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September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Recep Tayyip Erdogan’

Turkey’s Leaders Meet With Hamas in Ankara

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed international Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal to Ankara on Wednesday.

Senior Turkish officials joined the meeting, which reportedly focused on Turkey’s role in providing support to the Palestinian Authority, according to the Al Resalah website.

Also discussed at the meeting were “the changes in the region and Erdogan’s concerns in the Palestinian cause,” according to the report.

Meshaal also met with Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as well.

No statement was made to the media following the talks.

A statement released in Gaza by a Hamas official said Wednesday that a delegation led by Meshaal briefed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Qatar at a recent meeting between the two men during which Lavrov reportedly invited Meshaal to Moscow.

Meshaal told Lavrov about conditions in Gaza, according to the statement.

Israeli, Turkish Officials Meet to Mend Broken Ties

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

After more than a year of silence, Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold – a former Israeli ambassador – met Monday in Rome with his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.

The two men sat away from the glare of media cameras and quietly began to renew the contacts between Jerusalem and Ankara, along with other senior Israeli and Turkish officials. Gold, an appointee and longtime associate of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was tasked with exploring the potential for cooperation between Israel and Turkey.

The move comes in the wake of Turkey’s recent parliamentary polls, which left the AK Party led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the minority for the first time in a decade. This has opened the possibility that Turkey, a former ally, might consider renewing its diplomatic ties with the Jewish State.

Erdogan pulled Turkey’s ambassador from Israel and cancelled three joint military drills following clashes aboard a flotilla vessel owned by the Turkish IHH organization. The Mavi Marmara was participating in a six-vessel flotilla (three were Turkish-flagged) sent to deliberately – illegally — breach Israel’s maritime blockade around Gaza.

The terror activists on board the ship launched an attack on Israeli commandos who boarded to redirect the vessel to Ashdod port. Eight Turkish-born fighters and one American, all of whom were armed, died in the battle. The incident prompted venomous rhetoric from Erdogan, who immediately cut ties with Israel.

In a gesture of conciliation, Israel eventually apologized for operational errors that might have led to the deaths of the Turkish nationals and offered compensation to their families. Nevertheless, then-Prime Minister Erdogan was not appeased and refused to renew ties unless Israel also dropped its blockade of Gaza, a security measure that helps prevent terror groups in the enclave from importing weapons and other contraband from their generous Iranian benefactor.

Although Israel had discussed dropping the blockade, the escalation of rocket attacks against the south led to a counter terror war in Gaza last summer. This prompted Erdogan to rev up his offensive rhetoric anew against the State of Israel. Once again, the Turkish leader found a reason to sabotage renewal of ties, claiming the attack on Gaza by Israel proved Jerusalem “does not want normalization.”

Although trade has continued uninterrupted throughout, diplomatic communication has been maintained with Israel via the director of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Oddly, the stores in the Jewish State have been and still are filled to the brim with Turkish products, from housewares to clothing to food stuffs and more.

Even during Operation Protective Edge last summer, Israel allowed Turkish pilots to land and take off from Israeli airports in order to airlift medical patients from Gaza.

There has, however, been a complete halt to Israeli tourism to Turkey, a sector which once brought millions from Israel to the Turkish economy.

Within Turkey itself, the Israeli embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul both came under vicious attack by mobs last summer; the Jewish community also felt Islamist rage. Jews were told by some AK Party-linked columnists they should “pay” for the “crimes” of Israel in Gaza. They were egged on by Erdogan’s anti-Israel remarks.

Other Turkish citizens, appalled by the outpouring of hatred, denounced the rhetoric and called for a show of brotherhood with their Jewish neighbors. They reminded the public that Jews have contributed to Turkish society for more than two thousand years. Jews were found living in Anatolia, in fact, as far back as 2,400 years ago.

Compared to the many thousands of Jews who once graced the flagship nation of the Ottoman Empire, however, the current Jewish community in Turkey is very small and maintains a low profile due to fears of reprisal. Upon the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948, there were 80,000 Jews living in Turkey: today there are only 17,300 out of a total population of 70 million.

