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Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

Rep. Steve Cohen Presses Turks on Antisemitism

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a co-chairman of the Congressional caucus on Turkey, pressed the Turkish foreign minister on reports of Antisemitism and human rights abuses in his country.

Cohen said he asked Ahmet Davutoglu when the caucus met Monday with a Turkish delegation about reports of a surge of Antisemitism of the repression of dissent in Turkey.

“Just met w/Turkish delegation,” Cohen said in a Twitter post attached to a photo and a New York Times story detailing allegations of repression of dissent. “Made sure to ask about #humanrights & #antisemitism in #Turkey.”

In an interview Tuesday, Cohen said Davutoglu denied both phenomena, saying that Jews still felt comfortable in Turkey.

“That was good to hear, but hard to believe,” Cohen told JTA.

Cohen, who has Turkish Jewish ancestry, has been a leading member of a caucus that successive Turkish governments have valued for advancing Turkish interests in Washington.

“I don’t think it hurts among friends – and I consider the Turks friends – to bring up issues of concern,” Cohen said.

Pass the Cranberry Latkes for Thanksgivukkah Holiday (Video)

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

If the Pilgrims are lighting menorahs and the Maccabees are chasing turkeys, it must be Thanksgivukkah, as some have come to call the confluence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah that will happen this year on Nov. 28.

It’s a rare event, one that won’t occur again until 2070 and then in 2165. Beyond that, because the Jewish lunisolar (lunar with solar adjustments) calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, the Chanukah-Thanksgiving confluence won’t happen again by one calculation until the year 79811 — when turkeys presumably will be smart enough to read calendars and vacation in space that month.

How do we celebrate this rare holiday alignment? Do we stick candles in the turkey and stuff the horns of plenty with gelt? Put payos on the Pilgrims? What about starting by wishing each other “gobble tov” and then changing the words to a favorite Chanukah melody:

“I cooked a little turkey, Just like I’m Bobby Flay, And when it’s sliced and ready, I’ll fress the day away.”

The holiday mash-up has its limits. We know the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will not end with a float carrying a Maccabee. But it has created opportunities as well: Raise your hand if you plan to wait until the post-Thanksgiving Day sales for your Chanukah shopping.

Ritually, just as we’ve figured out that we add candles to our menorahs from right to left and light them from left to right, a new question looms this year: Should we slice the turkey before or after?

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Dr. Ron Wolfson, whose book “Relational Judaism” (Jewish Lights Publishing) speaks to how our communal relationships — how we listen and welcome — can make our Jewish communities more meaningful. “This year is about bringing friends and family together.”

Wolfson, also the author of “The Chanukah Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration,” said in a recent interview that this year’s calendrical collision was a way to enhance “Thanksgiving beyond football and a big meal.”

In the American land of commercial plenty, the confluence certainly has served up a feast of merchandise. There are T-shirts saying “8 Days of Light, Liberty & Latkes” and a coffee mug picturing a turkey with nine burning tail feathers. And then there’s the ceramic menorah in the shape of a turkey — a Menurkey, created by 9-year-old Asher Weintraub of New York.

But being more of a do-it-yourselfer, this writer recycled an old sukkah decoration to create a Thankgivukkkah centerpiece — the cornukiyah.

For the holiday cook trying to blend the two holidays’ flavors, there’s a recipe that calls for turkeys brined in Manischewitz, and another for cranberry latkes. But what about a replacement for the now infamous Frankenstein of Thanksgiving cuisine, the turducken? How about a “turchitke,” a latke inside of a chicken inside of a turkey?

For Wolfson, who has largely ignored the merch and wordplay, this year simply is an opportunity to change the script. At his Thanksgiving dinner, he is going combine Chanukah ritual with holiday elements found on FreedomsFeast.us, a website that uses American holidays to pass on “stories, values and behaviors.”

Wolfson, a Fingerhut professor of education at American Jewish University, wants us to consider the similarities of the stories at the heart of each holiday.

