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We Know Oz Is Not A Pennsylvanian - Is He Really Even An American?
The 442nd Infantry Regiment was a unit in the United States Army in the Second World War. It was composed almost entirely of Americans of Japanese descent whose parents had been born in Japan. They volunteered to fight against the Axis powers, which included Japan. The regiment is the most decorated unit in American military history. Men of this one unit alone won 21 Medals of Honor.
During the same period, many of the men who jumped into Occupied Europe in advance of American military landings in Italy and France were also first-generation Americans whose parents had only recently immigrated to the United States from Italy, Greece, and other European nations. For all of these warriors for freedom, the calculus was clear. Their parents might be from other nations. They regarded themselves as one thing – Americans.
One wishes we could say the same about Mehmet Oz, candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.
Oz’s parents were from Turkey. They did not immigrate to the United States. They came here for a period of time while Oz’s father worked as a physician at hospitals in the United States. Oz was born during this time and acquired American citizenship as a result. His parents subsequently returned to Turkey.
Oz retains his Turkish citizenship to this day. While he never felt compelled to serve in the United States military Oz did make a point of serving his mandatory time as a Turkish citizen in the Turkish Army. He did so to ensure that he retained his Turkish citizenship and fulfilled his obligations to that nation.
In 2018 records indicate that Oz did not bother to vote in the primary election in New Jersey where he was living. During the same time period, though, Oz arranged to go into the Turkish consulate in 2018 to cast his vote in the ongoing Turkish election.
Oz’s ties to Turkey are not just technical. He has deep political and economic ties as well. He has met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who since his election has displayed strong authoritarian tendencies and steered the nation in an overtly Islamic direction. Oz has also met with a number of other leaders of Erdogan’s political party as well. These include the Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül, who stood arm-in-arm with the TV doctor during a 2019 parade in Brooklyn, New York. Less than a year earlier Gül had been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for leading "an entity that has engaged in … serious human rights abuses," including the unjust detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.
Oz has a personal stake in Turkish state-business interests. In 2011 he was elected to the High Advisory Council of the World Turkish Business Council (DTİK), the international business-lobbying arm of Turkey's Foreign Economic Relations Board. In 2019 Oz spoke at a DTIK conference in New York City. The co-host of this event was Gunav Evinch. Evinch is a foreign agent of the Turkish government who collects information on Turkish political opponents of Turkish President Erdogan inside the United States. Evinch also represented Erdogan’s bodyguards when they were criminally charged for attacking anti-Erdogan protesters in Washington, D.C.
Since at least 2017, the celebrity surgeon has served as a spokesman for Turkish airlines a state-owned enterprise. Many of the key figures in the airline are close political allies of Erdogan and his oppressive regime.
Oz has strong connections to the Turkish American National Steering Committee and the Diyanet Center of America. Both of these organizations are extensions of the Turkish state and push President Erdogan’s agenda inside the United States. The Diyanet Center is a massive Islamic religious center near Washington, D.C. It pushes pro-Erdogan propaganda, and its sermons are reportedly approved by and in some cases prepared by the Turkish government. The mosque Oz attends in New Jersey is subordinate to this center and is controlled by the Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Turkey.
Let’s be clear. There is no subtext here. The fact that Oz is Muslim and his parents are from Turkey is not intended to suggest that he is a jihadist or Islamic extremist. Such accusations would be absurd.
What the facts outlined above, do show clearly, though, is that Oz is a man who appears to think of the United States more as a place to make cash than his country. His singular focus seems to be on discharging his responsibilities to Turkey and maintaining his connections to an authoritarian regime whose foreign policy is increasingly at odds with that of the United States. For a man who aspires to hold a seat in the world’s most powerful deliberative body, the U.S. Senate, this is more than a little disturbing.
Oz may be running for Senate in Pennsylvania. Everyone with any sense knows he lives in a mansion in New Jersey and when he is not there at another multi-million dollar residence in Florida. He is not a Pennsylvanian in any meaningful sense.
That may be the least of our worries, though. The real question may be – Is Oz really even an American?