Paris, 31 January 2011
In appeals to German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and Austrian Chancellor, Werner Faymann, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, urged their condemnation of Turkish antisemitic film, "Valley of the Wolves - Palestine", as "an imminent threat to Muslim-Jewish relations" in their respective countries.
He, similarly, called on the two leaders to invoke German- Turkish and Austrian-Turkish associations to discourage their communities from frequenting hate-propaganda, analogous to such Nazi-period film bigotry as "Jew Suss".
Samuels noted that the FSK (Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Movie Industry) on 27 January - International Holocaust Commemoration Day - had authorized the movie's distribution throughout Germany. On the same date, the film went on general release across Austria.
The Centre pointed to the German agency's admission, in its report, to the film's "propaganda tendentiousness", as had been the case in its 2006 predecessor, 'Valley of the Wolves- Palestine'. The latter displayed packages of Turkish soldiers' body-parts labelled "Destination Tel Aviv", with an American Jewish doctor training US troops to shoot Iraqi civilians and Turkish military, in a way to keep all vital organs intact. The current feature - the most expensive in Turkey's cinematographic history and reportedly endorsed by Turkish authorities - denies the Jewish state's legitimacy and right to self-defense".
Samuels continued, "the latest production will not only exacerbate already damaged Turkish-Israeli relations, it can incite to violence between the 3 million Turks and some 105,000 Jews in Germany, as between the 500,000 Muslims and 15,000 Jews of Austria".
The Centre recalled that, "it annually monitors hate at the Frankfurt Book Fair. In 2008, the Fair's Honoured Guest was Turkey. Ironically, that year the greatest number of antisemitic volumes were displayed on Turkish Ministry of Culture stands. In 2009 and 2010 those stands were clean, a fact, explained by the President of Turkey's Publishers Association, 'as due to German intervention in Ankara at the behest of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre'".
The letter stressed that "Turkish youth, raised in Germany and Austria must learn of the 1941 brutality of the Turkish military in holding the SS Struma and its passengers - Jewish fugitives from Nazi-allied Romania. Their denial of food and medicines and their forcing the defenceless human cargo into the Black Sea, where they were sunk. The sole survivor, a teenager, testified to his subsequent incarceration and beatings in Istanbul.The lesson would set a counterpoint to the perverse account of the Marvi Marmara, highlighted in 'The Valley of the Wolves - Palestine'".
Samuels' appeals also proposed that "German-Turkish and Austrian-Turkish youth should learn of Jewish contributions to Turkey since the fifteenth century and the harmony with their Muslim neighbours" - proudly, he added, "celebrated by my late grandfather, on leaving his Istanbul home to settle in England."
The Centre expressed its hope "to work through the Chancellors to enhance Jewish-Muslim relations, through an educational programme in Germany, Austria and throughout Europe."
"The damage wrought by such hate-films as "Valley of the Wolves - Palestine", must be contained by condemnation, outreach and, above all, pedagogical enlightenment", concluded Samuels.