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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More