AMID TURKEY-EU ROW, ANTISEMITIC ERDOGAN CALLS OPPONENTS “FASCISTS” & “NAZI REMNANTS”
Volume X1, No. 4,006 • March 16, 2017 • March 16, 2017
Europe's 'Turkish Awakening': Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Mar. 14, 2017— Turkey, officially, is a candidate for full membership in the European Union.
In Turkey-Netherlands Row, a Foreboding Sign For Jews: Cnaan Liphshiz, Times of Israel, Mar. 15, 2017— The thousands of people who gathered outside the Turkish consulate of this port city on Saturday patiently waited for hours, chatting with friends and relatives.
Erdogan Critics Beware: Turkey Probably is Watching: IPT News, February 27, 2017— For some Americans, concerns about Russian spying and interference in its elections are growing, with new reports emerging nearly every day.
Following Russia’s Lead is the Smart Move for Turkey and Israel: Micah Halpern, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 14, 2017— Russian President Vladimir Putin is a world-class master when it comes to getting what he wants. He leaves nothing to chance.
Russian Air Defense Architecture … for NATO Member Turkey?: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Mar. 14, 2017
Cyprus Deal Could Speed up Israel-Turkey Gas Project – Envoy: Times of Israel, Mar. 1, 2017
Is Turkey Lost to the West?: Patrick J. Buchanan, CNS News, Mar. 14, 2017
Turkey’s New Curriculum: More Erdoğan, More Islam: Zia Weise, Politico, Feb. 13, 2017
Gatestone Institute, Mar. 14, 2017
Turkey, officially, is a candidate for full membership in the European Union. It is also negotiating with Brussels a deal which would allow millions of Turks to travel to Europe without visa. But Turkey is not like any other European country that joined or will join the EU: The Turks' choice of a leader, in office since 2002, too visibly makes this country the odd one out.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now campaigning to broaden his constitutional powers, which would make him head of state, head of government and head of the ruling party -- all at the same time -- is inherently autocratic and anti-Western. He seems to view himself as a great Muslim leader fighting armies of infidel crusaders. This image, with which he portrays himself, finds powerful echoes among millions of conservative Turks and [Sunni] Islamists across the Middle East. That, among other excesses in the Turkish style, makes Turkey totally incompatible with Europe in political culture.
Yet, there is always the lighter side of things. Take, for example, Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara and a bigwig in Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP). In February Gokcek claimed that earthquakes in a western Turkish province could have been organized by dark external powers (read: Western infidels) aiming to destroy Turkey's economy with an "artificial earthquake" near Istanbul. According to this conspiracy theory, the mayor not only claims that the earthquake in western Turkey was the work of the U.S. and Israel, but also that the U.S. created the radical Islamic State (ISIS). In fact, according to him, the U.S. and Israel colluded to trigger an earthquake in Turkey so they could capture energy from the Turkish fault line.
Matters between Turkey and Europe are far more tense today than ridiculous statements from politicians who want to look pretty to Erdogan. The president, willingly ignoring his own strong anti-Semitic views, recently accused Germany of "fascist actions" reminiscent of Nazi times, in a growing row over the cancellation of political rallies aimed at drumming up support for him among 1.5 million Turkish citizens in Germany. The Dutch, Erdogan apparently thinks, are no different. In a similar diplomatic row over Turkish political rallies in the Netherlands, Erdogan described the Dutch government as "Nazi remnants and fascists". After barring Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from entering the country by airplane, the Dutch authorities also escorted another Turkish minister out of the country. Quite a humiliation, no doubt. An angry Erdogan promised the Netherlands would pay a price for that.
Europe, not just Germany and the Netherlands, looks united in not allowing Erdogan to export Turkey's highly tense and sometimes even violent political polarization into the Old Continent. There are media reports that the owner of a venue in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, has now cancelled a pro-Erdogan rally, although Sweden's foreign ministry said it was not involved in the decision. Europe's anti-Erdogan sentiment is going viral. Denmark's prime minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, said that he asked his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim, to postpone a planned visit because of tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands. Although Turkey thanked France for allowing Foreign Minister Cavusoglu to address a gathering of Turkish "expats" in the city of Metz, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called on Turkish authorities to "avoid excesses and provocations".
None of the incidents that forcefully point to Europe's "Turkish awakening" happened out of the blue. At the beginning of February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Erdogan held a tense meeting in Ankara. Erdogan clearly rejected Merkel's mention of "Islamist terror" on grounds that "the expression saddens Muslims because Islam and terror cannot coexist". The row came at a time when a German investigation into Turkish imams in Germany spying on Erdogan's foes made signs of reaching out to other parts of Europe. Peter Pilz, an Austrian lawmaker, said that he was in possession of documents from 30 countries that revealed a "global spying network" at Turkish diplomatic missions.
At the beginning of March, after Turkey said it would defy opposition from German and Dutch authorities and continue holding rallies in both countries, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern called for an EU-wide ban on campaign appearances by Turkish politicians.In response, further challenging Europe, Turkey arrested Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German reporter for a prominent German newspaper, Die Welt, on charges of "propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting the public to violence." Yucel had been detained after he reported on emails that a leftist hacker collective had purportedly obtained from the private account of Berat Albayrak, Turkey's energy minister and Erdogan's son-in-law.
Erdogan's propaganda war on "infidel" Europe has the potential to further poison both bilateral relations with individual countries and with Europe as a bloc. Not even the Turkish "expats" are happy. The leader of Germany's Turkish community accused Erdogan of damaging ties between the two NATO allies. Gokay Sofuoglu, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, which is an umbrella for 270 member organizations, said: "Erdogan went a step too far. Germany should not sink to his level".
The most recent wave of tensions between Erdogan's Turkey and Europe, which it theoretically aspires to join, have once again unveiled the long-tolerated incompatibility between Turkey's predominantly conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western political culture and Europe's liberal values. Turkey increasingly looks like Saddam Hussein's Iraq. During my 1989 visit to Iraq a Turkish-speaking government guide refused to discuss Iraqi politics, justifying his reluctance as: "In Iraq half the population are spies... spying on the other half." Erdogan's Turkey has officially embarked on a journey toward Western democracy. Instead, its Islamist mindset is at war with Western democracy.
Times of Israel, Mar. 15, 2017
The thousands of people who gathered outside the Turkish consulate (in Rotterdam) on Saturday patiently waited for hours, chatting with friends and relatives. Waving Turkish flags, they had gathered on a chilly evening to listen to a Cabinet minister from Turkey arguing in favor of a government-led referendum next month in that country. The referendum would give even greater powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose critics already say rules the country with an iron grip.
Erdogan is eyeing the 3 million Turkish nationals living in Europe who can cast their votes in Turkish embassies. But the chummy atmosphere evaporated as word spread that Dutch police had arrested the minister, Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya. In reality, she was escorted out of the country to Germany on orders of the Dutch government. Ahead of Wednesday’s general elections in the Netherlands — immigration and Islam have become major issues in the heated campaign — the government vocally objected to Turkey’s campaigning on its soil.
Hundreds of young men began confronting police, hurling stones at them while shouting “Allahu akbar” – Arabic for “Allah is the greatest.” Some in the crowd then shouted “cancer Jews” in Dutch at the riot police, who used water cannons to disperse the crowd, according to witnesses. It was one of several incidents recently in the Netherlands where anti-Semitic slogans were shouted at demonstrations that had nothing to do with Jews.
Occurring as the far right prepares to make historical gains in the voting, the riots in Rotterdam, where five people were moderately injured, triggered the worst diplomatic crisis in years between Turkey and the European Union, and reopened a polarizing debate about the loyalty of some Dutch of Turkish descent. But for Dutch Jews, the affair also underlined a growing concern over the defiance of a minority among local Muslims, whose anti-Semitic attitudes and actions are generating an anti-Muslim backlash in a once-tolerant society.