Few are willing to publicly identify themselves as Jews; even fewer are Torah observant. Most have assimilated and do their best to blend completely into Turkish society. They are aided in this effort by the majority contention that in Islam a man may marry a Jewish woman. Those who are worried about their daughters marrying out of the faith or their descendants disappearing from the Judaic Tree of Life have made – or are making – plans to emigrate. Those who do not either remain in order to strengthen those who cannot leave, may no longer feel the issue is relevant, or have simply given up.

Yet it was the Ottomans under Sultan Orhan who gave permission in 1324 to Jews living in Bursa to build the Etz ha-Hayyim (Tree of Life) Synagogue, which remained in service until just 50 years ago. Western European Jews were invited by Muslim sultans to immigrate to the Empire twice, and once by Rabbi Yitzhak Sarfati (1454) during the time of the Ottomans. Four cities in particular became centers of Sephardic Jewry during that time: Istanbul, Salonica, Tzefat (which later returned to Israel by way of the British Mandate) and Izmir (also known as Smyrna), where the Tu B’Shevat seder was developed in the 17th century.

According to the 2015 Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Global 100 index of anti-Semitism, 69 percent of Turkish citizens hold some type of anti-Semitic belief. During Operation Protective Edge, there were 30,000 Turkish-language positive tweets about Hitler and Nazi atrocities against Jews. A Pew Research Center Poll found in November 2014 that 86 percent of Turkish citizens hold a negative view of Israel.

It is hard to be Jewish in today’s Turkey, where hatred of Israel, the Jewish State, has been publicly nurtured and encouraged from the very echelons of government. One questions whether renewal of ties between the two countries will come in time to reverse this terrible trend, or whether it is already too late.

Turkey Upset Vote Broadens Gov’t, Reduces Erdogan’s Power

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Voters in Turkey’s national parliamentary elections on Sunday voted to broaden the base and minimize the power that had coalesced under AKP President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a strong backer of the Muslim Brotherhood who has welcomed Hamas to set up foreign headquarters in the country.

“Long live democracy!” CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told his supporters at about 10 pm local time as early returns made it clear that Turkey’s election outcome was different this time around, after 12 years of rule by the AKP’s Justice and Development Party.

More than 53.7 million eligible voters were expected to vote Sunday (June 7) in a pivotal parliamentary election. Of those, nearly 46 million went to the polls between 8 am and 5 pm local time; voter turnout was high – about 85 percent – “sign of a strong democracy,” according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who voted in Istanbul.

At least 50,000 people signed up to serve as election monitors, showing their concern over the possibility the vote might be rigged. It was a realistic concern: during local elections last March, there were suspicious power outages in 22 provinces across the country while votes were being counted, and discrepancies surfaced between numbers recorded at polling stations and those entered into the Higher Election Board computers.

The results may ultimately determine whether Turkey eliminates the prime minister’s position in favor of the presidential system desired by Erdogan, who has long advocated for the change.

At the end, the people made it clear: they had had enough of Erdogan’s dictatorial manner.

In the previous 2011 election, the AKP won nearly 50 percent of the 550 seats in the parliament. But this time, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) garnerned just 40.6 percent of the vote – not enough to win the 276 seats necessary to form the next government alone.

The leftist-socialist CHP (Republican People’s Party) which led the country prior to the landslide victory by the AKP 12 years ago, won approximately 25.3 percent.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) received 16 percent, higher than MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli Bahçeli had hoped for. “May the election be the best yet for our 20 parties, their valued candidates and 165 independent candidates,” he said prior to the vote.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) meanwhile won 12.7 percent of the nationwide vote. This is the first time the Kurdish sector has crossed the parliament’s 10 percent barrier and winning a place in the legislative body. The HDP victory did not come without a cost – a bombing on Friday before the elections left two people dead in southeast Turkey and 200 others wounded. It was not clear whether in fact the polls would be safe in Kurdish areas. The Kurdish PKK terrorist organization also has a deep interest in the outcome of the election inasmuch as its group, which advocates for separating the region from the rest of Turkey, has been targeted by the government for years.

