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Posts Tagged ‘Mavi Marmara’

The Diplomacy of Rabbis (in Turkey and Beyond)

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

We are all aware of the dismal state of Turkish-Israel relations, which deteriorated as a result of a long line of events: Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009), the Davos meeting between Peres and Erdoğan (January 2009) and the cancellation of the joint naval maneuver (that was to take place in October 2009). The Mavi Marmara incident (May 2010), plunged the relationship between the two countries to a new low.

Neither country hosts the other’s ambassadors. The investigative committees that functioned over the past two years failed to bridge differences of opinion. Each has demands of the other and the state of affairs between them seems to be “stuck”.

Yet, there are many people in Israel andTurkey who are very dissatisfied with the present condition of relations between the countries and long for the warmth and brotherhood that characterized the cooperation in many areas in the past.

Despite the politics, over the past two years the trade relations between the two countries actually expanded. While El Al has stopped flying to Turkey, the Turkish airline maintains a number of flights every day between the two countries and the planes are full.

And behind the scenes, some Turkish friends of Israel are working to improve the relationship between the two countries. One such person is Adnan Oktar, a Turk and a Muslim author who has been, for the past twenty-five years, publishing books and articles under the pen-name, Harun Yahya, dealing with issues regarding Darwinism, Communism, history, philosophy and religion.

Oktar has accumulated a good amount of support over the years. According to the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of Jordan, in 2010 he was among the fifty most influential people in the Islamic world today, for his dissemination of creationism in an Islamic context and other extensively distributed publications on Islamic topics.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Oktar published a book in which he claims that true Islam rejects terror and since then he has been endeavoring to promote inter-faith dialog and to encourage mutual understanding. In his articles and books he often quotes the prophets of Israeland the vision of redemption and global peace that they gave to the world.

Oktar has accumulated more than a few rivals who try anything to silence him: He was accused, for example, of being Holocaust denier because a book under the title “The Holocaust Lie” was falsely published under his pen-name in 1995.

Because of his public support for the right of the Jewish people to live on the land of its fathers with sovereignty, independence and in true peace with its neighbors, whether Arab, Turkish, Iranians or others, his detractors claim that he is actually an agent of the Mossad.

As an Islamic thinker, Oktar prefers to conduct a dialog with believing Jews, because he finds a common cultural basis with them. To him, a God-fearing Jew is his brother, as is any person in the world who believes in God. Abraham – the “Father of Many Nations” – is the ancient father of all monotheists, and therefore there is no reason that they should bicker over anything. Peace, brotherhood and cooperation between people are the supreme values in the eyes of the Creator, and therefore war, conflict and death are contrary to His will.

These beliefs moved Oktar to invite to Turkey a delegation of religious Knesset Members and other notables, for a series of meetings with Turkey’s political echelon,  specifically the religious Justice and Development Party (the AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002.

The Israeli delegation included Members of Knesset Rabbi Nisim Ze’ev and Rabbi Yitzhak Cohen, who is also deputy minister of the treasury. Other prominent religious figures included the rabbi ofGeneva, Rabbi Dr. Yitzhak Dayan and Rabbi Benjamin Abramson, an adviser to the Sanhedrin. I participated as well.

Oktar and his organization provided complete funding for the meetings and members of both delegations including flights, accommodations, transportation and strictly kosher food for the Israelis.

The delegation conducted two days of hearings, one inAnkara,Turkey’s capital, and one in Istanbul. The discussions included dozens of people from the boiling cauldron of Turkish politics, most of whom are members of the AKP.

It is important to note that the AKP is not homogeneous. It has many shades and variations. Just try to imagine a religious party in Israel that includes Satmar, Shas, Degel Hatorah, Aguda, Mafdal (now the Jewish Home), as well as the Conservatives and the Reform. The wolf will live with the lamb and the tiger will lie down with the kid before such a party is established in Israel.

Liberman to Turkish Journalists: No Apologies for Boat Takeover

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Turkish journalists that Israel has “no reason to apologize” for the Mavi Marmara incident.

