President's Message By Ergün Kırlıkovalı
Dear Turkish Americans and Friends of Turkey:
The month of July, the most popular time to visit our beloved motherland, took almost the entire ATAA Board of Directors and Trustees, not to mention tens of thousands of members and friends to Turkey.
If you have not yet visited idyllic beach towns like Cesme, Kusadasi, Bodrum, Didim, Marmaris, Fethiye, Antalya, Side, Alanya, and other such jewels in the Turkish Riviera—the stretch of coastline from the legendary Aegean Sea down to Turquoise Mediterranean—then you don’t know what you are missing and I hope you get a chance to visit them soon.
Fly THY !
This brings me to the point about air travel that I would like to bring to your attention. If you want your summer experience to be one without air travel troubles, then I suggest you seek out THY (Turkish Airlines) direct flights from Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York, Houston, and Chicago (Boston and Miami direct flights to follow soon, I hear.) THY reminds air travelers how much fun flying used to be with their always-smiling cabin crew, nonstop flow of fantastic Turkish food and deserts, hot and cold beverages, and personalized entertainment including TV and internet at the back of each seat.
Some of my friends recently flew with other airlines to save a couple of hundreds of dollars, but after experiencing the horror stories I am about to tell you, I am not sure if they saved any money at all. One flight was especially problematic. It made a stop at Frankfurt (Germany) but the time allowed for transfer was so short and the transfer itself was so strenuous that our friends were nearly having a heart attack. Just when they thought their troubles were over, their Frankfurt-Los Angeles had a surprise stopover and change of planes in San Francisco. Guess what, they missed it and they had to stay over one night to catch the next plane to LA. When they protested this unannounced, last-minute addition of a stopover, they got an arrogant reply reeking scorn. Now I ask you, is it worth it? This is especially important if your loved ones from Turkey come over to visit you and they do not speak English. Would you put them through this wringer? Just pay the extra $100 or $200 and fly like kings and queens at the THY.
One word of caution to THY: last October, I wanted buy a round trip ticket with direct flights from LA to Istanbul and Istanbul to LA. The day I had to fly was the one when THY had no direct flight (I had not known that) and somehow I was diverted to United Airlines (Oh, no, million stopovers again! ) I was sold a flight ticket which had a UA portion (LA-NY) and then THY portion (New York-Istanbul). I figured that was fine. What could go wrong? Apparently, a lot. On October 14, 2011, 45 minutes to the departure, flight UA announced that the 5:55 pm flight was cancelled! You can imagine the panic among the passengers to secure a flight to NY to make that connecting flight. UA did not have enough attendants at the UA check-in desks and a chaos ensued. Anyway, I was lucky to secure another flight and made it to Istanbul. I could live with this if this was all the trouble, but it was not. It seems that someone form UA entered a note that said “Paper” next to my name which meant I was issued a paper ticket and that I had to produce it to fly with THY from Istanbul to Los Angeles. It was news to me because I had bought the ticket online and all I had was a printout. But that was not what they were asking for; they wanted me to produce that paper ticket or buy a new one if I wanted to fly. With protest, I bought a new ticket and came home. Then I complained to UA and even filled out Lost Ticket Refund application. What a joke! They took months and did nothing. My repeated calls fell on deaf ears. So, I am out about $1,500. I learned to live with that and stay away from UA now. But if this is how UA are treating hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of other passengers, then there is a serious breach of trust here. I would not be surprised if there is even a class action suit. I am planning to write to my representative to see if some new legislation can be drawn up reigning in such utterly disrespectful conduct by any airlines arrogantly victimizing its customers. I do not know for what portion of this horrendous UA conduct THY is responsible. After all, I was diverted online to UA automatically by the software which then proceeded to sell me the UA ticket when I wanted LA-Istanbul flight.
If the above personal experiences and comments help you have a more memorable summer, without air travel woes, then I did my job here.
Another Vicious Attack on Turkey in New York Times
On July 19, 2012, the New York Times (NYT) published yet another seething op-ed unfairly demonizing Turkey (“Turkey’s Human Rights Hypocrisy” .) I can almost hear you say “So, what else is new?” as the NYT is notorious for its anti-Turkish bias.
This op-ed had an interesting author, though, one that has been amply documented to be on the payroll of the Armenians for a long time which qualifies him as a paid Armenian agent. I guess all this reasonably establishes the NYT op-ed writer as “partisan”, would you not agree? OK, that was step one. By the way, he is currently employed by a chair that is endowed by the Armenians.
Step two is establishing the fact that the Turkish-Armenian conflict is a controversial issue. Whether you believe the events of 1915 is genocide or not, you love or hate Turks and/or Armenians and/or history, let’s leave all that aside for a minute and answer this simple question: would you agree that the Turkish-Armenian conflict arouses passions each time it is mentioned? And that it is in a state of prolonged public dispute or debate? And that there seems to be no end in sight after a century of debate? And that there are at least two very distinct sides to this issue? If you agree with all this, then what you are, in effect, saying is that the Turkish-Armenian conflict is a controversial topic. Any questions so far? No? Good.
Now that we have ascertained that the NYT op-ed writer is partisan and that the Turkish-Armenian conflict is controversial, the question that begs to be asked is this: How can a respected newspaper like the NYT allow coverage of a clearly controversial topic from only one partisan’s aspect? Is this not bias on the part of the NYT ?
And in view of the fact that the NYT continues this practice of only publishing pro-genocide views, isn’t this an anti-Turkish even anti-Muslim prejudice? Aren’t even the Turkish writers allowed access to the columns of the NYT only when they defame and demonize Turkey?
Is this Turco-phobia and Islamo-phobia at the NYT a recent phenomenon?
Considering the fact that in 1915 alone, the NYT published 145 anti-Turkish articles, without checking their veracity, without allowing a single rebuttal by the Turks, it has been a 100-year phenomenon, woudl you agree?
Was that fair?
Was that objective journalism?
Wasn’t the Turkish Ambassador declared persona non grata in 1915 for objecting to the racist and anti-Turkish coverage in the American media ?
How would the NYT cover other controversial subjects like abortion, gun control, death penalty, immigration, taxes, and others? Persistently from only one side? Doesn’t that make the NYT a newspaper with a cause? These are all questions for fair-minded individuals to ponder which go right to the heart of the problem: bias and bigotry at the NYT.
That said, let me now briefly deal with the partisan op-ed misrepresenting issues while defaming Turkey.
Genocide claim is racist and dishonest history
Apparently, The NYT op-ed writer chooses to ignore Turkey's legendary religious tolerance providing a home for the expelled Jews of Iberia, during the notorious Spanish Inquisitions in 1492, and then again for the fleeing Jews of Nazi Germany during 1930s, and for many other ethnic and/or religious groups in the past millennium.
It must have also escaped The NYT op-ed writer that the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Gregorian churches survived a millennium of Turkish cohabitation and/or rule, which is a far cry from the fates of Muslims of Spain, Greece, and Armenia. The message here, diametrically opposed to Akcam's claims, must be clear to any fair mind.
The claims of Armenian "genocide" cannot be substantiated by historical evidence. About 70 scholars published a signed statement on May 19, 1985 in this very newspaper stating that the Turkish Armenian conflict of World War One was one of "...inter-communal warfare fought by Christian and Muslim irregular forces..." Genocide characterization is a long discredited political claim, not a court verdict by a competent tribunal after due process.
This paper, along with Protestant missionaries sent by ABCFM (American Board of Missionaries for Foreign Missions) in Boston in the last cebtury and and a half are two of the main culprits of this complex human tragedy. The other responsible parties are Armenians (through their revolutionary--read terrorist--parties like ARF, Hunchag, Armenakan, and others,) Tzarist Russia, Imperial Britain, and Colonialist France. Turks expect an apology from these six major culprits since the end of World War One.
While The missionaries caused all this bloodshed in the name of God, via their divisive, polarizing, and explosive sermons and teachings, the New York Times chose to become an accessory to this crime, in the name of religious solidarity with Armenians and promoting U.S. foreign interests, with its reckless publishing of anything and everything anti-Turkish without checking its veracity--145 such articles in 1915 alone while allowing not even a single Turkish rebuttal.
