Israel Kasnett

Jerusalem Post, February 17, 2012

This week is the eighth annual Israeli Apartheid Week—the start of an annual campaign that seeks to delegitimize Israel and, according to the official website, “educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement.…”

The events will take place from February 20 to March 10 in Europe, February 26 to March 3 in the US, March 5-11 in Arab countries and South Africa, [and March 5-9 in Canada]. The website encourages activists to “Join us in making this a year of struggle against apartheid and for justice, equality, and peace.”

To be clear, these activists are not pro-Palestinian as they claim, but rather are anti-Israel. In their blind vigor to delegitimize Israel, they fail to understand that a Palestinian society that kills its own young girls in “honor killings” is not just. A society that treats its own women as second-class citizens is not interested in equality. A society that glorifies suicide bombers is not interested in peace.

And there is no logical reason these activists should take any more interest in the Palestinians than they do in the causes of others. There are millions of people around the globe suffering from far worse, but these so-called activists have decided to launch a BDS campaign on the one democracy in the Middle East solely because it is Jewish. These are people who are not concerned that the Palestinians do not have a state of their own. Rather, they are concerned with the fact that the Jewish people do.

Anti-Israel events such as Israel Apartheid Week are damaging since they reinforce, for those who are easily swayed, the false notion that Israel is an apartheid state and deserves to be sanctioned by the international community.… Thankfully, numerous pro-Israel groups today…have managed to stem the influence that anti-Israel groups have on unsuspecting students.… Will pro-Israel activists change the minds of those who are bent on defending Palestinians unconditionally? The answer is no. But activists can steer the argument in the right direction.…

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time—a tremendous whack.…” Good luck to all of you on campus who fight for Israel daily. Don’t ever give up. You are the Diaspora IDF.

David M. Weinberg

Israel Hayom, January 22, 2012

“Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are,” goes the old adage. If that’s the case, Israel, America and the Western world are in big trouble. U.S. President Barack Obama has just named the semi-dictator of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as one of the five world leaders with whom he has a “friendship and bond of trust.” Woe be to us.

Obama told TIME Magazine that his diplomatic endeavors had been more effective because he shared “trust and confidence” with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Erdogan, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, in that order.…

Israeli media, of course, played up the fact that Obama did not list Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.… But that, unfortunately, is not surprising, and it misses the point. The point—and the shocker—is that Obama does feel a kinship to Erdogan, one of the most anti-Western, anti-Israel, pro-Islamist and nasty leaders on the globe.

Erdogan has led a major reorientation in Turkish foreign policy away from the West and towards the West’s worst enemies, including Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in Gaza, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Everyone knows that he has crashed Turkish-Israel relations, which are seen as a burden within the framework of the new Turkish foreign policy. Erdogan hardly lets a week pass without disparaging or criticizing Israel or the Jews. This undoubtedly fits well with the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments prevalent in the Muslim world. But Erdogan is Obama’s friend, with whom Obama shares a “friendship and bond of trust.”

Erdogan has curtailed freedom of the press, the freedoms of academia and the independence of the judiciary in his own country, as he attempts to build a centralized, authoritarian presidential system to suit his ambitions. Human rights in Turkey have gone from bad to worse.…

Turkey has become a very unreliable member of NATO. Led by the AKP (Erdogan’s political party), the Turkish Parliament denied permission to U.S. troops to use Turkish territory to open a northern front against Iraq in 2003. During the Georgian crisis in the summer of 2008, Ankara was slow in responding to American requests to send ships into the Black Sea via the Bosporus Strait. An even more flagrant deviation from NATO values has been the nascent military relationship and “strategic partnership” (Erdogan’s words) between Turkey and China, including the unprecedented inclusion of Chinese warplanes in a 2010 Turkish military exercise, called Anatolian Eagle, that had previously included the U.S. and Israel.…

Turkey further deviated from the Western consensus by hosting Sudanese Islamist President Omar Hassan al-Bashir twice in 2008. Bashir was charged with war crimes and genocide in Darfur. Since then, Erdogan has hosted Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Ankara and backed Hamas.

Erdogan has visited Iran numerous times since 2009 and has sided with Iran on the nuclear issue, declaring Turkish support for Tehran’s “peaceful nuclear program” and voting repeatedly against American-initiated sanctions against Iran.… Erdogan has agreed to establish a $2 billion crude oil-refinery in northern Iran in defiance of the U.S., and voted against every attempt to censure Iran for building secret uranium enrichment facilities. Turkish banks openly cooperate with Iranian banks to circumvent Western sanctions.…

Erdogan is so unhinged when it comes to Israel that in 2009 he preposterously accused Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of threatening to attack the Gaza Strip with a nuclear weapon. More recently, he has threatened Israel with war over gas fields in the Mediterranean.