In a meeting on Sunday with the journalists in Jerusalem, Liberman said that Israel is ready to discuss the incident and would consider the issue of an apology as part of a package including other issues, such as Iran, Gaza and Hamas, the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reported. He said current developments in the region made it important for Turkey and Israel to normalize relations.

Liberman called the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, a “clear provocation, and it was our right to protect the lives of our soldiers. Frankly speaking, Israel has no reason to apologize,” he said.

Nine Turkish nationals, including a Turkish-American man, were killed in clashes during the May 31, 2010 raid by Israeli commandos.

It was Liberman’s first meeting with a Turkish delegation since the incident.

Turkey’s Intelligence…Oops…

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

My oldest son, Elie, spent today in the Reserves and will be in for a few weeks later this summer. It is what happens when they finish their service in the standing army – a yearly commitment to stay ready; to be prepared. He dropped me off early in the morning so that he could take the car and save hours on a hot bus. Much later, Elie called to say he was on his way back to get me. When he arrived, he told me about the new facilities they had built on the base since the last time he was there – the comfortable chairs, and the air conditioning.

Most of the presentations involved PowerPoint with a speaker guiding them through the various topics. July in Israel – it’s hot but the room was pleasantly air conditioned – if, like Elie, you sat right under the machine. The problem was, the power kept going out and so each time, the PowerPoint presentation was interrupted and they waited several minutes for the power to return. Finally, the last speaker came up and once again, the power went out again, “you’re out of luck this time” the presenter told everyone, “my presentation doesn’t need PowerPoint.”

And the last thing Elie he told me about his day was, “you’re going to like this one.”

Without names or ranks…one of the officers told Elie his name was on Turkey’s list of Israeli officers recently published. These are names of men that would face prosecution for their actions on the Mavi Marmara flotilla fiasco. Turkey believes they have a right to arrest and put these Israeli officers on trial.

Of course, Turkey is ignoring the fact that their civilians attacked our soldiers but, anyway – there’s a bigger problem…at least in this. The officer so named – wasn’t on the Mavi Marmara. He’s an artillery soldier. He wasn’t even there…so much for Turkey’s intelligence – military or otherwise.

One really has to wonder how many of the other names are inaccurate. Turkey’s military intelligence – now there’s a contradiction in terms.

A Lesson About Peace from the Turks

Monday, May 28th, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/05/a-lesson-about-peace-from-the-turks/ In the early morning of May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which was carrying international activists in an attempt to break the blockade of Gaza. On board the ship was a contingent of approximately 40 members of the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH), who met the Israelis with ‘cold’ but deadly weapons — metal bars and pipes, knives, axes, etc.

Due to poor intelligence, the Israelis were not prepared for a violent reception, and actually landed on the deck carrying paintball guns and stun grenades. These ‘weapons’ had no effect on the IHH militants, and soon the Israelis found themselves in danger of their lives. Several were seriously injured. At this point they drew their deadly weapons and fired in self-defense. Nine of the IHH members were killed and one critically injured.

A UN commission ruled that the blockade and enforcement thereof were legal, but that Israel used ‘excessive force’. Since the alternative to the said use of force would have been the death of the Israelis, it’s hard to see how they could have done otherwise. Of course this is the UN, and the fact that they found the blockade itself legal under international law is remarkable.

As I wrote at the time, the commission bent over backwards to find some culpability on the Israeli side:

Deadly force was not used by the commandos until live fire (at least from guns taken from captured Israelis and possibly from other weapons, although this is still not clear) was directed at them. In other words, knives and metal bars were not initially considered deadly weapons, although of course they are. There is no doubt that some of the Israelis would have been killed if they had not used their guns.

Options could not have been ‘reassessed’ when seriously wounded commandos were already in the hands of the IHH thugs. Considering the degree to which the Israelis were outnumbered, that firearms were in the possession of the passengers, and that several of the Israelis had been captured, the decision to shoot to kill was understandable.

In any event, the Turks were and are furious.

On Wednesday an Istanbul prosecutor submitted an indictment seeking life sentences for four former Israeli military commanders in connection with the raid, including the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff at the time, Gabi Ashkenazi…

The Turkish prosecutor proposed charging Ashkenazi, along with the heads of the Israeli navy, air force and military intelligence. They face nine consecutive life terms in prison for “inciting to kill monstrously, and by torturing,” the Turkish news agency said…

The indictments will reportedly include a demand for 10 life sentences for each officer for their involvement in the deaths of the nine Turkish citizens and the critical injury of a tenth citizen, who was left comatose.

Israel supposedly offered to compensate the families of the dead and express ‘regret’. But the Turks want an admission of guilt.

Which they are not going to get, at least not from the Netanyahu government.

There is good reason to think that the Mavi Marmara affair was orchestrated at the highest levels of the Turkish government, in order to embarrass Israel and to weaken, if not break, the blockade. And in this it was successful, insofar as the US response was to force Israel to end the embargo on goods (except for actual military-use items) into Gaza, ending Israel’s attempt to bring down the Hamas regime by economic means.

But there is more to it than simple diplomatic warfare. Turkish pride implies that it is absolutely unacceptable for a Jew to kill a Turk, under any circumstances.

Indeed, this is an issue in the Arab and Muslim world generally. The Islamic principle of Muslim superiority is damaged — the world is turned upside down — when Muslims are defeated in warfare by Jews, Christians, or infidels. So the fact that the Jews of Israel have beaten their Muslim enemies consistently since 1948 is infuriating and intolerable to them.

This is one of the reasons that the kind of compromise peace plans offered by the US and the Israeli Left are consistently rejected by the Arabs. The only end to the conflict acceptable to their ideology is a total surrender by the insouciant Jews. This is why Yasser Arafat chanted “with blood and with spirit we will redeem you, Palestine.” For Arafat, only blood would do.

Turkey Blocks Israel from NATO Summit Over Mavi Marmara

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Turkey will block Israel from participating in a NATO summit next month because the Jewish state has not responded for the killing of Turks who attacked Israeli naval officers boarding the illegal flotilla Mavi Marmara in May 2010.

Nine Turks were killed by naval commandos, when they attacked and began beating the soldiers as they attempted to board the ship to prevent it from illegally entering Israel’s waters as part of a protest effort to reach Gaza. Seven Israeli soldiers were injured by the attacking demonstrators.

Mavi Marmara Activists Prepare Weapons for IDF Embarkation

Since then, relations between Turkey and Israel have rapidly declined, with Turkey expelling the Israeli envoy and discontinuing military cooperation.

Turkey has demanded an official apology for the incident, as well as financial compensation.

A Turkish official told Reuters that while Israel is a member of the NATO alliance, “we deem it not appropriate for Israel to be around,” until it concedes to Turkish demands.

ISM Exposed: How the ISM Sucker-Punched the IDF Again

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

I’ve spent the last eight years of my life as a journalist under cover and reporting on the inner workings of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), in the United States and abroad. I’ve been through their training orientations and I have their training manuals.  I operate a website where it lists the history, tactics, and media manipulations of the ISM and their leadership. I’ve also been responsible for the deportation of over 200 ISM activists from Israel, including some of their North American leadership.

At their orientation sessions in the US and UK in which I posed as an ISM volunteer, we were  instructed that our purpose was to harass the IDF in any way possible in order to frustrate their anti-terror operations. We were informed that the ISM coordinates with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the PFLP, which were constantly apprised of our locations in the villages. If we encountered armed terrorists while in the West Bank or Gaza, we were told, simply say hello to them and move on, as they were keenly aware that we were there to assist them.

In a recorded interview at the Ohio State national conference, Adam Shapiro, a co-founder of the ISM, personally told me there are plain-clothed Palestinian handlers at every ISM demonstration that direct the activities. I was also told about how ISM activists serve to draw sniper fire down on IDF soldiers when desired. Lisa Nessan, one of those ISM trainers, told me at an ISM Georgetown conference that standing as a human shield in front of an armed terrorist as he threw rocks or shot at an Israeli soldier was indeed considered “nonviolent.” Joseph Carr, a.k.a. Joseph Smith, another ISM trainer, told me in a recorded phone interview how he and Rachel Corrie retrieved the dead body of a Hamas terrorist in Gaza from a combat zone only weeks before she was killed by an IDF bulldozer. When asked whether he feared arrest by the IDF back then he blithely replied ‘no’ because he knew that Arab snipers would be there to fire at them. Rachel Corrie, who was trained by the ISM and had read their manual, also knew that Arab snipers would shoot at the IDF soldiers driving that bulldozer had they exited it to remove her.

The ISM uses a motto coined by the late Malcolm X – “By any means necessary” – in implementing what they consider to be revolutionary tactics in bringing down the Jewish state, which they see as a first step in bringing down Western democracy. Lying and media manipulation are encouraged and elevated to an art form. Talk of ‘nonviolent resistance’ is solely for media consumption, since the ISM promotes armed revolutionary ‘resistance’ against Israel by serving as human shields for terrorists.

And so, it is in this context that for two hours leading up to the two minute video of Colonel Shalom Eisner striking Danish ISM activist Andreas Ayas, the ISM used their bicycles, bodies, and even physical assaults to obstruct the IDF in a closed military zone and prevent anti-terror operations.  Earlier in the day, Colonel Eisner was struck by a stick-wielding ISM activist, leaving him with a couple of  broken fingers.

11 seconds into the video Colonel Eisner can be seen ordering the ISMers to disperse, one of them to his right with a baseball cap. The Colonel is holding his weapon like a stick to create a line that should not be crossed. He holds the weapon in a way that suggests his hand is injured. Ayas has his back to the camera, and is facing the Colonel in the foreground.

The film is then manipulated by editing. The ISMer with the baseball cap walks behind Colonel Eisner to break up the dispersal line the Colonel set up with his weapon. ISM activists routinely mingle among the soldiers and police in attempts to separate and free their comrades that have been arrested, as this video in Hebron shows. The ISM activists are trained to scream bloody murder, tug on the soldiers, and create mayhem before the cameras. Most of all, they do not allow the police or soldiers to create a line. They faithfully followed the script in this episode.

At 13 seconds, the film has been edited to show Ayas defiantly facing down the Colonel instead of dispersing as the other ISMers are seen doing. A casual viewer might think Ayas was just standing there. The Colonel’s eyes widen as Ayas challenges him verbally and refuses to move. This fits the ISM playbook, as the activists are told the soldiers cannot and will not hurt them for fear of punishment; and in the unlikely event that they do, cameras will be there to grab an edited Kodak moment for their weekly propaganda videos on YouTube. The Colonel, faced with an unrelenting and unmoved agitator and trying to hold the line with a couple of broken fingers, struck Ayas. The Danish consul may be demanding an explanation, but Colonel Eisner did nothing more than the Danish police do to unruly anarchists, as this video shows.

Israel, Greece Conduct Joint Naval Exercise in Mediterranean, Increasing Tensions with Turkey

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Israel and Greece are currently conducting a joint naval exercise in the Mediterraean, in yet another manifestation of both the growing friendship between the two countries and the intensifying discord between Israel and Turkey.

The drill, called “Noble Dina”, will continue through April 5, and will also include the U.S. Sixth Fleet. It is aimed at simulating submarine combat, airborne dogfights, as well as coordinating the defense of offshore natural gas platforms.

This is the first joint naval exercise Israel has conducted in the Mediterranean in two years. Turkey, Greece’s longtime regional rival, severed military cooperation with Israel two years ago, in the wake of the IDF’s raid on the Turkish flotilla Mavi Marmara, which left nine Turkish nationals dead. Up till that point, Israel, the U.S., and Turkey had been conducting similar annual drills in the Mediterranean.

The exercise, first reported by Greek media outlets, was planned months in advance. But in Greece, Turkey’s withdrawal from high-level military cooperation with Israel is seen as a strategic opportunity – not only to increase military cooperation with the U.S. and Israel, but also to do so at Turkey’s expense.