“The Pilgrims were escaping religious persecution in Europe. They did not want to be assimilated,” Wolfson said, adding that “the Maccabees were fighting against Hellenization,” another form of assimilation.

Counter to the usual “December dilemma” for the intermarried — whose numbers have increased to 58 percent since 2005, according to the recent Pew study — Wolfson noted the “opportunities and challenges” presented this year by Chanukah and Christmas not coinciding.

“We usually feel the tension between the two holidays,” he said. “This year we can feel the compatibility of the two.”

The early Chanukah will help people to appreciate its “cultural integrity,” said Wolfson, adding that he “would not be surprised by a spike in candle lighting this year.”

But for others in the Jewish community, the pushing together of the Festival of Lights with Turkey Day has forced other changes, some unwanted.

Rabbi Steven Silver of Temple Menorah in Redondo Beach, Calif., is canceling his temple’s traditional Friday night Chanukah dinner. “That holiday weekend will be vacation time, people will be out visiting family and friends,” he said. “The rabbis won’t have anyone in front of them that weekend, and that’s a problem.”

US Losing Middle East Coalition

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Ever since the seventies, the world has become accustomed to the split in the Middle East, between those countries that support the West – Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Israel, and we might add Turkey to this list as well, and those countries that were members of the opposing, Soviet, coalition: Syria, Libya, Iraq and South Yemen. Lebanon was then between the democratic hammer and the Syrian anvil.

Despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of the eighties, there were no big shifts in political orientation, and the countries that were faithful to the Western bloc led by the United States remained faithful to it until recently, mainly because a new hostile bloc was formed, led by Iran and supported by Russia and China. The stronger the Iranian threat became, the more the pro-Western countries depended on America for support.

Lately, however, the pro-Western coalition has begun to crumble, and two key countries – Saudi Arabia and Egypt – are searching for a new political crutch, ever since it became clear to them that the American crutch is nothing but “a broken reed” (Isaiah, 36:6). A few more countries can be added to this list, mainly Turkey and the Gulf Emirates.

Saudi Arabia

In an unprecedented move, the Saudi kingdom has refused to become a member of the most powerful body in the world, the Security Council of the UN, a body authorized to deal with the world’s security problems and, with the power of the authority vested in it, can even declare war as a world body on a country that violates its resolutions. The question that immediately arises is: why did Saudi Arabia refuse to become a member of the body that is perhaps the only one capable of dealing with Iran’s military nuclear project? Why did Saudi Arabia reject the opportunity to influence events in Syria from within the Security Council? Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia take advantage of the most important stage in international policy in order to take action against Israel?

The superficial reason is that which the Saudi foreign office published, expressing an ethical position: the kingdom will not agree to enter the Security Council until the Council undergoes reforms that will enable it to fulfill its role, which is to maintain world peace. The obsolete apparatus, the wasteful practices, and double standards used by the Security Council all prevent it from fulfilling its role. There are many examples of this: the Palestinian problem has not been solved despite it having been created 65 years ago, and despite the fact that the wars stemming from it have threatened the peace of the entire region and the world several times. The Council allows the Syrian dictator continue slaughtering his citizens for almost three years without imposing effective sanctions, and the Council has failed to achieve the goal of turning the Middle East into an area free of weapons of mass destruction because it has not managed to create an effective method of oversight for military nuclear projects.

Despite the fact that the Saudis do not speak specifically about Iran in their official announcement, it is clear that their reference is not to Israel, from whom they fear no danger, but to Iran, whose nuclear plans do keep them awake at night. However, it is specifically the Iranian nuclear issue which should have pushed Saudi Arabia to become a member the Council; membership could have granted them an active role in making decisions against Iran, so why not join?

In part, the reasons relate to the way that the Saudis see the international alignment of countries recently but is also connected to the customary culture of honor in the Middle East, without which it would be impossible to understand the behavior of the Saudis, proud sons of the desert.

