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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Erdogan Utilizing Turks’ Ingrained Conspiracy Theory Culture to Purge Foes, Real and Imagined

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Devin Devlet (lit. giant state, col. deep state) is a Turkish word referring to the notion of there being a permanent government, existing through a shadowy network of civil servants, military officials and academics, who are the real decision makers. Every country on earth sports its own crowd of conspiracy theorists, who seem to proliferate following national disasters. But according to a growing number of respected voices in the media, Turkey, with its unique political history, may be the only democracy whose leader is the biggest believer in those conspiracy theories, which actually serve as the foundation of his policy and may have fashioned the ultimate conspiracy — a fake coups d’état.

Imagine that every conspiracy theory you’ve heard, from the Communists taking over America, to Obama conspiring with the deans of Al Azhar University to bring Islam to the US, to the CIA blowing up the World Trade Center, “was, if not true, at least plausible, and you have some idea of what the deep background of Turkish politics looks like,” James Palmer wrote this week in Vox. Palmer described the twentieth century in Turkey as a violent streaks of democratic government interlaced with military coups, resulting in an inevitable sense that someone in there is the puppeteer of this show, pulling the strings to fit his needs.

The Devin Devlet notion provided a reasonable explanation of their reality to generations of Turks living through perpetual instability: “To Islamists, its fundamental purpose is to crush religion; for liberals, it’s anti-democratic; for Kurds, it’s fanatically nationalist and anti-Kurdish; for nationalists, it’s secretly in league with the US; for anti-Semites, it’s an Israeli-backed scheme,” Palmer pointed out.

Roger Cohen, writing for the NY Times (Turkey’s Coup That Wasn’t) joined the growing voices suspicious of the Erdogan version of reality. “As coups go, the Turkish effort was a study in ineptitude: no serious attempt to capture or muzzle the political leadership, no leader ready to step in, no communication strategy (or even awareness of social media), no ability to mobilize a critical mass within either the armed forces or society. In their place a platoon of hapless soldiers on a bridge in Istanbul and the apparently uncoordinated targeting of a few government buildings in Ankara.”

Cohen is convinced that not only was the coup produced by the Erdogan regime, but that it was done with the tacit approval of the Obama Administration. He quoted a former special assistant to Obama on the Middle East, Philip Gordon, who said: “Rather than use this as an opportunity to heal divisions, Erdogan may well do the opposite: go after adversaries, limit press and other freedoms further, and accumulate even more power.”

Indeed, in a few hours more than 2,800 military personnel were detained and 2,745 judges were removed from duty, Cohen noted, adding that what’s coming next is “a prolonged crackdown on so-called ‘Gulenists,’ whoever Erdogan deems them to be, and the … ‘deep state.’ . . . An already divided society will grow more fissured. Secular Turkey will not quickly forget the cries of ‘Allahu akbar’ echoing from some mosques and from crowds in the streets.”

The speed with which the coup rose and crumbled continues to intrigue the western media. Mehul Srivastava and Laura Pitel, reporting from Turkey for the Financial Times, have suggested that “among the mysteries yet to be unraveled from the failed Turkish coup was this: the attack on Saturday morning by helicopter-borne commandos against a resort hotel in Marmaris. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was meant to be staying there. But the attack took place nearly an hour after every news channel in Turkey beamed images of Mr Erdogan addressing the nation from the airport in Istanbul, some 750 km away.”

“That episode is one of many inconsistencies and strange occurrences in a coup whose amateurish — almost kamikaze — nature preordained its failure and is now providing rich fodder for conspiracy theories,” Srivastava and Pitel wrote.

Kristin Fabbe and Kimberly Guiler, writing for the Washington Post, noted that the war of words in Turkey is being waged by two armies of conspiracy theorists. “On one side, government detractors are speculating that the attempted coup was a masterful, state-managed scheme to consolidate Erdogan’s power. On the other side, the AKP government is placing the blame for the coup attempt on perpetrators — real and imagined. The government’s list of villains ranges from bitter Erdogan rival Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who now lives in the United States, and other shadowy foreign ‘invaders’ to supporters of Turkey’s Ataturkist secular establishment and even the U.S. government. The skeptics are painting Erdogan as a megalomaniac tyrant bent on elected dictatorship; the believers are portraying him as a savior and victim.”

