ERDOGAN AIMS FOR NEO-OTTOMAN EMPIRE; NO “SAFE SPACES” AT UNIVERSITIES FOR JEWISH STUDENTS
Volume X1, No. 4,027 • Apr. 13, 2017 • April 14, 2017
The Other Islamic State: Erdogan’s Vision for Turkey: Daniel Pipes, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 13, 2017 — This Sunday, millions of Turks will vote to endorse or reject constitutional amendments passed in January by Turkey’s Parliament.
Turkey's Barks and Bites: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Apr. 11, 2017— Turkey's foreign policy and the rhetoric that presumably went to support it, has, during the past several years, aimed less at achieving foreign policy goals and more at consolidating voters' support for the Ankara government.
My Search for a Safe College for Jews: Sruli Fruchter, Algemeiner, Mar. 13, 2017 — As I began my research into choosing a college, I was repeatedly told that colleges are tolerant and accepting environments for every individual, regardless of his or her identity and beliefs.
How to Prevent Universities From Becoming Nurseries: Reuven Brenner, Asia Times, Mar. 15, 2017 — The undergrad dean at McGill University in Montreal found it appropriate to circulate the text below to faculty – including the business school…
A Case For Supporting Israel (Video): Dennis Prager, United With Israel, Apr. 10, 2017
The Permanent State of Crisis in Turkey: Soner Cagaptay, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 12, 2017
The Only Thing Modern Universities Couldn’t Make Worse is United Airlines’ PR Team: Rex Murphy, National Post, Apr. 13, 2017
Historians Run Amok: Daniel Pipes, National Review, Apr. 4, 2017
Wall Street Journal, Apr. 13, 2017
This Sunday, millions of Turks will vote to endorse or reject constitutional amendments passed in January by Turkey’s Parliament. An opinion piece published by the German news agency Deutsche Welle explains that the “crucial” amendments “give all the power to one person, with almost no accountability,” eliminating what is left of democracy in Turkey. Virtually all observers agree that if the referendum passes, Turkey will be transformed into an authoritarian state.
I, along with a few others, disagree. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan years ago arrogated all the powers that the constitutional changes would bestow on him. He is already lord of all he sees for as long as he wants, whether through democratic means or by fixing election results. If the referendum passes, it will merely prettify that reality.
Consider the nature of Mr. Erdogan’s power. The obsequious prime minister, Binali Yildirim, tirelessly advocates for the constitutional changes that will eliminate his own office, historically the most powerful in the country. Criticism of the almighty president can get even a child thrown into jail. The most tenuous connection to a (possibly staged) coup d’état attempt last July means losing one’s job—or worse. The state routinely jails journalists on the bogus charge of terrorism, and truly independent publications are shuttered.
If Mr. Erdogan has no need for constitutional changes, which amount to a legislative triviality, why does he obsessively chase them? Perhaps as added insurance against ever being hauled into court for his illegal actions. Perhaps to assure a handpicked successor the power to continue his program. Perhaps to flatter his vanity.
Whatever the source of Mr. Erdogan’s compulsion, it greatly damages Turkey’s standing in the world. When his aides were not permitted to rally Turks living in Germany for the constitutional changes, he accused the Germans of “employing Nazi measures.” He also compared the Netherlands to a banana republic after Turkish ministers were prevented from speaking in Rotterdam. This souring of relations has already led to a breakdown in military ties with Germany.
Implicitly threatening street attacks on Europeans hardly helped Mr. Erdogan’s international standing, nor did allowing one of his close allies to call for Turkey to develop its own nuclear weapons. More damaging yet, the leader restarted a civil war with the Kurds in July 2015 as a gambit to win support of a nationalist party in Parliament, a move that has already had dreadful human consequences.
This insistence on doing things his way fits a pattern. Mr. Erdogan could have won visa-free travel for Turks traveling to Europe, but he refused a meaningless change to the definition of terrorism in Turkey’s criminal code. He harms relations with Washington by making the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen a personal fixation. He potentially disrupts relations with 35 countries by setting his intelligence agencies to spy on pro-Gulen Turks. Former Trump adviser Mike Flynn tarnished his image by registering as a foreign agent representing Turkey’s interests in 2016.
Mr. Erdogan’s narcissism increases the price of dictatorship by causing him to make unwarranted mistakes. A once cautious and calculating leader now pursues baubles that only generate enmities. This has damaged the economic growth that fueled his popularity. Mr. Erdogan has turned into a self-parody, with his 1,100-room palace and Ruritanian honor guard.
Where will it end? The president has two apparent objectives. First, Mr. Erdogan seeks to reverse Kemal Atatürk’s westernizing reforms to reinstitute the Ottoman Empire’s Islamic ways. Second, he wants to elevate himself to the grand, ancient Islamic position of caliph, an especially vivid prospect since Islamic State resurrected this long-moribund position in 2014. Those two ambitions could meld together exactly 100 years after Atatürk abolished the caliphate, either on March 10, 2021 (by the Islamic calendar), or March 4, 2024 (by the Christian calendar). Either of these dates offers a perfect occasion for Mr. Erdogan to undo the handiwork of the secular Atatürk and declare himself caliph of all Muslims.
No one inside Turkey can effectively resist Mr. Erdogan’s enormous ambitions. This leaves him free to continue in his erratic ways, stirring trouble at home and abroad. That is, unless he one day trips, likely over an external crisis. Meantime, Turks and millions of others will pay an increasing price for his vainglorious rule.
Gatestone Institute, Apr. 11, 2017
Turkey's foreign policy and the rhetoric that presumably went to support it, has, during the past several years, aimed less at achieving foreign policy goals and more at consolidating voters' support for the Ankara government. Self-aggrandizing behavior has predominantly shaped policy and functioned to please the Turks' passion for a return to their glorious Ottoman past.
Assertive and confrontational diplomatic language and playing the tough guy of the neighborhood may have helped garner popular support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), but after years of "loud barking and no biting", Turkey has effectively become the victim of its own narrative. In 2010, Turkey froze diplomatic relations with Israel and promised "internationally to isolate the Jewish state", and never to restore ties unless, along with two other conditions, Jerusalem removed its naval blockade of Gaza to prevent weapons from being brought in that would be used to attack Israel. Turkey's prime minister at the time, Ahmet Davutoglu, said Israel would "kneel down to us". In 2016, after rounds of diplomatic contacts, Turkey and Israel agreed to normalize their relations. The blockade of Gaza, to prevent shipments of weaponry to be used by Gazans in terror attacks remains in effect.
In 2012, Davutoglu claimed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's days in power were numbered, "not by years but by weeks or months". In 2016, Davutoglu had to step down as prime minister, but Erdogan's and his worst regional nemesis, Assad, is in power to this day, enjoying increased Russian and Iranian backing. In 2012, Erdogan said that "we will soon go to Damascus to pray at the Umayyad mosque" -- a political symbol of Assad's downfall and his replacement by pro-Turkey Sunni groups. That prayer remains to be performed.
In November 2015, shortly after Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 military jet and cited violation of its airspace, Erdogan warned Russia "not to play with fire." As for the Russian demands for an apology, Erdogan said it was Turkey that deserved an apology because its airspace had been violated, and that Turkey would not apologize to Russia. In June 2016, just half a year after Russia imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Turkey, Erdogan apologized to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Erdogan and his government have countless times warned the United States not to side with the Syrian Kurds --whom Turkey views as a terrorist group-- in the allied fight against radical jihadists of ISIL's Islamic State. In March 2017, Washington denied that Syrian Kurds were a terrorist group and pledged continued support for them.
Erdogan's Turkey has done more than enough to show that its bark is worse than its bite. Yet it keeps barking badly. This time, the enemy to bark at, not bite, is Europe. This is the first time that Erdogan is openly challenging a concerted European stand. In a recent row between several European capitals and Ankara over Erdogan's ambitions to hold political rallies across Europe to address millions of Turkish expatriates, the Turkish president said he would ignore that he was unwelcome in Germany and would go there to speak to his Turkish fans. In response, the Dutch government deported one of Erdogan's ministers who had gone uninvited to the Netherlands to speak to the Turkish community there. Germany launched two investigations into alleged Turkish spying on German soil. Similarly, Switzerland opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Erdogan's government had spied on expatriate Turks.
In Copenhagen, the Danish government summoned the Turkish ambassador over claims that Danish-Turkish citizens were being denounced over views critical of Erdogan. The barking kept on. In Turkey, Erdogan warned that Europeans would not be able to walk the streets safely if European nations persist in what he called "arrogant conduct." That comment caused the EU to summon the Turkish ambassador in Brussels to explain Erdogan's threatening language. Farther east, in the rich European bloc, several hundred Bulgarians blocked the three main checkpoints at the Bulgarian-Turkish border to prevent Turks with Bulgarian passports, but who were living in Turkey, from voting in Bulgarian elections. The protesters claimed that Turkish officials were forcing expatriate voters to support a pro-Ankara party.
Meanwhile, at the EU's southeast flank, Greece said that its armed forces were ready to respond to any Turkish threat to the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. What happened to Erdogan's promised "bite" that he could go to Germany to speak to the Turkish community despite repeated German warnings that he would not be welcome? "I will not go to Germany," he said on March 23.