Turkish Foreign Minister Targets Jews, Warns of ‘Treason’

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Red flags are going up for Jews in Turkey again for the second time in less than a week.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu took aim at Turkish Jewry Sunday  in a thinly-disguised reference to the “Jewish lobby” on Sunday during a speech to local lawmakers, linking such a “lobby” to part of a “parallel structure” (U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen’s supporters) accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being in cahoots with Israeli Mossad intelligence agents.

On January 31, Erdogan had told a meeting of business leaders in Istanbul, “The sincere people backing this parallel structure should see this structure is cooperating with… Shame on them if they still cannot see that this structure is cooperating with the Mossad.” (Erdogan has accused Gulen’s followers of illegal wiretapping and a coup attempt that began with a corruption probe in December 2013. Four former ministers and their sons were investigated at the time; all were later acquitted on all charges.)

“I announce it from here: We have not and will not succumb to the Jewish lobby, the Armenian lobby or the Turkish-Greek minority’s lobbies,” Davutoglu said in his own speech on Feb. 8, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported. Speaking at a provincial congress of the ruling Justice and Development party’s (AKP) in Istanbul, Davutoglu added, “I call out to the parallel lobby and send them a message: We will stand before you with dignity no matter where you are; you will be despicable for the treason you have done to this nation.”

It’s not the first time in the past week that local Jews have been targeted by the current Turkish government.

On Feb. 6, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a snide comment about Jewish prayers while accepting an award from the Roma community in Bursa. As he started to condemn racism, Islamophobia and discrimination, Erdogan suddenly aimed at Judaism itself, specifically the Jewish morning blessings.

“I am addressing to those who talk about women’s rights. Why don’t you raise your voice against the Jews who thank G-d in their prayers that they were not created as women? Was there any other understanding, a logic as demeaning for women as this one?” he said.

The remark is a deliberate misinterpretation of one of the morning blessings recited by Jewish men and women each day, albeit with different versions for each. Jewish men do indeed thank God in one of the numerous blessings they recite in the morning that they were not created as women. The women’s version offers praise to God for being created as women (the literal translation of the prayer is, “as He desires”, in recognition of women’s different roles and responsibilities in Jewish life.)

Istanbul’s largest and most prominent synagogue, Neve Shalom, has become a virtual fortress under constant protection by Turkish security personnel. One must surrender one’s passport in order to enter the magnificent house of worship that once was filled to capacity in a former bustling Jewish neighborhood.

The synagogue was attacked several times by radical Islamic terrorists, leaving wounded, death and destruction in their wake. Turkish security is particularly selective about who is allowed to enter the synagogue; every person who attempts to do so is carefully scrutinized and required to walk through a metal detector prior to entry. The entrance itself is subtly hidden towards the back of the building, which must be accessed through a nondescript side gate.

Today the area around the synagogue is a shopping district and the lovely building with its stained glass windows and wooden seats polished to a sheen echoes with the memories of past festivities, empty but for the handful of Jews who dare to enter for prayers on High Holy Days and other important Jewish holidays.

Observant Jews who have remained in Turkey maintain a very low profile. Kosher food is not to be had in any general supermarket or local grocery store; one needs to know where to go in order to find it. There do not appear to be any local kosher supervision agencies — at least no symbols of any on foods available in public stores. Other members of the Jewish community are the descendants of those who arrived as refugees from Spain in 1492, fleeing the Inquisition, business people, and others who as tourists fell in love and married locals.

Turkey’s President Erdogan Takes a Shot at Jewish Blessings

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a sly swing at the Jewish faith late last week during a speech at an award ceremony organized by the country’s Roma community in Bursa.

The barb came within what started out as a positive comment — as Erdogan’s barbs often do.

In accepting the “Great Roman” award on Feb. 6, Erdogan mentioned that he grew up in Kasimpasa, a neighborhood in Istanbul that was home to many Roma as well. “I know the Roma culture,” he said, and then began condemning racism, Islamophobia and discrimination, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“I am addressing to those who talk about women’s rights. Why don’t you raise your voice against the Jews who thank God in their prayers that they were not created as women? Was there any other understanding, a logic as demeaning for women as this one?”

The snide remark is a deliberate misinterpretation of one of the morning blessings recited by men — and women (the women’s version states praise to God that they were created as He desired) in recognition of their different roles and responsibilities in Jewish life.

In October 2014, a Haaretz reporter commented in an article that “Turkey, once a safe haven for Jews, now outranks Iran in harboring anti-Semitic sentiment.” An unnamed security coordinator told the reporter that Jews living in Istanbul “try to keep a low profile.”

Haaretz is not a right-wing newspaper. It is a liberal, left-wing news outlet that goes out of its way to “see the other side,” sometimes to the exclusion of noticing that of its country of origin. But one of the Turkish Jews with whom the reporter spoke said, “For the Jewish people there is no life in Istanbul.” Nevertheless, she added that she feels “very Turkish” and still wants “to live here all my life if it’s possible.”

If it’s possible. Once no Jew would have questioned that. Many of the Jews who live now in Turkey are the descendants of those who came to the Ottoman Empire as refugees from Spain in 1492. Others married in after having come to the country as tourists, some from Israel. Most have now fled in fear for their lives.

It was the anti-Jewish riots in the 1930s in Turkey that prodded the first Jews to flee. Political pressures that followed frightened the Jews that remained, and slowly the flood became a steady bleed. As Turkey drew closer to Iran and a more radical Islamic attitude over the past decade, the Jews once more were threatened by those around them. The Sephardic Jewish Center in Istanbul today is secured by multiple locks and hidden other systems; one has to know where to find it and how to access it just to be able to enter its doors.

The threats were aided and abetted by then-Prime Minister, and today President Recep Tayyid Erdogan, whose anti-Semitic bordered on vitriolic during the times Israel was forced to defend herself against Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorists, who are members of the Muslim Brotherhood which originated in Egypt.

The group is beloved by Erdogan, himself a man truly loved by his country and his people, who relate to him as someone from “the neighborhood.” He relates to crowds as one of the people, with a speaking style in Turkish that has a slight edge; it retains that roughness seen among those who didn’t go to Harvard.

It is what has kept him in power for so long.

That same style has also enabled Erdogan to build ties with nearly every terror group in the region and has firmed the bond between Turkey and Iran. It may dim the competition between the two for establishing a new Empire over the fragments that once were powerful Arab nations in the region.

Turkey’s Erdogan Attacks Netanyahu for ‘Daring’ to Show Up at Paris Unity Rally

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

One day after Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas appeared arm in arm with world leaders in Paris at Sunday’s unity rally against radical Islamist terror, he joined Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in slamming Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for doing the exact same thing.

Turkey’s new presidential palace in Ankara was given the opportunity to witness a “dress show” during Erdogan’s welcoming ceremony for Abbas as a visiting head of state for the first time on Monday. The two shook hands flanked by a costumed retinue before moving on to a meeting room for bilateral talks. Erdogan also took the opportunity to meet with members of the media together with Abbas, where the pair lashed out at Israel’s prime minister for showing up to the event in Paris.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu joined Netanyahu, Abbas and other world leaders who gathered to honor the memory of the 17 people murdered last week in terror attacks by Islamist extremists. The Turkish president said, however, that Netanyahu had no right to participate due to the civilian casualties in Gaza resulting from Israel’s war with the ruling Hamas terror organization last summer.

“I also hardly understand how he dared to go there,” Erdogan told reporters. For one, you give an account for the children and women you massacred,” he said, according to AFP.

“How can you see this individual who carries out state terrorism by massacring 2,500 people in Gaza waving his hand? He is waving his hand as if people are very enthusiastically waiting for him,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.

The Turkish president went on to say that historically, Muslims were never on the side of terror, nor did they perpetrate massacres. Last week’s slaughter in Paris resulted from racism, hate messages and Islamaphobia, Erdogan contended.

“We hope that those attacking nations cease their assault on our mosques,” he said. “Take note that the acts of terror are not carried out in a vacuum. The acts follow a predetermined script and we should be alive to a plot against the Islamic world.”

Erdogan accused Israel of ‘escalating tensions in the region by violating holy sites along with its recent increasingly aggressive behavior,’ according to a report published in Turkey’s Todays Zaman newspaper. He added that protecting the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the “Noble Sanctuary” and the third holiest place in Islam, ‘is not only the duty of Palestine, but also the entire Islamic world,’ according to the report – implying that the site is in danger. The Turkish president also vowed to continue fighting against Israel’s ‘reckless behavior that recognizes no rules’ with other Muslim countries and the international community, the newspaper reported.

