Holocaust film makes historic debut on Turkish state TV
January 27, 2012
For the first time in a Muslim country, television viewers had a chance to watch the internationally-known film on their public television. TRT’s documentary channel will continue to show the nine-hour-plus film, subtitled in Turkish by the Paris-based Aladdin Project, in two-hour episodes.
In a video message to a ceremony in Istanbul’s Neve Shalom synagogue, Lanzmann praised Turkey for “the historic telecast of Shoah on public television in a Muslim country” and said he hoped other countries in the Muslim world would follow “this good and fair example.”
Close to 600 people, including Istanbul Governor Huseyn Mutlu, Turkish envoy to the International Task Force for Holocaust Education Ambassador Ertan Tezgor, Sunni and Shiite religious scholars and leaders of religious minorities, many foreign diplomats including U.S. ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone – who came from Ankara especially for the ceremony - and Israeli Consul General Moshe Kamhi, civil society activists, academics and more than fifty local and foreign journalists listened to Lanzmann’s message during a moving ceremony organized by the Jewish community of Turkey to commemorate the International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Turkish Jewish community leader Sami Herman and Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva warmly welcomed TRT’s decision to show Shoah, while Ambassador Ertan Tezgor said in his speech, “I believe that TRT’s telecast of Shoah will be an opportunity for new generations to learn what happened directly from the mouths of the victims.”
“The Holocaust was the product of anti-Semitism that we consider a crime against humanity,” he added.
Turkish commentators and intellectuals reacted positively to the broadcast. “Turks, for the most part, have had historically good relations with Jews , but the Turkish public is largely unaware of the history of the Holocaust,” said Professor Cengiz Aktar, a widely-respected commentator. “The wise decision to air Lanzmann’s film on the public television here – with its sizeable audience – is therefore an extremely important event that I would categorize as no less than historic.”
Aladdin Project Executive Director Abe Radkin, who attended the ceremony in Istanbul, said the telecast of Shoah in Turkey was the culmination of months of discussions between his organization and the Turkish authorities. “This will have enormous repercussions across the Muslim world and will contribute significantly to our efforts to change the dominant Muslim and Arab perceptions of the Holocaust, eventually leading to better mutual understanding and mutual knowledge between Jews and Muslims” he said.
In March, the Aladdin Project broadcast the documentary in Iran via a Los Angeles-based Farsi satellite channel and plans are underway to air the film on Arabic-language satellite television stations.
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