The Armenians, on the other hand, created all this mayhem in pursuit of their impossible dream, the establishment of Greater Armenia, the first would-be apartheid of the 20th Century where 15-20% Christian minority would be ruling over 80-85% Muslim majority in lands carved out of the Ottoman Empire.
Convinced that the era of Turks was over as the Turks were practically beaten and finished, the Armenians chose to take arms against their own government and Muslim neighbors, terrorize the Anatolian countryside. This was an effort to ethnically cleanse the area of its Turks, already devoid of its Turkish men of age 15-55 who were fighting on many far flung fronts defending the Ottoman Empire against brutal attacks and invasions. The Armenians joined the invading enemy armies, namely the Russians in 1914-1917, The British in 1914-1922, and the French in 1918-1921.
If all this seems incredible to you, check this photo out: www.ethocide.com . It will make a believer out of anyone. Do these uniformed and armed Armenian cadets at an Armenian military academy in Bulgaria in 1906--i.e. 9 years before 1915! --look like "poor, starving, unarmed" Armenian women and children to you?
You have been duped!
The latter three, of course, caused all this unspeakable bloodshed in the name of imperial expansion: Russia to gain access to warm seas, Britain to consolidate the trade routes to India, and France to gain a foothold in the Middle east.
As if none of this happened, and 518,000 Muslims, mostly Turks, were not tortured and killed by the ruthless Armenian revolutionaries, the genocide crowds continue to promote a racist and dishonest version of history. (Just like no one mentions the Khodjaly massacres where the civilians of the village were massacred and about a million Azeris were forcibly removed from their homes at gun point by Armenians.)
The term genocide describes a special crime that is precisely defined by the U.N. which can only take place if intent to destroy, in part or whole, a community with common traits, is proven, after due process, at a competent tribunal . For such an intent to exist, there must be a documented history of racial hate and discrimination, which comes to a boil at one point, such as it did during the Holocaust (1942-1945), the Rwanda Genocide (1994) and, most recently, the genocide in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica (1995.) It is common knowledge that no such systematic, scheming, and lasting hate campaigns ever existed in the 623-year-long the history of the Ottoman Empire. In fact, quite the contrary exists, where the Armenians were dubbed "the loyal nation", that is of course, until the early 20th Century.
There was no competent tribunal employing due process of any kind scrutinizing the embellished Armenian allegations of genocide--save the Kangaroo courts of 1920 in occupied Istanbul--and there exists no court verdict. This does not seem to stop NY op-ed writer and his supporters, scholars or lay, from outrageously claiming that it is genocide, totally ignoring Armenian war crimes, revolts, treason, terrorism, hate crimes, territorial demands and their Turkish victims. And such biased approach seems to suit the NYT just fine.
H.Res. 2362 : "Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011"
As you are well aware, Native American communities continue to struggle with high unemployment and poverty, and we, the Turkish Americans, believed the demonstration project authorized by H.R. 2362 could stimulate increased investment and economic activity in tribal communities. That is why it was called "Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011''.
This legislation held great promise to reform some of the current legal barriers that inhibit tribal economic development. Moreover, H.R. 2362 would help Tribes, Turkish companies and the U.S. government alike. It gave Tribes the tools they needed to ensure economic development and improved standards of living. It also enabled the U.S. government to strengthen economic ties with the Republic of Turkey while relying on private activity to stimulate tribal economies.
In these tough economic times, American Indians and Alaska Natives needed innovative ideas that could help reduce their dependency on the U.S. government.
Armenian and Greek lobbies promoted this move as something that will benefit Turkey only and that Turkey did not deserve such preferential treatment in face of
-- denying a genocide (because it is a discredited political claim, not a fact supported by a court-verdict)
-- continuing the occupation of Northern Cyprus (only to protect the lives of Turkish Cypriots) and
-- threatening Cyprus, Israel and America in the oil exploration off Cyprus (not true, Turkey only want Turkish Cypriots included in the deals).
They insisted that if Turkey was serious in its goodwill, then Turkey should allow all countries which are members to WTO (World Trade Organization) be included. That’s 155 countries! Turkey and friends have accepted it. So, there should have been no more problems, right? After all, the Native American organizations supported the bill.
To that end, we, the Turkish Americans, as individual taxpayers, urged our elected officials to kindly schedule a legislative hearing on H.R. 2362 as soon as possible and thankfully, our wish was granted as the measure finally came to the floor on Monday, July, 23, 2012. H.R. 2362 got 222 votes, more than half, but it was not enough as 2/3 majority was needed in such cases involving suspension of rules. We were disappointed but still proud to achieve a YES vote of 58% (i.e. 222 votes of those present.) Here is the letter written by one of the cosponsors of the bill refuting the Armenian and Greek allegations:
Sent to Issue(s): Foreign Affairs, Natural Resources
Subject: The Truth About H.R. 2362
From: The Honorable Tom Cole
Sent By: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill: H.R. 2362
Dear Colleague, I want to highlight my responses below to recent criticism of my legislation, H.R. 2362, which will be considered under suspension of the rules this afternoon.
1. H.R. 2362 is redundant and unnecessary: Leasing on tribal lands is an overly complicated system that requires extensive review and Secretarial approval. This legislation may be operationally the same as the HEARTH Act, which passed the House and Senate and is waiting for the President's signature, but tribes want both programs to give them the flexibility to address lease reforms using which program best suits their needs, which is why the National Congress of American Indians and the National American Indian Housing Council strongly support this legislation in addition the HEARTH Act.
2. H.R. 2362 creates an implied preference for Turkey: I authored H.R. 2352 in response to Turkish entities expressing interest in doing business with American Indians. The findings reflect that interest. Despite this, the legislation gives no preference to Turkey over any of the 155 other WTO countries. This legislation does not alter any leases already in place. I applaud our trading partners engaged in economic development with Tribes and look forward to this legislation encouraging expansion of those partnerships.
3. This measure is morally wrong: American Indians across the United States face unimaginable poverty. Unemployment on Indian reservations is unfathomably high. Economic development on tribal lands is hampered because of overly complicated and archaic regulations. It is morally wrong not to do everything in our power to give tribes, and American citizens, every opportunity to succeed. While not as sweeping as the HEARTH Act, H.R. 2362 provides tribes with additional tools they need to help them succeed.
4. Turkey prohibits trade with Armenia, a U.S. ally which has tripled its troop deployment to Afghanistan: Turkey is a NATO ally and a critical and willing partner in the War on Terror. Turkish troops have fought alongside American soldiers as far back as the Korean Conflict. The United States maintains Incirlik Air Force base in Turkey. While Turkey and Armenia have a long history of conflict, that history is irrelevant to this legislation. This legislation will economically empower Indian tribes and help the most disadvantaged Americans while providing no special treatment for Turkey over any other WTO member country.
Tom Cole, Member of Congress.
And here are some of the replies by Congressman Cole during the heated debate:
Mr. COLE. ... I understand the passions here are high, and I actually respect that a great deal even when I disagree with the policy conclusions that may have led some of my colleagues to. I do ask you to stop and think, there is a sort of a contradiction in your argument: It's both redundant and yet gives special preferences. Both those things can't be true. It suggests to me the real argument is fundamentally different from those two points.
The reality is it gives no one special preferences (to Turkey). We tried to listen to that point. I wish other countries were beating down my door to want to go do work on Indian reservations and to want to partner with Indians. They aren't. I know of one country (Turkey) that has really cared enough to do this. Now, there are a range of disputes in other areas. Those are legitimate disputes, and those are matters that ought to be the subject of serious discussion and debate on the floor, but have nothing to do with this bill. They have nothing to do with this bill. They're about ancient and current acrimonies and differences that ought to be settled in other forums on other issues but not on this bill, and certainly not at the expense of the least advantaged, frankly, the most disadvantaged part of our own population. I wish I could get more American companies that wanted to go on reservations and sit down and work with people about creating jobs. That's all this bill is about.
