News / Europe

Turkey Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Turkey's Chief Rabbi Izak Haleva (C) and Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu (L) light candles, in memory of holocaust victims, during a commemoration to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, January 26, 2012.
Turkey's Chief Rabbi Izak Haleva (C) and Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu (L) light candles, in memory of holocaust victims, during a commemoration to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, January 26, 2012.
Dorian Jones

Turkey marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day by becoming the first predominantly Muslim country to screen the iconic holocaust documentary, Shoah.

The screening of the legendary nine-hour documentary on the Jewish Holocaust on Turkish state TV was a key part of Turkey's observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

By video link-up from Paris, Shoah director Claude Lanzmann addressed a ceremony in Istanbul's Neve Shalom Synagogue on Thursday, the eve of the Holocaust commemoration. The meeting was attended by high-level state officials, who joined members of the Jewish community. Lanzmann says the screening in Turkey of Shoah has special significance.

"This is [a] pioneering event, the consequences that Turkey will be followed by other Arab countries and one day by Iran, I am sure," said  Lanzmann. "And I want to salute the determination, [the] courage of the people of Turkish television."

It is the first time the film is being shown on state television in a predominantly Muslim country. The screening is part of the French-based Aladdin project that seeks to build greater understanding through culture between Muslims and Jews.

Aladdin director Abraham Radkin says the film is important in raising awareness among Muslims about the Holocaust.

"Over the past 60 years, the Muslim world [has] been excluded from history learning in other parts of the world," said Radkin. "So we are trying to fill a gap, a knowledge gap, and we hope we can promote relations between Jews and Muslims and remove some of the misunderstanding."

That view is shared by Turkish Jews attending Thursday night's ceremony to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This woman says Turkish people are not sufficiently aware about the Holocaust.

"I don't think so. If you think about the whole of Turkey, I don't think so," she said. "So everybody should know about it, because it should not repeat again."

In 2003, the Neve Shalom Synagogue, where the Thursday-night ceremony was held, was hit along with another synagogue by simultaneous truck bombs, killing 27 people. The attacks were blamed on a Turkish al-Qaida cell. The synagogue was also attacked by gunmen in 1986. Twenty-two Jews were killed.

Observers say anti-Semitism in Turkey, fueled by Israel's treatment of Palestinians, remains a concern.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul's Bahcesehir University was instrumental in persuading Turkish state TV to screen Shoah. He says the broadcast is important for Turkey.

"There [are] a lot of misjudgments about Judaism, about the lack of knowledge about European Jews, what happened to them in the Second World War," said Aktar. "Turkey was a neutral country and didn't know about much about all of this. Turkish public needs to be informed about atrocities of the 20th century."

Turkey's broadcast of Shoah comes as diplomatic tensions between Ankara and Israel remain high. Israeli commandos in 2010 killed nine Turkish citizens seeking to break by sea Israel's economic blockade of Gaza. Turkey's decision to screen Shoah is seen as part of its policy to separate its differences with the Israeli government from the Jewish people.

The documentary's screening also comes as Ankara is embroiled in a diplomatic fight with France over Turkey's denial that its Ottoman rulers committed a genocide against the country's Armenian population during World War I. Earlier this week, the French Senate passed a bill that makes it a crime to deny Armenian genocide claims.

Shoah's French director Lanzman, who condemns the law, believes the screening of films like his is effective in helping countries to face up to their past.

"I [am] absolutely sure that this is [a] first step and that the day when [they] will decide to deal themselves with their own past, they will do it, and they don't need anybody with a gun behind them," he said.

Turkey's broadcast of Shoah has already drawn praise both at home and abroad. The move is seen as an important step in supporting Turkey's small Jewish community but also, observers say, a shrewd diplomatic move by the government.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs