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Other translations from the Turkish opposition press on Israel’s offensive against Gaza

Other sample press translations from Turkish to English

The following article appeared in Evrensel on 18 November 2023. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton

Original article:

Petrochemical workers: We, too, must take action to halt Israel
Hasret Gültekin KOZAN

Workers, pointing out that unions in other countries were blazing the trail and taking action to halt manufacturing for Israel, say, “We, too, must stage more organized and purposeful actions.”

With Israel’s assaults on Gaza morphing into attempted genocide, we spoke to petrochemical workers in Gebze about what could be done out of solidarity with the Palestinian people. One petrochemical worker, noting that Israel was exploiting Hamas’s attack to destroy the Palestinian people, said, “Israel is using Hamas’s attack as a pretext. To begin with, it was backed up by all of Europe and America. Now, even if Europe and America are saying in hushed tones, ‘Stop. Civilians are dying,‘ things are in full swing. Israel is simply committing genocide. We can’t accept this.” Also referring to the AKP government’s pronouncements, the worker went on to say, “Our lot have the mindset of ‘Let’s keep up appearances.’ They’re shedding crocodile tears. Nobody cares about the children, babies and civilians who are dying there. If they did, they’d cancel the agreements made with Israel, implement an embargo and they’d really stand with the Palestinian people.”


Speaking of arguments at their plant, another petrochemical worker said, “The AKP crowd just make do with condemnation. They say, ‘Let’s have a boycott and not buy their goods.’ Boycotting’s easy but you’ve got to think a bit more logically. I argue with them all and put them to shame with our country’s agreements with the Israeli state. I say there’s no use holding rallies here while people are dying there. They’re lost for words when it’s put to them like this. If they opened their eyes a bit they’d see the dealings the AKP does with Israel warts and all, but there are those that don’t want to see these truths. But this is the truth and we must tell the truth always and everywhere. I also want to say something about the Palestinian people’s roots and the sale of that region to the Israelis years ago. There’s a lot of argument about this. We hear, ’They’re Arabs, anyway. You can expect anything. If only their grandfathers hadn’t sold their land.’ We’ve also got to condemn this thinking. Does this stack up? Why am I to blame if my granddad made a mistake? Well, didn’t we cry for the civilians Hamas killed at the first stage? Our hearts bleed for every person that’s killed in Gaza. No if’s, no but’s, we must say ’no‘ to the war.”


Saying, “I’m against wars of all kind”, yet another petrochemical worker said, ”We’re tired of seeing children die every day. I can’t look any more when a video comes up in front of me on social media and I move on straight away, but I can’t get it out of my mind. Nobody whatsoever deserves such brutality. Yes, Hamas killed civilians in the raids it made, but the response should not have been for Palestinian civilians to die. Innocent children are dying there and children are innocent. I’m against wars of all kind regardless of the reason.” Criticizing Europe, a petrochemical worker commented, “I’m at a loss to understand why those who spoke up about the Russia-Ukraine war remain silent about these wars in the Middle East, or support this war. War of all kinds is bad and, just now, one of the worst wars is playing itself out before our eyes and nobody’s batting an eyelid except for people with feelings.”

Another petrochemical worker, stating that Israel didn’t care about the death of civilians and was committing war crimes, said, ”There are three things to do: one – shut the military bases, cancel the trade agreements and give aid to the Palestinians. There are no hospitals and there’s no water any more in Gaza. The gunfire must quieten down and these problems must be fixed. But Israel’s gone berserk. Using Hamas’s attacks as a pretext, they’re destroying the place and wiping Palestine off the map, and they’re doing this for Greater Israel. They don’t care about the innocent people.”


A worker who voted for Erdoğan in the last election, however, emphasizes the USA’s power. Stressing that Erdoğan is limited as to what he can do, the worker said, “Erdoğan could have applied an embargo. Yes, Israel has factories so down with their shutters, but what would happen? Would the workers there go hungry? But I don’t know if Erdoğan has that much power. I don’t think he can say anything to Israel. You’ve got the US backing Israel. Israel looks small, but at the end of the day there are nine to ten million people there. You can’t even deliver a slap. You can’t shut İncirlik and so on. How can you stand up against the USA? They’re more powerful. There’s a limit to what we can do. Nothing is open to us apart from cursing Israel.”


We also spoke to striking Corning Kablo workers about events in Palestine. The Lastik İş union-member petrochemical workers, who have been out on strike for more than four months, described events as being “a massacre in the full sense.” Saying, “This war must stop immediately,” a Corning worker said, “I personally am reacting by not buying Israeli origin goods.” Another Corning worker, in turn, commenting, “We’ve been watching a massacre live for weeks,” said, “Condemnation and pity are not enough on their own. An embargo must be placed on Israel and all agreements must be cancelled.”

Another Corning worker said, “I’m gutted at what’s going on. For example, we’ve been on strike for over four weeks. It seems obscene to talk about us being on strike given what the Palestinian people are going through. We, our country and the workers living in this country, must take firmer measures. Trade unions are blazing the trail in many countries and are taking action through work stoppages and blacking manufacture for Israel and pro-war countries. We also need to stage more organized and purposeful actions. Unions making statements or collecting money for Palestine doesn’t go far enough.” Yet another Corning worker commented, “I’m now checking all the goods I buy. I’m trying not to buy Israeli goods but I can’t find domestic goods. Maybe a boycott isn’t enough but it doesn’t seem realistic to me to cancel the agreements or halt manufacturing in response. We don’t have the economic strength to do this.”

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton