National Library Week in the USA and the April 20 Presentation as part of the Circle of Knowledge Celebrations at the Springfield Public Library, New Jersey April 16, 2008

April 13 – 19 is the “National Library Week” in the USA which was also celebrated in Turkey in early April. There were only a few articles about the event in Turkey, such as the assessment by Dogan Hizlan in Hurriyet, and, as far as the public is concerned, very few celebrations were held, if any.

Taking advantage of a business trip that  took me first to Boston (where the Turkish American Scientists and Scholars Association, TASSA, held a 3 day convention)  and on to New Jersey, I visited the Public Library in Springfield off Interstate highway 78, which has been holding an exhibition since March 16 called, “Survival of the Human Spirit: Triumph over Adversity”. Interestingly, the exhibition ends on April 24, Thursday, making people wonder if the end date was chosen deliberately which is the day commemorated, falsely to be sure, as the Armenian genocide day around the world. The exhibition has been created by “The Center for Holocaust Studies at Brookdale Community College”, made possible by a grant  from the “New Jersey Council for the Humanities”, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The library, also a museum and full of thousands of books and magazines, was host yesterday to several activities for both the children, adults and Senior citizens, including a “Library Scavenger Hunt.”  Among the many fliers, there was an announcement  for “Holocaust  Studies” in Lincroft, NJ for Summer Fellowship Institute for Teaching the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Issues, June 30 – July 11, 2008. The Flier indicates that 2 days will be devoted to the teaching of genocide, including the mythical Armenian genocide.

Another flier was informing that, one day after the Library Week ends, Dr. Guenter Lewy will be making a presentation on his book and the Armenian issue following the showing of the documentary “The Armenian revolt, 1894-1920” at  the Springfield Public Library on Sunday April 20.  As to this writer’s knowledge, this will be the first showing of this documentary by Marthy Callagan and a discussion on the Armenian issue by professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massacusetts – Amherst, the author of the book, “The Massacres of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey – A Disputed genocide”, at a Public Library in NJ. Congratulations to the organizers of this event (The Society of Turkish American Architects, Engineers and Scientists (MIM), Mr. Omer Kitaplioglu from MIM and the head Librarian Ms. Susan Permahos and others who have devoted their time to study this issue.

Yuksel Oktay

April 16, 2008

Political History and Economics of the Russian Federation in Vilademir Putin’s Leadership Period by Elnur MIKAYILOV

Vilademir Putin

Vilademir Putin

This research investigated Russia’s past and today from its economical and political dimensions as well. Putin’s aim is to make Russia big and powerful country as how USSR was a strong government 15 years ago. Analyzes also show that’s since Putin’s term in Russia there’re much economical growth in Russia’s economy and political chaos has been changed to politically stability in Russia. Putin placed special importance on the rights of Russian citizens living abroad.

In summary, by giving priority to political reforms through his first year in power, President Putin will probably be trying to extend reforms to several other areas. Another priority of Russian foreign policy would be to achieve integration with Europe. Though not making any clear reference to the United States, Putin saying that the United States should abide by the rules of international law.

Keywords: NIS(Newly Independent States), Putin, Russia, Russian Economy, Russia’s Political History. [Read more…]

The Turkish American National Leadership Conference – Empowering Turkish Americans, Washington DC, March 17-19, 2011 – Part 2, March 18, Fridaday

The second day conference began with a presentation by Prof. Dr. Justin McCharty, following brief opening statements by Gunay Evinch and Kaya Boztepe. The topic of McCharty’s presentation was, “The Turks in America: the Creation of an Enduring Prejudice.” As usual, the presentation was lively with a lot of anecdotes and slide showing of caricaturs of Turks from McCharty’s new book with the same name, some dating back to 1890s, including an Editorial cartoon in the 1895 issue of the New York Times (Library of Congress Collection), the darling of Armenians who love to quote from that newspaper.


McCharty began with an explanation on the reasons for writing about the Turk: “because what I saw around me and the complete lack of understanding of the Turkish issues,” he said, making reference to the New York Times reviews. McCharty stated that if  15 books are presented on Turkey, all would be anti-Turkish, none with Turkish point of view. Then he gave many examples of name calling for the Turks, from Assassins, to Barnarians with pictuires of camels. Referring to the books and articles on Turks by foreigners, McCharty listed 3 points used by the west as to why Turks killed the Armenians:


1. Religious hatred

2. Envy of the Armenians for their superior culture and wealth

3. Racially inferior people


Also referring to a description of a Turk in the 1895 issue of the New York Times, “A standing Disgrace to the Civilzed World”, followed by stating that the bad image of the Turks in the West was created by the Missionaries and  “Americans saw nothing else except what missionaries wropte.”


Following the excellent presentation, several participants were allowed to ask questions. One lady asked as to what they shoudl do to correct the bad image of the Turks, further asking if these were included in his book. McCharty responded first by stating that he was expecting this question and put on a slide with the following points:


1. Educate Ourselves.

2. Educate Others

3. Admit Turks” Mistakes

4. Quesrtion falsehoods

5. Identify Bigotry for What it is.


Taking advantage of the 5 points on the slide, I asked a question also (after walking to the center of the hall where the microphone was) and suggested that perhaps a 6th point could be included: Build Museums. Than I briefly told about yet another Chance Encounter with a dozen 8th grade staudenst visiting WDC on a class trip.