“We saw again that the word ‘Jew’ and ‘homo’ are curse words in these groups,” Esther Voet, the editor-in-chief of the Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, told JTA. “Those protesters have such hostility toward Jews that it just comes out.” Voet also called the violent protesters in Rotterdam a “fifth column” in Dutch society, adding that she was “in some ways glad the riots exposed what many would rather deny.” Across Western Europe, surveys consistently show a relatively high prevalence of anti-Semitic sentiment among Muslims, many of whom associate Jews with an establishment they feel is oppressive and hostile to their identity and faith.
But the use of slogans about Jews during violent confrontations that do not involve Jews is a recent development. And it is shocking to many European Jews because “it shows the centrality of anti-Semitism as a core identity value” among some Muslim immigrants and their descendants, according to Manfred Gerstenfeld, a scholar of anti-Semitism who has written extensively about the Netherlands.
In 2014, amid protests over Israel’s strikes against Hamas in Gaza, anti-Semitic hostility led dozens of French Arab rioters to besiege a Paris synagogue, which community members defended for long minutes in a savage street brawl as police scrambled to dispatch officers in time to prevent a bloodier scenario. Yet despite several close calls – Dutch police in 2015 arrested several alleged Islamists suspected of plotting to blow up a synagogue in Amsterdam — the Netherlands in recent decades has seen neither major jihadist attacks nor deadly incidents of anti-Semitism of the kind that have occurred in France and neighboring Belgium since 2012.
In covering the Rotterdam rioting, the Dutch media largely ignored the anti-Semitic shouts, focusing instead on the far wider ramifications of what quickly evolved into a showdown featuring Turkey, the Netherlands and Germany. After the incident with Kaya and the Dutch government’s refusal to admit into the country Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Erdogan accused both Germany and Holland of having a “Nazi heritage,” leading to condemnations of Turkey by other EU leaders and Jewish groups. Turkish protesters subsequently were allowed to gather outside the Dutch Embassy in Ankara, leading to its brief closure as the Dutch and Turkish governments exchanged threats of financial sanctions…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
IPT News, February 27, 2017
For some Americans, concerns about Russian spying and interference in its elections are growing, with new reports emerging nearly every day. But in Europe, officials are fighting off an even greater incursion from another country, which is now spying even on civilians: Turkey.
Recent investigations and leaks in Germany, Austria and The Netherlands confirm ongoing efforts by Turkey's government to intimidate European-Turkish citizens suspected of having ties to Fethullah Gulen, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's one-time ally, whom he now blames for the failed coup against him last July. Imams in Germany connected to the Turkish state, for instance, admitted to spying on teachers in German state-run schools. Even teachers and parents have been asked to spy on the classes and report in any criticism of Erdogan or his government.
In Austria, parliamentarian Peter Pilz has referred to a "global spying network," with Austria's union of Turkish-Islamic groups sending reports on Gulen-tied organizations back to Ankara. Targets have included educational institutions, cultural centers, and various NGOs. And in The Netherlands, the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam has revoked the passports of several Dutch-Turks thought to support Gulen. (Turkey maintains consular offices in several Dutch cities; to date, reports of passports being revoked are limited to the Rotterdam office.)
Erdogan's involvement in European affairs beyond Turkey's borders, especially in the affairs of Europeans of Turkish descent, is nothing new. In 2008, while speaking at a rally in Cologne, Germany, he encouraged all European Turks to resist assimilation, which he called "a crime against humanity." In 2013, he interfered in a Dutch child abuse case against a Dutch-Turkish mother after the child was given over to lesbian foster parents. And last year, he called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to prosecute a German comedian who had written a song critical of him.
