Updated: Nov 11, 2022
On October 29, the Turkish community in Los Angeles celebrated its 99th anniversary of 'Republic Day'. Hundreds of guests, including statesmen, actresses, and businessmen, filled the lawn at the consulate residence and enjoyed traditional Turkish food, which the consul said he had missed greatly since moving to the U.S.
The Republic of Türkiye celebrated its 99th anniversary, and in May of this year, it also changed its official name from the 'Republic of Türkiye ' to the 'Republic of Türkiye'. In ancient Turkish, the word 'Turkish' means 'strong', while the Jews used to call Türkiye 'Togar', after its ancient ancestor Togarmah, the son of Noah’s son Japheth. The history of Israel is intertwined with the history of Türkiye, and not only through the Ottoman rule in Palestine for about 400 years, from 1516 to 1917.
Today's Türkiye is one of the oldest permanently inhabited areas in the world, and in fact, is recognized as the cradle of civilization and urban settlement. The Asia Minor peninsula, which makes up most of its territory, is one of the oldest regions in the world, continuously inhabited since the Stone Age, due to Türkiye's strategic location, at the meeting point between Asia and Europe. The area where modern Türkiye was founded was the birthplace of important cultures, including the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, and Turkish culture is a unique fusion of the Western and Eastern traditions.
Opening the evening and singing the national anthem: "İstiklâl Marşı" Photos: courtesy of the Turkish Consulate
Türkiye in ancient times
The Byzantine Empire, created as a result of the split of the Roman Empire in 395, ruled for over 1,000 years, and its capital was Constantinople (Istanbul). At the beginning of the 14th century, Ottoman I of Anatolia began the consolidation of Turkish tribes into a new kingdom - the Ottoman Empire, which gradually spread. The Byzantine Empire came to an end after Sultan Mehmet II captured Constantinople in 1453.
The Ottoman Empire reached its peak and became a world power in the 16th century at the time of Sultan Suleiman I ("the Magnificent"), but in the 17th century the process of its decline began, which lasted for about 200 years until its defeat in the First World War.
Within the 'Treaty of Sèvres’, territories of the Ottoman Empire were divided between the victorious forces, and a movement of resistance to the old regime and the sultan's dynasty, led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, arose. The Turkish War of Independence against the occupying allied powers led to the abolition of the Sultanate. On November 1, 1922, the Turkish Parliament in Ankara officially abolished the Sultanate, after 623 years of monarchical Ottoman rule. The 'Treaty of Lausanne' of July 1923, which replaced the Treaty of Sèvres, led to international recognition of the sovereignty of the 'Republic of Turkey', which was established as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire. The Republic was officially proclaimed on October 29, 1923, in Ankara, the new capital. Atatürk was appointed president of the new country, and with the reforms he initiated, Türkiye became a secular, unitary and parliamentary republic.
Although the majority of its residents are Muslims, Türkiye is a united and constitutional republic. In 2018, the governmental system was changed from parliamentary to presidential after a referendum. Türkiye is a regional power and an industrialized country, with a strategic geopolitical location. The economy was liberalized in the 1980s, leading to stronger economic growth and political stability. Türkiye's economy is among the emerging and leading in growth, the 20th largest in the world by nominal GDP, and the 11th largest by PPP. Türkiye was one of the founding members of the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic States. It played a prominent role in the Korean War, and joined NATO in 1952. In addition, Türkiye is a treaty member of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and a founding member of the OECD, OSCE, BSEC, OIC, OTS, and G20. After becoming one of the first members of Council of Europe in 1950, Türkiye became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995, and began accession negotiations with the EU in 2005.
Türkiye has a rich cultural heritage shaped by centuries of history, and the influence of the various peoples who have lived there for thousands of years; It is among the most visited countries in the world, and home to 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Türkiye contains a huge ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity. It is home not only to Turks, Kurds, and Armenians, but also to millions of Arabs, Alawites, Yazidis, Azerbaijanis, Circassians, Albanians, Zazas, Bosniaks, Georgians, Iranians, Chechens, and Assyrians. Orthodox Greek Christians such as Laz, Cyprus, and Rome, Caucasians and Jews also live there. Currently, the population of Türkiye is 86.47 million. The Turks, like the Israelis, love celebrations, music, and good food. Over the years there have been mutual influences between the nations, and many songs in Hebrew are actually Turkish in origin. In addition, in recent years, Türkiye has become a global exporter of telenovelas, many of which have also been translated into Hebrew and are watched at every Israeli home.