To those of you that have other concerns, I recognize the legitimacy of those concerns. But I just ask you to focus on the nature of the legislation. The New World is supposed to be able to put some of the Old World's controversies behind us, and certainly on a topic like this. So for those of you, again, that have a different opinion, I respect it. But I also point out that Turkey is an ally of the United States. It has been for decades and decades. It's an important regional partner for the United States. This strengthens that relationship, as well, and the interest and the commitment in this area is genuine.
… The interest in this area is genuine and real. Shouldn't that be something we should take and build on and try and add to and encourage? There needs to be a competition here. Let's build a competition to help Indian Country. Other countries can step up. Foreign companies can step up. Let's get a blueprint on how to do it. It is more complex than we would like to admit or acknowledge. That's one of the reasons why there's not American investments in these places. I can take you to some of the Indian reservations in North and South Dakota where the unemployment rate is 80 percent and the State unemployment is under 5. Should that tell you how serious the problem is? I'd like to get anybody interested in helping and doing it legitimately. We now have a level playing field for everybody. There are no preferences in this bill. Let's encourage other people to join the competition. Have them come in, and maybe they've got a better idea and a better way. But in the meantime, we should pass this bill, we should get about the business of putting Americans to work--the first Americans--and certainly Americans on Indian reservations that have every obstacle in the world against them. This bill will give one more tool in the toolbox. It's not a panacea, but it's a tool they ought to have....
And here is the statement from TCA.
TCA Pledges Continued Support of Native Americans
July 25, 2012, Washington, D.C.—This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on H.R. 2362, the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act of 2011. Introduced by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the only Native American member of Congress, the bill had the full backing of major tribal groups and strong bipartisan support. 58% (222) of the members present voted in favor of the bill. Though it did not meet the two-thirds majority required to pass the legislation under suspension vote, a process reserved for normally non-controversial bills, it did receive enough votes to obtain a simple majority on the full House – a major accomplishment for any piece of legislation. This is also the first time the Turkish American community took the initiative to create positive change through substantive legislation in Congress.
H.R. 2362 sought to reduce restrictive and archaic leasing system requirements on tribal land that contribute to high unemployment and stymie economic growth by inviting foreign investment from all 155 World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries. H.R. 2362 would have streamlined the land leasing and application review process by allowing tribes to develop and implement their own leasing guidelines.
"This success brought together Democrats and Republicans for the sole purpose of helping Native Americans, the most impoverished people in our country," said G. Lincoln McCurdy, President of the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA), a US-based non-profit organization which advocated on behalf of the legislation. "TCA remains committed to, and fully intends, to pursue all avenues to help strengthen commercial and cultural ties between Turkey and Indian Country."
Is ATAA in your Living Will?
We are fighting against bias, bigotry, discrimination, intimidation, harassment, misrepresentation, and more… All for you, Turkish Americans… Are you supporting us sufficiently? And I am not talking about a $75 per year membership dues. I am referring to continuous donations… Hundreds even thousands of dollars. This is how the fight is conducted in the US, with dollars. Please, go online and make your donations now with your credit card. We need your help!
Would you please place ATAA in your living will? Please enter statement like the ATAA shall be given 10% of your wealth upon your demise as long as ATAA stays the course on Ataturk’s principles. If that is too much, make it 5%... Even 1%... Please! I have already done it (years ago) and I am happy for it.
You cannot take it with you my friend; so please make a lasting contribution. ATAA will name a hall at the ATAA Turkevi and/or and annual project after you. Your family name will live forever. Please call your lawyer and ask him/her to include ATAA among your beneficiaries. This is the least you can do for your beloved Turkiye.
If you are still not convinced, just re-read that diabolical and misleading op-ed at NYT defaming your heritage and demonizing your homeland, and make that generous financial contribution to ATAA now!
You will read about other issues elsewhere in this wonderful e-Newsletter.
Thank you for your persistent support .
Whether you are here (USA) or over there (Turkey), have a fantastic summer!
Warm personal greetings,
Assembly of Turkish American Associations