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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘protests’

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.

Obama Urging Calm in Wake of Zimmerman Acquittal

Monday, July 15th, 2013

President Barack Obama appealed for calm on Sunday, after a Florida jury comprised of six women acquitted George Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman, of murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

In a written statement, Obama called the death of Trayvon Martin a tragedy for his family and for America, but said “we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.”

The acquittal of Zimmerman Saturday dominated television news and the Internet on Sunday, with incidents of protests in communities as far away as San Francisco.

The 17-year-old Martin was killed on February 26, 2012 in a struggle with the armed Zimmerman, who is Hispanic. Many said Martin was profiled and targeted because he was black and walking at night in a gated, mostly white community. Zimmerman—a neighborhood watch volunteer—spotted Martin and called police. He then got out of his vehicle and followed Martin. A confrontation and struggle followed, ending with Zimmerman shooting Martin.

The case made national news after it was discovered that Zimmerman was not charged for more than six weeks after the shooting, because police accepted his claim that he shot Martin in self-defense.

Now, it appears, the jury did as well. But the U.S. Justice Department said it is looking into the prosecution of Zimmerman under federal statutes. So the other side might get its brand of justice, in the end.

State Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda says he was disappointed by the ruling, but will respect the jury’s decision. The prosecution argued that Zimmerman profiled the teen and followed him because he assumed Martin was going making trouble in the gated Florida neighborhood.

Immediately after the verdict, Martin’s supporters, including his family members, used media to express their rage about the jury decision.

Zimmerman’s defense lawyer, Mark O’Mara, was ecstatic. “George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except protecting himself in self-defense. I’m glad that the jury saw it that way.”

More Clashes in Turkey, Police Use Tear Gas, Water Cannons

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Police in Istanbul fired water cannons and tear gas at thousands of protesters in Taksim Square.

Protesters converged on the site Saturday, blatantly disregarding warnings to stay away. Organizers said they intended to march into the adjacent park that has been cordoned off by police.

The area has been the site of anti-government protests and clashes with police since late May, when police forcefully broke up a demonstration against a government plan to develop the park for commercial use. At least three civilians and one policeman have been killed, and many more injured, during the past month.

Protesters are angry at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened to use the army to disperse demonstrations, if necessary.

IDF, Egyptian Army and Hamas on High Alert at Borders

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

The Israeli and Egyptian armies and the Hamas regime in Gaza are on high alert at Sinai and Gaza borders and near smuggling tunnels, according to eyewitnesses quoted by the Egyptian Independent.

Police stations, the airport at El Arish, the Kerem Shalom crossing, jails and entry points are under heavy security.

 

Nearly 100 Rapes in Four Days of Anti-Morsi Protests

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Mobs protesting the rule of Mohammed Morsi have sexually assaulted nearly 100 women and raped at least 91  in the last four days of protests, Human Rights Watch reported.

Forty-six attacks took  place on Sunday, 17 on Monday and 43 on Tuesday, according to figures attributed to the Egyptian Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault, which operates a hotline for victims of sexual assault. The Nazra for Feminist Studies women’s rights group  reported that there were five similar attacks on Friday.

“The government response has been to downplay the extent of the problem or to seek to address it through legislative reform alone” Al Jazeera reported”

Several women required surgery after the attacks and some were beaten with metal chains and were stabbed.

Al Jazeera noted, “Sexual harassment has long been common in Egypt, but its increasing occurrence and ferocity has shaken the protest movement. A large number of women had fallen victim to gang assaults too in the square – the epicenter of 2011 revolution.”

An American television journalist was brutally gang raped in the protests against Hosni Mubarak two years ago.

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.

Ex-Jordanian Spy: Abdullah is Anti-Israel

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Ouni Abed Botrous Hadaddeen is a former senior level Jordanian agent who is Christian. He defected from Jordan because he objected to the Jordanian monarchy’s practice of assassinating Jordanian citizens who have protested against the current regime. Ouni was born to the tribe of Hadadeen, which is supportive of the Hashemite dynasty that has traditionally filled significant positions within the Jordanian government and armed services.

Ouni Abed Botrous Hadaddeen with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

While he worked as a senior level Jordanian intelligence “collaborator” (spy), Ouni was ordered by the Jordanian government to confront anti-government protests and to lead counter protests in support of the Jordanian monarchy. In addition, he was told to write articles within the Arab media in support of the Jordanian government to prevent Jordan’s power base from collapsing, as was the case in Egypt during the “Arab Spring.” Hadaddeen claims that supporting the current Jordanian regime is not in the best interest of Israel and has accused Jordan’s King Abdullah of manipulating the Jordanian people to have negative views and even hatred of Israel.

