Press Freedom in Turkey – and democracy on social media

Feelings are running high in Turkey at present over the violent attacks by Israeli security forces on Palestinian protesters in Gaza. The government has openly condemned the Israeli government’s actions. This evening a public meeting will be held in Istanbul, and no doubt strong words will be spoken.

Yenikapı protest

Condemn the cruelty – Support Jerusalem!

Interestingly, the people of Turkey, and before them, the Ottoman Empire have a long history of providing friendship, support and even sanctuary to Jewish people when they were suffering persecution in Europe.

I want to share with you two news items that appeared in our local newspaper this morning:

The first refers to an incident that took place yesterday in Taksim Square – a location teeming with emotive connotations for Turks of all political persuasions.

Israeli journalists

Reaction to two Israeli journalists

Apparently two Israeli journalists representing a TV channel Hadashot were attempting to interview passersby about their views on the recent events in Gaza. It seems things were peaceful enough until a woman, allegedly a citizen of Azerbaijan, became angry. “You are killing people in Palestine,” she shouted, “and you are coming here to do reports!”

A crowd began to gather and two other people joined the woman in starting to push the two journalists around. Luckily for the Israelis, police intervened, listened to their complaints and took the woman into custody.

Netanyahu's son

An ugly share

The second item was about Yair Netanyahu, son of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the article, the PM’s son posted a picture of the Turkish flag on Instagram accompanied by some obscene words.

Possibly the young Netanyahu was surprised at the negative reaction he received to his post, and shortly after closed his Instagram account.

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Maybe I can start feeling proud of my country again

NZ likely to vote against Trump and the US in UN vote on Jerusalem tomorrow

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signalled that New Zealand will criticise US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a United Nations vote tomorrow. But she stopped short of calling him a bully, as Trump threatened to cut US aid money to countries that voted against him.

jerusalem

In fact there was no state of Israel until 1948 – and Jerusalem hadn’t been under Jewish control for 1,939 years. Some people’s history is certainly BUNK!

Countries will vote tomorrow on the UN General Assembly resolution declaring that Jerusalem’s status can be changed only by direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The US president strongly supported US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who said that the United States “will be taking names” of countries that support the resolution.

“For all these nations, they take our money and then vote against us. They take hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Trump told reporters in Washington today. “We’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us … We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Ardern was critical when Trump first recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month, saying it “will make things difficult” for peace.

Asked about possible aid sanctions, she said: “I would push back strongly and say New Zealand has and will always have an independent foreign policy. We base our decisions on principle, not on being bullied.”

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No reputable historian accepts the Old Testament as a historical document. Archeologists have found no trace of Solomon’s temple – and not for want of trying. At least the writer says “Jewish capital” and not “Israel’s”.

The Palestinians sought the General Assembly vote after the United States on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other UN Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not move the US Embassy there.

Unlike the Security Council, assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion.

The Israel Institute of NZ urged the Government to vote against the UN resolution and said it should also recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

In fact, if you know your history, you will know that Muslims allowed Jews and Christians to visit, live and build places of worship in “The Holy Land” during the years it was in their domain. The Christian concept of “Holy land” actually didn’t extend to recognising the rights of Jews or Muslims. Jewish students of history might think they have more to fear from Christians than from Muslims.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Crusades:

“The Crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The most commonly known Crusades are the campaigns in the Eastern Mediterranean aimed at recovering the Holy Land from Muslim rule.

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European Crusaders besieging and pillaging Christian Constantinople in 1204 CE

Pilgrimages by Catholics to sacred sites were permitted, Christian residents in Muslim territories were given Dhimmi status, legal rights, and legal protection. These Christians [and Jews] were allowed to maintain churches [and synagogues], and marriages between faiths were not uncommon.

One of Urban’s aims was to guarantee pilgrims access to the Eastern Mediterranean holy sites that were under Muslim control but scholars disagree as to whether this was the primary motive for Urban or those who heeded his call. Urban’s strategy may have been to unite the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom, which had been divided since the East–West Schism of 1054 and to establish himself as head of the unified Church.

The enthusiastic response to Urban’s preaching from all classes in Western Europe established a precedent for other Crusades. Volunteers became Crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving plenary indulgences from the Church. Some were hoping for a mass ascension into heaven at Jerusalem or God’s forgiveness for all their sins. Others participated to satisfy feudal obligations, obtain glory and honour or to seek economic and political gain.

