Turkey and Israel: From Loveless to Fracas: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, May 29, 2018— When Turkey and Israel decided to normalize their badly strained ties in December 2016…
Erdogan: Anti-Semite and Regional Threat: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, May 18, 2018 — Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), have ruled Turkey since 2002.
Is It Time to Carve Turkey Out of NATO?: Doug Bandow, American Conservative, May 24, 2018— President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes to renew his hold on power in elections next month.
Turkey Turns On Its Christians: Anne-Christine Hoff, Middle East Quarterly, June 01, 2018— While Christians make up less than half a percent of Turkey’s population…
On Topic Links
10 Reasons to Tank the F-35 Jet Sale to Turkey: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, May 24, 2018
Endgame for the U.S. -Turkey Relationship: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, May 29, 2018
The Complex, and Often Toxic, Israel-Turkey Relationship: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2018
Erdoğan’s Turkey: A Caliphate in the Making?: Zvi Mazel, JNS, May 21, 2018
TURKEY AND ISRAEL: FROM LOVELESS TO FRACAS
Gatestone Institute, May 29, 2018
When Turkey and Israel decided to normalize their badly strained ties in December 2016, after more than six years of downgraded diplomatic relations, the first thing they did, as the protocol dictates, was to appoint ambassadors to each other’s capital. With a theoretical new chapter opening in troubled relations, Turkey and Israel appointed two prominent career diplomats, Kemal Ökem and Eitan Na’eh, respectively.
This author’s pessimistic guess at the time was: “The diplomats may be willing, but with (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan’s persistent Islamist ideological pursuits, they would seem to have only a slim chance of succeeding”. In essence, Erdoğan had pragmatically agreed to shake hands with Israel, but his ideological hostility to the Jewish state and his ideological love affair with Hamas had not disappeared. After less than a year and a half, the Turkish and Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv and Ankara are once again ambassador-less. The loveless date has turned into a tussle.
“A crime against humanity,” Turkish prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, shouted after clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters caused the deaths of dozens of demonstrators. Erdoğan described the incidents as a “genocide” and Israel as a “terrorist state.” “No matter from what side, whether from the United States or Israel, I curse this humanitarian plight, this genocide,” he said. Then what would naturally happen happened.
Turkey recalled Ökem “for consultations” and told Na’eh to leave the country “for a while.” Na’eh was shown on Turkish television undergoing an airport security check in public view in an apparent plot that aimed to degrade him in the eyes of the public. In return, Israel asked the Turkish Consul General in Jerusalem to temporarily to leave the country.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter that Erdoğan was in no position to “preach morality to us.” Netanyahu tweeted: “There is no doubt he (Erdoğan) well understands terrorism and slaughter.” Erdoğan tweeted back that Netanyahu was the leader of “an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people’s lands for 60+ years in violation of U.N. resolutions.” He added: “Want a lesson in humanity? Read the 10 commandments”.
A member of the Knesset, Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union), replied to Erdogan: “We will not accept lectures from the anti-Semitic Turkish butcher, who blows up daily thousands of Kurds living in northwestern Syria, and whose country is responsible for the massacre of the Armenian nation and the historical atrocities done to the Assyrians”. Anger in the Knesset led to various retaliatory proposals including cancelling joint meetings with senior Turkish officials, calls for Israelis to cancel vacations in Turkey and calls for Israel to recognize the rights of the Kurdish minority in Syria. More importantly, some members of the Knesset proposed passing a bill that recognized the early 20th century killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians under Ottoman rule as genocide.
In Turkey, Erdoğan summoned an emergency meeting of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation. His government quickly put together a massive anti-Israeli meeting in Istanbul. There, Erdoğan falsely compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to the Nazi persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust during World War II. “There is no difference between the atrocity faced by the Jewish people in Europe 75 years ago and the brutality that our Gaza brothers are subjected to,” he said.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called for Israel to be taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister for national infrastructure, energy and water, replied: “If Çavuşoğlu would look at what Turkey is doing to the Kurds both in Turkey and in Syria, he would understand that Turkey is ‘ripe’ to end up at the ICC long before Israel.”
Ironically, a helping hand to Erdoğan in the latest row with Israel came from Jews. Along the sidelines of his state visit to Britain, Erdoğan met in London on May 15 with members of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta International organization, a group that is against the existence of the state of Israel. “We have to realize and understand that helping the state of Israel is not in the favor of Jewish people,” Elahanan Beck, the chief rabbi of Neturei Karta, said. “If you want to help the Jewish people, follow the example of what the Turkish president did: Withdraw your ambassador from there and come out in the clear”.