The war games simulation reportedly casts as the ‘enemy’ a force with similar capabilities to those of Turkey. Turkey has recently warned Greece against drilling at offshore natural gas sites near Cyprus, and contests Greece’s claims of sovereignty over them.

The exercise comes 10 days after Israel procured another dolphin submarine from Germany, increasing its fleet to six. Dolphin submarines are capable of launching nuclear payloads, and are therefore crucial to solidifying Israel’s “second-strike” capabilities.
 

Confronting the Knesset’s Anti-Israel Caucus

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Last Sunday, Raam-Ta’al Ministers of Knesset Taleb Al-Sana and Ahmed Tibi participated in the International Conference for Defense of Jerusalem in Qatar. There, the putative representatives from Israel’s national legislature were actually listed as representing ‘Palestine’, and accused Israel of ‘Judaizing’ Jerusalem. Knesset members back in Israel were predictably appalled, and demands ranged from stripping the Arab MKs of Knesset privileges, to expelling them entirely.

This episode is the most recent in a familiar pattern, whereby Arab MKs lead or participate in anti-Israel incitement and conduct; the nationalist camp in the Knesset drafts and proposes a bill to punish such border-line seditious behavior from an MK; the Arab MKs – joined by a melange of human rights groupies, EU officials, and maybe even a US state department official – raise a clamor over the ‘erosion of Israeli democracy’, and throw out key words like “fascism,” “racism” and “apartheid” for good measure; and finally, the proposed bill gets voted down, or sent back to the legislative committees from whence it came – to be defanged, denuded, and only then enacted. Alas, even the bills that pass into law are rarely invoked to prosecute an offender.

Somehow, this pattern manages to take place under the shadow of the ‘Basic Law: The Knesset and the Law of Political Parties’, which states that a political party “may not participate in the elections if there is in its goals or actions a denial of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, a denial of the democratic nature of the state, or incitement to racism.” It goes without saying that only an anti-Zionist could deny that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people – “the Jewish state”. And so, to hear members of Israel’s Knesset decry the concept of a Jewish state as “racist” is certifiably shocking and grounds for exclusion from the Knesset.

An exhaustive account of anti-Israel comments and conduct by Arab MKs would require an article of its own, but a review of news clipping from the first couple months of 2012 sheds enough light on the matter. Beyond his trip to Qatar, Tibi has been busy praising ‘martyrs’ at a Palestinian Authority event, and proposing a bill in the Knesset that sought to have Jerusalem recognized as the capital of a proposed Palestinian state. Raam-Ta’al MKs Ibrahim Sarsour and Masud Ghnaim were reported to have met with Hamas officials late in January, as was Balad MK Hanin Zoabi of Mavi Marmara fame. Zoabi has also been quoted as supporting Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons because she “need[s] something to balance its [Israel’s] power.” Suffice it to say, these individuals self-identify as Palestinians, and believe that they represent the interests of ‘Palestine’, not those of Israel; rather, they often and unabashedly reject the concept of a Jewish State.

Against this backdrop, MKs from the other side of the political spectrum have tried mightily to combat the assault that these Arab MKs have waged on their mutual employer – the Jewish state. In May 2010, the Knesset approved a bill revoking the citizenship and resident status of anyone engaged in espionage or treason against Israel. The bill came in the wake of the revelation that Azmi Bishara, the former Chairman of Balad and MK, fled Israel after an investigation was opened into allegations that he supplied information to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War. In October of the same year, the Israeli cabinet approved a loyalty oath bill that would have required all future non-Jewish applicants for Israeli citizenship to swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Soon after the condemnations and fury against this “mega-racist” bill had been registered, PM Binyamin Netanyahu ordered his Justice minister to extend debate on the bill and amend it so that the loyalty oath would apply to both Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of the state.

The ‘Nakba Law’, passed by the Knesset in March 2011, is a measure penalizing non-governmental organizations that publicly commemorate the ‘catastrophe’ that was Israel’s independence. The law is actually a derivative of an earlier proposed bill that would have made participation in Nakba Day events punishable by three years’ imprisonment. This bill died in its early readings after the predictable uproar over the infringement on “freedom of speech” had reached the Knesset plenum.

