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Seven Episodes from our
Turkey Mission and Trip
Episode 4
by Joseph Patrick Meissner

This was my second trip to Turkey, a country and people I very much admire and appreciate. Of course, on my second trip I learn how much I have not learned about Istanbul and Ephesus and Mary's place and Ottoman history.

It is impossible to relate all that happened on this trip. So I have picked out seven specific episodes and hope these may be thought-provoking as well as encourage you to plan a trip to Turkey, the home of Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet.

Epsiode 4

One of our guides had served in the Turkish Army and believed that this service which is mandatory for all males is a good. He was a very optimistic person who shared with us his views that Palestine and Israel should settle their differences. He believed (displaying Christian optimism) this was possible. Some of our trip members were not sure of that, but it was good to hear this view in Turkey.

Another issue that concerned this guide was what had happened in Srebrenica when some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Serbian extremist forces. Here is a brief description of what happened in 1993 in this tiny piece of former Yugoslavia.

Srebrenica was a UN safe-haven where thousands of Bosnian Muslims from surrounding villages had gathered for protection by UN peacekeepers from the Dutch army in 1995. But when Serb forces attacked, the Dutch soldiers put up little resistance. The Dutch forced the Muslims out of a UN military base in the town and handed them over to Bosnian-Serb troops. The women, boys and old men were deported. But men of fighting age, 16-60, were rounded up by Serbian troops and paramilitaries under the command of General Ratko Mladic and massacred.

Defenders of the Dutch argue their forces were too small and lightly armed to oppose the Serbian troops who had tanks. Also the UN is faulted for failing to provide air attacks which might have turned back the Serbians, but the request for the air attacks was 'prepared on the wrong form' and the air support request was rejected.

This Srebrenica 'incident,' called a 'massacre' by many and even 'genocide' by some, is largely forgotten today in the West. But it is not forgotten in Muslim countries and it is added to the list of grievances against the Christian West by Muslims.

Nor has this been forgotten by our excellent guide who discussed this at length with me and heavily criticized the Dutch soldiers who had failed in their duty to protect the vulnerable.

After we returned to America from our trip, I sent this email to this guide.

. I did discuss with you the Srebrenica massacre, also known as the Srebrenica genocide. I was a NATO solider for some ten years. Also I worked with soldiers from the Netherlands. You are right in your assessment about the fault of the soldiers who failed to do what soldiers must do, to protect the innocent and vulnerable. You are right that this is why soldiers get paid.

I was glad to hear that these 8,000 youth and men are not forgotten in Turkey. You told us there is a yearly remembrance and memorial for them. I wish we had this same remembrance both in the NATIO nations and in America. Such killings can never be forgiven nor forgotten.

I also heard some of your views about the current situation in Palestine and with Israel. It is always sad to see how human beings, who are supposed to be brothers and sisters in the same human family, fail so often to find ways of helping each other. You said something about hoping that people of good will could find a way to resolve such situations. You even seemed to have a degree of optimism about all of this.

Please never lose that optimism and hope. That is part of the Abrahamic tradition. God did show up--even if at the last moment--to stay Abraham's hand from killing his son. God/Allah does not demand blood sacrifices. That is a major difference between our various religious traditions and those of some of the pagan peoples.

Take care. You were an excellent guide and you provided much material for us to consider and discuss.

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