But the latest efforts indicate an even greater bravado, says Elise Steilberg, a Dutch columnist who frequently writes on Turkish politics. "The clearer it has become that Erdogan aims at a one-man-rule, and that in working toward his goal of constitutional change he won't hesitate to use unconventional means, the more obvious it has also become that he will do anything to get as many European Turks behind him as possible," she said in a recent e-mail. "Erdogan is now openly using all available channels to increase his influence within Europe."
The Dutch passport situation is a salient example of this effort. Both dual Dutch-Turkish citizens and Turkish citizens with residency permits have reported that their passports were confiscated at the Rotterdam office. In each case, they were said to have ties to Gulen, to Kurdish groups, or to journalists and others critical of the Turkish government. For dual citizens, this is bad enough, but those with only Turkish citizenship are rendered stateless by such a move. Some have argued that this action represents a flagrant violation of United Nations conventions, but Turkey is not a signatory to those conventions.
There is, however, an option offered to those whose passports are revoked, reports Dutch newspaper Trouw, which first broke the story. To obtain a replacement, they will be provided a one-day passport that allows them to return to Turkey. On arrival, they will be held in custody, effectively imprisoned until they can plead their case in court – a process that can take six months. In one particularly disturbing case described in Trouw, a Turkish woman was forced to relinquish her passport because her husband is a Gulenist. She is not.
But Ankara has not stopped at the door of its consulates. With Dutch elections set for March 15, Turkey is allegedly paying imams in The Netherlands to urge Dutch-Turks to vote for the anti-integration Denk (Think) party, led by Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Ozturk, both of whom are Turkish-born. Among Denk's objectives: a culture of "acceptance" rather than integration, the creation of a "racism register," and the formation of a "racism police." In an interview with Elsevier, Dutch Turkish Council Director Sefa Yurukel described the "vote Denk" messages distributed by the imams as containing "the typical arguments of Islamists." Further, he said, they indicate that Denk likely enjoys support from the Diyanet, a government body that oversees religious affairs in Turkey and among the Turkish people worldwide.
It is just that sort of effort to monitor and manipulate the behavior of Turkish citizens, even those who do not live in Turkey, that has Steilberg most concerned. While "of course all countries spy" on one another, she says, the idea of civilians spying on civilians is especially chilling. Already the Dutch have experienced some of the worst of this, as when Twitter users in the Netherlands reported to the Turkish authorities the anti-Erdogan tweets of Dutch-Turkish columnist Ebru Umar. Umar, who was in Turkey at the time, was immediately arrested, and was not permitted to return to the Netherlands for several weeks. She was eventually released only thanks to the intervention of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Now, as such government intervention becomes increasingly intertwined with religious manipulation and intrigue, the reaches of Turkey's growing theocracy into European culture seems an imminent, and ever-expanding threat.
Jerusalem Post, Mar. 14, 2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin is a world-class master when it comes to getting what he wants. He leaves nothing to chance. Putin has created a series of summits in Moscow with one goal in mind: to cement Russia’s role in the Middle East and to delineate the roles of other nations, insuring that there be no unintended conflict between parties. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Moscow last Thursday for a public, much heralded face-to-face summit with Putin. On Friday, Putin convened another summit. This one was much quieter, yet once again face-to-face, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Putin covered much of the same ground with Erdogan as he did with Netanyahu. Islamic State (ISIS), Iran, Syria, terrorism and borders were the main topics. But there were several important differences.
Both Israel and Turkey are regional players and Russia wants to make certain that they are all on the same page with regard to ISIS. He also wants to make certain that there is agreement on Syria’s President Bashar Assad – in other words, he wants to make sure that everyone is on his page. Israel says it doesn’t care about Syrian leadership – all it wants is stability and for Iran to be kept as far away as possible. Turkey wants its border quiet and the ability to cross over borders when needed to pursue and punish terrorists. They want freedom to operate in Syria and even to station troops there when necessary. Netanyahu already has an agreement with Putin that allows Israel free access to Syria.