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German Crusaders massacring Jews, 1096 CE

Modern historians hold widely varying opinions of the Crusaders. To some, their conduct was incongruous with the stated aims and implied moral authority of the papacy, as evidenced by the fact that on occasion the Pope excommunicated Crusaders. Crusaders often pillaged as they travelled, and their leaders generally retained control of captured territory instead of returning it to the Byzantines. During the People’s Crusade, in 1096, thousands of Jews were murdered in what is now called the Rhineland massacres.

The Crusades also reinforced the connection between Western Christendom, feudalism, and militarism.”

And those looney American fundamentalist “Christians” are still hoping Jesus is going to come back and rapture them from Jerusalem!  Come on, people! It’s been two thousand years! He ain’t coming, I’m sorry to have to tell you.

AND, others, be warned. Accept American money, and become their “b***h”!

Who owns the President of America?

Soros_Obama

Behind the scenes . . .  who?

“I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections. But as long as it’s do-able I’m going to do it.”

Sheldon Adelson, speaking to Forbes magazine in February 2012.

So, who is Sheldon Adelson? According to the people at Forbes, he is the 12th richest human being on the planet, with a net worth of around $38 billion . . . give or take a couple of hundred million dollars – small change when you’re that rich.

His Forbes bio adds that he’s a “self-made” man, who grew up sleeping on the floor of a Boston tenement.

Wikipedia provides a little more info:

  • He’s an “American business magnate, investor and philanthropist.”
  • He owns casinos in Las Vegas, Singapore, Hong Kong, and who knows where else.
  • He was the largest donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign ($25 million).
  • His father’s family was of Ukrainian-Jewish and Lithuanian-Jewish ancestry.
  • His beginnings on the road to self-made mega-wealth were assisted by loans from a rich uncle.
  • In 2015, he paid over $9 million dollars to the Securities and Exchange Corporation to sidestep charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • He owns newspapers in Israel that corner more than 50% of readership exposure.
  • While not actually owning any TV channels, he seems to use lawsuits to get rid of unfriendly journalists and ensure positive personal coverage for himself.
  • He has “waged some bitter anti-union battles in Las Vegas” and is an outspoken opponent of the Democrat Party whom he sees as sympathetic to trade unions.
  • In addition to that $25 million “donation” to Trump’s campaign, he handed over a further $40 million to the Republican Party and another $5 million to help them celebrate their victory in the presidential election.
  • He is on record as suggesting that US negotiations with Iran would be facilitated by dropping a nuclear warhead in the desert as a warning of what might follow.
  • He “hijacked” the Israeli-American Council, turning it into a “political lobbying group on Israel-related issues.”
  • George W Bush took him to Jerusalem in 2008 for Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
  • He is on record as agreeing with Newt Gingrich “that the Palestinians are an invented people.”
banksters

Wake up, America!

Why am I telling you this? According to a report in the New York Times yesterday:

“Ten days before Donald J. Trump took office, Sheldon G. Adelson went to Trump Tower for a private meeting. Afterward, Mr. Adelson, the casino billionaire and Republican donor, called an old friend, Morton A. Klein, to report that Mr. Trump told him that moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a major priority.

“He was very excited, as was I,” said Mr. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, a hard-line pro-Israel group. “This is something that’s in his heart and soul.”

So, my dear liberal friends in America – Stop getting your knickers in a twist about your “democratically elected” President, Mr Trump. Start doing something about your corrupt electoral system that allows amoral, selfish mega-rich tycoons, whatever their religious or ethnic background, to pull the strings of your country’s economy, foreign policy . . . its very existence!

IBM’s secret Nazi shame – Book extract

It’s not a big secret these days that Adolf Hitler rose to power with financial support from big business in Germany and the United States. Henry Ford is on record as being an enthusiastic supporter of the German dictator and his ethnic purification programme. The IBM connection, however, was news to me. Read on . . . And think that this was happening while my father and his generation were fighting for freedom and democracy. And if corporate America could do that then, what are they doing NOW?

