Islamists often come in two flavors: Those who would decapitate an infidel, take out his heart and eat it in front of cameras, like the jihadists in Syria; and those who have the same sentiments and goals but pursue smarter means to Islamize the whole universe through "de jure" methods, including the ballot box.
Turkey's leaders fall into the second category, but some Turks these days feature a third flavor: Non-Violent Idiocy.
Hamas's infamous charter, proclaimed in 1988, is a must-read for self-declared Western intellectuals who tend to "angelize" the terrorist group in order, often, to reinforce their own intellectual identities. The charter (or the Covenant) calls for the eventual creation of an "Islamic state in Palestine in place of Israel and the Palestinian territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel."
It goes on by outlining Hamas's mission as: "The only way to engage in this struggle between the truth and falsehood is through Islam and by means of Jihad until victory or martyrdom." Here, obviously, "victory is killing the last Jew on earth; and martyrdom is getting killed by Jews [or Muslims of rival sects]."
In one particularly tragicomic passage, the charter defines "our struggle against the Jews" as "very great and very serious" It goes on to say: "The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews [and kill them]; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees which will cry: O Muslims! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him."
Apparently, some people take Hamas's prophecy literally. Last May, Muhammad al-Zoghbi, an Egyptian cleric, said in a television interview that "not a single Jew will remain on the face of this earth." When asked by his interviewer if the section about speaking trees and stones was an allegorical expression, al-Zoghbi replied: "Whoever says this is an allegory is wrong. The trees will actually talk. And the walls as well."
Apparently, some Turks have brought a totally unexpected dimension into the Islamic debate over the trees that will point to the last living Jews on earth. Despite a dubious source, a campaign ad circulating popularly in Turkish social media calls for a boycott against olive trees. Why? Read the campaign text:
"Shortly before the Day of Judgment, Muslims and Jews will fight a war. Eventually, Muslims will defeat the Jews. The Jews will hide behind the trees but the trees will betray them to the Muslims. But the olive trees will not. Because the olive tree is a Jewish tree. Today Israel encourages olive plantations in many countries. Because Jews know that olive trees will protect them. Israel has tried to prevent the uprooting of olive trees in Turkey. But our government, despite a court order that banned the uprooting, went ahead and foiled Israel's plans. In Turkey all olive trees should be uprooted within the next three years. That way we'll give a big blow to Israel. Our nation should join the campaign and do its part by not consuming olives."
That is the text. It invites everyone to join the campaign by visiting the hashtag "#zeytinalmiyoruz (We are not buying olives)." In conspiratorial thinking, the campaign may be the work of anti-Islamists who are trying to ridicule the Islamists. Regardless of whoever is behind the campaign, some pro-government Turks have already joined it, with tweets that demonize olives and olive trees.
Can countries go insane? If, in the Islamic thinking, Muslims will defeat Jews in the war before the Day of Judgment, why fight olive trees now? Why are olive trees Zionist trees and other trees are not? Will Muslims lose the war if olive trees do not betray the hiding Jews? If so, why is there a prophecy that says Muslims will win the war? Such questions of reason can be endlessly multiplied only to remain unanswered in a country where reason is being systematically defeated by Islamist bigotry.
That is what goes on in the virtual world. But in the real world, in the early hours of Nov. 7, six thousand olive trees that were 85 to 100 years old were cut down in Yırca, a village in western Turkey, despite 52 days of resistance by olive growers. The Turkish government had decided to expropriate the land and give it to a government-friendly business conglomerate, the Kolin Group, which would build an electricity-generation plant there. The villagers appealed to the Council of State for a reversal of the cabinet decree and had been waiting since then.
The uprooted olive trees of Yırca, Turkey, on November 7, 2014. (Image source: Greenpeace Turkey)
On Nov. 7, Kolin's army of private security guards did not wait for the court verdict. They violently dispersed the villagers guarding the fields, and opened the way for the bulldozers that uprooted the 6000 olive trees. Ten hours later, the supreme court ruled the expropriation and the construction of the power plant illegal. It also declared the olive grove to be "under state protection," after it was totally destroyed. On Nov. 11, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said: "[the Turkish soil] is full of olive trees. But Turkey needs energy too."
There are allegations that the court ruling had been leaked to the Kolin Group, prompting it to order an immediate uprooting of the trees before the verdict was announced. Security guards confessed that they were ordered to clear the grove of villagers in return for pay rises and other benefits. Apparently, Kolin did not destroy an otherwise fertile olive grove in agreement with the "olive-trees-are-Jewish" campaign. The company must have behaved from more corporate motives, no matter how unethical and illegal.
It just does not change the fact that some Turks are prepared to hate even olive trees because "they are Jewish."
Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.