The Israeli agreement was hammered out almost a year ago, on the eve of Passover, and was precipitated by a near crisis: Russian MiGs locked on to Israeli fighter jets. Israel did not respond militarily, choosing instead a diplomatic response. On arguably one of the busiest days on the Jewish calendar, Netanyahu took his military aides and jumped on a plane for a halfday visit in Moscow. Putin claimed no knowledge of the incident. He said he gave no permission and will never give permission for his troops to engage Israel – not in the air, on land or on the sea. He stipulated that he receive prior notice before an Israeli operation and promised not to pass that intel on to anyone. Conflict with Israel is not in Moscow’s interest. A Russian/Israeli dogfight would be a crapshoot. Putin does not gamble, he needs to always know the outcome.
In this case, there is strong possibility that Russia would lose and that loss would be a tremendous blow to Russia’s power in the region. The results could cascade into a colossal failure in Russian Middle East strategy. They would lose face just as they are gaining power. A loss to an Israeli jet could not be chalked up to luck or technical problems as is common when ISIS scores a victory. It could only mean that Israel is the superior fighting force in the region. Russia would lose face. Israel and Russia need to keep on good terms to make certain the region does not spiral into crisis.
Turkey wants the same level of cooperation. It wants the same freedom of operation. That will not happen. Russia and Turkey are talking – but there is much distrust. Putin thinks Turkey has an exaggerated sense of its own power. Turkey has challenged Russia numerous times, including downing a Russian plane, an incident that ruptured the relationship between the two countries until Turkey begged forgiveness.
When Netanyahu goes to Putin, he shows great respect for the Russian president. In return, he gets respect. Netanyahu also approaches Russia with caution and with the knowledge that Putin, and Putin alone, determines Russian policy. Contrast that with Netanyahu’s approach to the US. After the first meeting between president Bill Clinton and Netanyahu, Clinton remarked how shocked he was after meeting the Israeli. He said Netanyahu was so cocky that he was confused as to who was the leader of the free world. Netanyahu knows where power lies in the US. He has great support on both sides of the congressional aisle and among donors from both parties. He enters the White House knowing that he has leverage.
Not so in Russia. During both summits everyone agreed on ISIS and Syria. The two elephants in the room were US President Donald Trump and Iran. No one wants Iran in Syria. And Iran still supports Hezbollah and has significant troops and advisers there to defend Assad and keep him in power. Iranian and Hezbollah forces are the front line in Syria, keeping it from descending further in to crisis. While Iran and Hezbollah prevent Syria from being controlled by ISIS or al-Qaida, Russia is there to control and manage the situation. Putin and his Russia have the power. For now, Israel and Turkey are content to follow Russia. It’s the smart thing to do.
Russian Air Defense Architecture … for NATO Member Turkey?: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Mar. 14, 2017—Turkey tried it with China, unsuccessfully. Now it might try to have another go, this time with Russia. Shrugging off admonitions of caution from its western allies, NATO-member Turkey shows unmistakable signs that it seeks to build a Russian-made air defense system.
Cyprus Deal Could Speed up Israel-Turkey Gas Project – Envoy: Times of Israel, Mar. 1, 2017—A Cyprus peace deal would speed up Israel’s project to provide gas to Turkey, the new Israeli ambassador to Ankara said Wednesday.
Is Turkey Lost to the West?: Patrick J. Buchanan, CNS News, Mar. 14, 2017—Not long ago, a democratizing Turkey, with the second-largest army in NATO, appeared on track to join the European Union. That's not likely now, or perhaps ever.
Turkey’s New Curriculum: More Erdoğan, More Islam: Zia Weise, Politico, Feb. 13, 2017—With President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plans for greater powers firmly on track, Turkey’s government has set about shaping the country’s future outside the halls of parliament.
Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
Prof. Harold Waller (McGill University)
Prof. Ira Robinson, Associate Chairman (Department of Religion, Concordia University)
Baruch Cohen, Research Chairman (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
Rob Coles (Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)