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July 25, 2016 / 19 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

Former Turkish Military Attache to Israel Recants ‘Confession’

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Former Turkish Air Force Chief Akin Ozturk may have “confessed” alleged involvement in last week’s failed coup attempt earlier in the day on Monday, but he had a very different account to share later in the day when he made his statement to prosecutors.

Turkey’s former military attache to Israel insisted that he was “not the person who planned or led the coup,” according to a report by the BBC. The state-run Anadolu news agency earlier had quoted him as telling his interrogators that he had “acted with the intention to stage a coup.”

Ozturk served as Turkey’s military liaison to Jerusalem from 1996 to 1998. He and 26 senior officers were charged with treason and remanded in custody by a Turkish court Monday, the Anadolu news agency reported, though he denied involvement.

“I don’t know who planned or directed it,” he reportedly told prosecutors before appearing in court in Ankara, adding that perhaps the Gulen movement had a hand in it.

“But I cannot tell who within the armed forces organized and carried it out. I have no information. I have fought against this structure,” he said, challenging his accusers to produce evidence proving his involvement. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for reinstatement of the country’s death penalty, ostensibly in response to the “demands of the public” — but as he openly acknowledged at a public rally, also due to his own desires to see the return of capital punishment.

“Your request can never be rejected by our government,” Erdogan told the thousands of people gathered at a massive rally over the weekend. “But of course it will take a parliamentary decision for that to take action in the form of a constitutional measure so leaders will have to get together and discuss it,” he told CNN subsequently in an exclusive interview. “If they accept to discuss it, then I as president will approve any decision that comes out of the parliament,” he added.

Probably the first candidate for death row would be Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, if the United States accedes to Erdogan’s demand to extradite him to Turkey, although if Ankara approves the death penalty, its application for membership to the European Union will be denied with finality, according to a statement on Monday by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Erdogan blamed the failed coup on the U.S.-based Islamic cleric and has said he will measure the quality of America’s alliance with Turkey by its response to the request. Turkish officials have said Gulen formed a “parallel structure” in Turkey to overthrow the government.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded that he would not stand in the way of the extradition, if Turkey can provide concrete evidence of Gulen’s role in the attempted coup. “There must be a legal basis for such a move,” Kerry said.

During the attempted coup military forces shut down national access to social media, and sealed off the two bridges in Istanbul that link the European and Asian continents over the Bosphorus on Friday. They also shut down Istanbul’s main airport, and sent tanks to the parliament building in Ankara.

So far more than 200 people have died in the unrest that gripped the country during the attempt to overthrow the Erdogan government — and in the shock waves that continue in its aftermath. The deputy mayor of Istanbul remains in critical condition after an assassination attempt Monday in the city’s Sisli district. An unknown attacker shot the deputy mayor in the head during the day, but it was not clear whether the attack was linked to the failed coup attempt.

Hana Levi Julian

Turkish Tourism Worst Casualty of Failed Coup, Terrorism

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Turkish Hoteliers Federation head Osman Ayık told the Hürriyet Daily News that Turkey must improve its reputation abroad in order for its troubled tourism sector to prosper again. “The confidence factor that Turkey projected abroad has eroded,” Ayık said. “There is a certain perception in Europe about Turkey and arrivals from the continent have seen a sharp decrease. We need to take steps to reverse that trend.”

Tourism is an essential part of the Turkish economy, employing 8% of the country’s workforce, and it has taken a severe blow from the failed military coup this past weekend, and earlier in this year of relentless terrorist attacks, with a 10% decline in arriving tourists in the first quarter of 2016. According to Euromonitor International, the number of international visitors to Turkey is expected to decline by 5.2% overall in 2016.

Since the coup attempt, the Federal Aviation Administration has not allowed US airlines to fly to or from Istanbul and Ankara, and has blocked all carriers, foreign and domestic, from flying into the US from Turkey even indirectly. The State Department warned US citizens to avoid travel to the tourism sites in southeastern Turkey, and the UK Foreign Office issued an advisory to its citizens against travel to Turkey because terrorism threats are still high there.

Roenen Karaso, a VP in Israel’s tourism company ISSTA, told The Marker that Turkey is “a dead destination. Today we’re talking about bottom prices for mini-vacations to Turkey for 40% less compared with last year. For instance, three nights in motels, all included, in Topkapi or Kremlin in Antalya (Turkey’s resort destination on its southern Mediterranean region, known as the Turquoise Coast for its blue waters) will cost a family (two parents with two children) $400, compared with $600 a year ago — and there are still no takers.”

Karaso said that even connecting flights, the bread and butter of Istanbul’s international airports which until the coup continued to thrive despite the threat of terrorism, “are starting to show a decline of about 10% in orders compared with the previous Sunday.”

For Russian, European and Israeli vacationers, Turkey is not in the cards this summer, which will go down as Turkey’s lost summer. Efraim Kramer, CEO of tourism website Eshet Tours, told The Marker that tourism rates in Turkey “have come down because the Russians have stopped traveling to Turkey, and the Germans and English travel there less as well. We’re seeing an international phenomenon of tourists from Christian countries avoiding Muslim countries — we’ve seen it in Egypt, Tunisia and Marocco, and now in Turkey, too.”

Ayık told the Hürriyet Daily News that “the most fundamental lesson to be learned is to be in harmony with the world. It is the gist of our job. Our sector is one that goes hand-in-hand with peace. That’s why Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s statement that we will increase our friends and decrease our enemies will have a positive reflection on our sector. No matter how beautiful your country might be, if you don’t get along well with your neighborhood that means serious trouble for tourism.”

JNi.Media

Israel ‘Assumes Reconciliation to Continue’ With Turkey

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Israel is watching closely as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to reassert control over the government and his nation after an attempted coup this past weekend. Officials are particularly concerned, given the long months of talks both nations invested in re-establishing the recent diplomatic ties between Ankara and Jerusalem.

The death toll in the weekend violence has risen to 290, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, including more than 100 who participated in the coup. At least 6,000 people have been arrested after the failed coup — half of which are judges and prosecutors; half are military officers and soldiers. Shots were heard Sunday at Istanbul’s second largest airport and at a military base in the central Konya province, according to local sources.

Among those in custody is Colonel Ali Yazici, the top military aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, General Bekir Ercan Van, commander of Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey — used by U.S.-led coalition aircraft for raids against Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists in Syria and Iraq — and former Chief of Air Staff Akin Ozturk, who served as military attache to Israel from 1996 to 1998.

Erdogan suggested the possibility that perhaps the United States had had a role in formulating the coup attempt — a suggestion firmly and swiftly rejected on Saturday by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Israel, meanwhile, is closely monitoring the situation since having completed a reconciliation agreement to restore diplomatic ties with Turkey after a six-year freeze barely three weeks ago.

Speaking at Sunday’s weekly government cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that “Israel and Turkey recently agreed on a reconciliation process between them.

“We assume that this process will continue without any connection to the dramatic events in Turkey over the weekend,” he said.

Netanyahu went on to note, “we also experienced the shocking terrorist attack in Nice and it underscores the need for a unified and aggressive approach in the face of the murderous terrorism that is attacking the entire world.”

Last Thursday night, a Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist drove a massive truck down the main boulevard in the southern French Riviera city running down the thousands who were celebrating the nation’s Bastille Day, the equivalent of the U.S. Fourth of July holiday while opening fire at other hapless victims along the way. At the end of the nightmare, 84 people were dead, including 10 children, and 202 more were injured, many with critical injuries.

The prime minister said he sent condolences on behalf of the government and people of Israel and his wishes for a recovery to the wounded, via French President Francois Hollande.

“The Palestinian Authority also sent condemnations and condolences, but with one difference: Here, not only do they not condemn vehicular terrorism, they encourage it. They glorify the terrorists responsible and finance them and their families if the terrorists are dead,” Netanyahu said.

“Terrorism is terrorism, whether it is in France or Israel, and there must be a unified approach of condemnation and war on this terrorism – here and everywhere else.”

Hana Levi Julian

What If They Commissioned an Anti-Settlements Exhibition and the Pictures Came Out Pastoral and Innocent?

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Ragnar Kjartansson is a widely exhibited Icelandic performance artist. In a 2002 work called Death and the Children, he dressed up in a dark suit and carried a scythe, leading young children through a cemetery, answering their questions. In a 2006 live performance titled Sorrow Conquers Happiness, he wore a tuxedo and played the role of a 1940s nightclub crooner with an orchestra, singing, “Sorrow conquers happiness” over and over as the music swelled. In 2011, Kjartansson won the inaugural Malcolm Award at Performa 11, the visual art performance biennial, for his 12-hour work Bliss, which was performed without a break at the Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with repeated performances of the finale of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro,” the moment when the count gets down on one knee and asks his wife for forgiveness, which she grants in an aria. Icelandic tenor Kristjan Johannson played the count.

For his exhibition titled Architecture and Morality, at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv this season, Kjartansson, according to a press release, was going to “create a new, ambitious body of paintings within the specific context of Israel. He will spend two weeks painting the urban landscapes in the West Bank ‘En plein air’ (a fancy French term the press release misspelled and which means ‘outdoors’) akin to his performative painting practice over the past few years.”

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

So Ragnar Kjartansson took his canvas and stand and paints and brushes and went en plein air to various Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, and what he brought back was, well, not so bad. He painted what he saw (a paraphrase on the New Yorker’s surrealist Gahan Wilson’s book of horror cartoons), and apparently he saw none of the blood curdling evil normally associated with the term “settlements” on the corner of south Tel Aviv’s Tsadok Hacohen and Kalisher Streets, which is where the CCA is located.

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Or, as Galia Yahav put it in Ha’aretz this weekend, “The houses are rendered separately, one per painting. All of them are drawn from the front and fill the canvas in the same way and from the same distance. The style is blatantly amateurish and naïve, as though from a hobby group, deliberately bland, with obedient brushstrokes and a filling of blank spaces, turgid coloration and pedantically mimetic attention to detail.”

But, most upsetting, from Yahav’s point of view, “the result is a small, suburban neighborhood of villas, completely artificial, in which little Israeli flags attached to parked cars wave in the breeze and larger ones flop from the windows of houses. Without addresses or names of specific settlements, this artistic tactic poses with feigned innocence in the likeness of a 19th-century pilgrimage, in which the Holy Land is portrayed through misty eyes.”

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

In other words, this cutting-edge performance artist, who was going to do to the settlements what Edvard Munch did the screaming, came away from those colonialist, apartheid-dispensing satanic neighborhoods with a fairly bland set of impressions, which is what one could expect from suburban bedroom communities anywhere.

“Perhaps the idea was to depict a generic quality of life rife with sated insensitivity – architecture as amorality,” Yahav tried to dig up some evil from under those middle class shaggy rugs. “Or perhaps it’s the realization of violent fantasy through painting: the occupied territories without Palestinians, a heaven on earth.”

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Curator Chen Tamir wrote that Kjartansson’s settlements paintings “tell a story about the banality of everyday life amid complex political turmoil.” Maybe. But it ain’t in those paintings. Indeed, Tamir conceded that the entire Kjartansson exhibition “is a bold statement on art’s futility in the face of social and political strife.”

Or maybe, just maybe, the Icelandic artist discovered and then made a point leftwing art critics can’t afford to admit: that things in those Jewish settlements and in all of Judea and Samaria, just aren’t nearly as bad as they are in many other, more troubled places, such as London, Paris, Brussels, Nice and Istanbul.

JNi.Media

Turkey Under Martial Law; Coup Attempt by Turkish Military

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

Gunfire was heard in the Turkish capital of Ankara late Friday as the Turkish military announced it was seizing control of the country, Reuters reported.

The military released a statement saying its armed forces have ‘fully seized control’ Turkish state television was seized by an entity calling itself the “Turkish Peace Council,” and the military chief of staff was taken into custody.

It was not possible to reach Israeli or U.S. contacts via social media; international journalists said social media access has been blocked.

Some 2200 U.S. troops and 1500 foreign U.S. citizens were warned to “shelter in place and stay indoors” late Thursday night.

Military tanks were seen rolling through the streets and low-flying jets were flying sorties overhead, eyewitnesses told Reuters.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that a group within the military has indeed engaged in an attempted coup.

Eyewitnesses told international media they saw the jets and helicopters flying above Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and an ancient metropolis straddling both the continents of Europe and Asia, once known to historians as Constantinople.

According to the Turkish Daily Sabah website, both bridges in Istanbul that span the mightly Bosphorus strait that separates the two continents have been closed to traffic.

As of five pm Friday afternoon New York time, it was not yet clear what the outcome will be, but it is clear that whatever the outcome, the ramifications for the State of Israel will be serious either way.

Israel and Turkey had just reached a reconciliation agreement barely two weeks ago after a six year freeze in diplomatic ties. There are numerous Israeli business owners, artists and musicians who live in Turkey and/or travel to and from the country.

It remains to be seen how the current state of affairs will affect Israelis, Jews and Americans who are currently in Turkey, as well as those who regularly do business with their Turkish counterparts and travel in and out of the country.

Hana Levi Julian

UNESCO to Question Jewish Ties to Western Wall in Arab-Sponsored Draft Resolution

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

United Nations Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog organization, expressed concern today that UNESCO may fuel anti-Jewish incitement and violence, and the increasing PA Arabs’ denial of Jewish religious and cultural rights, by adopting an Arab-sponsored draft resolution that denies Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Western Wall and Temple Mount.

The Jordanian-Palestinian draft text on the Old City of Jerusalem was submitted to the 21-member World Heritage Committee, which meets over the next 10 days in Istanbul for its 40th annual session.

