Speech delivered on behalf of Turkish Jewish Community by The Vice President Moris Levi at the commemoration ceremony of Struma Disaster organized by the State on 24th February 2015 in Sarayburnu
İstanbul: 24th February 2015
Most of us here had not even been born during the time of Struma Disaster.
Today, there is nobody alive that remembers the victims of Struma personally, one by one.
Nowadays we mention Struma as the name of a ship and the 768 people who died in it are like mere statistics to us.
But Struma was boarded by people; women, children, young people, old people who were willing to survive with hope, although they were in desperation and isolation.
Those people are now mentioned as a whole, only as “Struma”.
We remember “human beings” with the name of an old ship that had 46 meters of length and that had been, throughout the last 15 years of its lifetime, used to transport animals on Danube, before it finally sank down.
When they say Struma, the thing I remember is that my elderly people over their 80s started weeping out loud every time they heard its name.
When I was young, I met people who carried food to Struma together with Turkish Red Crescent in the middle of the night as the officials of the time shut their eyes to it and who personally testified the desperate situation of those people.
Struma was abandoned, it was alone, unprotected, insignificant and desperate,
it was a problem that everyone wanted to get rid of, it was a plague that was preferred to disappear or to have never occurred at all.
Unfortunately, it was one of those ships that not only Turkey, but also England, Russia, Romania and perhaps all of the other European countries wished to have never existed at all.
I’m glad that they are being remembered now; since history is full of similar cases of annihilation because of marginalization and hatred and most are never remembered at all.
Today, after 73 years, it is impossible to judge those officers, diplomats and politicians of those days with the scale of justice.
And if there is no particular person to blame, this means that everybody has his share in the responsibility about this incident.
However, what we need to do is to be able to see the present day in the light of what has taken place in the past.
To interpret what is right on behalf of the future of humanity from the mistakes of the past
If this is not or cannot be done,
It is clear that things will continue like this and the world will commemorate more of new incidents of Struma and we will bear the responsibility of new Struma incidents.
The right to live is sacred. In all divine religions, it is underlined that saving a life means saving the entire humanity.
The victims and the "decision and speech makers" have changed but unfortunately even 73 years after Struma Disaster, the hate speech continues
Struma is a typical story of how people in a desperate situation can be abandoned and isolated at a moment when discourse can turn into interests and interests can turn into actions.
Despite any development and even at times when, due to a variety of reasons, it seems very attractive to use marginalizing expressions, we must be conscious of the consequences against the rights to live and sensitivities of the people and believers of religions.
Turkish Jewish community would like to underline that due to whatever reason it is said and whomever says it, every hate speech alike, either anti-Semitist or anti-Islamist, is making us live through the pain of isolation in the way that hate speech endangers the future of all of us.
It is for these reasons that we heartily understand the feelings of the people who are exposed to Islamophobia and similar marginalization and discrediting in the societies they live in.
It is for these reasons that in order to prevent the minority communities from feeling isolated and abandoned, the majority should endeavor to make empathy with the minorities and improve their education and justice systems.
Such historical disasters as Struma reveal for another time that
As long as we do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing and take over the responsibility for it, it will be possible for us to bequeath to next generations both a more honorable and a more powerful past.
The way that we commemorate Struma and remember the states of that time that isolated and abandoned Struma and the way that we do this right thing many years after it happened just for the sake of doing the right thing are hopeful approaches for all of us, in looking out to the future in faith by bearing the responsibility of the past. The future that we shall establish by expanding and popularizing this hope can enlighten the whole world.
Turkish Jewish community is thankful to all those people out there who have been taking these steps and sharing our sorrow.