Because Turkey is not Israel.
Limassol, Cyprus — Cyprus is a beautiful island. But it has never recovered from the Turkish invasion of 1974. Turkish troops still control nearly 40 percent of the island — the most fertile and formerly the richest portion.
Some 200,000 Greek refugees never returned home after being expelled from their homes and farms in Northern Cyprus.
The capital of Nicosia remains divided. A 112-mile demilitarized “green line” runs right through the city across the entire island.
Thousands of settlers from Anatolia were shipped in by the Turkish government to occupy former Greek villages and to change Cypriot demography — in the same manner the occupying Ottoman Empire once did in the 16th century. Not a single nation recognizes the legitimacy of the Turkish Cypriot state. In contrast, Greek Cyprus is a member of the European Union.
Why, then, is the world not outraged at an occupied Cyprus the way it is at, say, Israel?
Nicosia is certainly more divided than is Jerusalem. Thousands of Greek refugees lost their homes more recently, in 1974, than did the Palestinians in 1947.
Turkey has far more troops in Northern Cyprus than Israel has in the West Bank. Greek Cypriots, unlike Palestinians, vastly outnumbered their adversaries. Indeed, a minority comprising about a quarter of the island’s population controls close to 40 percent of the landmass. Whereas Israel is a member of the U.N., Turkish Cyprus is an unrecognized outlaw nation.
Any Greek Cypriot attempt to reunify the island would be crushed by the formidable Turkish army, in the brutal manner of the brief war of 1974. Turkish generals would most likely not phone Greek homeowners warning them to evacuate their homes ahead of incoming Turkish artillery shells.
The island remains conquered not because the Greeks have given up, but because their resistance is futile against a NATO power of some 70 million people. Greeks know that Turkey worries little about what the world thinks of its occupation.
Greeks in Cyprus and mainland Greece together number less than 13 million people. That is far less than the roughly 300 million Arabic speakers, many from homelands that export oil, who support the Palestinians.
No European journalist fears that Greek terrorists will track him down should he write something critical of the Greek Cypriot cause. Greek Cypriots would not bully a journalist in their midst for broadcasting a critical report, the way Hamas surely would do to any candid reporter in Gaza.
In other words, there is not much practical advantage or interest in promoting the Greek Cypriot cause.
Unlike Israel, Turkey is in NATO — and is currently becoming more Islamic and anti-Western under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. If it is easy for the United States to jawbone tiny Israel, it is geostrategically unwise to do so to Turkey over the island of Cyprus.
Turkey is also less emblematic of the West than is Israel. In the racist habit of assuming low expectations for non-Westerners, European elites do not hold Turkey to the same standards that they do Israel.
We see such hypocrisy when the West stays silent while Muslims butcher each other by the thousands in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and Syria. Only when a Westernized country like Israel inflicts far less injury to Muslims does the West become irate. The same paradox seems to hold true for victims. Apparently, Western Christian Greeks are not the romantic victims that Palestinian Muslims are.
In the 40 years since they lost their land, Greek Cypriots have turned the once impoverished south into a far more prosperous land than the once-affluent but now stagnant Turkish-occupied north — unlike the Palestinians, who have not used their know-how to turn Gaza or Ramallah into a city like Limassol.
Resurgent anti-Semitism both in the Middle East and in Europe translates into inordinate criticism of Israel. Few connect Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus with some larger racist commentary about the supposed brutal past of the Turks.
The next time anti-Israeli demonstrators shout about divided cities, refugees, walls, settlers, and occupied land, let us understand that those are not necessarily the issues in the Middle East. If they were, the Cyprus tragedy would also be center-stage. Likewise, crowds would be damning China for occupying Tibet, or still sympathizing with millions of Germans who fled a now-nonexistent Prussia, or deploring religious castes in India, or harboring anger over the tough Russian responses to Georgia, Crimea, and Ukraine, or deploring beheadings in northern Iraq.
Instead, accept that the Middle East is not just about a dispute over land. Israel is inordinately damned for what it supposedly does because its friends are few, its population is tiny, and its adversaries beyond Gaza numerous, dangerous, and often powerful.
And, of course, because it is Jewish.
© 2014 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
8 thoughts on “On Cyprus, the World Is Silent”
2 related ‘paras’ from Peter Hitchens this am:
Mr Erdogan famously said a very important thing back in the mid-1990s when he was just Mayor of Istanbul (to a journalist from the newspaper Milliyet) : ‘Democracy is like a tram. You ride it until you arrive at your destination, then you step off.’ ( Istanbul, I should note here, has some very fine trams, though they don’t actually go all that far before you have to get off and find some other less smooth and modern means of travelling).
I must confess to being puzzled by Mr Erdogan’s foreign-policy trajectory – swerving towards Teheran and then towards Riyadh, and incidentally crashing into Israel (once a Turkish ally) on the way – just as I am puzzled by his very successful moves towards integrating the country’s Kurds (previously a harried minority) into Turkey as a whole. Does he hope to integrate them fully, or is he ready to contemplate a nominally independent Kurdistan under some sort of Turkish ‘protection’? I have no idea. It is a thing to watch, and Mr Erdogan is a man to watch. He’s nearly reached the end of his tram ride, as far as I can see. I wonder what sort of vehicle he will use for the rest of his journey?
As for silence, how about China in Tibet? Eternal crickets.
Mr. Hanson penetrating analysis of the political clownishness of this world with respect to how it treats Israel is once again on target! While the force of the article is about Cyprus, one can clearly see how different the world treats Turkey over Israel, given the same set of almost identical circumstances. Have you ever noticed that no matter what intellectual analysis is performed on any political issues involving Israel implicitly or explicitly, Israel always seems to fall short in the bias eyes of the world. This cannot be an accident rooted in evolutionary causes, affecting the normal development of a nation, its assemblies seems to be governed by unseen forces that are difficult to measure but its presence can be clearly felt.
Over the years, I have concluded that by any political standards, Israel stands alone among nations, the origin of her troubles are deeply rooted in the spiritual than in the physical. This explains why nothing that involves Israel makes sense to the intellectual mind. The intellectual mind is largely grounded in the physical and does not recognize the dark spiritual forces that are in play in the world which is fiercely against all things Israel.
I have a suspicion that Turkey was brought into NATO not despite but because of its reputation for brutality and the long-standing hostility between it and Russia.
Mr Hanson’s July 30th ,2011 post should be read—” The resignation in Turkey”
First time I agreed with Hanson on anything. Quite a shock. Don’t think telling the world that its hypocritical and anti-semetic will help much, but at least is helps us understand what is really going on.
some nations or countries have history . some others just criminal records. and for sure not just for one time . asyrians armenians had the same end
United States Federal Court also Kicked Greek Cypriots:
United States Federal Court: “..Greek Cypriots cannot claim that the government in control of Northern Cyprus gave their homes to Turkish Cypriots….Although the United States does not recognize it as a state, the TRNC purportedly operates as a democratic republic with a president, prime minister, legislature and judiciary…TRNC is not vulnerable to a lawsuit in Washington”.