“As everyone must have seen, a lot of young students are at the Hyatt hotel. I asked them where they were from and what they were doing in WDC. They were 8th grade students from a Middle School in Illinois and were on a class trip, all 180 of them with several teachers and parents. I asked to close to a dozen of them if they knew where Turkey was, since they were also running around the Turkish Amwerican Conference hall. None of them knew. Then I asked one of their teachers the same question, who said she was a Special Education Teacher, and she said, “Somewhere near Poland.” I told her that all she has to do is to put her finger at the center of the world on a map and that is where Turkey is.”


Then I suggested to Prof. McCharty that establishment of Museums should alos be included in the list. He pointed to Point No 2. “Educate others.” I said yes, but Museums should be emphasized.

Yuksel Oktay

To be Continued. End of Part 2.

The Turkish American National Leadership Conference – Empowering Turkish Americans, Washington DC, March 17-19, 2011 – Part 1, March 17, Thursday.

The first day of a three day, The Turkish American National Leadership Conference – Empowering Turkish Americans, was concluded yesterday with the Ambassador’s reception at the magnificient Turkish Embassy Residence in Washington DC. Prominent members of the Turkish-American community, students from several universities in and around WDC, including three 13 year old elementary school students, and many Turks, including a young Turkish-American who drove 30 hours from Texas attended the reception. Professor Dr. Justin McCharty and his wife and many academicians and businessmen were also at the conference and the reception.


The conference has been organized by the two umbrella organizations; Washington DC based, “Assembly of Turkish – American Associations – ATAA” and the New York based “Federation of Turkish – American Associations – FTAA” with support from the “Turkish Coalition of America” and the “Turkish Cultural Foundation.” The official language of the conference and the Program book were all in English, including the presentations, except State Minister Egemen Bagis also spoke in Turkish after his presentation in English, which is to be commended. After all, this is a conference for the Turks in America and the Turkish-Americans, or, perhaps to follow the example of a speaker on the American Jews, perhaps we should refer to us as the American Turks.


The Conference was opened with a video address by the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, HE Ahmet Davutoglu, followed by welcoming speeches by Gunay Evinch, the President of ATAA and Kaya Boztepe, the President of FTAA. These were followed by  remarks from the Arlington City Council Chairman Chris Zimmerman, the Host county, and the Mayor of Alexandria city William D. Euille. HE Ambassador Namik Tan spoke about the role of the Turkish-Americans and HE State Minister Egemen Bagis reminisced his 17 years in America before going to Turkey and entering politics and provided many advise, including a strong statement that, the Turkish-Americans should love each other.” Of course, the first requirement for this is “knowing each other.” A simple example of this is the lack of name tags for the Conference participants except for the speakers.


The first panel was on “US-Turkish Relations: Challenges and Opportunities“, moderated by Mark Meirowitz, advisor to ATAA and FTAA Presidents. Suleyman Gokce, Deputy Chief of Mission, Turkish Embassy, and Jess Baily, Director, Office of Southern Europe in the Bureau of European & Eurasian Affairs, spoke in length on various issues. Following the first question by the Moderator himself and long responses, three questions were allowed to the participants, one of which was on the Turkish-Israeli relations and the Boat Marmara incident. I asked two questions; one whether any action was being taken for the removal of the fabricated statement by Hitler on the Armenian issue displayed at the US Jewish Memorial Museum, visited by 2.5 million people every year. The second question was whether there was a Turkish Library and Museum in the US? Neither questions were responded to, but was discussed in length outside the conference room with Mr. Baily.


Yuksel Oktay’ PE

To be continued. End of part 1.

18 March 2011

Observations from the Leaders of Change Summit at the Istanbul Convention Center

Observations from the Leaders of Change Summit at the Istanbul Convention Centre as Kofi Annan gets ready to deliver the final speech.

The youngest participant at the Leaders of Change Forum in Istanbul was an 11 year old boy, wearing a protocol tag with a name Konur Alp Ozguc, K was handwritten in front of Onur which was his father’s name on the tag (Attached photograph). I asked him how he liked the Forum. He said he was very excited because he shook hands with both Al Gore and Kofi Annan. As he was playing around the speakers platform, I asked him to recite ”Ataturk’un Genclige Hitabı.” Is it ”Turkum Dogruyum Calıskanım” he asked. I said no, which is the final declaration in Ataturk’s Speech which is posted at every classroom of every school in Turkey, probably at Turkish schools abroad as well.. Than he remembered but admitted that he did not know the words to it since they never read the stuff posted on the walls. Such is the situation with the new generation of young students in Turkey.

I told him that one of my grandson was also 11 and in the 5th grade. I asked him what course he was taking at school. He said, Mathematics, Literature, basic courses. When I asked him what language he was learning, he said Russian and English but could not say anything in any language.

I also had a chance to shake hands with Kofı Annan and ask him who was the greatest leader of change in the 20th century. Holding my hand, he said, ”Ataturk of course.” Than I commented that yes he was the greatest leader but his name did not come up during the summit, not even once I said, adding that the new Convention Centre does not have a picture of Ataturk.

As Kofi Annan went to the huge Audatorıim enough to hold 2,000 people to delıver his speech, I came to the Press Room to write this. I am sure the number of listeners was no more than 100, not including Steven Kişnzer who left the soft during cocktail hour early. I learned quite by chance that President Gul was not coming to the Summit to deliver the closing speech.

Yuksel Oktay

At the Press Center of Istanbul Convention Center