Paradise and town-planning

The Turks and Jews of Istanbul demonstrate that co-existence is not impossible.

Anyone prepared to take at face value the prevailing Turkish version of the events of last Monday must either be ignorant of, or prepared to ignore, the acceleration in the persecution and killing of Jews but more particularly of Christians in Turkey over the past 20 years, as the army gradually lost political and economic influence and Hezbollah-type groups took hold.

It is not the way of religious fundamentalists or their bourgeois-shocking, free-rider, Western fanboys to consider balancing personal destiny and social symbiosis, so it might be too much to expect them to appreciate this ancient allegory:

Constantinople’s Jews are discussing Paradise with the Turks, and maintain that only they will be admitted. So, ask the Turks, where will we be? The Jews, unable to bring themselves to say that the Turks will be completely excluded, reply, You’ll be outside the walls looking at us. This comes to the ears of the Grand Vizier, who says, OK but they’ll have to build us villas to protect us from the elements. (Free translation of Antoine Galland, Les Paroles remarquables, les bons mots et les maximes des Orientaux. Traduction de leurs ouvrages en arabe, en persan et en turc, avec des remarques (1694))

Galland suggests that this is based on a true story of individual living arrangements, and I imagine something like it was recounted during the discussions that led to the Oslo Accord and the Palestinian National Authority, and would surely have led to a Palestinian state had it not been for Israeli colonists and Hamas rockets. And here we are.

Galland’s thoroughly entertaining collection is also available on Google Books, which is a far better tool than Gallica, but both leave one struggling to balance study and serendipity.

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  1. Sounds like a completely unjustifiable ethnic supertax to me. But still probably better than genocide.

    Thought you did a bit of bourgeois-shocking, free-rider, Western fanboy stuff a few years ago in connection with Iraq, but could be mistaken.

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