America’s business newspaper of record, the Wall Street Journal, headlined this story this week: “Key Ally Turkey Braces for Tumult.” Generally, business does not like “tumult” and it especially doesn’t like it in a country viewed as vital to U.S. national interests. Turkey, a founding member of the NATO alliance, has been moving out of the orbit of American friends in recent years. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced air-doo-WAN) has been pushing this large Muslim majority country into the arms of the jihadists. But last weekend’s voting in Turkey resulted in a loss of a majority in Parliament by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002.
Erdogan tried five years ago to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The ship, the Mavi Marmara, was “discreetly encouraged” by Erdogan’s government. She was bringing only “humanitarian” aid to the people in that strip of land adjoining Israel. But Gaza is controlled by the terrorist gang, Hamas.
Humanitarian aid in Gaza includes construction materials that can be used, yes, to repair bomb damage from Israeli raids. But it can also be used to build Metro-size tunnels. Hamas is burrowing under Israeli schools and hospitals. To prevent a future terrorist strike by Hamas fighters emerging on Israel’s side of the border, Israel’s Defense Force (IDF) launched Operation Protective Edge last summer.
So “tumult” for Ergodan and his cronies may be good news for us, for Americans, for Israelis, and perhaps even for Christians.
My best Turkish news this week came from friends who spoke of church planting among Turkish immigrants in Germany and who told me that even in Turkey itself, there are green shoots springing up, budding church communities. This in a land where one hundred years ago this year, millions of Christian Armenians were killed. “Who remembers the Armenians?” said Adolf Hitler as he planned his Holocaust of the Jews.
We can answer him: We do! And it is for the sake of the people of that troubled region that we demand religious freedom. It is because too many there murder their neighbors who worship differently that they have seen a century of tumult.
America has a lesson to teach the world. When George Washington greeted the Hebrew Congregation at Newport in 1790, he quoted Scripture to them: “Let each sit under his own vine and fig tree and let there be none to make him afraid.” That has too rarely been true in the Mideast. And, today, it is a heritage increasingly at risk here at home.
In demanding religious freedom for the people of Turkey, we assert a fundamental human right. And we strengthen our own resolve as Americans.