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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Erdogan’

Why Israel-Turkey Relations will not Change

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Unlike diplomatic crises that often occur between friendly nations, the crisis between Israel and Turkey does not stem from a direct act or the result of an omission on the part of Israel. We all remember the mess following the Australian Passports snarl (and more recently, the Zygier affair) and the like; in these diplomatic crises, countries choose to cooperate to end the story quickly. The matter at hand is totally different.

Over the last decade, Turkish citizens chose an Islamist leadership and has turned from a friendly to a hostile country. The rise to power in 2002 of the Islamic Party marks an ideological process that is similar (though not identical) to that of the Ayatollah regime which came to power in Iran in 1979. The Israeli apology to Turkey, accordingly, fell on the ears of a person with a worldview closer to that of Ahmadinejad than the Australian prime minister.

In order to understand the current crisis between Israel and Turkey, firstly we should understand the source for Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ideological teachings and deep hatred of Israel, Jews, and Zionism. Two months after the “Justice and Development Party” (AKP) came to power, a valued pundit for the Hürriyet daily published an article in which he wrote:

Did you know that in 1974, when Erdogan was president of the ‘young Muslims’ in Istanbul, which was the young guard of Erbakan’s National Salvation Party, he wrote a play entitled “Mskoiamh,” which stands for Freemasons, Communists, and Jews? The message was in the combination of the three hateful satanic elements. The play was performed all over Turkey.

Earlier, in 1969, the same Necmettin Erbakan (In those days he was still a novice politician; later, the first Islamist prime minister) published a political manifesto, which he dubbed Millî Görüş, (National Vision). This manifesto reflects the credo of an Islamic political organization also called Millî Görüş, which has become a hotbed of several Islamic parties, and one of the largest Islamic organizations in Europe.

Erbakan identified Turkey’s national decline as deriving from Turkey’s futile attempts to mimic the Western way of life. The solution, so he preached, was to gradually disengage from the West and from the E.U. (which he saw as “Zionist” and “Catholic”), while replacing them with economic cooperation with Islamic countries. In 2007, as part of his Islamist Happiness Party election campaign, he stated publicly that

The Zionists [meaning the Jews and E.U] want to control from Morocco to Indonesia [...] for 300 years two hundred nations of the world are controlled by one center, imperialist and racist Zionism. To diagnose this disease which aims to destroy the world’s happiness, we have to diagnose its origins.

He further stated that Zionism is a “bacteria” and that the Jews derive their enormous power from their dominance in international organizations. Earlier, in an article published in 2005, the daily Milli Gazette (affiliated with Millî Görüş), claimed that “Judaism is synonymous with treachery.” Throughout history, it was argued, the Turks helped the Jews — but they, “like insects, gnawed in the Ottoman [Empire], and if that is not enough, they stabbed the Turkish soldiers in Palestine in their backs.”

“Bacteria,” “insects,” “world domination,” “international organizations,” “knife in the back;” there is no need to specify where these images are taken from. That is, indeed, Erdogan’s ideology: Seeing Judaism (or “Zionism”) not just as a worldwide conspiracy, but as an historical conspiracy to rule the world spanning centuries, and the belief that Christianity (and in particular, Catholicism), Freemasonry, and Communism are “Jewish” (or “Zionist”): that is, that they are the “public face” of the ongoing international Jewish conspiracy to rule the world, in different eras.

Both of these views are not only common in Nazi propaganda, they are Nazi propaganda’s two central pillars, and what’s more, what Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler and so on apparently really believed themselves, motivating and justifying their actions. Indeed, these two ideas are not original with Hitler — they were invented by late 19th-century German and British racists.

Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul were educated within this political framework introduced by Erbakan. But despite Erbakan’s success in being appointed prime minister in 1997, he failed to realize his Islamist vision. The Constitutional Court and the military, the custodians of secularism in Turkey, removed him from power. December 2002 marked the revolution: against the background of the economic crisis, Erdogan’s Islamist “Justice and Development Party” won in a landslide. Five years later, Abdullah Gul was elected vice president; this time, supporters of secularism in parliament have failed miserably.

Erdogan Praised at White House as He Subverts US Interests

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“So fragile was the structure of their reality that a single unsubsumed consciousness, a solitary ripple in their little pond was enough to roil the waters into a frothing, burbling foam.” —Norman Spinrad, The Void Captain’s Tale (1985)

Consider five factors that had no effect on the very warm reception given by President Barack Obama to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

–While the U.S. government has pressured Erdogan not to visit the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Erdogan announced in the White House Rose Garden that he would do so. An alleged U.S. ally says publicly in front of Obama while being hosted by him that he is going to defy the United States.

This is not some routine matter. With previous presidents, if an ally was going to do something like that he would say nothing at the time and then months later would subvert U.S. policy. Or better yet the foreign leader would not do so. To announce defiance in such a way is a serious sign of how little respect Middle East leaders have for Obama—and U.S. policy nowadays—and how little Obama will do about it.

–Equally bad is the fact that Erdogan directly promised Obama that he would conciliate with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cooperated because Obama asked him to do so. That’s what U.S. allies do. But immediately Erdogan showed he would pay no attention to the agreement he made.

His negotiators subverted it in several ways, including the demands for ridiculously large amounts of money, the delay in the promised return of the Turkish ambassador to Israel, the continuation of legal action against Israeli officials involved in the Mavi Marmara affair, when Israeli soldiers were attacked by Turkish terrorists demanding to sail to Gaza to deliver equipment to Hamas.

So a second time Erdogan betrayed Obama and make the president look foolish (that is, if anyone in the mass media pointed it out). Again, there was no U.S. criticism of the move or apparent pressure to make Erdogan keep his promise.

There are three other ways that Erdogan has subverted U.S. interests with minimal costs. In fact, the Obama Administration has usually furthered this behavior.

–Some small U.S. diplomatic protests were made about the growing internal repression in Turkey and human rights’ violations there. Increasingly, the country lives under a reign of intimidation even as the Western media mostly ignores this situation. Since the United States keeps praising him, Erdogan can demoralize his opponents, who cannot hope for foreign help, even as he carries on a policy of spreading anti-Americanism in Turkey.

The political power of the Turkish armed forces–the traditional guarantor of the republic and stability in the country was dismantled by Erdogan with U.S. approval. The Turkish media was subverted with only an occasional American squeal of complaint. Now he’s destroying the independent judicial system, the last barrier to his assault on democratic rule. The U.S. embassy in Turkey consistently warned about what has been happening; the White House ignored this information.

–With the Obama Administration’s permission, the Turkish government violates the sanctions against Iran with ever-larger trade and major bilateral cooperation projects. Erdogan’s consistent defenses of Iran’s policies (though the two countries are at odds over Syria) have been forgiven and forgotten by the White House.

–Finally, in many ways the Turkish government has been taking the lead on setting U.S. policy toward Syria. It was Erdogan who largely determined that the official opposition exile leadership would be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, a path followed by Obama. (I can’t prove it but I’ll bet that Turkey’s regime promised Obama that if he would declare support for the rebels verbally and let them be armed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia then Assad would easily fall. I’d also bet that Erdogan assured Obama that if the president helped the rebels a moderate government would emerge in Syria.)

Meanwhile, Obama has praised Erdogan unstintingly. Obama thinks Erdogan is the very model of a “moderate Islamist” and since Obama’s strategy is to support such people in much of the Arab world, Erdogan has been his guide to the region, though this has meant supporting the radical Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. What is especially ironic is that Obama believed that Erdogan’s goals were essentially the same as those of the United States while Erdogan was in fact following a profoundly anti-American policy designed to bring hostile Islamist governments to power. Remember this is no longer the old Western-oriented Turkey of previous decades but a radical–if concealed–Islamist regime.

Erdogan to Visit US in May

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

One of Turkey’s leading media outlets, Hurriyet Daily News, announced that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will come to the United States to meet with President Barack Obama on May 16.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry received the official invitation on Tuesday, April 2.

While the meeting could not have taken place without repair to relations between Turkey and Israel, the primary focus of the visit is expected to be the ongoing civil war in Syria, which has enormous spillover effect on and dangers for both Turkey and Israel.  A diplomatic source revealed to Hurriyet that Erdoğan’s visit to Washington “was fixed in a phone conversation on the day Israel apologized to Turkey.”

Most international commentators agree that Turkey is hoping the U.S. will take a lead role in enforcing an end to the violence in Syria. The U.S. administration, however, is reluctant to become directly involved by providing lethal support to opposition forces, fearing weapons falling into the hands of extremists.  The U.S. instead prefers a diplomatic approach to ending the current crisis.

In addition to the visit by the Turkish prime minister to the U.S., it was also announced that a series of diplomatic meetings are now scheduled to enable Turkey and Israel to normalize relations. An Israeli diplomatic delegation will travel to Ankara on April 11 to meet with Turkish delegates.  Discussions will focus on ensuring that an exchange of ambassadors will take place towards the end of June.

Another diplomacy track for the negotiating teams deals with compensation to be paid by Israel to families of those Turks killed during the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara flotilla which was attempting to breach Israel’s legal naval blockade of Gaza in late May, 2010.  Eight Turks died after Israelis opened fire when fellow soldiers who had boarded the ship were attacked with iron bars and knives.

The Turkish government’s goal is apparently to get the families of those who died during the blockade flotilla fiasco to agree to accept compensation from Israel in exchange for dropping their lawsuits against Israeli officials. Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the deputy prime minister Bülent Arınç were scheduled to meet with the families late Tuesday.

Although the Turkish Prime Minister has stated that he will soon visit Gaza, no details on that visit have yet been announced.

Jabotinsky Understood, 102 Years Ago

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

We know that “history is written by the victors,” and until recently much of Israel’s history was written by the Left. Begin, Jabotinsky and others were treated as marginal, extremist figures, sometimes even vilified by the socialist establishment.

Israel underwent a political revolution in 1977 with the election of its first right-wing government, led by Menachem Begin, although vestiges of the old leftist establishment hung on in the arts, academia and media. Maybe for that reason the historical record is still unfair to Begin — whom some believe to have been the greatest of Israel’s Prime Ministers — and to Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, a remarkably prescient thinker and philosopher of Zionism.

Jabotinsky thought that Israel is not only physically located in the Middle East, but must live in the Middle East in order to survive. He understood the importance of ideology, of holding on to one’s convictions, of symbols and of honor — quite the opposite of some of today’s ‘pragmatic’ politicians.

In 1911, Jabotinsky wrote an essay called “Instead of Excessive Apology” (thanks to Dan Friedman for reminding me). One hundred and two years ago, he explained why it is craven and in any case pointless to apologize to Jew-haters the way Prime Minister Netanyahu did to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.

In searching for a translation of Jabotinsky’s piece, I found one by Boris Shusteff, an Israeli of Russian origin. Shusteff had a few words about apologies also, even when there is something to apologize for (which of course there was not in the case of Turkey).

Here is Shusteff’s translation of the main points of Jabotinsky’s essay. Of course the ‘we’ refers to the then-stateless Jewish people, but it applies equally to the Jewish state. It could have been written yesterday, couldn’t it?

Instead of Excessive Apology by Zev Jabotinsky, 1911

Translated from Russian by Boris Shusteff

We constantly and very loudly apologize… Instead of turning our backs to the accusers, as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to, we swear again and again that it is not our fault… Isn’t it long overdue to respond to all these and all future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly, coldly and calmly answer with the only argument that is understandable and accessible to this public: ‘Go to Hell!’?

Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over the entire people where the sentence is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. … The situation that has been created as a result, tragically confirms a well known saying: “Qui s’excuse s’accuse.” ["one that apologizes for oneself accuses oneself" -- ed.]

We ourselves have acquainted our neighbors with the thought that for every embezzling Jew it is possible to drag the entire ancient people to answer, a people that was already legislating at the time when the neighbors had not even invented a bast shoe. Every accusation causes among us such a commotion that people unwittingly think, ‘why are they so afraid of everything?’ Apparently their conscience is not clear.’

Exactly because we are ready at every minute to stand at attention, there develops among the people an inescapable view about us, as of some specific thievish tribe. We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets, will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are–we do not have anything to hide! This is a terrible mistake. The real gentlemen are the people that will not allow anyone for any reason to search their apartment, their pockets or their soul. Only a person under surveillance is ready for a search at every moment…. This is the only one inevitable conclusion from our maniac reaction to every reproach–to accept responsibility as a people for every action of a Jew, and to make excuses in front of everybody including hell knows who. I consider this system to be false to its very root. We are hated not because we are blamed for everything, but we are blamed for everything because we are not loved…

On Second Thought, Maybe Israel’s Apology to Turkey was a Good Idea

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

I was appalled to learn a week ago that the Israeli prime minister had apologized to his Turkish counterpart for his government’s actions during the Mavi Marmara incident, seeing this as feeding the Turkish government’s inflated sense of grandeur and power.

That prediction was borne out in spades.

The municipality of Turkey’s capital city, Ankara, put up billboards on city streets reveling in the Israeli apology. They are not subtle, showing a sad-looking Netanyahu beneath a larger, buoyant Erdoğan, separated by the Mavi Marmara itself. Addressing Erdoğan, they read: “Israel apologized to Turkey. Dear Prime Minister, we are grateful that you let our country experience this pride.”

Erdogan himself claims not only that the apology has changed the balance of power in the Arab-Israeli conflict but that it obligates Israel to work with Ankara in its diplomacy with the Palestinians. He told parliament:

The point we have arrived at as a result of our consultations with all our brothers in Palestine and peripheral countries is increasing our responsibility with regard to solving the Palestinian question and thus is bringing about a new equation.

Erdogan also claimed that Israel agreed to cooperate with Turkey on talks with the Palestinians. Hürriyet Daily News goes on to paraphrase Erdoğan:

He said all his regional interlocutors, including Khaled Mashaal of the Hamas, admit that a new era has begun in the Middle East what they all call after Turkish victory on Israeli apology.

No less notable is Erdogan’s petty put down of the Israeli side:

Erdogan said his conversation with Netanyahu took place under the witness of Obama but he wanted first to talk with the US President as he missed his voice. “I talked to him and we have reviewed the text and confirmed the [apology] process. we have therefore accomplished this process under Obama’s witness,” Erdogan said, adding this phone conversation has also been recorded alongside with written statements issued from all three sides.

Ryan Mauro sums up Turkish actions over the past week:

Erdogan is extending his time in the spotlight by demanding that Israel pay $1 million to each of the nine casualties’ families, ten times the amount Israel has offered. He isn’t yet dropping his case against the Israeli generals involved in the raid, nor is he fully restoring diplomatic ties with Israel. And he’s announced that he will visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in what is a thinly-concealed victory lap.

Indeed, the Turkish gloating has been so conspicuous and extended that it may have prompted to a healthy sense of reality. So long as the Mavi Marmara incident hung over their relations with Ankara, Israelis and others could believe that an apology would magically undo the past decade. The illusion could persist that the Turks, however unreasonably, just needed to put this unpleasantness aside and things would revert to the good old days.

Now that Israelis humiliated themselves and Erdogan is rampaging ahead, some are awakening to the fact that this apology only made matters worse. Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister of economy and trade, slammed the Turkish response:

Since the apology was made public, it appears Erdogan is doing everything he can to make Israel regret it, while conducting a personal and vitriolic campaign at the expense of Israel-Turkey relations. Let there be no doubt — no nation is doing Israel a favor by renewing ties with it. It should also be clear to Erdogan that if Israel encounters in the future any terrorism directed against us, our response will be no less severe.

Boaz Bismuth of Israel Hayom colorfully notes that Israelis “didn’t expect to feel that only several days after Israel’s apology, Erdogan would already be making us feel that we had eaten a frog along with our matzah this year.”

Perhaps after all the apology was a good thing. For a relatively inexpensive price – some words – Israelis and others have gained a better insight into the Turkish leadership’s mentality. It’s not that they suffer from hurt pride but that they are Islamist ideologues with an ambitious agenda. If the misguided apology makes this evident to more observers, it has its compensations and possibly could turn out to be a net plus.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review Online, The Corner under the title, “On Second Thought … Maybe that Israeli Apology to Turkey was a Good Idea,” March 29, 2013.

Erdogan Ups the Ante

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Netanyahu’s apology to Turkey hasn’t been enough to satisfy the appetite of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Netanyahu’s offer of putting nearly a million dollars into a fund for the nine Turkish activists killed when they attacked IDF soldiers boarding the Mavi Marmara who were illegally trying to break the blockade on Gaza, hasn’t been sufficient for Erdogan either.

Erdogan told the Turkish parliament that he expects a million dollars for each activist killed, and a lifting of the naval blockade against Gaza.

Not lifting the blockade would be a deal breaker, he claimed.

It is unlikely that Netanyahu would lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is currently controlled by Hamas terrorists.

Minister Naftali Bennett posted on his Facebook page that Erdogan has done everything in his power to make Israel regret the apology, as he [Erdogan] runs a personal campaign against Turkish-Israel relations.

The Turks Walk Back their Promises

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Reactions to the surprise ‘apology’ from Israel to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident are coming in and they are interesting.

Barry Rubin points out that the actual statement by Israel does not accept blame for the deaths of nine ‘activists’, but merely refers to “operational mistakes,” apologizes for “any error which may have led to the loss of life,” and offers compensation.

All true, but who cares? It is being reported as an admission of guilt by Israel, an affirmation of the anti-Israel narrative of the incident, in which Israel deliberately killed “peace activists” when it “committed war crimes” by “attacking” the ship.

One correspondent writes to me that he does not trust Erdoğan, but “this is a strategic decision, and if this can help Israel, I accept. At least this is the position of the israeli army commanders. Everybody today recognizes that the Marmara issue was very badly handled.” In other words, if this will improve relations between Israel and Turkey (and Obama?) then it’s worth a little embarrassment.

I don’t buy it. First, it will not improve relations with Turkey (indeed, see the end of this post!) because relations are poor as a result of a deliberate strategy, not an unpleasant incident. Relations have deteriorated consistently since Erdoğan’s AKP came to power in 2003. Erdoğan hosted Hamas leaders in Ankara, and humiliated Israeli President Shimon Peres on the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2009. And of course, remember that Erdoğan’s regime orchestrated the Mavi Marmara incident as a deliberate provocation — and Israel fell right into the trap.

Second, it is not merely ‘a little embarrassment’. It squanders the diplomatic gains Israel achieved when the U.N.’s own Palmer Commission found that Israel’s blockade of Gaza and its boarding of the ships of the flotilla were legal and justified (although it did criticize Israel’s ‘excessive’ use of force). It constitutes a loss of honor in the honor-obsessed Middle East (did any Arab leader ever apologize for anything?) And it is an invitation for further blockade-breaking flotillas. This is in addition to playing into the growing meme that Jews or Israel may not defend themselves, while supporters of ‘Palestine’ arepermitted any atrocity in the name of the oppressed.

Technically, the ‘apology’ does none of these things. ‘Technically’ and about $3 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks in Fresno.

But what about improved relations with Turkey? Didn’t Erdoğan promise to exchange ambassadors, and drop legal actions against IDF soldiers and Israeli officials? Well, it turns out that it may be a bit early for that:

“We will see what will be put into practice during the process. If [the Israelis] move forward in a promising way, we will make our contribution. Then, there would be an exchange of ambassadors,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying, in remarks at an opening ceremony for a high-speed railway line in the central Turkish province of Eskişehir…

Erdoğan told reporters that it wasn’t yet time to talk about dropping the case in which four IDF generals stand accused of war crimes over the incident. The indictment, prepared last summer, sought ten aggravated life sentences for each officer ostensibly involved in the 2010 raid — including former chief of the IDF General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and former head of military intelligence Amos Yadlin…

Despite the formal apology issued by Netanyahu on Friday in the presence of U.S. President Barack Obama, Erdoğan’s Saturday statement indicated that Ankara was not entirely prepared to let bygones be bygones. He stressed that during his conversation with him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised to improve the humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian territories.

“I accepted the apology in the name of the Turkish people,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying, adding that he was planning to visit Gaza in April. (Times of Israel)

Will Israel get anything out of this deal? I doubt it. And what’s been lost is lost. Same story, over and over.

An Israeli Apology to Turkey

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

On Feb. 27, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a conference in Vienna, “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.” His calling the Jewish nationalist movement that built the State of Israel a “crime against humanity” prompted widespread criticism, including by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

On Mar. 19, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced, “I stand behind my remarks in Vienna.” Nonetheless, on Mar. 22, Binyamin Netanyahu issued the long-awaited apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident. His statement made it clear “that the tragic results regarding the Mavi Marmara were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life. In light of the Israeli investigation into the incident, which pointed out several operational errors, Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation.”

My take: Erdoğan’s government has mastered the art of provocation and is being rewarded for it. The Israelis should not have apologized but should have demanded an apology from Ankara for its support to the terrorist-connected group that undertook this aggressive act.

Now that the deed is done, can we expect a change in Turkish policy toward Israel, an end to its aggressive statements and support for its enemies? That would surprise me. Rather, I expect the AKP government to pocket this apology and use as a building block for its neo-Ottoman empire. (March 22, 2013)

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review Online, The Corner, March 22, 2013.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/an-israeli-apology-to-turkey/2013/03/24/

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