“This inflammatory resolution risks encouraging the past year’s wave of Arab stabbing and shooting attacks in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, which began with false claims that Israel was planning to damage holy Muslim shrines,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Under the battle cry of “Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger,” incitement in September by Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad sparked a wave of terror attacks across Israel which began on the Temple Mount and eastern Jerusalem. At least 40 have been killed and more than  500 wounded. The Arab attacks include 155 stabbings, 96 shootings, 45 car ramming attacks, and one bus bombing.

The draft now before UNESCO includes the following problematic language:

  • The draft refers ten times to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, exclusively using the Islamic term for Temple Mount, without any mention that it is the holiest site in Judaism. This is part of a larger campaign at the UN, and particularly in UNESCO, to Islamize sites historically belonging to other faiths.
  • This year’s proposed draft is even more extreme than the resolution adopted in 2015. The new version three times uses the Islamic term Buraq Plaza while placing the parallel name “Western Wall Plaza” in scare quotes, implying skepticism or disbelief concerning what is the most hallowed site for Jewish worshippers over two millennia, due to the ancient wall’s connection to the Holy Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 CE. Last year’s resolution also sought to diminish the Jewish connection by putting the name Western Wall in parentheses after the Islamic term, yet the new use of quotation marks intensifies the denialism that was famously promoted by Yasser Arafat’s negotiator at Camp David, and which continues in Palestinian Authority statements.
  • Israel, which is referred to throughout as “the Occupying Power” in Jerusalem, is called to restore “the historic Status Quo,” with the new word “historic”—a change from last year’s text—implying a reversal of any changes since 1967.
  • Jerusalem’s light rail, which is used daily by thousands of Arab residents among others, is accused of having a “damaging effect” on the “visual integrity” and “authentic character” of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem—even though the track passes through an existing highway and only facilitates transportation for visitors of all faiths.

The 21 members on the UNESCO world heritage committee are: Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Good luck to all of us.

Jewish Press Staff

ISIS Car Bombing Kills 100+ in Baghdad, Third Attack in a Week

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

For the third time in seven days, Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists murdered innocent civilians Sunday in a deadly suicide bombing at a shopping mall in a Shi’ite neighborhood in Baghdad, in another bid for world attention.

At least 115 people were killed, including 50 children, and nearly 200 more were injured when a car bomb exploded Saturday night, ripping through the multi-level shopping mall where stores and a gym were located.

According to Fox News, families were at a cafe Saturday night in the mall to share the Iftar meal (breaking the daily Ramadan fast) while watching this weekend’s Euro 2016 soccer tournament when the bomb exploded.

A second bomb blew up an outdoor market in southeastern Baghdad, leaving five dead and 16 injured.

Ironically, most of the victims wounded and killed by ISIS during the holiest month in the Islamic calendar were themselves Muslims.

Last Friday night in Bangladesh, at least 20 hostages and two police officers were brutally hacked to death in the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s diplomatic district. The victims included three U.S. college students as well as Italians, Japanese, Bangladeshis, and one person from India.

Six terrorists came in at 8:45 pm with bags loaded with weaponry that included grenades and rifles, yelling Allahu Akbar! (the Islamic war cry, God is Great!). They were hunting foreigners, they told the restaurant staff, explaining locals were being contaminated with the foreign taste for alcohol and immodest clothing. More than 20 others were injured.

The Bangladesh government insists Da’esh was not involved in the attack, saying it was a local terrorist group; but ISIS has already taken responsibility for the slaughter.

Last Tuesday (June 28) three Da’esh terrorists also attacked Europe’s third-largest airport, the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, killing 44 people and wounding more than 140 others. One American suffered minor injuries, according to a U.S. official. But once again, most of the victims were Muslims.

Two of the three attackers were identified as Rakim Bulgarov and Vadim Osmanov, according to the official Turkish Anadolu news agency, quoting a source in the state prosecutor’s office who insisted on anonymity. The terrorists were reportedly from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. They infiltrated into Turkey via the Syrian border about a month prior, after arriving in Raqqa, the so-called “capital” of the self-declared caliphate of the terrorist group.

The team was allegedly directed by Ahmed Chatayev, according to U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, who told CNN the terrorist, known as “Ahmed One-Arm” is from the North Caucasus region in Russia. Chatayev is allegedly a top lieutenant for the minister of war for ISIS operations, CNN reported. The third attacker was not identified.

It was the eighth suicide bombing in Turkey in a nation which places a high premium on its tourism industry, a country which plays host to 39.4 million tourists each year.

The bombers entered the airport, opened fire and then detonated explosives vests — a slaughter strategy similar to that used by the ISIS terrorists during the attacks at the Paris Bataclan concert hall last November, and Belgium’s Zaventem International Airport in Brussels this past March.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/isis-car-bombing-kills-100-in-baghdad-third-attack-in-a-week/2016/07/03/

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