IBM’s secret Nazi shame, by Frank Walker

Today, IBM (International Business Machines) is a massive New York based multinational technology corporation with operations around the world. It has annual revenue of US$81 billion ($107.8b) and 380,000 employees. Finance magazines Barron’s and Fortune dub IBM the world’s most respected and admired company. However, the huge corporation has a dark, secret past it doesn’t tell you about in its glossy brochures listing Nobel prize winners and technological breakthroughs. What they don’t tell you is that in the 1930s IBM was instrumental in providing groundbreaking technology that assisted the Nazi regime in identifying and tracking down Jews for its methodical program of genocide.

IBM Nazi computerOne of the machines is displayed in a place of prominence at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. The IBM badge can be clearly seen. It was a technical marvel of its time, the forerunner of today’s computers. The complex-looking machine was a punch card and card-sorting system initially built to assist the collation of vast amounts of information gathered in a census.

In the 1930s, IBM was one of the largest firms in the world, a true multinational conglomerate, with its headquarters in New York.

Oddly, IBM has Germanic origins. Herman Hollerith was the son of German immigrants. Working in the US Census Bureau, he was still in his twenties when he devised a machine using punch cards to tabulate the 1890 census. A smart businessman, he didn’t sell the machines or the punch cards but only leased them to whoever needed work done. It was a formula that kept the money rolling in.

His machines were used in censuses around the world, as well as for major operations such as railways and shipping.

Hollerith set up a subsidiary in Germany called Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft – Dehomag for short – and assigned it all of his patents. In 1911 Hollerith sold his firm to financier Charles Flint, who put tough and ambitious salesman Thomas Watson in charge. The name was changed to International Business Machines, IBM for short, and the company grew and grew.

In 1924 IBM owned eighty-four per cent of Dehomag, and the firm’s New York headquarters kept a close eye on all that its German subsidiary did throughout the war.

American investigative author Edwin Black was deeply shocked when he saw the IBM – Dehomag machine in Washington’s Holocaust Museum. The museum said on the display that IBM was responsible for organising the German census of 1933, which for the first time identified all Jews in the German population. Black was mystified how an iconic American corporation could be involved in the Holocaust, the most evil act of the twentieth century. He then spent decades digging up the links between IBM America and the Nazi genocide of millions of Jews and other inmates of the concentration camps. He said IBM tried to block his access to the firm’s records at every turn. But from archives around the world, and some files from IBM, he managed to assemble 20,000 documents that revealed IBM’s horrific role in the war, and in 2001 Black published his groundbreaking findings in “IBM and the Holocaust”.

It was shocking. Black wrote that IBM headquarters in New York knew all about its German subsidiary designing and supplying indispensable technological equipment that allowed the Nazis to achieve what had never been done before – “the automation of human destruction”. Buried deep in the files of the IBM company and German archives, Black alleged he discovered IBM boss Thomas Watson was an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazis from the very early years of the rise of Hitler.

“IBM NY always understood from the outset in 1933 that it was courting and doing business with the upper echelon of the Nazi Party,” Black wrote.

Nazi flagsWatson was obsequious in pandering to the Nazi hierarchy, writing a grovelling letter in 1937 to Nazi Economics Minister Hjalmer Schacht declaring that the world must extend “a sympathetic understanding to the German people and their aims under the leadership of Adolf Hitler”.

To show his gratitude to Watson and the support of IBM, Hitler personally bestowed on Watson a special swastika-bedecked medal to honour his unique service to the Reich – the Order of the German Eagle with Star. Black writes that in June 1940 Watson was forced to return the medal after public outrage that such a prominent American business leader would be in possession of a Nazi medal while Nazi troops occupied Paris.

Read the whole article . . .

And more if you have time: http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/

Postscript on the Yeldeğirmeni Synagogue

Thanks to Marjorie Searl for a translation of the Hebrew inscription on the Hemdat Israel Synagogue.

“Thanks to crowdsourcing and my friend Miriam… The top two lines are quotes from the Hebrew Bible:

DSCF0078 (1)The top line is Isaiah 56:7 “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”  Second line is Psalm 118:19 “Open for me the gates of righteousness. I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.” (Translations courtesy of Bible Hub).

The third line says “This building was finished at the end of the month of rachamim” (which could refer to the month of Elul).

The month of Elul in the Hebrew calendar comes right before the Jewish High Holidays; therefore there is much preparation for the repentance involved with those observances. The Hebrew word “rachamim,” the last word in the third line reading from right to left, means mercy…the month of Elul is often referred to as the month of rachamim, or mercy, as the prayers and observances relate to the asking for God’s mercy as we repent and ask forgiveness.