Erdogan may be winning hearts and minds in Turkey with his neo-Ottoman Turkey "barks." But too few foreign capitals find his threats serious, too few politicians think that he is convincing and too many people tend to believe Turkey's bark is worse than its bite. The recent wave of European constraints against Erdogan shows that, for the first time in recent years, Europe does not seem to fear Erdogan's bluffing and thuggishness. At the moment, Erdogan's priority is to win the referendum on April 16 that he hopes will change the constitution so that he can be Sultan-for-life. Picking fights with "infidel" Europeans might help him garner more support from conservative and nationalist Turks. When the voting is done, however, he will have to face the reality that an alliance cannot function forever with one party constantly blackmailing the other.
Algemeiner, Mar. 13, 2017
As I began my research into choosing a college, I was repeatedly told that colleges are tolerant and accepting environments for every individual, regardless of his or her identity and beliefs. My meetings with high school guidance counselors and my experiences on campus tours, so far, have only seemed to affirm this impression. I was thus quite excited by the idea that, when I got to college, to a diverse community where freedom of speech is paramount, I could openly practice my religion and advocate for my beliefs without fear of intimidation or backlash from my fellow students. Unfortunately, what I have been reading about lately suggests otherwise.
Since the beginning of 2016, the number of antisemitic incidents on college campuses has surged, increasing by 45 percent compared to 2015, according to a study by AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to combating campus antisemitism. The AMCHA report includes every type of incident, from swastikas being engraved in bathrooms or on dorm doors to students being verbally and physically harassed. I was astonished at just how ubiquitous antisemitism has become, occurring at so many universities.
Even a school as prominent and prestigious as New York University did not escape the scourge: Last November, four NYU students awoke to find large, dark swastikas scrawled on their doors. When I saw the online photos, my heart tightened and my stomach constricted. Questions and concerns raced through my head: What if that were my door? How would I cope with the realization that my identity, my religion, made me a target of abuse? How could a diverse and tolerant campus such as NYU be home to such hostility, and in the dorms in particular? Can the school remain a viable college choice for me?
These questions circled through my mind without any answers. And of course it wasn’t just NYU. In recent months, many other prominent colleges — such as the University of Maryland, Hunter College, Georgetown University, Swarthmore College — have been the sites of similar heinous attacks. At Northwestern University in November, a Jewish Studies lecturer was asked if he was Jewish by a man in a vehicle. When the professor said yes, the unidentified man raised his arm in a Nazi salute and yelled “Heil Hitler.” Shockingly, the mainstream media barely covered the story. In fact, AMCHA reported over 600 hate crimes against Jews on college campuses in 2016, yet there was, and has been, no national outrage. Except for news outlets that focus on Jewish matters, such as The Algemeiner, most of these episodes received only minimal local coverage at best.
If the assailants at NYU had scrawled anti-Muslim threats on the doors of NYU students, the story would have received national attention. If that lecturer were a man of Muslim faith who was attacked with hateful, religion-based slurs, there would have been universal outrage — including on the relevant campus itself. When it comes to Jews, however, these offenses are largely tolerated. The university president may utter general words of condemnation, but the bottom line is this: the general public, and the campus community, do not truly stand with the Jews among them. Jewish students are more or less defenseless in the face of hate.
The fact that colleges have evolved into arenas where antisemitism doesn’t merely occur but seems actively tolerated, shakes me to my core. Becoming a victim of antisemitism on campus has become a serious fear for me, a worry that haunts me as I continue my research into schools, trying to find an institution that could offer me not merely a good education, but safety and security. What awaits me, when I begin college? Swastikas on my door? Racial slurs from other students? Physical assaults? Can this truly be how things are — in the United States, in the year 2017?
Asia Times, Mar. 15, 2017
The undergrad dean at McGill University in Montreal found it appropriate to circulate the text below to faculty – including the business school: “Mental Health Workshop will be offered on March 17: The following issues will be addressed during the workshop:
Academic performance can bring up many emotions for both undergraduate and graduate students. How can you, as an instructor or academic adviser, identify and respond appropriately to students who withdraw or behave in a distressed, disruptive, or dangerous manner? This 2.5-hour workshop will address noticing behaviors of concern, initiating supportive conversations, and mobilizing appropriate support resources. Since supporting students in distress can take an emotional toll on instructors and advisers, the importance of caring for yourself will also be discussed.” Here there are 18-year-old adults, with rights to vote and their older, “I feel your pain” frame-of-mind faculty, who, the university administration believes, must be pampered because – horror! – “academic performance can bring up many emotions”. Poor, poor babies.