All of the above bills were genuine attempts to push back against the consolidated and sustained attack by the Arab delegitimization caucus in the Knesset, but they fall far short of stemming the corrosive consequences of its agenda. Such temporary salves are applied because the Knesset in its current formulation forgoes serious, lasting responses for fear of international condemnation. Even the stiffer laws – like the Bishara Law – are rarely, if ever, invoked, while the laws on the books against sedition and treason are so vague that virtually no one has been prosecuted for them, much less MKs that possess parliamentary immunity.

The damage caused to the Jewish state by these overtly hostile Arab leaders is far greater than a mere rhetorical assault on Israel’s raison d’etre. On the most basic level, the Arab MKs behavior undeniably incites continued hatred and real violence. They perpetuate wildly irresponsible falsehoods, using the national legislature as their broadcast booth. These Arab MKs are ‘leaders’, individuals that people listen to and follow. The appalling reality that prevails on the Mount of Olives – where Jews are attacked and graves desecrated on a regular basis – flows directly from the persistent incitement by Arab MKs (helped by official Palestinian Authority sources of course) against Israel’s ‘pernicious attempts’ to ‘Judaize’ Jerusalem. So not only are these Arab leaders in violation of a Basic Law that should mean their exclusion from the Knesset, they are also guilty of complicity in violence and destruction against Jews and Jewish property.

Another harmful result is more insidious, and takes place in the consciousness of Israelis. A sense of siege is experienced within Israel, as Jews have to assume the added defensive stance of encountering anti-Israel propaganda emanating from their own government organs. On the flip side, the behavior of Arab MKs engenders a greater sense of entitlement for the general Arab population, as they are emboldened by unapologetic Palestinian nationalists that rise to the highest ranks in Israeli society, only to flout the law without consequence. This sense of Arab entitlement is pervasive and manifest. It is visible in the way Jewish visitors and graves on the Mount of Olives are treated, and the way Jewish visitors are treated on the Temple Mount. When lawmakers and leaders in a state decry, deride, and deny the legitimacy of the state they represent, and such talk has a government stamp, this content becomes normalized, internalized, and mainstream; this goes for both Jews and Arabs in Israel.

The unabated stream of anti-Israel delegitimization also takes a toll on Israeli democracy. That is, it shifts the spectrum of acceptable dialogue, cheapens the political debate, and wastes precious time and resources of the national legislature. And so, almost 64 years after its establishment as a Jewish state, Israel has to contend with domestic lawmakers that are still seeking to nullify its existence. These lawmakers appear driven by the maxim that politics is war waged by other means, and Israel’s Arab leaders seek to succeed where Israel’s Arab neighbors have failed. Zoabi herself acknowledged that reframing the spectrum was the best way to attack Israel: “Balad’s concept, which rejects the ‘Jewish state’ idea, is the only idea that can remove Lieberman from the circle of political and moral legitimacy…When you agree with the ‘Jewish state’ idea, you necessarily agree with the idea of loyalty to this state. Rejecting the ‘Jewish state’ concept will block the road for anyone who demands our loyalty to such a state.”

Simply put, it is patently absurd for individuals that deny the legitimacy of the state they reside in to simultaneously legislate for that state. Would another country in the acquiescent and progressive Western world tolerate such a state of affairs? Is there even a modern analog to serve as precedent? For the sake of comparison, it would be like an American congressman whose platform centered on the repeal of the US constitution, or a British MP declaring that the royal family as an institution should be eliminated.

Clearly, the situation is untenable and the status quo unsustainable. Something’s gotta give. Despite all the harm these Arab MKs cause to Israel, they do it one service: they force Israel to deal with the nagging and critical question about the right balance between its Jewish character and its commitment to democratic values. With every word of incitement and every meeting with a hostile neighbor, they inform Israel of its choice: Will it be a state that reflects the particularist religious and national character of the Jewish people or just another Scandinavian-style, universalist democracy that happens to be composed of a (shrinking) majority of Jews?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/confronting-the-knessets-anti-israel-caucus/2012/02/29/

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