First of all, a person of honor does not join a club where he is considered a class ‘B’ member. In the Security Council there are class ‘A’ members – the five permanent members (the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China) who have nuclear weapons and veto power, and there are class ‘B’ members – the ten countries with temporary membership, who are not allowed to attain nuclear weapons and do not have veto power. Saudi Arabia would in no way agree to be a class ‘B’ member of any organization, and would prefer not to join because honor is more important to it than anything else.

Pentagon Official: U.S. Still Considering Drone Sale to Turkey

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

U.S. sales of drones to Turkey are still under consideration.

“The United States continues to work through our approach to exporting unmanned systems to our closest allies, including Turkey,” a Pentagon official told JTA on Tuesday.

The official would not comment directly on reports originating in the Turkish press that the Obama administration had canceled the sale of 10 Predator drones to Turkey in retaliation for Turkey’s alleged exposure to Iran of 10 operatives working for Israeli intelligence.

A spokesman for the State Department, which finalizes such sales, also would not comment, citing the policy of not making such sales public until Congress had been notified.

The drones each cost at least $4.5 million.

US Cancels Drone Contract With Turkey

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Everyone can try to pretend that relations between Israel and Turkey, and even between the United States and Turkey, are just as warm and fuzzy as they have been in the recent (recent for the U.S. is more recent than for Israel) past.

But once the U.S. starts packing up its toys and refusing to share (or sell) them with a former playmate – Turkey – there is no denying the rift.

The toys the U.S. will not be sharing with Turkey include 10 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as Predator drones.

The reason for the rupture?

Most reports point to the the Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan having disclosed to Iran the identities of 10 Iranians collecting information for the Mossad. But others see a deeper problem than one that just involves Israel. These theorists point to a more generalized problem of Turkey and Iran becoming closer collaborators, a dramatic about-turn given Turkey’s relentless campaign to unseat Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s primary puppet regime.

Yet another theory for the U.S. – Turkey rift – this one advanced by a Pakistani defense site – suggests that the drone contract cancellation was in response to Turkey’s rejection of bids from U.S. and other firms in favor of a Chinese defense firm for a $4 long-range air and missile defense system.  The Chinese firm which won that contract is sanctioned by the U.S.

Can NATO Member Turkey Ever Be Trusted Again?

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Jewish Press has had the dubious honor of pointing the finger at Turkey’s chief intelligence officer Hakan Fidan and state flatly that his betrayal of 10 Mossad agents was the stuff that should get him something nice in his car in the morning. Yes, we don’t go for nice over here, but, as you’ll see, the rest of the world is coming around rather quickly to our position, and so, if I’m Hakan Fidan, I’d get me a bus pass.

An Eli Lake article in the Daily Beast has confirmations from U.S. officials of the David Ignatius initial Washington Post report. A CIA officer compared the loss to the betrayal of the Cambridge Five the network of Soviet moles (including the notorious Kim Philby), who provided invaluable intelligence to Moscow during the Cold War.

Danny Yatom, a former chief of Israel’s Mossad, told the Beast: “The fact those ten spies were burned by the Turks by purposely informing the Iranians is not only a despicable act, it is an act that brings the Turkish intelligence organization to a position where I assume no one will ever trust it again.”

Yatom said the Mossad has traditionally informed its Turkish counterparts about meetings with its spies on Turkish soil. He said if Turkey gave Iran any details about these meetings, it would compromise Israel’s intelligence operations against Iran.

Indeed, in April, 2012, the Tehran Times announced: “Iran has foiled Israeli terrorist plots.”

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday announcing that it recently foiled several Israeli terrorist plots.

The statement was issued to provide more details about recent operations by Iranian intelligence forces that led to the arrest of 15 Mossad-linked spies and terrorists.

On April 10 [2012], the Intelligence Ministry announced that key members of an Israeli terrorist network had been identified and arrested in Iran.