The Hadaddeen family.

Hadaddeen is presently a political refugee in Norway, while his family remains within Jordan. He claims that the Jordanian government has constantly threatened to rape and murder his wife and three young daughters. When asked if the threats were credible, Ouni said that rape is a systematic tool used by the Jordanian intelligence and the fact that he is Christian, rather than from a Muslim tribe, makes the regime less concerned about repercussions. Despite the threats, Hadaddeen continues to be an outspoken advocate against the Jordanian monarchy, out of the belief that at this point only public exposure will help his family.

There is evidence to back up Ouni’s claim that the Jordanian regime is fomenting hatred for Israel among the Jordanian people. The Jordanian educational system, instead of teaching the country’s youth to peacefully co-exist with Israel, educates youngsters that Palestine was stolen by the Jews. A report published by Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia Today, states that in Jordanian school textbooks, “references to Zionists as agents of imperialism and proponents of expansionists’ schemes […] occur.” Many of the anti-Israel textbooks that are presently used within Palestinian schools were originally Jordanian textbooks.

However, according to Hadaddeen, it seems that the Jordanian regime doesn’t merely publish anti-Israel textbooks. “One of the main foundations of King Abdullah’s regime is establishing hatred for Israel under the table,” Hadaddeen reports. He says that:

During the protests, [Abdullah] would tell Jordanian intelligence operatives, with me only being one of them, to sneak into protests and chant anti-Israeli slogans, both to distract the attention of people from the king and to give the impression that if he falls, Israel will be next.

Furthermore, a year and a half ago, the Jordanian intelligence establishment organized a massive march to the Israeli border, where Jordanians were told to “cross the border into Palestine.” But when Jordanians began to attempt to cross the borders, Jordanian intelligence officials attacked the protesters. Hadaddeen said this was a ploy in order to convince the Israelis that it was in their best interest to keep the Jordanian king in power.

Ouni’s wife with King Abdullah II.

Hadaddeen said that after the Israeli diplomatic mission was evacuated, as a result of this march, Jordanian intelligence officers went into the streets and proclaimed, “Haha, the Israeli chickens have left.” Hadaddeen compares the Jordanian king to Yasser Arafat, claiming that they are both double-faced. Just as Arafat told westerners he was dedicated to peace yet called for shahids among his own people, the Jordanian king portrays himself as the lone front against the Islamists, while getting his intelligence people to organize Islamist, anti-Israel and pro-regime protests, as the secular opposition, opposed to terror, is persecuted.

Unlike the situation in Egypt during the Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was and is on the same side as the regime. As Zaki Bani Rushied –leader of the Islamic Action Front Party—the Brotherhood’s political arm—informed the media, “The people of Jordan have chosen to reform the regime; people can choose to topple the regime or reform it, and here in Jordan we have chosen to reform the regime.”

Indeed, Hadaddeen asserts that in Jordan the Muslim Brotherhood is a “tool used by the king himself.” He said that the Jordanian king is “using the Muslim Brotherhood to terrorize Israel. He would meet them, and this is documented by media, and one day after they would start massive protests against Israel. It is not even a secret.”

Hadaddeen made the claim that in Jordan not a single Muslim Brotherhood member is in jail, and their members drive brand new German cars, in a country where such things are considered an extreme luxury. Hadaddeen described the cooperation between the Jordanian monarchy and members of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, claiming that the Jordanian monarchy has supported the Muslim Brotherhood for decades.

Hadaddeen decided to abandon the Jordanian monarchy mainly because of the killings that have taken place “under the radar,” that have gone unreported in mainstream media. He claims that “they have been doing a lot of killing.” A Jordanian named Khairi Jameel, who was mildly injured while protesting against the Jordanian government, apparently was murdered by Jordanian intelligence upon boarding an ambulance.

Hadaddeen is certain that the regime attempted to make an example out of him. “I was there that day leading the pro-monarch counter-protests, and we were told by our intelligence officer someone was going to get killed that day. I saw Khary Jameel boarding the ambulance alive with a minor injury, pronounced dead hours later.” Hadaddeen believes that since that he is a Christian, he has dispelled the Jordanian government’s “facade to the western media” that all opposition members are Islamists.

Visit United with Israel.

The Convenient Radical

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Right next to the tables where the chess players wait, chessboards laid out, clocks set up, to gull some passing businessman or arrogant NYU student out of his lunch money, the remnant of the Occupation remains.

Below the break-dancers spin and tumble enjoying the first days of spring. A bad drummer by the fountain persistently whacks away providing a dissonant soundtrack to the yuppies toting bags full of supposedly organic groceries from the stalls of the farmers’ market.

Occupy Wall Street isn’t much in the news now. It lost the battle on the southern frontier and has settled into a prolonged brawl with Trinity Church that was doomed from the start. Not too long ago, the Occupiers earned constant headlines. Now they have been reduced to a single folding table manned by a beardo with a banner featuring Martin Luther King and Obama. “I have a dream, not a drone,” it reads.

A homeless man toting a rusted shopping cart full of bottles and cans stops by to chat with him and then moves along after dropping a dime in the coffee cup.

Thanks to New York City’s recycling laws, the cans and bottles are money in the bank. The homeless man with the rusted shopping cart is working for a living while the Occupier has a coffee cup and is protesting for a living.

This is Occupy Wall Street and even though spring is in the air and the weather is warm enough for a renewal of the occupation, you don’t hear much about them anymore. And there are good reasons for that. There are bands to follow, streetcorners to squat and trends to hop on elsewhere in the country. If you’re going to protest for a living, California with its more temperate weather, is a better bet than New York City, where the warm weather is only now waving a flag while promising to show up in a month or two. But the bigger reason is that Occupy Wall Street is now surplus to requirements.

New York City radicalism is a lifetime occupation for a small fringe, but the fringe is mostly ignored. The Trotskyite fronts never stop organizing anti-war rallies and informational events, no matter who sits in the White House.  If Dennis Kucinich won in 2016 and replaced the Defense Department with the Department of Peace, on the next day the usual suspects would still assemble at Union Square, right between the chess players and the breakdancers, and demand an end to war.

Under Clinton, the anti-war business was booming on the fringe, but the news media never deigned to show up and inflate rally counts the way they did once Bush was in office. The same press releases against the War in Yugoslavia were ignored until they were dusted off and swapped out for Afghanistan and Iraq and then suddenly the media couldn’t get enough of them.

The same aging Stalinists, Maoists and Trots, the Grandmothers for Peace and the Schoolteachers for Socialism and the ragged college students clutching their copies of Noam Chomsky, suddenly became important and relevant when they marched against Bush, even though they had been marching against Clinton without a single reporter in sight, have now gone back into purgatory.

The signs are still there. Smeared and taped to lampposts they denounce American imperialism in Syria, drone strikes in Afghanistan and the usual Latin American aperitifs. There are movie showings, speakers and rallies– but no further attention is paid to them. Because they are no longer convenient.

Occupy Wall Street, which under all the coats of paint was the same thing with a different brand, is no longer convenient. It served its purpose as an election weapon. Now that the election has been won, by the class warrior glutted on Wall Street money, no one cares about the little hairy man sitting at the folding table and trying to push buttons.

The remnants of the occupation sit at their card tables, like the last Japanese soldiers on a lost island, unwilling to understand that they were nothing more than a tool that venture capitalists investing in Green Energy and medical IT and a hundred other things, not to mention the usual mortgage men, used to get what they wanted.

Occupy Wall Street was every bit as hollow as any other election stunt. It was a temporary alignment between the agenda of the left and the far-left or the far-left and the really-far-left. The details, like the slapfights between the various species of Maoist, don’t matter. What does matter is that there are, as Elaine on Seinfeld once said, successful and unsuccessful Communists. The successful kind pose for official portraits. The unsuccessful kind have to compete with breakdancers, chess players, and burly black men wearing pink “I Am a Girl” jackets collecting petition signatures for the U.N. Plan International campaign to fight gender inequality.

The convenient radical is only convenient when the left, in all its varied forms, is out of power leading to a common front. Then his toxic ideas bleed into less radical sections of his movement. Each setback radicalizes the opposition until it becomes hard to tell the men from the pigs and the liberals from the commies. And then success is achieved, some section of the coalition is carried forward into power and their unlucky cousins are left behind at their folding tables.

That is how the Democrats turned so far to the left and adopted most of the talking points of the anti-war movement. But then once in office, they still found that they had wars to run. It’s all very well to say that Martin Luther King had a dream not a drone, but it’s hard to fight terrorists with dreams. Even when your anti-war credentials are impeccable, you sometimes come to the conclusion that it takes a drone.

