Why Bill Clinton mentioned Gulen at the Turkish Cultural Center's Dinner in September 2008
Gulenists' campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton likely played a role.
by C.A.S.I.L.I.P.S. - Citizens Against Special Interest Lobbying in Public Schools
Gulenists incessantly advertise Bill Clinton's speech at the Third Annual Friendship Dinner organized by the Turkish Cultural Center of New York (a Gulenist organization) at the Waldorf Astoria on September 25, 2008. The video of Clinton's brief speech has been publicized on the internet by several Gulenist organizations, and has become one of the Gulenists' favorite defense weapons. Whenever anything critical of the Gulen Movement or Gulen charter schools has appeared in the press, Gulenists have touted this speech as a full-fledged endorsement that they insist must instantly dispel any doubts ever raised about Fethullah Gulen and his followers. The weight that Gulenists put on this speech seems quite out of proportion to its actual content; Clinton mentions Gulen only once in the entire speech, and never praises him directly.
Here is what Clinton actually said:
"Good evening. In this interdependent world, the fates of people on opposite sides of the globe are increasingly linked, and it’s critical to keep the lines of communication open as much as we can. That’s why the communication between the Turkish-American community and the people of Turkey is so important. It’s important to ensure your vibrant cultural heritage, to make sure it continues to thrive and inspire, and build a bridge that reaches over all faiths and creeds, and the ocean. By being here tonight, you are contributing to lasting peace and security at home and abroad. You’re contributing to the promotion of the ideals of tolerance and interfaith dialog, inspired by Fethullah Gulen, and his transnational social movement. You do it through your everyday lives, and you are truly strengthening the fabric of our common humanity, as well as promoting the ongoing cultural and educational ties that bind our world together. I want to thank you for your contributions to America, for your contributions to stronger Turkish-American relationships, and better understanding, and especially for your friendship to Hillary and to me."
And here is Ebru TV's highly inaccurate take on the speech (note that Ebru is a Gulenist media outlet):
"Bill Clinton's message was particular in which he praised prominent Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen's efforts in promoting education along with peace and dialogue and thanked him for his contributions to America and the world."
On youtube, the Turkish Cultural Center of New York has uploaded the video under the tagline "Bill Clinton: Fethullah Gulen's Contribution to the World," which is also quite misleading.
As far as we know, Clinton has not mentioned Gulen publicly since. While Gulenists would like us to believe that the prime motivating factor for Clinton's speech was a profound admiration for Fethullah Gulen's activities, we doubt this.
The presence of the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gul (who happens to be a close ally of Gulen) as well as a number of influential Turkish businessmen may have contributed to the attraction of the event.
However, the most probable reason for Bill Clinton's attendance was the Gulenists' numerous contributions to Hillary Clinton's campaign. A sampling is given in the Table below. All these contributions came from individuals identified as Gulenist based on their affiliations with Gulenist organizations or schools. This list is far from complete, and only represents the contributions that we have identified to date.
Note in particular the $5000 check written 6 days before the event by Adem Arici of the Sema Education and Health Development, a Gulenist company that has used the same address and phone number as the Turkish Cultural Center of New York. On the campaign contribution form, Arici listed his affiliation as Zeytuna, a New York supermarket.
Additional information about these campaign contributions can be found on the TABID (Turksh American Business Improvement and Development Council) website. TABID is a Gulenist business and trade association with branches in several states. According to their website, TABID held a fundraising event in December 2007 at which "Turkish Americans raised $250,000 for Hillary Clinton." Bill Clinton attended that event, which was presided over by TABID President and Gulenist Gokhan Ozkok. No doubt this 6-digit figure helped inspire the final line of Bill Clinton's September 2008 speech, in which he thanked the Gulenist audience for their friendship to Hillary and himself.
A Sampling of Political Contributions from Gulenists to Hillary Clinton
(list is not complete)
|Ismail||Arican||Dec 6, 2007||2000.00|
|Adem||Arici||Sep 19, 2008||5000.00|
|Yuksel||Aslandogan||Mar 22, 2007||1000.00|
|Yuksel||Aslandogan||Feb 29, 2008||1300.00|
|Veli||Baysal||Feb 29, 2008||1300.00|
|Yusuf||Cirak||Dec 31, 2007||250.00|
|Hayrullah||Erdogan||Nov 29, 2007||1000.00|
|Murat||Gunes||Dec 31, 2007||1000.00|
|Mursel||Gunes||Dec 31, 2007||1000.00|
|Nihat||Guvercin||Oct 28, 2008||2500.00|
|Omer||Ipek||Nov 23, 2007||2000.00|
|Ercan||Keskin||Nov 26, 2007||1000.00|
|Murat||Kilic||Nov 27, 2007||1000.00|
|Levent||Koc||June 25, 2007||1000.00|
|Ayhan||Koroglu||Dec 31, 2007||1000.00|
|Remzi||Oten||Nov 29, 2007||1000.00|
|Gokhan||Ozkok||Feb 14, 2007||1000.00|
|Gokhan||Ozkok||Dec 31, 2007||1300.00|
|Gokhan||Ozkok||Nov 24, 2008||1500.00|
|Tunc||Ozlu||Dec 31, 2007||2000.00|
|Sezai (“Steve”)||Sablak||Nov 30, 2007||1000.00|
|Soner||Tarim||Mar 28, 2007||1000.00|
|Soner||Tarim||Nov 20, 2007||1000.00|
|Mahmut||Topal||Feb 14, 2007||1000.00|
|Mahmut||Topal||Dec 24, 2007||2300.00|
|Mahmut||Topal||Nov 28, 2007||700.00|
|Ozgul||Ucan||May 14, 2008||1500.00|
|Veysel||Ucan||May 14, 2008||1500.00|
|Kerim||Yuksel||Feb 29, 2008||2300.00|
|Zekeriya||Yuksel||Mar 7, 2008||2300.00|