With regard to the Paris terror attacks, Erdogan asked European authorities to ‘take preventive measures against those who attack mosques and Muslims,’ saying ‘these are all provocations’ and adding ‘these things are not being done for nothing… These are all a result of a scenario. There are also games being played over the Islamic world. We need to be aware of this too.’

Erdogan said it was ‘meaningful’ that Muslims were being blamed for a massacre that was committed by ‘French citizens.’

President Erdogan Sends Hanukkah Greetings to Turkey’s Jews, Beats Obama to Holiday!

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost no time this year in publicly offering warm holiday wishes and Chanukah greetings to the nation’s Jewish community.

In fact, he issued that greeting via all media outlets an entire day ahead of the holiday, light years ahead of the annual holiday greeting to the Jews of America issued from the White House by President Barack Obama.

(By the way, there was no such delay in this year’s greeting from Obama to American Muslims for this year’s holy Islamic month of Ramadan, which began on Saturday evening, June 28. Obama’s holiday salutation came a full day ahead of time, on Friday June 27, 2014.)

“I congratulate our Jewish citizens on the advent of Hanukkah with my most sincere wishes. We see the diversity in our social, cultural and anthropological being as the greatest wealth that has made Turkey what it is today, and reinforced its unity and cooperation as well as enhanced our solidarity and fondness,” Erdogan said in a statement released Monday by Turkey’s Presidential Press Center.

“Turkey will continue to carefully protect this rich cultural and historical heritage carefully today, as it has done until now,” the statement continued, according to an article posted in the Daily Sabah.

The Turkish newspaper went on to explain that “Hanukkah Day, celebrated by the Jews worldwide for eight days and nights, is celebrated on the 25th day of Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November to late December on the secular calendar. In Hebrew, Hanukkah means “dedication”, as the holiday celebrates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jewish victory against Seleucid monarchy in 165 B.C.E.”

Absolutely correct.

Coming from the leader of nearly any other industrialized nation, this greeting to Jewish citizens would be prompt, timely for all time zones, and not at all out of place. But this is the president of Turkey we are talking about, the man with a track record of ambivalence, at best, in his relationship with Jews and the Jewish State.

Erdogan scored major points in the majority Muslim population in Turkey this summer for raising more than $20 million in aid to Gaza residents left homeless after Israel’s defensive war with Hamas and allied terrorists.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Authority Arab families were aided by Turkey, including many in Judea and Samaria as well. In addition, Turkish aircraft transferred a number of wounded to Ankara for medical treatment as well. But the aid was secured by an agreement with Israel, and the aircraft used an Israeli airport. Israel facilitated the movement of goods from the aircraft to their destinations, and patients were transported to the aircraft the same way.

All that, despite some rather vicious, anti-Israel rhetoric by the same Turkish president-elect who the day before Chanukah offered warm greetings to his Jewish citizens.

In July, Erdogan told the Daily Sabah, “Jews in Turkey are our citizens. We are responsible for the security of their lives and property… I talked with our Jewish citizens’ leaders… and stated that they should adopt a firm stance and release a statement against the Israeli government. I will contact them again, but whether or not they release a statement, we will never let Jewish people in Turkey get hurt.” Erdogan suggested that Turkish Jewish leaders criticize “Israeli aggression,” the newspaper said, and said Israel’s government “abuses all Jewish people around the world for its fraudulent policies.”

It was Erdogan who said that Israel had “committed acts of genocide and surpassed Hitler in barbarism” during the summer war forced on the Jewish State by incessant rocket fire launched by Hamas.

Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, sent a letter to Erdogan in July, demanding he return the Profiles in Courage award he received in 2004. Rosen wrote that Erdogan was “spewing dangerous rhetoric for political gain and inciting the Turkish population to violence against the Jewish people… your attacks on Jews call into question everything we honored you for… However, should your views change in the future we hope to be able to return the Profile of Courage award.” Subsequently Erdogan returned the award.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/president-erdogan-sends-hanukkah-greetings-to-turkeys-jews-beats-obama-to-holiday/2014/12/17/

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