The theme of Jewish conspiracy in Turkish nationalism: The case of Cevat Rıfat Atilhan

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Turkey

Approval Date: 2008




This study analyzes the discourse of Cevat Rıfat Atilhan, a leading anti-Semite figure and a conspiracy theorist in Turkish politics. The principal aim of this analysis is to shed light on Atilhan’s conspiratorial mindset which has a considerable influence on anti-Semitism in contemporary Turkey. To this aim, conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism, two main components of Atilhan’s discourse are examined in relation to each other from the perspective of nationalist discourse. This study argues that conspiracy theories in Atilhan's discourse which explain social antagonism as a Jewish plot can be considered as instruments to the reproduction of anti-Semitism. Accordingly, the inherent mechanisms of conspiracy theories which rest on the racist and xenophobic brand of nationalism represent the society on the basis of dichotomies. In Atilhan’s discourse, this dichotomization is based on the positioning of the Jews vis-à-vis Turkish nation. To the extent that the Jews are represented as enemies vis-à-vis Turkish nation, anti-Semitism becomes likely to be reproduced. The theme of Jewish conspiracy in Atilhan’s discourse is better explained by his different positions within Turkish nationalism ranging from Kemalism to racism, from racism to Islamism and conservative tones of nationalism. When his changing positions is examined in relation to the theme of Jewish conspiracy in his discourse, it is realized that Atilhan’s discourse have a considerable influence on the discourse of ultra-nationalist, conservative nationalist and Islamist circles whose way of thinking is dominated by conspiracy theories.