Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"A Jewish Boy Is Going To Represent Turkey!"

This nice young man is Can Bonomo. His family has lived in Turkey for 540 years, and now he's going to represent that nation at Eurovision this year. Oh, yeah, and he's Jewish.

Naturally, there's an element in town that objects:

Turkey’s Jews are pleased as can be that for the first time, a Jew will be representing their country at the Eurovision song contest.

But the singer, Can Bonomo, isn’t exactly trumpeting his accomplishment -- at least not the Jewish part.

“We would like to inform that Mr. Can Bonomo is bound to refuse answering all the questions about his religious beliefs, anti-Semitism and political subjects,” Bonomo’s spokesman, Ece Kahraman, wrote in a statement to JTA.

Bonomo has taken pains to tell fans that he will be participating in Eurovision as a Turk, not as a Jew.

“My family came from Spain 540 years ago,” Bonomo said in an interview on the "Aksam" news show in a video posted Jan. 11 that has gone viral. “I am Turkish and I am representing Turkey, I will go out there with the Turkish flag and represent Turkey. I am an artist, a musician. That’s all that everybody needs to know.”

Prior to his appearance on "Aksam," radical right-wing papers had accused Bonomo of being a tool of Zionists and Freemasons.

The way in which the anchor framed her question in the interview probably didn’t put him at ease.

“People might say you were chosen because Turkey wants to ingratiate itself with Israeli lobby groups,” she said. “I would like to get your comments.”

Bonomo is choosing to deal with this simply by emphasizing that he's going to Eurovision as a Turkish singer. That's probably for the best, and I can understand why a 24-year-old Turkish hipster musician doesn't want to wade deeper into the morass that is anti-Semitism and paranoia about Israel, not when he's on his way to Baku. (Yes, seriously, it's in Baku this year. A town I can never hear the name of without beginning to quote the opening lines of a poem by Zelda Knizhnik that begins (in Yiddish), "My husband's in America, a son is in Baku...")

It's worth noting, though, the ways in which anti-Israel and anti-Semitic threads are so casually drawn around a kid who's entirely apolitical, singing Turkish hipster music. This, the fact that this kid, whose family has lived in Turkey for over five hundred years has to be asked to prove that he's not a Zionist front man, this illustrates perfectly how foolish it is to imagine that anti-Zionism exists without anti-Semitism.

On a lighter note, here's Can singing "Mezcup". I have no idea what this song is about, but he's got some style. And he's just adorable.

No comments: