In a move that may raise eyebrows, the city of Beersheba has announced that it will place a statue commemorating Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk next to a memorial commemorating the Allied soldiers he fought against during World War One, reports www.local.co.il. And with questionable timing, the statue will be officially unveiled on October 31, immediately after the annual ceremony takes place commemorating the victory of Australian forces over the Turks at Beersheba in 1917.
According to the report, Beersheba Mayor Yaakov Turner met with Turkish ambassador Namik Tan and announced that they had reached an agreement to commemorate Ataturk, the famed Turkish military officer who went on to become the founder of modern Turkey. Ataturk first became known after defeating the Allies at the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli in 1915, in which some 44,000 Allied soldiers were killed and 97,000 were wounded. Most of those soldiers came from Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, and the Gallipoli debacle is still a sore point in those countries.
Ataturk was feted by his countrymen for his victory at Gallipoli and went on to further military commands during the war. After the Ottoman Empire was ultimately defeated, he became instrumental in the creation of the independent republic of Turkey. Ataturk became the republic's first president in 1923 and instituted wide-ranging modernizing reforms until his death in 1938 at the age of 57.
But although he was respected even by his enemies, the timing and the placing of Ataturk's statue next to the Australians' memorial may be frowned upon by some. On October 31, 1917, mounted troops from the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC's) captured the city from the Turks, one of the last successful cavalry charges in history. Although the Turkish ambassador said he was pleased with the statue, no comment was reported from Australian officials.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>