The capital city of Türkiye is Ankara, although it is mistakenly thought to be Istanbul - one of the most beautiful cities in the world, crossed by the Bosphorus. Istanbul is the largest city and is also considered the country’s economic center. Istanbul has other names, the most well-known of which are 'Byzantium', 'Constantinopolis' (the city of the Roman Emperor Constantine), and 'Stambul'. Jews used to call it 'Kushta' up until the last century.
From Left to right: the consuls of Azerbaijan, Senegal, Türkiye, Qatar, and Romania. Back: German Consul
Photo: courtesy of the Turkish Consulate
The historical leaders
It is worth noting that the mythical leaders of Türkiye were broad-minded and innovative people, whom the Turks cherish and celebrate, many years after their passing. Sultan 'Suleiman the Magnificent' was the tenth ruler of the Ottoman dynasty and ruled the empire between 1520 and 1566, the longest period of rule, which was considered the 'golden age' of the empire. Sultan Suleiman, who was a poet, composer, philosopher, soldier, statesman and warrior, and mastered eight languages, introduced many reforms. He married Hurrem Sultan, the concubine who was brought to his harem as a slave, and granted her official status and many powers in all fields. In fact, she was his right hand. It is a well-known fact that was obscured in the 'Muhteşem Yüzyıl' (‘Magnificent Century’) series that Hurrem, originally named Roxelana La Rosa ('The Redhead'), was a Jew from Ukraine. In my opinion, in Kabbalistic terms Sultan Suleiman has a spark of King Solomon - even the name is the same.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a Turkish field marshal, revolutionary statesman, writer, and founding father of the Republic of Türkiye, who served as its first president from 1923 until his death in 1938, at the age of 57. Atatürk was a pragmatic leader who led extensive reforms in Türkiye to transform the old Ottoman constitutional monarchy from a religion-based and multi-communal manifesto to a Turkish nation-state, to be governed as a parliamentary republic under a secular constitution. Many changes known as the 'Atatürk reforms' were introduced in the country, which resulted in modernization and westernization, turning the Muslim country into a western-oriented secular republic. Among other things, the Arabic script was replaced with a script based on the Latin alphabet, and Ankara was declared the new Turkish capital, instead of Istanbul, which symbolized the Sultans rule. In 1934, the Turkish Parliament awarded Mustafa Kemal the honorable surname 'Atatürk' (Father of the Turks). Atatürk is a revered leader to this day, and everywhere throughout Türkiye, you can see his image portrayed. The Turks respect, cherish and love him as a father, even many years after his passing.
With the Consul General of Türkiye, Mr. Sinan Kuzum and his wife Mrs. Alina Kuzum. Photo by F. Scott Schafer
The Consul General of Türkiye, Mr. Sinan Kuzum, and his Greek wife Alina, host many cultural events, oftentimes frequented by key people from the Israeli community. The young and sociable consul works to promote unity, and yes, he knows and loves Tel Aviv, where he was on duty in 2015, on behalf of the Turkish government.
Various guests came to the Republic Day celebrations in Los Angeles, among them the beloved and respected Turkish actress, Tûba Büyüküstün, and the Turkish-American actress Serah Henesy, who is expecting her child very soon! Representatives of countries also arrived, among them the Consul General of Germany, Mr. Stefan Schneider - a warm man who loves Israel, and proud of his Jewish Holocaust survivor grandfather... I was also happy to meet the new GM of Turkish Airlines, Mr. Cemal Kaya, and to chat with him in English, Spanish and Turkish. His predecessor told me at the time that the Los Angeles-Tel Aviv line is the company's most profitable, so we are in good hands...
To next year at the 100th celebrations!
Turkish CG and actress Tûba Büyüküstün. Photo: courtesy of the Turkish Consulate
With the Consul General of Germany, Mr. Stefan Schneider
Actresses Tûba Büyüküstün and Serah Henesey with screenwriter Sigal Erez
My art gifted to the Turkish consulate on its 99th Cumhuriyet Bayramı