The only Jewish friends Erdoğan could make were the anti-Zionist Jews. The Turkish president has never hidden his anti-Zionist (and pro-Hamas) ideology. Speaking at a United Nations forum in 2013, Erdoğan said Zionism was a crime against humanity “like fascism and Islamophobia”. How could there ever be long-lasting peace between a Zionist state and another nation whose president persistently thinks Zionism is a crime against humanity? Contents
ERDOGAN: ANTI-SEMITE AND REGIONAL THREAT Prof. Efraim Inbar
Israel Hayom, May 18, 2018
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), have ruled Turkey since 2002. Erdogan’s Turkey has gradually distanced itself from the Kemalist Republican tradition and the West, adopting domestic and foreign policies fueled by Ottoman and Islamist impulses.
His frequent outbursts in the last decade against Israel are a result of a foreign policy reorientation that no longer sees Israel as a strategic ally in a tough neighborhood, and Erdogan’s desire to have good relations with the Muslim world. Like other Muslim states, Turkey has a soft spot for the Palestinians. Moreover, Erdogan really dislikes Jews. He holds a rich record of anti-Semitic statements, which burst forth in Pavlovian fashion following any Israeli-Palestinian clash.
Erdogan’s upbringing and political trajectory indicates that he is a Turkish version of the Muslim Brotherhood. Under Erdogan, Turkey has gradually adopted policies that amount to a wholesale attempt to Islamize the country. This includes putting restrictions on the sale of alcohol, enhancing the status of religious schools, encouraging the establishment of Muslim-oriented institutions of learning, and nominating Islamists to sensitive positions in the public and private sectors.
Erdogan has put Turkey on the road to authoritarianism. Infringements on human rights have grown gradually. In truth, Turkey never has had a political system with checks and balances able to constrain attempts to consolidate power around one politician. In recent years, Erdogan has weakened further the few constitutional constraints against “Putinization” of the Turkish political system. Capitalizing on the failed coup of 2016, Erdogan pressed for a presidential political system, further centralizing power.
The longer Erdogan rules, the more power-hungry he seems to become. His authoritarian personality becomes clearer every day. The Turkish press is hardly free. Erdogan arrests even Islamist journalists that are critical of his policies. His party has infiltrated the judicial system and the police. Many foci of power, such as the bureaucracy, the banking system, industrial associations and trade unions have been mostly coopted by the AKP. Opposition political parties are largely discredited. The military, once active in politics as the defender of the Kemalist secular tradition, has been successfully sidelined.
Islamism has also colored Turkish foreign policy under Erdogan. Despite the fact that Turkey is a member of NATO, Erdogan is playing a double game with regards to the fight against the Islamic State organization. Turkey pretends to cooperate with the US in the attempt to contain radical Islam, but actually supports ISIS. It has allowed passage of volunteers through Turkish territory to join ISIS in Iraq. ISIS received logistical support via Turkey and sends its wounded militants for treatment in Turkey. Turkish military forces stood idly by the besieged city of Kobani, just across the Turkish border, while the Islamists killed Kurdish fighters. Turkey has denied the American air force access to Turkish bases, forcing the US to use distant bases when attacking ISIS targets. ISIS remnants in Syria have found refuge in Turkish-controlled Syrian territory, too.
Turkey is also openly supporting another radical Islamist organization – Hamas. Despite the Western designation of Hamas a terrorist organization, Ankara regularly hosts Hamas representatives that meet the highest Turkish dignitaries. Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, holds rabid anti-American positions. Moreover, the Turkish branch of Hamas has been involved in a series of attempts to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel, and in strengthening Hamas cells in the Palestinian Authority.
Turkey, a historic rival of Persia, even has warm relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Erdogan has admitted feeling more at ease in the bazaars of Tehran than on the Champs-Élysées. In June 2010, Turkey voted at the U.N. Security Council against a U.S.-sponsored resolution meant to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran. It has helped Iran to circumvent sanctions.
Israel has always shown an interest in having cordial relations with Turkey, an important regional power. Following this week’s mutual expulsion of diplomats, Jerusalem has no desire for a further escalation in the bilateral relationship. It is advisable to adopt a policy clearly distinguishing between the Erdogan government and the people of Turkey. The struggle over the soul of Turkey is not over yet, and sensible Turks may yet be able to overcome the current dark days.