Presumably, the blood of those 15 agents is on Hakan Fidan’s hands.

Omri Ceren, of The Israel Project, wrote today: “Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that if the story is true, then Turkey’s intel chief Hakan Fidan was just ‘doing his job’ by ‘not letting other intelligence agencies operate in Turkey.’ That might be surprising to Turkey’s NATO allies, not to mention any country that does counterterror work with Ankara.”

And that is a problem well beyond the anger and betrayal anyone in the Mossad might be feeling today. Turkey has the largest army of all the European NATO members and it plays a central role in the alliance. Which means that if you’re a senior security official in any of NATO’s member countries, you’ll start reviewing your exchanges with the Turks. Remember, Turkey serves as a passageway not only for spies going into Iran, but also for terrorists coming out of Iran. If you can’t now trust the Turks to monitor that traffic reliably; if, in fact, you have to worry about them actually aiding and abetting those terrorists – what do you do?

This is far from being an Israel-only problem. I mentioned in an earlier article the similarity between Hakan Fidan’s despicable act and those Afghan soldiers who shoot their American fellows on patrol. If Turkey does not find a meaningful way of convincing its NATO allies that it is trustworthy—it could bring on a sea change in Turkey’s already eroding relationship with the West.

Is Erdoğan’s Turkey turning its back on its European aspirations, in search of a safe and familiar role as the Muslim world’s eternal second fiddle?

Hezbollah Goes Paranoid, Captures Israeli ‘Spy Eagle’

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Headlines of fowl accused of spying for Israel are making the rounds again in Middle Eastern media, with the most recent bird of espionage being an eagle  “arrested” by Hezbollah  in Lebanon.

Local hunters caught the bird in the town of Achkout, who alerted authorities after discovering that the bird had an ID ring attached to its leg with the words “Israel” and “Tel Aviv University” printed on it, according to one Lebanese news site.

The Hezbollah- affiliated Al-Manar TV, whose news site’s Israel section is called “Enemy Entity,” claimed that the eagle was one of many birds sent by Israel to spy and gather information via GPS transmitters across the Middle East. The report pointed to the “arrest of birds carrying similar devices” in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and most recently in Egypt.

Tel Aviv University responded, “This morning, the media reported on an Israeli ‘spy” that was caught by Hezbollah. The ‘spy’ is a predatory fowl that was part of the one the research projects conducted by Tel Aviv University on raptors.”

Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority stated that the eagle was born in a breeding center in southern Israel and had been released a couple of years ago.

Ohad Hatzofeh, one of the Tel Aviv University bird researchers who identified the eagle told Tazpit News Agency that he was “fed up” with the eagle ‘spy’ accusations.

If all of the Arab countries that have “caught” previous spies, such as a stork, a vulture and  pigeon, it only shows how paranoid they really are.

In July, Turkish authorities detained a bird on the suspicion that it was spying for Israel. The kestrel, referred to as the “Israeli agent” by Turkish press because it had metal ring with “Tel Avivunia Israel” on it, was placed in an X-ray machine at a university hospital and underwent a scan for bugging devices. After passing the surveillance, the Zionist spy was freed.

Egypt arrested a stork in late August for spying for Israel because of authorities were suspicious of the tracking device placed by scientists to record its migration. Eventually, the stork, called Menes, was freed but local villagers later ate the spy.

Saudi Arabia apprehended a vulture in 2011, accusing the raptor of being an Israeli spy because of a GPS device with the suspicious “Tel Aviv University” label on its leg. The vulture was eventually freed.

Sudan captured an Israeli hawk last year because tags reading “Israel Nature Authority” and Hebrew University Jerusalem, obvious stooges of the Mossad, were found on its legs.

In May 2012, Turkish authorities were sure they had foiled a Mossad ploy when they caught a European bee-eater.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/hezbollah-goes-paranoid-captures-israeli-spy-eagle/2013/10/16/

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