I have a new piece out – my thoughts on Hagia Sophia’s (re)conversion into a mosque.
A long overdue post about the Turkish referendum. I was certainly dismayed by it, but not surprised. Things had been going that way in Turkey for over a decade. I am in touch with several of my ex-students, all of whom still live in the Istanbul area. In general, they are pessimistic but have families and jobs and don’t want to leave. And, of course, they love Istanbul, as do I. Beyond that, I will outsource my commentary to Dani Rodrik, here. I believe it is a spot-on analysis.
Years ago, when I was living in Istanbul, I asked my students whether they worried about growing Islamism in their country. “Oh no,” several of them explained almost simultaneously. “Whenever that starts to happen, the military has a coup and we get rid of the problem. Then things get back to normal.”
Sigh. I miss those days.
The remarkable British historian of the Middle East turned 100 last week. Mosaic magazine published this feature about him and his prescience – 40 years ago he predicted the rise of radical Islam. Virtually no one else did.
Thus did the West receive its very first warning that a new era was beginning in the Middle East—one that would produce a tide of revolution, assassination, and terrorism, conceived and executed explicitly in the name of Islam.
Another slogan, “The End of History,” would make its appearance with the demise of the cold war in the early 1990s; it has since come and gone. “The Return of Islam” is still very much with us.
I say to anyone who wants to understand what has happened, what went wrong, to read his aptly-titled book, What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity and the Middle East. I also recommend his book about Turkey and frankly, anything else he has written.
Always upsetting to hear of these attacks anywhere, but when it is a place you once called home, more so. I have many friends in Turkey, most of them former students still in Istanbul and the surrounding area, and so many have reached out to me via social media to let me know they are ok. Glad for that, but so sad for what has happened, what is happening and what will continue to happen.
I know Istiklal Caddesi well, for though I lived on the Asian side of Istanbul, I often crossed the Bosphorus to go shopping on the European side.
What I find most creepy is that it looks as though the bomber was eyeing Israeli tourists. So sick.
I am very proud of self, because I managed to do a nearly five-week trip in France and Italy with only a carry-on bag! It is what Rick Steves recommends, and he is right. It isn’t easy, of course, but once you’ve done it you realize it is the only way to travel.
That said, were I to return to Italy to study for a semester (a possibility in future) I would not be able to manage that. A carry-on bag for three months? I don’t think so. One would end up buying too much and then have to buy a bigger bag with which to return home.
Still, it is terrific to not have to wait at the luggage carousel, and not have to fear losing one’s luggage. Better Half had his bag lost on the trip back, though he did — thank goodness — get it returned six days later. I’ve had my luggage lost twice: once coming back to Canada from Turkey, once coming back from Israel. Both times I got the luggage back, but it taught me to pack light.