Wednesday, January 28, 2009

En sonunda, resmiyim!

Sometimes fortune favors the slackers. I spent a good part of last year kicking myself for not getting my act together sooner to apply for official accreditation as a foreign journalist, the cheapest route to a Turkish residence permit. As I finally navigated my way through the piles of paperwork involved in this process, I steeled myself for the purportedly horrific trip to the emniyet, or police department, the deepest darkest heart of Turkish bureaucracy. But, maşallah, said steeling was not necessary. When the time at last came, I had heard from no fewer than four other yabancıs, that as of this year, the eminyet was new and improved, now with actual lines, and numbers, and 100 percent less shoving. Every word of it proved true. I was almost disappointed. Almost.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Hepimiz Filistinliyiz"

Call me crazy (or, more to the point, boring), but I tend not to want to spout off my opinion when I don't have a good grip on the topic at hand. Maalesef, though I try to keep up with the news, the apparently intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict falls into that category for me. But it seems worth noting that watching things unfold from Turkey is like being on the other side of the looking glass.

As much as American politicians seem sworn to support Israel no matter what its government does or says, Turkish ones have put themselves wholeheartedly on the side of Palestine. Large billboards all around the city, some featuring the prime minister's wife, others bearing hard-hitting religious messages like "You are not the children of Moses" or "This is not in your book," denounce Israel's war and call upon Muslims to support their brothers and sisters in Gaza. Every other shop seems to have a photocopied "We are all Palestinian" flyer in its window, and Palestinian flags join Turkish ones overhead.

Recently, new flyers have appeared calling on people to boycott "Israel products"--like McDonalds, the Gap, CNN, Nokia, and Nescafe. It's hard to say whether the people who came up with this list see no difference between Israel and its American and European supporters, or whether they think their target audience won't know or care.