It is highly doubtful that the coup was initiated by Gulen, not because such action is necessarily beneath him, but because at the time Gulen immigrated to the US, his followers were estimated to number between 5 and 9 million, and had he launched the coup, it would not have collapsed overnight.

In June 1999, after Gulen had left Turkey, Turkish TV ran a video in which he said, “The existing system is still in power. Our friends who have positions in legislative and administrative bodies should learn its details and be vigilant all the time so that they can transform it and be more fruitful on behalf of Islam in order to carry out a nationwide restoration. However, they should wait until the conditions become more favorable. In other words, they should not come out too early.”

Gulen later complained that his words were taken out of context, and his supporters said the tape had been “manipulated.” Gulen was subsequently tried in absentia, and acquitted in 2008 under the new Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But the ideas Gulen, or his manipulated recording, espoused, were just the kind of nourishment the Turkish conspiracy theorists everywhere needed to confirm their worst fears or highest aspirations, take your pick.

At the moment, President Erdogan is riding high on his conspiracy accusations: he has just suspended democracy in Turkey for three months (he could go three more, according to Turkish emergency laws), and his henchmen are busy weeding out pockets of resistance across Turkish society, regardless of their connection to the coup or obvious lack thereof. Many thousands of people have been sacked or arrested following the failed coup. According to a BBC report, Thousands of soldiers, including high-ranking generals, have been arrested, along with members of the judiciary. More than 50,000 state employees have also been rounded up, sacked or suspended and 600 schools closed. Academics have been banned from foreign travel and university heads have been forced to resign. The government has revoked the press credentials of 34 journalists.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Thursday urged Turkey to respect the rule of law, rights and freedoms. The EU is “concerned” about developments after Turkey imposed its emergency rule, and about the measures taken so far in the fields of education, judiciary and media, which are “unacceptable,” Mogherini and Hahn said in a statement.

But it is doubtful Erdogan is going to interrupt his sacred mission of ridding Turkey of its clandestine Devin Devlet, real or imagined. And what if anything of the secular Turkish state will remain standing come September 2016, by the end of Erdogan’s own coup against his country’s democratic institutions, is anyone’s guess.


“Culture” Wars – Update

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

{Originally posted to Rabbi Pruzansky’s blog}

Only in the mind of the modern feminist can an orthodox Rabbi advocate for pre-marital sexual abstinence and be deemed a rape apologist. Such was the peculiar response in some precincts to my “A Novel Idea”

Arguing over statistics and studies is a futile exercise, as the studies conflict, methodologies differ and even definitions are often imprecise. For those intellectually capable of an open mind, I urge you to read the esteemed social scientist Heather Mac Donald’s cover story in the Weekly Standard (November 2, 2015) subtitled “The Phony Campus Rape Crisis,” which will function as a devastating rebuttal to the criticism that has been directed here, and written in a much stronger manner than was my essay although our objectives were different.

To mention but two “statistics”: one blogger presumed that 23% of my congregants have “likely personally experienced sexual assault.” But “sexual assault,” as some studies, including that of the Justice Department, define it, includes even an unwanted peck on the cheek, an execrable practice still seen in some liberal Orthodox precincts but hardly synonymous with rape except to a certain subset of fanatical activists. Or, “95%” of college rapes go unreported to the police, but they are, apparently, reported to researchers. 95%? And perhaps it is 395%, or 45%? Perhaps some of these assaults are more akin to the circumstances I explored in my essay (as have others, see George F. Will’s column on a related subject).

To those who persist in citing the “1 in 5 women on campus raped” canard, I refer you to this new Prager University video released this week (as if to come to my rescue!) that debunks this datum. If nothing else, all of the above should allow for a calmer discussion of this matter.

What did I write in my essay, whose every word I stand by? Here’s a synopsis. The reality is that rape is an abominable crime that is an unimaginable nightmare and deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. To be falsely accused of rape is also an abominable crime that is an unimaginable nightmare for which the lying complainant deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Both are life-altering events and in both cases the victims deserve our fullest support and the victimizers our unmitigated opprobrium. Obviously, instances of rape exceed false claims of rape, and as I noted, “even one is too many.”

That is the black (the former scenario) and the white (the latter scenario) of the matter. But the professional feminists see only the black. There is no white, no other side, the woman is always right, the man is always wrong. In that echo chamber, I am certain, that makes sense. In a world where truth, justice, decency and fairness matter, that contention is risible.