Erdogan deserves to be portrayed as he is: an anti-Semitic Islamist, a ruthless dictator and an impulsive bully. Yet, Israel should resist the temptation to “punish” Turkey by adopting a resolution in Knesset recognizing the “Armenian genocide” – an empty gesture that will only antagonize many Turks of many political hues. Israel should ring the alarm bells about Turkish adventurism. Under Erdogan, Turkey has become a dangerous country. It is challenging the agreed borders with Greece. It bullies Cyprus, a third of which is occupied by Turkish forces. It has a military presence in Iraq and Syria and bases in Qatar and Sudan. It dreams of establishing a front against Israel on the Golan Heights.
Therefore, it is imperative that the U.S. administration and Congress halt the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, as well as any other military equipment in the pipeline, in order to prevent strengthening the Turkish military. Erdogan’s Turkey is not a reliable Western ally. Strengthening the Turkish military might encourage Erdogan to engage in additional military adventures in the Middle East. Turkey is a serious problem for Israel, but also for the moderate Sunni states and for the West.
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
IS IT TIME TO CARVE TURKEY OUT OF NATO?
American Conservative, May 24, 2018
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes to renew his hold on power in elections next month. His authority is not yet absolute: a judge recently ordered the release of several journalists convicted on dubious terrorism charges. Although they are now free on appeal, few observers believe they will ultimately prevail in a judicial system dominated by Erdogan.
Since the attempted coup in July 2016, the government has arrested around 160,000 people, imprisoned an estimated 50,000, and tossed another 152,000 public employees from their jobs. Many of the latter are effectively unemployable, denied government work while private employers are afraid to hire them. Substantial numbers of Turks have lost jobs at private companies responding to government pressure.
Among those arrested was Taner Kilic, the Turkey chair of Amnesty International. Journalists also have endured Erdogan’s wrath: 300 have been detained and 160 have been tried so far. Personal assets and entire businesses have been confiscated, and more than 1,500 non-governmental organizations have been shut down, mostly for alleged terrorist offenses.
Turkey’s tilt toward dictatorship does not make it unique among America’s allies. At least the Turkish government still holds elections that allow some genuine opposition. In fact, Erdogan advanced the presidential and parliamentary elections from 2019 to June 24 to improve his chances, though few imagine him losing.
However, Turkey’s political environment is still far from free. Human Rights Watch pointed out that last year’s constitutional referendum, which barely passed, was conducted “in an environment of heavy media censorship, with many journalists and parliamentarians from the pro-Kurdish opposition in jail.” Last month the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein urged the end of the state of emergency. He observed: “It is difficult to imagine how credible elections can be held in an environment where dissenting views and challenges to the ruling party are penalized so severely.”
More serious for Washington, Ankara no longer is a true U.S. ally. Turkey’s activities increasingly inhibit important American international objectives and are inconsistent with its membership in NATO. The Muslim state gained its reputation as a critical ally during the Cold War, guarding Europe’s southeastern flank. Yet after downing a Russian plane in 2015, Erdogan did more than mend relations with the Putin government: Turkey formed a working relationship with Moscow in Syria. Even though they disagree on the appropriate fate of the Assad government, both want the U.S. out of northern Syria.
Turkey’s incursion directly threatens U.S. policy. Kurdish forces were America’s most faithful ally against ISIS in Syria. They unsurprisingly felt betrayed by the U.S., and may be less than enthusiastic about backing other American objectives. Worse, the Turkish invasion has placed the United States in between the combatants, leading Turkish officials and American military officers to exchange threats as Ankara threatened to attack U.S. forces based near Kurdish militias. Ankara has always prioritized combatting Kurdish militias and preventing the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish state along its border over fighting the Islamic State. Indeed, in the early years of Syria’s civil war, Ankara cooperated with ISIS, tolerating the cross-border movement of men and materiel and sale of captured oil.
Turkey once earned brownie points in Washington for supporting Israel. However, Erdogan has since shifted in an Islamist direction and taken a distinctly hostile stance toward Israel. Cyprus also remains divided by Turkey’s 1974 invasion. In the name of its client, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Ankara has actively interfered in Cyprus’s attempt to develop off-shore natural gas deposits.
Ankara also threatens Greece, another NATO ally. Turkey never accepted Greek sovereignty over nearby islands and the surrounding sea, and Turkish air and sea incursions have increased in recent months. The game turned deadly in April, when a Greek pilot died in a crash after intercepting two Turkish planes in Greek airspace. Greece just announced plans to spend $1.45 billion to upgrade its F-16 interceptors to better match Turkey’s. Ankara’s pending purchase of Russian S-400 missiles poses another challenge to the transatlantic alliance.
If Turkey acted like a real ally it would be easier to tolerate Ankara’s growing authoritarianism, including when Erdogan’s visiting bodyguards literally beat peaceful American protesters outside the Turkish embassy in May 2017. After all, Washington has rarely allowed a few human rights violations to get in the way of a beautiful geopolitical friendship. But the Erdogan government fails on both counts….