Other young people their age are enlisted in the army; sent overseas; working in farms, factories, construction, mines and oilfields. Non-academics toil hours in factories, in freezing streets, in hospitals, cutting trees, driving buses and trains – but academia is singled out for the emotional toll working with – presumably – young adults, already selected for their superior skills. Working youth risk their lives and pay taxes, as do many adults not employed by academia or other subsidized entities. And what do universities worry about? That their heavily subsidized students and faculty suffer disproportionate emotional distress in need of accommodation.
Take a step back and think: Other people in the students’ age group serve in the military and pay tax, whereas they, the privileged students, many of whom will end up with higher-paying jobs than their already working counterparts are subsidized, resulting – predictably – in increased inequality in a few years. Yet, having too much time on their hands, and being self-absorbed in much faddish nonsense that passes for knowledge taught at universities these days (true, these are unlikely to result in high incomes), students demonstrate for – hold your breath – wiping out students’ debts, keeping tuition low and getting more subsidies. Their thinking is apparently: “Why not let already hard-working youth pay for our studies, and let the foolish young entrepreneurs wanting to open a shop, a plumbing and electrical-repair business, start a venture, pay all our debts and taxes too?” We hardly hear about the latter group, as they work, whereas the former riot, demonstrate, break windows and make noise. A lot of noise.
The McGill circular is particularly embarrassing for being sent to a business faculty. After all, the faculty there should know something about working in business and the daily stress any career in business brings about. There is no tenure in business; you are expected to be responsible and be held accountable for your actions; even if you land a job, you must continuously learn and update, and you had better do it from your initiative, because if you do not, you fall behind. It means nothing to have been a decent computer-engineering student five, 10, 20 years ago. If you rested on your laurels, your knowledge today is worth nothing.
So in what institutions – if not universities – could youngsters be conveyed what is expected from them once they finish their studies? Most countries no longer have mandatory military service, not even 18 months of national service that could teach youngsters not only some discipline, but also that life is not only about rights but obligations too, and allowing youth from different sides of the track to interact. Claiming “becoming emotional” because of … reading (!), being asked to learn(!) and being required to pass exams and show that they indeed did and can be assigned responsibilities, will not secure any jobs – except perhaps in academia and government bureaucracy or some wishy-washy NGO. What career in business can any faculty member recommend such emotionally unstable students for?
So maybe it is time for societies to wake up, and stop subsidizing universities without strong strings attached, and forcing them to carry out the task for which they have been created: Passing on skills and ideas from one generation to the next, hoping the young generation will improve upon them – knowing full well that the latter can only be done by rigorous selection of both students and faculty – no whiners.
If some faculty and students cannot deal with the emotional demands of learning, perhaps they should consider retiring to a monastery or nunnery – or invent new institutions to accommodate these days’ questioning, apparently stressed-to-the-limits volatile new gender categories. And universities should get back to having far better selections of both students and faculty. And students matter more than faculty: Brilliant students will end up being brilliant even if their professors are not. But if professors are brilliant but the students are mediocre and below, and undisciplined, they will end up mediocre and below and undisciplined. Society does no favors to youngsters by keeping them on university real estate if they are unable to learn and find the will to discipline themselves. Claiming anxiety and being emotionally upset, and having an entire “disability office” within universities writing rules to make their lives easier, getting degrees with less effort than their emotionally mature counterparts, is a recipe for disaster, leading to a generation of spoiled but potentially frustrated youth…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom & Chag Sameach!
No Isranet Daily Briefing Will Be Published On Monday
A Case For Supporting Israel (Video): Dennis Prager, United With Israel, Apr. 10, 2017—Leading up to Passover, American talk-show host and best-selling author Dennis Prager reminds us of the message in the Haggadah, which states in each and every generation, somebody rises up to annihilate the Jewish people. In this generation, it’s Iran. In the last generation, it was Germany.
The Permanent State of Crisis in Turkey: Soner Cagaptay, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 12, 2017—As Turkey gets ready for Sunday’s referendum, the country’s deep social chasm gives even the most ardent optimist grave cause for concern.
The Only Thing Modern Universities Couldn’t Make Worse is United Airlines’ PR Team: Rex Murphy, National Post, Apr. 13, 2017 —To the profundities of campus White Privilege studies we may now add a fresh intellectual misery: a drive for social justice for the chronically left-handed. Something calling itself — I’m avoiding dominant pronominal discourse here — the Chief Justice of the New Orleans University Student Government Association, recently posted under the rubric of Right-Handed Privilege a series of guidelines.
Historians Run Amok: Daniel Pipes, National Review, Apr. 4, 2017—The eminent historian Niall Ferguson has devastatingly skewered his (and my) field of study in a talk for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, subsequently published as “The Decline and Fall of History.”
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)