These days the anti-war movement is making more headway with some Republicans than Democrats; which shows how desperate they have become. And Anti-Wall Street? The Democratic Party is Wall Street. Take away the V.C.s, the trial lawyers and the entertainment industry, and you have eliminated the non-contractor funding for the party of the jackass.

Occupy Wall Street, like Obama pretending to scold Wall Street’s bonuses, was a joke. A joke that its supporters and his supporters never understood. The punchline is power. Those who have it and those who don’t.

The radical is a convenience. In a common front, he provides ideas and energy. If he cleans up well and comes up with some moneymaking ideas and a seat at a non-profit foundation, then he can get an invite to the White House even if he has blood on his hands. But for every radical who finds a spot on the board of the family foundation of some deceased Republican millionaire, there are a dozen who never get a clue or come to understand the nature of their profession.

When the alignment has passed, then the convenient radical either becomes a successful leftist or he gets a job peddling Fifty Shades of Grey at the nearby Strand bookstore, once a radical haunt, now made over into another Barnes and Noble, under the guiding hand of the wife of Senator Ron Wyden; a most successful leftist indeed.

Like every other profession, some radicals move up the ladder and others remain toting around books full of Marxist theory among the skyscrapers of the Capitalist reality. The passion and energy is a bank that the left withdraws from when politically convenient and ignores when politically inconvenient.

The energy and appetites of the beast still lurk in every city where the theoreticians spin their webs, the propagandists inflame and the perpetual students gesture animatedly. As progressives they believe that inevitably every terrible idea that they have will go mainstream and the last sixty years have largely borne them out in this. But the filtering mechanism is the issue.

In the era of Obama, the filter is weaker than ever. The pattern echoes the ongoing one of every prior administration which, even in its conservative periods, has been more willing to let in bad ideas than the left. But the floodgates are not entirely open either because the one great difference between the successful leftist and the unsuccessful radical is the old maxim about why treason never prospers.

The leftist and the radical, successful and unsuccessful, are both tyrants at heart. But the leftist understands that tyranny is a vehicle for personal power and prosperity. The radical does not.

The difference between the leftist and the radical is that the radical sits outside to promote the cause, while the leftist profits from his shivering. The radical can, and often does, become the successful leftist, but to do so he must learn the basic lesson that the endgame is wealth and power. That wealth and power can come from wrecking a nation, but the wrecking ball can’t come too close to the homes of the Marxist millionaires picking up the tab.

The convenient radical understands this. Like Noam Chomsky or Oliver Stone, Howard Zinn, Bill Ayers or Michael Moore he has the timing and the instincts to get the right exposure at the right time and then profit from it. His ideas are radical, but his instincts are impeccable. He knows the right people and the right buttons to push. But most of all, he doesn’t collect donations in a coffee cup. While he writes furious essays denouncing capitalism or screams at Wall Street through a megaphone, he has a broker and an investment plan that will ride out the tough times.

Though the convenient radical may despise those on the left to the right of him, he understands how to cater to them and how to embed his ideas in theirs. The inconvenient radical is a man of poor instincts. He is the sort of man who is still sitting under that statue of George Washington lifting his sword to mark the departure of British troops from New York City watching the breakdancers spin and the shoppers move dazedly in the organic triangle between Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and the Farmers’ Market without realizing that the occupation is over and it’s time to move on.

Wall Street has won because it is simply capital and the liberals and the leftists have their capital that they need investing. Money always wins, in one form or another. Societies may collapse into dysfunction, but there will still be someone there selling them coffee and croissants at the end. And someone advancing him money and investing in coffee cup manufacturers and looking at commodity prices and calculating supply and demand. They may not do it well, but they will do it. There may just not be a middle class to do it with.

The convenient radical understands that Wall Street reflects his priorities. If he wants to push billions in bad loans to minority homeowners or invest in Green Energy, then it will be on board. Money will be lost, but it will be someone else’s money. The inconvenient radical does not understand this. He thinks that there will one day be an actual victory. The banks will fall and be replaced by communes where food will be awarded based on the results of quizzes about the life and ideas of Michel Foucault .That is what makes him hopelessly stupid, occasionally convenient, but largely useless.

The inconvenient radical does not understand that the commune is not an option. There will either be a society with a large middle class dominated by the middle class or a society of the poor dominated by the upper class.

The convenient radical understands this and seeks the society in which a large underclass is dominated by a narrow elite. This is the society that he tirelessly inveighs against and wants to create. This outcome is what makes the left into the totalitarian entity that it is. The knowing hypocrisy is what distinguishes the successful leftist, from the inconvenient radical.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/the-convenient-radical/2013/04/07/

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