So, it suggests that the synagogue was completed just before the Jewish New Year and High Holidays, which makes sense, as it would be very important to have the first observance in the new synagogue at the time of these important celebrations. It must have been an incredibly festive way to begin the New Year of 1898. Elul is in August/September, depending on the variations of the lunar calendar. Rosh Hashanah  (it means “the head of the year) opens the Jewish New Year and High Holiday observance typically in September; so no doubt the building was done by early September 1898.

So, there you have it! Thank goodness for friends and Facebook! This was fun.”

Given the current state of relations in the Middle East, it’s a little sad to see how closely related the Hebrew and Arabic languages are. I noted in the previous post that the Hebrew letters for ‘Hemdat’ are believed to have been a subtle way of paying thanks to the Ottoman Sultan Abdül Hamid II. The Arabic word for ‘mercy’, ‘rahim’, is also used in Turkish, and the month of September is ‘Eylül’.

Urban Renewal in Istanbul – Tilting at windmills

Kült mkz

Former St Euphemia School and Eglise N.D. du Rosaire

Dilek and I went to a concert of classical music last night. The setting was a small but beautifully restored Roman Catholic church in the Istanbul district of Rasimpaşa. There was a chamber orchestra and a talented young pianist, Nilüfer Kıyıcılardan, playing a programme of Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart.

We arrived twenty minutes early and were fortunate to find two of the last unclaimed seats – somewhat surprising, given that the venue is not on any well-beaten social track, and the event had received little publicity. I had stumbled upon it accidentally during the week while researching for this post.

These days Istanbul resembles what I imagine New York City to have been during the late 19th and early 20th centuries – a vast construction site. Tunnels are driving under, and bridges over the Bosporus and the Gulf of Izmit; subterranean Metro lines burrow in all directions beneath the city; vast commercial and residential projects rise to the winter sky; hectares of run-down inner city blocks are giving way to new up-market apartments; and domed monumental mosques springing up to occupy landmark sites; all presided over by multitudes of arachnoid construction cranes.

1453

‘1453’ – a new conquest of Istanbul by megalomaniac developers

Not everyone is happy, of course. I wrote a piece some years ago on a conflict between local residents and guests at an art gallery opening that made international news at the time. Many of us prefer shopping in local traditional small businesses to the homogeneity of climate-controlled malls; and have questions about the wisdom of allowing the national economy to be dominated by a bloated and parasitic financial sector. Local residents whose families may have lived in a neighbourhood for generations are resentful of being pushed out by the new urban yuppie class – some of the latter even mourn the loss of traditional colour that inevitably accompanies such development. Lovers of the atmospheric decay that characterised old Istanbul in recent memory have issues with way restoration is carried out on world heritage buildings. And then there are the megalomaniac property developers who seem to ride roughshod with impunity over zoning and town-planning regulations.

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Abdülhamit I’s windmills

Me? I’m ambivalent, I guess. I’m appalled when I look out a window on our university campus and see the abomination of the Ağaoğlu ‘1453’ development blighting what was once a forested landscape. On the other hand, I love the Marmaray Metro, and feel sorry for those who refuse to ride it for fear that the waters of the Bosporus will pour in upon them while their train is half way through. I’m a fatalist when it comes to such matters. But I want to tell you about my recent discovery – the Yeldeğirmeni neighbourhood of Kadıköy.

One thing I learned is that the neighbourhood goes by two names. Until recently it was known by its official one, Rasimpaşa, after a small mosque dedicated to a relatively minor Ottoman official who served as mayor of Istanbul for a couple of months in 1878. Tradition says that Rasim’s loving wife, Ikbal Hanim, had the mosque built on the site of an earlier ruin. Be that as it may, more picturesque, and arguably more significant is the district’s earlier history.

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Italian Valpreda Apartment Building

Tourist brochures about Istanbul often mention that Khalkedon (Kadıköy) was originally a larger city than Byzantium/Constantinople across the water. The name is translated as ‘City of the Blind’ in tribute, apparently, to the failure of its inhabitants to recognise the obvious superiority of the other site. Dating from 675 BCE, its defensive walls are believed to have extended as far as Rasimpaşa.