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
TURKEY TURNS ON ITS CHRISTIANS
Middle East Quarterly, June 01, 2018
While Christians make up less than half a percent of Turkey’s population, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Reconciliation Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) depict them as a grave threat to the stability of the nation. With Erdoğan’s jihadist rhetoric often stereotyping Christian Turkish citizens as not real Turks but rather as Western stooges and collaborators, many Turks seem to be tilting toward an “eliminationist anti-Christian mentality,” to use historian Daniel Goldhagen’s term. Small wonder that the recent launch of an official online genealogy service allowing Turks to trace their ancestry has kindled a tidal xenophobic wave on the social media welcoming the fresh possibility to expose “Crypto-Armenians, Greeks, and Jews” mascarading as true Turks.
Persecution of Turkey’s Christian minority has long predated Erdoğan and the AKP. As it stood on the verge of extinction, the Ottoman Empire engaged in mass deportations and massacres that culminated in the Armenian genocide. The end of World War I saw the expulsion of more than a million Greeks, and the position of the dwindling Christian community only somewhat improved in Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s secularist republic. Yet while Kemalist Turkey paid lip service to the equality of its non-Muslim minorities, the AKP unabashedly excludes these groups from Turkey’s increasingly Islamist national ethos.
An ominous indication of what lay in store for the religious minorities was afforded as early as December 1998 when Erdoğan, then mayor of Istanbul and an opposition politician, announced that the “mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers,” quoting a line from a poem by the nineteenth-century nationalist poet Ziya Gökalp underscoring the Islamist foundation of Turkish identity. And while this recitation landed Erdoğan in prison for inciting religion-based hatred, once at the helm, he steadily realized this vision, systematically undoing Atatürk’s secularist legacy and Islamizing Turkey’s public space through such means as the government-operated Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), which pays the salaries of the country’s 110,000 imams and controls the content of their Friday sermons.
Things came to a head during the July 15, 2016 abortive coup when the regime ordered the imams to go to their mosques and urge the faithful to take to the streets to quash the attempted revolt. Not surprisingly, this Islamist-nationalist reassertion was accompanied by numerous Christophobic manifestations (in Ayyan Hirsi Ali’s words), notably attacks on churches throughout the country. In Malatya, for example, a gang chanting “Allahu Akbar” broke the glass panels of the front door of a Protestant church while, in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, rioters smashed the windows of the Santa Maria Catholic church. Witnesses said the attackers used hammers to break down the door of the church before Muslim neighbors drove them away. As Istanbul pastor Yüce Kabakçı lamented: “The reality is that Turkey is neither a democracy nor a secular republic. There is no division between government affairs and religious affairs. There’s no doubt that the government uses the mosques to get its message across to its grassroots supporters. There is an atmosphere in Turkey right now that anyone who isn’t Sunni is a threat to the stability of the nation. Even the educated classes here don’t associate personally with Jews or Christians. It’s more than suspicion. It’s a case of let’s get rid of anyone who isn’t Sunni.”
Anti-Christian incitement continued apace after the coup. In February 2017, Turkey’s Association of Protestant Churches released its annual “Rights Violation Report,” which claimed that anti-Christian hate speech had increased in Turkey in both social and conventional media, reaching extreme levels during the 2016 Christmas season. Churches in particular faced serious terror threats with the government doing little to stop these open Christophobic displays…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
On Topic Links
10 Reasons to Tank the F-35 Jet Sale to Turkey: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, May 24, 2018 —The F-35 is a U.S.-manufactured fifth-generation combat platform with stealth capabilities, probably the best fighter jet in the world. (Israel just received its first F-35 jets, and has used them operationally over Syria.)
Endgame for the U.S. -Turkey Relationship: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, May 29, 2018—On Monday, NATO ally Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Washington. The severe step is meant to punish the U.S. for opening an embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. Also Monday, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador to Turkey. It had already withdrawn its ambassador from Tel Aviv.
The Complex, and Often Toxic, Israel-Turkey Relationship: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2018—“Shame on you!” tweeted Ibrahim Kalin, adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Monday. Kalin condemned the killing of Palestinians in Gaza and contrasted it with the “singing and celebrating” as the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem. “The world shares this shame in its silence.”
Erdoğan’s Turkey: A Caliphate in the Making?: Zvi Mazel, JNS, May 21, 2018—The new crisis with Israel initiated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Gaza so called “March of Return” demonstrations, taken together with his decision to advance the presidential election, should be regarded as an integral part of his bid for regional hegemony.