012 ekurd.net.
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