The Asian city’s importance waned after the foundation of Constantinople as capital of the eastern Roman Empire. Following its conquest by the Ottomans, its environs became a popular location for the city’s elite to build summer mansions on the banks of the Haydarpaşa Stream that once flowed there. There were also barracks and a training ground for imperial cavalry and infantry. The Marmaray Metro line currently terminates at a station in front of the modern Tepe Nautilus shopping mall. The station is called Ayrılık Çeşmesi, and the eponymous fountain was the gathering point for Ottoman armies departing on campaigns to the east, and caravans of pilgrims setting out for Mecca. As an interesting aside, the fountain is said to have been commissioned by Kızlarağası Gazanfer Ağa – whose title refers to his responsibility for the ladies of the imperial harem. Nice work if you can get it! In the late 18th century, Sultan Abdülhamit I had several windmills erected to supply the needs of the military and local residents – and from the Turkish word for windmill (yel değirmeni) comes the name that is supplanting the memory of that short-lived city mayor.

Synogogue

5659 in the Jewish calendar = 1898 C.E.

From the mid-19th century Rasimpaşa began to take on a more residential character. The present pattern of streets was laid out, and Istanbul’s first post office opened there. The city had always been prone to disastrous fires, and after a particularly bad one that devastated the Kuzguncuk district, Jewish families moved in and established Istanbul’s first apartment buildings. The Hemdat Israel Synagogue, one of the oldest surviving in Istanbul, entered service in 1899 after Sultan Abdülhamit II stepped in personally to moderate in a violent quarrel between the Jews and the Orthodox and Armenian communities. It seems Christians objected to the construction of a synagogue in the district. It is said that the Jewish community named the synagogue in a way that recognised their gratitude to the sultan for his assistance – the Hebrew consonants for ‘Hemdat’ can also be read as ‘Hamid’. Anyway, in the interests of natural justice, the Orthodox lot were allowed to erect their own place of worship, the church of Ayia Yeorgios, a few years later in 1906. Both buildings are still standing, though their congregations have been sadly depleted over the years.

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Simits with a touch of history

Development became more rapid in the early 20th century with the building of the Haydarpaşa train station as a key link on the Berlin-Baghdad railway line. Italian stonemasons came to work on the project, as well as German architects, engineers and builders. The edifice that currently serves as Orhangazi Primary School was also built around this time to provide education for the children of the German professionals. Among the more noteworthy apartment blocks from this time are the five-storey Italian (Valpreda), Demirciyan and Kehribarcı buildings.

Underlining the multicultural character of the district, and the tolerant attitude of the Muslim Ottoman government, Roman Catholics even managed to get a big foot in the door. A gaggle of nuns calling themselves the Oblates[1] of the Assumption established a school in the name of St Euphemia in 1895. RC education continued here until some kind of dispute took place with the Republican government in 1934. As a result, the nuns departed and the school was taken over by the Turkish Ministry of Education, eventually assuming its present role as Kemal Ataturk Anatolian High School. Next door to the school is the small (now deconsecrated) church dedicated to Our Lady of the Most Sacred Rosary, where Dilek and I were privileged to hear last night’s delightful concert.

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Mural-İst street art

A recent article in the Kadikoy Life magazine contains an interesting quote by a former resident of the district:

“The bakers, sweets and helva-sellers were Turkish; the grocers and restaurateurs, Greek; the greengrocers and chemists, Jewish; the butchers, Armenian, and the dairymen, Bulgarian. People from every religion and ethnic background lived happily together. Our neighbours to the right were Greek, the ones on the left were Turks; directly opposite were Armenians, next to them another Greek family, and on the far side, they were Jewish. Neighbourly relations were excellent; we all respected each other’s special days.”

Sadly, the tide of history brought cataclysmic events on to the world stage that destroyed the harmony of those halcyon days – waves of violent nationalism, the slaughter of the First World War, the Greek invasion of Anatolia, and the Turkish War of Liberation. The world would never be the same, and Istanbul suffered as much as anywhere.

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Cem and İnci brewing coffee for connoisseurs

I was motivated to explore the neighbourhood after visiting a café recently, run by the daughter of a friend. Trendy cafés are sprouting there like truffles in a Piedmont autumn, and Kamarad is one of the latest. İnci and Cem are catering to the true coffee connoisseur, importing beans from various sources in Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia) and South America (Honduras, Costa Rica, Columbia), roasting and grinding them on site, and offering delicious brews produced by the method of your choice: the familiar espresso machine and French press, or more esoteric techniques, chemex and V60. They are also supplying beans to other businesses nearby.

