Mr. Maxim Babitski Explaining His Trip to Turkey on Channel 9 TV (Israel)
Channel 9, Israel, May 31, 2018
Host: Maxim Babitsky, the expert analyst on our show, recently attended a meeting in Turkey where representatives from different faiths were present.
Hello Maxim. Today we are going to talk about your visit to Turkey. How did it go?
Maxim Babitski: It was very interesting, almost like an action movie. Because our hosts were very sensitive about our safety. We went to Istanbul with a delegation of 13, and some of them were Rabbis with their traditional clothing. So it was very obvious we were Jews. When we arrived, around 20 very muscular, formidable bodyguards welcomed us and escorted us up to our cars. Six armored jeeps were waiting for us. The famous Turkish author Adnan Oktar, the president of the Foundation,
uses armored vehicles, because there have been numerous assassination attempts by ISIS and other terrorist groups against him in the past. Bodyguards escorted us everywhere. They first took us to a very old synagogue, which is now a museum. It is an incredible center of history. It was attacked twice by terrorists in the past, so there is very very tight security in the museum entrance. The security system was very impressive. When we were in the museum, a boy approached us. A 23 year old Iranian student. He started speaking with us in Hebrew. He was very decent, very well educated. He said he learned Hebrew from internet. He said, ‘I wanted to learn everything myself. I wanted to understand where the hatred for Jews was coming from, so I started researching.’ He actually lectured us on Jewish history and in Hebrew.
Alexander Babushkin was with us. He is a social activist, a Christian Arab. We had a couple of Rabbis with us whom I haven’t met before. Adnan Oktar, who invited us, wanted to bring together people from different religions to maintain the dialogue. Actually, for me, this forum resulted in me getting rid of my prejudices. For example we have Jewish leftists, who are suggesting that we find a middle ground with the Arabs.
I learned that there were [already] Muslims, Arabs that wanted to reach an agreement with the Israelis. Palestinians, Jordanian people that wanted to reach an agreement with us. For example there was a Sheikh from Morocco, we chatted with him. There was another Sheikh from Hebron, another Sheikh from Saudi Arabia. There was a Jordanian professor who prepared a doctorate thesis on the relations between Israel and Palestine. By the way, most of these people speak Hebrew; that is also very interesting.
For example the sheikh from Hebron said, ‘There are many people like me, but we cannot get our voices heard. We are afraid. If the Israeli government supported us, we would have stood in the elections and started the peace process.’ They, in other words, this Foundation, has a very different approach. For example Adnan Oktar says: ‘In the Quran, it is written that children of Israel should go back to their own lands [which is Israel] and that they should live there.’
His organization is called the ‘culture of peace’. Adnan Oktar, the President of the Foundation, says that there are no messages of hate in the Torah and that the Torah also invites people to love and peace. His books are printed in the millions and they give away these books free.
For example, one of his books is called ‘Love in the Torah’. They also translated the book into English. Adnan Oktar wrote those books.
In another book, they compiled all the verses in the Torah and the Qur’an about love and peace. When you read them, you see that the Qur’an and the Torah give us the same message, tell us that we are the same, that there is no reason for us to be enemies. By the way, members of the Foundation are very devout people.
The president of the foundation says that they are Muslims and according to Qur’an, a Muslim cannot harbor any hatred for any one, no matter what religion that other person follows.
He says that a person who has hatred in his heart is not sincere towards God. I was very surprised when I heard those.
Host: Maxim, I have another question. How are Turkish people approaching Israelis? The security measures you talked about are very good, and the people who welcomed you were very careful to ensure your safety. But all those precautions, they also show that Turkish approach to Israel is not very peaceful. Isn’t it?
Maxim Babitski: Actually if we didn't have the Rabbis with us, no one would have even understand we were Jews. During our two-day stay in Turkey, we carefully read all the newspapers and couldn't see even one article about Israel. Turks don't really pay attention to Israel, they are not interested. Our journalists are intentionally egging us on. I think Turks have no problems with Israelis.
There are elections one month from now in Turkey and I think the anti-Israel rhetoric is a part of the election campaign, a classic political move to gain votes. But generally, Turks are nice to Israelis. Of course there may be radicals like there are in every other country, but I don't think there is hatred or aggression among the people in general. I think the tight security we saw was more about the previous assassination attempts against them. Of course you don't go to the city center and brandish an Israeli flag, because there are mad people, radical people in every country. It’s always good to be careful, but you don't need to be afraid either.
Host: Thank you very much Maxim Babitsky.