But I addressed both those scenarios only in passing. My focus was on the “gray” area, the “he said/she said” scenario, where the events are fueled by what I termed the culture of promiscuity and entitlement on campus, where the couple had a relationship and often a long term physical relationship, and where “feelings” – especially post facto feelings – matter more than legality or fairness. These are cases where the woman sometimes does not feel like a “victim” for weeks or months after the encounter (usually coincident with a breakup or a conversation with a feminist adviser who convinces her that she was assaulted without consent). These are cases in which there are no witnesses, no evidence, and no corroboration. They exist. They are troubling no matter who is right and who is wrong. But the feminist activists see no “gray.” The man is always guilty. Always.

Indeed, the “hookup culture” on campus has created a sense of male entitlement concomitant with some females’ pursuit of unlimited pleasure. It is in that culture that, invariably, women – who, as I noted, have a greater emotional investment in physical intimacy than do men – will over time feel used, abused, scorned and empty. And it is in that culture that, I submit, the problematic area of “he said/she said” is more likely to arise. It is for that scenario that I suggested a return to traditional moral practices, such that are already mandatory for Jews but would even benefit non-Jews. The bloggers who mock that suggestion are playing into the hands of lecherous young men and, ironically, endangering more women both physically and psychologically.

It was in this gray area that I urged a return to the virtues with which religious Jews are quite familiar – no affectionate physical contact between men and women outside the context of marriage. That won’t stop the “black” cases of rape (forcible assault) nor the “white” cases (false accusations), for the most part. But it would stop much of the “gray,” in which consent is unclear or ambiguously given, because the assumption would be, since males are an aggressive breed, that the male assaulted the virtue of the female.

But for the professional feminists, there never is a “gray” area. Men are always predators, women are always saints, and rabbis, always, deserve special calumny if they don’t toe a particular line.

What is most troubling, and quite typical of this genre, is the sheer inability of the feminist activists to tolerate another viewpoint. “On this, there can be no debate! There is only one opinion!” Feminist orthodoxy brooks no dissent (as opposed to Jewish Orthodoxy, whose every tenet, they feel, is negotiable). So their goal is to ensure that only one side of an issue is ever heard. They do this by denouncing any opposition as immoral, shrieking that any dissenter is evil, and trying to intimidate that dissenter into silence, penance and universal obloquy. This is what passes for discourse – forget civil discourse, just discourse – in that pathetic echo chamber of the young and coddled. How sad.

Typically, as they see it, for expressing views with which they disagree, I should be fired from the rabbinate, kicked out of any rabbinic organization to which I belong, tossed from any institution in which I am active, and, for Heaven’s sake, even thrown out of AAA (to which I just renewed my membership, and so will not go down without a fight).

What is even sadder is that, to these activists, men are irredeemable brutes, end of story. My objective, on the other hand, is to preserve the honor of both men and women. Their eager embrace of the “hookup culture” – as long as there is consent – exacerbates the problem, cheapens the nobility of women and undermines the sanctity of marriage. Their contempt for women, and not just women’s virtues, is breathtaking.

The Talmud (bottom of Sanhedrin 21a) teaches us that after Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar, King David’s Sanhedrin decreed that an unmarried man and woman should not be secluded together (the prohibition of yichud). That was good advice then as it is now. It doesn’t mean that they “blamed” Tamar; rather that prudence and common sense dictate not putting oneself in a situation of potential danger. No one ever “deserves” to be raped, as some hideously perverted my words. But do not walk into a field clearly labeled “Danger: Mines!” Even if the ones who planted the mines would be guilty of causing injury, surely the minefield pedestrian also bears some responsibility for his fate. The mature person takes responsibility for his own actions, a fundamental Jewish principle that I explored in my last book, “The Jewish Ethic of Personal Responsibility.”

Further irony: these critics are antagonized because they call me a “leader” who should not say these things that upset them; yet, when I try to take the lead on this particular issue – elevating the moral level on campus so that no one, but especially our young people, is ensnared in that morass – they protest. It sounds like they want “leaders” whom they control and who just follow the script that they write. But those are not “leaders” but followers with a fancy title.

