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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid