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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

Turkey: A House Divided

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute

There is no doubt that the Gezi Park demonstrations in May and June, which spread to most of Turkey, represent a seismic change in Turkish society and have opened up fault lines which earlier may not have been apparent. What began as a demonstration against the “development” of a small park in the center of Istanbul ended as a widespread protest against the AKP government — and particularly Prime Minister Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule.

The European Commission in its latest progress report on Turkey has recognized this change when it writes of “the emergence of vibrant, active citizenry;” and according to Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül, who in the report is praised for his conciliatory role, this development is “a new manifestation of our democratic maturity.” The Turkish government, however, has chosen to see these demonstrations as a challenge to its authority and has reacted accordingly.

The report mentions various repressive measures taken by the government, including the excessive use of force by the police, columnists and journalists being fired or forced to resign after criticizing the government, television stations being fined for transmitting live coverage of the protests and the round-up by the police of those suspected of taking part in the demonstrations.

However, there is, in the EU report, no mention of the campaign of vilification led by the Prime Minister against the protesters, or reprisals against public employees who supported or took part in the protests; also, measures taken to prevent the recurrence of mass protests, such as tightened security on university campuses, no education loans for students who take part in demonstrations and a ban on chanting political slogans at football matches.

Not only the demonstrators themselves have been targeted but also the international media, which Prime Minister Erdoğan has accused of being part of an international conspiracy to destabilize Turkey. The “interest rate lobby” and “the Jewish diaspora” have also been blamed. As the Commission notes, the Turkish Capital Markets Board has launched an investigation into foreign transactions to account for the 20% drop on the Istanbul Stock Exchange between May 20 and June 19, which had more to do with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering than the Gezi Park protests.

In August, however, a report on the Gezi Park protests by the Eurasia Global Research Center (AGAM), and chaired by an AKP deputy, called the government’s handling of the situation “a strategic mistake” and pointed out that democracy-valuing societies require polls and dialogue between people and the local authorities.

Polarization

The Commission is correct, therefore, when it concludes that a divisive political climate prevails, including a polarizing tone towards citizens, civil society organizations and businesses. This conclusion is reinforced by the observation that work on political reform is hampered by a persistent lack of dialogue and spirit of compromise among political parties. Furthermore, the report emphasizes the need for systematic consultation in law-making with civil society and other stakeholders.

This division was underlined by Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek in June, when, at a conference, he deplored the lack of a spirit of compromise in intellectual or political circles. This lack is not only illustrated by the occasional fistfight between parliamentary deputies, but also when the AKP government in July voted against its own proposal in the mistaken belief that it had been submitted by the opposition. Or when the opposition two days later passed its own bill while the government majority had gone off to prayers.

President Gül, in a message of unity to mark the start of Eid al-Fitr (in August, at the end of Ramadan), had called on Turkey to leave polarization behind and unite for the European Union membership bid. But to create a united Turkey will be difficult, given the attitude of the present government. Even the democratization package presented by Prime Minister Erdoğan at the end of September does not indicate any substantive change in the government’s majoritarian approach to democracy.

Irrespective of the Prime Minister’s reference to international human rights and the EU acquis [legislation], both lifting the headscarf ban for most public employees and a number of concessions to the Kurdish minority can be seen as a move to boost Erdoğan’s popularity ahead of the local elections in March.

Riot Police Storm Istanbul’s Taksim Square

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Turkish riot police stormed Taksim Square early Tuesday morning and clashed with protesters, one day before protests leaders were to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Authorities said the police only entered the area ‘”to clear the banners and flags on [a] statue and the AKM cultural center.” However, they also told the demonstrators to retreat to the nearby Gezi park, also occupied by the protest movement now in its second week.

Turkish television showed live video of clashes between police and protesters, who said they would not leave Taksim Square. At least two people were injured,one of them hit in the back by a tear gas canister.

Authorities issued a written statement that the police would not enter Gezi Park, but regardless of the pretty words, police entered Taksim Square with armored vehicles and fired tear gas at crowds.

Protesters hurled firebombs at police, who responded by spraying them with water cannons.

Ironically, the police statement that its force simply wanted to clean up banners was issued via Twitter, the social network that Erdogan has said should be censored because it is being used to “slander” the government.

The wave of demonstrations began in response to government plans to redevelop Gezi Park. Ostensibly, it was a pro-environment reaction, but the park is a symbol of secular Turkey, and Erdogan’s development plan includes placing military barracks and a mosque in the park.

As in other countries, tens of thousands of others jumped on the opportunity to express their outrage stemming from a wide variety of religious and governmental issues, such as restricting the sale of alcohol, the growing influence of Islam in public affairs, and Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism.

The surprise storming of Taksim Square is likely to anger the protesters even more and remove any chance of trust in the prime minister. His hard-line stance has dumped fuel on the fire of demonstrators.

Three people have died and more than 5,000 have been treated for effects of tear gas fired by the police. One doctor said last week that the effects of the gassing indicate that police are using CR gas, a chemical which can be lethal.

Demonstrations against Erdogan have been staged in 78 cities across the country., and every time Erdogan spews condemnation of the “vandals” and “terrorists,” the protest movement grows.

Jeremy Salt, associate professor at Bilkent University in Ankara, told the Russian RT website that the rebellious social mood n the country is a result of Erdogan’s  government taking the country “over a different path.”

Taksim Square symbolizes the modern secular Turkish Republic.

“Erdogan wants to turn it [Taksim Square] into symbol of something else. He wants to put up military barracks and a mosque there to totally change the face of Taksim Square to represent what he wants Turkey to become – which is a religious society,” Salt said.

Echoes of Assad and Mubarak: Erdogan Calls Protesters ‘Vandals’

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has chosen to take the road of deposed or embattled Muslim leaders in the Middle East as the protest movement in Turkey seems to grow to the same degree he ridicules it.

Tens of thousands filled Istanbul Square Sunday to demand his resignation, and they clashed with riot police, backed by hovering helicopters.  Instead of addressing them directly, he appeared at the Ankara airport, where he was applauded in one of several planned rallies.

Erdogan charged that the protesters are nothing but vandals who drink beer in mosques and insult women wearing headscarves.

He already has referred to demonstrators as “anarchists and terrorists.”

“Tweeter is an enemy,” he says.

Who else ridiculed social networks? Qaddafi, who was killed in the revolution, Mubarak, who was arrested and jailed in the revolution, and Assad, who still remains in power but has been isolated by the entire world except Iran, Hezbollah and, for the time being, Russia.

And how did Erdogan refer to a police officer who was killed in clashes with protesters? He was ”martyred.”  That is right out of the book of Hamas, which, by the way, Erdogan for some strange reason continues to praise.

Erdogan has deepened the rift in Turkish society by turning the protest movement into a “me or them” issue, fueling what could have been a small and weak protest movement with the dynamite it needs to engulf others who don’t like the government, particularly those  who are nervous about the government’s potting Islam in the forefront of its agenda.

Anyone who protests apparently is an enemy to Erdogan, who demonstrates the same insecurity of dictators, past and present.

Erdogan’s Police May Be Using Chemical CR Gas on Protesters (Video)

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

A Turkish doctor has charged that her patients who have suffered from tear gas fired by police show signs associated with CR gas, classified by the U.S. Army as a combat class chemical weapon that can cause serious side effects and can be lethal.

CR gas was developed the British and was used in Northern Ireland and is used in riot control today in Egypt and Israel, but its use in Turkey was not documented until Wednesday. The use may be legal, but if it is being deployed, the Erdogan government has kept it under wraps and prevented people from knowing.

Police sprayed gas, either the usual CS tear gas or CR gas, on protesters Wednesday as the riots continued after nine days, and the death toll has climbed to three.

The government had instructed police to use restraint, but police violence was seen in Ankara where unions called for a solidarity strike in sympathy with Gezi Park demonstrations.

Police also used water cannons to disperse demonstrators, and among those arrested were the Ankara bureau chief for a television channel and a cameraman.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following the pattern of Hosni Mubarak and Basher al-Assad, among others, has called protesters “terrorists” and has placed the blamed for the riots primarily on users of social networks. His police arrested 25 people early Wednesday for the high crime of tweeting “misinformation.”

“This is a protest organized by extremist elements,” Erdogan said Monday a press conference.

“Have they already banned freedom of opinion and I have not heard about it?” tweeted one user, (at)CRustemov, as the news spread. “What on earth does it mean to get detained over Twitter!”

Thousands of people have been detained since the beginning of the protests, but most of them have been freed.

“We will not give away anything to those who live arm-in-arm with terrorism.”

Hopes by Erdogan that the violence would end, after his deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc apologized for police violence on Tuesday, have evaporated.

No one expects Turkey to follow Middle East countries that have seen revolutions topple their rulers following Arab Spring demonstrations, but Erdogan has been acting like the deposed rulers.

“He’s not been behaving rationally at all,” Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based researcher with the Silk Road Studies Program at John Hopkins University, told US Today Wednesday. “He appears to be becoming almost delusional and refusing to accept the reality that these protests are mainly spontaneous and are being organized by small groups of people who’ve never engaged in politics before.”

His behavior should come as no surprise. He has been living in his own dream world for the past Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad, while reducing diplomatic relations with Israel to a their tier level.

He has since realized that choosing  Ahmadinejad and Assad as friends was the wrong decision, but Erdogan still is a cheerleader for Hamas and wants to visit Gaza.

Years of promoting Turkey as a shining example of prosperity, democracy and tolerance have gone up in smoke.

Property damage and massive injuries, many of them from CD or CR gas, have forced an Istanbul mosque dating back to the Ottoman empire to be converted into a makeshift field hospital.

Turkish Protests: Good for Israel?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Occupy-Gezi-protestsTurkish protesters have called upon Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign, a move which may be good for Israel.

The seeds of a Turkish spring are presently being planted within Turkey. What started out as a movement to save one of the last green spaces in Istanbul from being converted into a shopping mall has emerged into a mass protest movement calling upon Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign. Many Turks claim he has brutally suppressed dissent and attempted to make Turkish society more Islamist in nature. If Erdogan were to resign and the secular opposition were to gain power, it may have positive implications for Turkish-Israeli relations.

MASS REPRESSION

In the course of these demonstrations, the Turkish authorities have utilized brute force to suppress the opposition, firing tear gas and water canons en masse. One Turkish resident of Istanbul who was active in the demonstrations claims that the police deliberately fired at demonstrators. Countless Turkish civilians have been wounded or arrested, while some have even died. Nevertheless, despite the violence, many Turks are committed to calling upon Erdogan to resign.

Turkey-ProtestsOne young Turkish woman, Elif Ceylan, a resident of Izmir, Turkey, has reported, “I don’t like Erdogan’s way of pushing things in a non-democratic way. His idea of Turkey is pushing it into an Islamic state[...]These demonstrations are not related to any kind of political movement. This movement is about human rights and freedom of speech.”

IMPLICATIONS FOR ISRAEL

The question emerges, what are the implications for Israel? According to sources inside Istanbul, most of the protesters have not taken a clear stance on Israel. As Ceylan explained, “They are a blended group of people that just support human rights and freedom of speech. […] So I can’t really say they are pro Israeli or anti Israeli cause they are blended.” Nevertheless, one Turkish demonstrator from Istanbul claims that any one in Turkey with pro-Israeli sympathies would be attending these demonstrations. Nevertheless, the demonstrations aren’t about Israel.

Violence-in-Turkey-protestsAccording to Ceylan, “The importance of this movement is that the people of Turkey are finally getting together and rising up to say no to the non democratic way of the current government.” Nevertheless, Ceylan believes that if the Turkish people are truly given freedom of speech, it will give Turks the chance to question things and see Israel in a different light. She claims that presently the Turkish media is controlled by Erdogan and that the 2010 Gaza Flotilla which sailed from Turkey and the subsequent incident with Israel aboard the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara was due to Erdogan’s influence. If there is freedom of speech, then Turks will be exposed to more viewpoints and this will positively affect Turkish public opinion towards Israel and the Jewish people.

POTENTIAL FOR ISRAEL?

With Erdogan’s power facing challenges on such a massive scale, perhaps there is a potential for better relations between Israel and Turkey. The two countries were allies in the past and had positive relations during Ottoman times. Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel’s right to exist and Turkish diplomats saved Jewish lives during the Holocaust. This implies that the negative changes instrumented by Erdogan can indeed be temporary.

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Massive Demonstrations Shake Turkey

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

More than 1000 people have been injured in several days of protests in Istanbul against Turkey’s Islamist regime, involving more than 90 demonstrations, the biggest anti-Islamist protest in a decade. Hundreds more were hurt in conflicts with police in Ankara, the capital. The demonstration began as an environmental protest about the destruction of a famous Istanbul park but had spread to Ankara, too.

The movement began in Taksim Square, Istanbul’s most famous. The police responded toughly using tear gas and pepper spray. Some compared this to the Arab Spring demonstrations elsewhere in the Middle East though this idea seems exaggerated.

Gradually the Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan been working to transform Turkey into something much closer to an Islamist state. Hundreds of political prisoners have been jailed on trumped-up charges of planned coups; the army has been forced to submit; a new constitution is being developed; and the independent judiciary is under assault by the government.

Much of the mass media has been bought up or intimidated along with educational system changes, the declining status of women, and rising effort to reduce the sale of alcohol. Turkey has more journalists in jail than any other country in the world.

It all began when a small group of young people camped at a park in central Istanbul to protest Erdogan’s personal plan to build a shopping center on the site. Police raided the park just before sunrise, using tear gas, evicted the protesters, and removed their tents. Up to this point it was a normal response.

A few days later, about 30 young people returned and set up the tents again and the police once more launched a raid. This time, however, a great deal of force was used, including pepper spray. Tear gas was squirted into the faces of some young people, kicking and beating them, then burning the tents.

In response, thousands of people gathered around the square and park. The police attacked with water cannon mounted on vehicles in a major escalation. They attacked protesters, chasing them into side streets in downtown Istanbul past the many hotels and stores in the area. Those who tried non-violent sit-ins were beaten, including two members of parliament.

Protests spread all over Turkey, with participants counted in the tens of thousands. The issue now was the growing repression by the Islamist regime. Large areas were filled with pepper spray, tear gas, and the water cannons firing several times a minute. Many apartment buildings were deluged in gas.

Little or no provocation was offered by the crowd. Demonstrators charged that police undercover agents entered the protest areas, threw stones, and then went back behind the police lines.

Oppositionists were especially outraged by the use of ambulances driving down streets to clear the crowds. Another tactic was to set tents ablaze and then claim the demonstrators had started the fires.
The political implications of the protests are not clear. They are probably unlikely to shake the determination of the government. “We do not have a government, we have Tayyip Erdogan,” political scientist and protester Koray Caliskan told the Reuters news agency.

Erdogan is very arrogant, has a strong base of support, and enjoys the full support of the Obama Administration. The Turkish economy is generally considered to be strong. Erdogan will have to decide whether to slow down the Islamization process—he has been clever at being patient—or perhaps will, on the contrary, speed it up claiming his regime is facing sabotage.

A New Muslim Vision: Rebuilding Solomon’s Temple Together

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

The unique importance of the Temple Mount to Judaism and to Islam makes the location vulnerable to tensions and conflicts between Jews and Muslims. Usually, these incidents originate in rumors such as: “The Jews are coming today to bomb the mosques and build their Third Temple.” Obviously, false accusations and baseless suspicions like these turn the site from a holy place of prayer and love into a site of violent political demonstrations. And, consequently, potential escalation of tension brings more restrictions and discomfort to all. Who benefits from this? Surely not the believers.

While the Israeli government ensures limited public access to the Temple Mount regardless of religious beliefs, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the place, which is known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. Otherwise, the government has prohibited everyone except Muslims from worshipping there since 1967, due to security concerns. Nevertheless, Muslims, too, are occasionally restricted. The Jordanian Waqf which administers the site has restricted non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque since the year 2000. What’s more, non-Muslim religious symbols are not allowed to be worn while entering the site.

Freedom of worship is an essential issue. The Temple Mount, where the First and Second Temples stood, is the holiest place to the people of Israel. However, it is no less holy to both Muslims and Christians. Since this is a location that God has announced to be a “house of prayer for all nations,” it should be a place of festivity for all believers. As all who call on the God of Abraham are brothers, Jews and Christians should be able to offer prayers there in dignity and peace along with Muslims. To cast believers out from such a place, to prevent worship there, is a heinous and, quite frankly, cruel policy, which is an offense not only to men, but to Islam. God Himself condemns anyone who forbids worship:

“And who is more unjust than he who forbids that in places for the worship of God, God’s name should be celebrated?-whose zeal is (in fact) to ruin them? It was not fitting that such should themselves enter them except in fear. For them there is nothing but disgrace in this world, and in the world to come, an exceeding torment.” (Koran 2:214)

Likewise, the Tanakh declares the will of God to make this unique spot a common sanctuary where all people learn to coexist and pray together:

“For then will I turn clear language to the Nations, that they may all call upon the name of God, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zephaniah 3:9)

Anywhere one prays to the One and Only Almighty God is a house of prayer. Therefore, it is an atrocious thing to forbid anyone from praying at the Temple Mount. The longings of Bnei Israel to pray in that place can never be an offense to a Muslim. On the contrary, it is very pleasant to see Jewish people praying at the Temple Mount. Indeed, all the faithful people should be able to pray there. As a matter of fact, in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and others houses of worship, foreign tourists often come and pray. Some perform their religious obligations according to their own faith, and it is something quite beautiful to see.

As a devout Muslim, I take pleasure when Jews pray to Almighty God, and their praying anywhere in the world, including at the Temple Mount, would be a glad tiding for me as well.

As a devout Muslim, it would be a joy for me to see Prophet Solomon’s Temple rebuilt as well. No, you did not hear me wrong. Prophet Solomon’s Temple being rebuilt in all its magnificence and glory would be a great delight for me, as it would be to any Muslim. Under different circumstances, in an atmosphere of trust, love and brotherhood, Muslims would welcome this with enthusiasm. The Temple of Solomon is also a historically important place, and rebuilding it would be a wonderful occasion for all believers to contemplate. Every Muslim, every believer, will want to experience the spirit of those days again, and strive to bring the beauty of those days back to life. Actually, it is everyone’s aspiration for that city to be adorned, to be beautified, and to regain the magnificent glory it had in the days of the Prophet Solomon.

Solomon’s Temple being rebuilt does not entail any harm to these shrines. So I beg my Muslim brothers and sisters not to take my words in a direction that I do not intend. They should not feel unease at all, because the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock will stand until the Last Day. Nobody will be able to harm them, because they are under the protection of God.

There is a broad expanse of land around the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The land there is quite convenient in that respect, and the Temple can be placed just a little way from Qubbat As-Sakhrah, and a little ahead of Masjid el-Aqsa.

The Prophet Solomon—King Solomon as the Jews call him—is a prophet to Muslims too. All Muslims have profound love for him. Prophet Solomon had a superior understanding of beauty and aesthetics, and no doubt, rebuilding of his Temple in its original form would be a splendid undertaking. Decorated exactly as it was, with the same beautiful ornaments, covered in gold, adorned with fruit trees and beautiful gardens, and restored to its former glory, would be splendid!

It is of course very exciting to remember those beautiful days, to rebuild this beautiful compound, and let this beautiful prayer house be open to all. This very much excites me as a Muslim and excites other believers as well. The very thought of Christians, Jews and Muslims cooperating to rebuild this house of worship, together hand in hand, and worshipping there together, is a matter of joy.

Think of the waste of energy and resources consumed all over the world by the contention between Arabs and Jews, which could be used to beautify these holy places, to put them in a brilliant state, instead! There is plenty of space, and there are overwhelmingly sufficient resources for everyone to live there in peace and tranquility and enjoy their freedom of worship.

How have we allowed these unending wars, sporadic clashes, security walls, unnecessary discrimination and restrictions to bar us from being able to embrace each other as brothers? Why do we take it for granted that we are under any obligation to perpetuate these senseless conflicts? Why does everyone simply presume that this is the way things are meant to be? We all want suffering to end and peace to prevail in the region! Obviously we cannot achieve this peace as long as we lack the spirit of unity.

The Jews have the exact same vision, with the Third Temple being a center for all believers, not only for Jews:

“Also the aliens, that join themselves to God, to minister unto Him, and to love the name of God, to be His servants… Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:6-7)

We will rebuild—not only the Temple of Solomon, but those of all the prophets too. As a matter of fact, apart from the Prophet Solomon’s Temple, the other prayer houses of other prophets, the places where they inhabited, should be rebuilt as well. The places where they worshiped should be restored and glorified. Similarly, they should be opened, and Christians, Muslims and Jews should be allowed to visit them at the same time. The places where the Prophets Abraham, Joseph, Isaac, Jacob, Aaron lived should be restored and beautified also.

The main entrance to the Old City is the Jaffa Gate. This gate was built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538. The name in Arabic, Bab el-Halil, or Hebron Gate, means “The Beloved,” and refers to Prophet Abraham. In the entrance hall of the Gate, there is a stone on which the following text is engraved: “There is only one God and Abraham is his friend.” It is written this way because Jews and Christians were also using this gate along with Muslims, and the text refers to our common belief in the Prophet Abraham. So this should be the spirit in this site: We all worship the same One God and we are all children of Prophet Abraham!

Let us embrace each other with respect and love! Let us talk together, and envision better days in which we can all pray, and unite in celebration and brotherhood in this Prayer House of our blessed Prophet Solomon, and praise the glory of Almighty God together! Let every Christian, every Muslim, every Jew unite in this one godly desire! Let us endeavor to achieve this together, and let us believe that it is possible for everyone to perform their prayers in joy and peace!

Hitler Honored in Upscale Instanbul Mall

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

SEE UPDATE AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE

People who have been paying attention know that relations between Israel and Turkey have been eroding, but not many realize that Turkey is now not only openly hostile to the Jewish State, but also to the Jewish people.

On Friday, January 11, a Turkish citizen took a picture which shows exactly how belligerent Turkey has become.  The picture is of a huge poster with the words, “Who Would You Like to Meet if You Could?” and the last name, and only photograph, is of Adolf Hitler.  The other choices include Suleiman I, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Napolean Bonaparte, the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Vladimir Lenin, Boris Yeltsin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Jackson.  But only Hitler warranted a picture, a huge one at that.

According to Ege Berk Korkut, an active Turkish writer and blogger, the sign was placed in the Sapphire Mall by the owners, a group of Turkish businessmen who are devoted to Erdogan. Korkut explained to The Jewish Press that the Sapphire is an ultra-upscale mall in Levent, the wealthiest neighborhood in Istanbul. The Sapphire building is one of the tallest buildings in Europe.

Korkut said that while a few people have complained about the banner – and the management has refused to remove it – most shoppers just glance at it and continue shopping.  Ho-hum, nothing startling or even mildly interesting about a huge photograph of Adolf Hitler hanging in the Turkish equivalent of Via Bellagio in Las Vegas or The Shops at Columbus Circle in New York City.

And it is not only Israel and the Jews towards which Turkey has turned its back.

The Iranian Ambassador to Turkey, Bahman Hussein Pour, discussed the close and ever-increasing Iranian-Turkish relations in an article in the January 14 MehrNews.com, an Iranian news agency.

Hussein Pour pointed out that while Western countries, “especially the U.S.,” have been pressuring Turkey to reduce economic relations with Iran, “Iran-Turkey trade volume exceeds $21b this year for the first time.”  The Iranian Ambassador concluded that Turkish-Iranian relations are irreversible.

In addition to the trade relations between the two countries which has more than quadrupled since 2008, Hussein Pour also explained that “more than 15 Turkish provinces have become sister provinces with Iranian ones.”

The timing of the statements is important, as many had predicted that relations between the neighboring nations would deteriorate over the violence in Syria, which also shares a border with Turkey. Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan has repeatedly called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, while Iran is the principle backer of the Assad regime.  Nevertheless, Iran has benefited greatly from Turkey’s import of Iranian oil, and Turkey has prospered from millions of Iranian tourists.  In a move that benefits both countries, hundreds of Turkish movies have been filmed in northern Iran.

This cozy relationship has developed despite the very public love letters President Barack Obama sent to Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan.  Middle East analyst Barry Rubin wrote a telling piece in the spring about the one-sided relationship between Obama and Erdogan. In addition to recounting Obama’s amorous actions towards the leader of Turkey who has turned that giant ship away from the West and into the harbor of the Islamist world, Rubin pointed out that in 2010 Erdogan made a “deal with Iran that sabotaged the delicate U.S. drive to toughen anti-Iran sanctions.”  And despite that blow to U.S. policy and insult to Obama, the U.S. president gave Turkey a waiver on implementing the Iranian sanctions.  Rubin called it “remarkable,” others might call it alarming.

With a huge flattering photograph of Hitler hanging in the fanciest mall in Istanbul, and Erdogan inching towards BFF status with Ahmadinejad, perhaps it is time for this administration to rethink putting daylight between the U.S. and Israel, and instead start putting it between the U.S. and Turkey.

UPDATEEarly Thursday morning, January 16, Korkut contacted The Jewish Press to say that the banner was removed.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/hitler-honored-in-upscale-instanbul-mall/2013/01/15/

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