Heeding our moral laws can only benefit men, women, marriages, families and society itself. That was and is my point. The fruitless debate over statistics aside, I would hope that even the professional feminists can subscribe to that.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Jerusalem to Invest a Record NIS 50M to Promote Arts & Culture

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

The Jerusalem municipality will invest a record-breaking NIS 50 million per year starting this year to promote arts and culture in the capital.

Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sports agreed on Sunday to allocate NIS 7 million to cultural institutions and ongoing initiatives to hike the city’s annual investment to a new record high.

Praising Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement released Sunday: “Jerusalem has experienced in recent years an unprecedented cultural renaissance, and returned as the cultural capital of Israel.

“The municipality will continue to operate and support the city’s cultural institutions in order to strengthen and promote the city’s culture – not only with new events and festivals, but by strengthening and leveraging the ongoing work of existing institutions, as well as by encouraging more entrepreneurial culture and artistic enterprises in the capital,” he vowed.

Jerusalem Wine Festival

This is the week of one of the biggest and most important events held each year in the capital: the Jerusalem Wine Festival, held annually by the Israel Museum.

The festival, which begins on Monday and runs through Thursday, is the leading event for the wine industry in Israel. It is a salute to Israeli wineries, which last year brought together a record 60 Israeli wineries that displayed hundreds of wine to taste.

This year’s festival is expected to welcome more than 20,000 visitors to the event.

In addition to booths for the tasting of wine, thousands of wine lovers who come from all over the country are also able to enjoy food from top restaurants, booths selling products to complement wine purchases, high quality gourmet products, live performances in a variety of styles, and more.

The event is held at the Art Garden of the Israel Museum, which is considered one of the world’s finest sculpture gardens.

Hana Levi Julian

13 Year-Old Jewish Boy Beaten in Paris

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

A 13 year-old Jewish boy wearing a kippah was attacked and beaten in the 19th district (arrondissement) of Paris this week. The boy was beaten as he left his Jewish school.

The assailants were described as being of African origin. The 19th arrondissement is home to many North African immigrants. One of the attackers allegedly shouted “beat that dirty Jew.”

After the attackers beat the boy, they allegedly stole his phone and ran away.

The victim was taken to a local hospital with head wounds.

France’s National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVA) condemned the attack and recommended that a formal complaint be filed with French police.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

A 95-Year-Old WWII Vet, and Klimt’s ‘Lady in Gold’ Makes a Comeback

Thursday, May 21st, 2015


Yishai is joined by 95-year-old Jerusalem resident Dan Nadel, a five-time decorated WWII hero, who led troops in the Battle of the Bulge and in the liberation of France from the Nazis. In honor of VE Day, commemorating the Allied victory over Nazi Germany (marked on May 8), Nadel, tells the tale of fighting across Europe, and eventually fulfilling his Zionist dream.

Then, Yishai is joined in-studio by foreign correspondent Anne-Marie O’Connor to talk about her award-winning book, “The Lady in Gold,” that chronicles the fight for restitution of Gustav Klimt’s iconic “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer,” confiscated by the Nazis in Vienna just prior to World War II.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

The Roots of Racism, and the Difference Between the US and Israel

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015


Yishai is joined in-studio by Jerusalem Post op-ed editor Seth Frantzman and editorial page editor Matthew Wagner to discuss the violent protests held by Ethiopian Israelis over the past few days. They talk about the roots of the rage, and the extent of discrimination against Jews in the Jewish state.

Then, Yishai is joined in-studio by Joel Pollak, editor-at-large and in-house counsel for Breitbart.com, to discuss the similarities and differences between the US and Israel. Pollak says that whereas America is based on a philosophy, Israeli society is more ethnic and connected to the land. In the US, people are very mobile, moving around for school and work, and reinvent themselves easily. Pollak also talks about Israel’s growth and the American administration’s Iran gambit.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

Israeli Sovereignty in Jerusalem, and the Second-Chance Holiday

Friday, May 1st, 2015


Yishai is joined by Alan Elsner, vice president for communications at the ultra-liberal Jewish organization J Street, to discuss the future of the two-state solution and the challenges connected with Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. Why are Arabs rioting there?

Then, Yishai is joined in-studio by Rabbi Mike Feuer to discuss Second Passover, a bona fide biblical holiday that many people have never heard of. What are the secrets of this holiday? What is the big deal about blasphemy?

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/radio/yishai-fleisher-on-jewishpress/israeli-sovereignty-in-jerusalem-and-the-second-chance-holiday/2015/05/01/

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