One of the more striking features of the new Kadıköy is the proliferation of enormous surrealistic outdoor murals that confront you unexpectedly as you stroll around the narrow back streets. Kadıköy Municipal Council has sponsored an annual street art festival, Mural-İst, for the last four years. Seven local and nine foreign artists have turned their talents to the enlivening of the neighbourhood, with impressive results.

The old days will never return, of course, but the new/old district of Yeldeğirmeni may be showing the way to a better future.

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[1] Oblates, it seems, are one step down in the holy orders, following less stringent rules than is usual for monastic orders.

The German Jew Who Became an Ottoman Pasha

“A multiculturalist’s delight”

I came across this on ‘The Daily Beast’, and found it interesting, so I’m passing it on. In spite of becoming an Ottoman Pasha, the nearest he got to the imperial capital, Istanbul, apparently, was Albania. Nevertheless, he seems to have been a quite protean character.

Mehmed Emin Pasha was born a Jew in Germany, converted to Christianity and then Islam on his way to being named a ruler of an Ottoman province.

48574369.cachedThe story of Mehmed Emin Pasha, born a Jew as Isaak Eduard Schnitzer and Baptized as Eduard Carl Oscar Theodor Schnitzer, is a multiculturalist’s delight. This Jewish doctor who turned Christian, then Muslim, could be the cosmopolitan poster child, proof that we are all one and that distinctions don’t matter. But universalists beware; this pasha was no Zelig, fitting in chameleon-like at colorful historical moments. This shapeshifter adapted smoothly but stood out boldly, proving that the best way to contribute to the world is to root identities in particular cultures and act on core ideals.

Schnitzer was born in Oppeln, Silesia on March 28, 1840, into a German Jewish family that had already broken from the ghetto’s provinciality. Schnitzer’s father was a merchant, a proper German burgher wannabe. He embodied the Enlightenment delusion that we could, as John Lennon would sing, “all live together as one.” But Schnitzer’s father had made the classic Enlightenment deal with the devil. To become emancipated, to prosper, most Jews felt compelled to abandon much of Judaism—even though they would only be accepted marginally as Europeans.

Schnitzer was derailed temporarily when he failed to file his licensing paperwork on time and could not practice medicine. Ever-resilient, he left for Istanbul. Arriving in Antivari in Montenegro along the way, he resumed his medical practice far away from German supervision. One of those annoying Europeans with a genius for language, he mastered Turkish, Albanian, and Greek, along with many of the standard Romance languages.  This poly-lingual environment so suited him, he became the port’s quarantine officer, processing immigrants.

Always climbing, Schnitzer charmed his way into working for northern Albania’s governor, Ismail Hakki Pasha. In perhaps his creepiest move, Schnitzer returned to Germany in 1873, after his boss died, claiming the widow and children as his wife and kids. That arrangement ended abruptly, mysteriously in 1875, leading to Schnitzer’s plunge into the Muslim world.

Arriving in Khartoum in December 1875, he became “Mehmet Emin,” and returned to practicing medicine. He also participated in the nineteenth-century European traveler’s zoology and ornithology mania, sending specimens to museums back where such people believed it counted, the capitals of Europe. The governor of Equatoria—a territory covering modern-day Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan—invited Emin to become chief medical officer. In 1878, Emin was appointed governor, becoming a “Bey.”

The Sudan was roiling, with the messianic, Arab-African Mahdi Revolt of 1881 causing chaos. In 1885, Emin’s popular dispatches to European newspapers described his adventures. The next year the Ottoman Empire made Emin a pasha, confirming his prominence in North Africa and Western Europe.

In 1890, Germany hired Emin Pasha to launch his own expeditionary force around Lake Victoria in East Africa to “make known to the population there that they were placed under German supremacy and protection, and to break or undermine Arab influence as far as possible.” German imperial politics, tensions with the native soldiers, and bouts of disease beleaguered him for two years until the Anglo-German agreement of July 1, 1890 ceded this territory to England.

Ultimately, Emin’s Western idealism did not suit East Africa. In late October 1892, two enraged Arab slave traders murdered him. Read the whole article.