Turkey is an important country whose foreign policy reorientation changes the balance of power in the Middle East in favor of the radical Islamist forces. It is negatively affecting the pro-Western orientation of the Central Asian republics. It is considerably weakening the Western strategic alliance, and working assiduously to undermine Israel’s safety and security. Erdogan is directly responsible for this. But of all the world’s leaders, one of the five Obama feels closest to is Erdogan.… Unbelievable.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner

Jerusalem Post, January 23, 2012

In the wake of Gov. Rick Perry’s withdrawal from the Republican presidential race, pundits argue[d] over the reasons for his rise and fall. But one thing is for certain: Perry was the only candidate who told the truth about Turkey’s support for anti-Israel Islamic terrorists.

Perry was roundly criticized after he remarked, in the January 17 candidates’ debate, that Turkey “is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists.” In response, The US State Department called Turkey “a stalwart ally” of the United States that “plays a very positive and constructive role in the region.” The New York Times…asserted flat-out that Perry’s statement was “inaccurate” and characterized Turkey’s governing party as “moderate.” Huffington Post columnist Dorian de Wind mocked Perry as an “uninformed Texas cowboy.”

But within hours, Gov. Perry’s critics were left with more than a little egg on their faces as the foreign minister of Iran, the world’s leading terrorist state, arrived in Turkey for a visit aimed at further strengthening the already-friendly relations between the two countries. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi announced in Ankara that trade between his terrorist regime and Turkey, which had been just $5 billion annually in the past, hit $15 b. in 2010 and will reach $30 b. by 2015. Salehi, by the way, has met his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, no less than 11 times in the past 12 months. How is that “positive and constructive”?

The truth about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government is that they have become experts at playing both sides of the fence—making “moderate” noises when Western ears are listening, while collaborating with Islamic terrorists and terrorist regimes whenever they can get away with it.

Thus while the United States has been struggling to find ways to stop Iran’s nuclear development, Erdogan has been defending the Iranians. During his visit to Tehran…in October 2009, he denounced Western sanctions against Iran as “arrogant.…” Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad reciprocated by praising Erdogan for his “clear stance against” Israel.

In December 2010, Erdogan traveled to Libya—Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya—to receive the “Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights.” Erdogan was not the least bit embarrassed to accept such an award from one of the world’s worst human rights abusers.… He told reporters that relations between Turkey and Libya were “growing,” and that there was “much Turkish investment” in Gadaffi’s Libya. Three months later, the US was leading the NATO assault on Turkey’s Libyan friends.

Turkey’s support for the Hamas terrorists has been consistent, passionate and unequivocal. The Turkish government sponsored the May 2010 flotilla that was intercepted while attempting to bring prohibited materials to the Hamas regime in Gaza. Erdogan’s claim that the flotilla participants were peaceful civil rights activists crumbled as the whole world watched the chilling YouTube video of the Islamic extremists on board trying to beat an Israeli soldier to death with baseball bats. Other Israeli soldiers were stabbed and nearly drowned. Erdogan said it was the Israeli soldiers who were “terrorizing” the Muslim baseball players.…

[Erdogan also] told PBS’s Charlie Rose last May: “I don’t see Hamas as a terror organization. Hamas is a political party. And it is an organization. It is a resistance movement.…” According to media reports last month, Turkey intends to give Hamas $300 million in aid. And [in January], Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh received the red carpet treatment on an official state visit to Turkey.…

Those who befriend Iran and finance Hamas have made it clear that they are with the terrorists. Just like Rick Perry said.

Yesim Erez

Pajamas Media, February 1, 2012

Both U.S. policy and Middle Eastern Islamists have repeatedly held up the “Turkish model” as an ideal.… During the last year, Western governments and mass media have urged new, post-revolutionary Arab governments to follow the ‘Turkish model” as a way of achieving a moderate democracy. The problem with this approach is that the Turkish model is not so moderate, democratic, or admirable.

Since achieving power almost a decade ago, the AKP has built, step-by-step, a Putin-style permanent regime by knocking over institution after institution, changing laws to give itself more power, and intimidating opponents.

Now, the last two surviving institutions, [the military and the judiciary], have received this treatment. Top military officers have been forced to resign, and scores have been arrested and imprisoned on flimsy charges. In 2010 the AKP pushed through a series of constitutional amendments that included increasing the number of members in Turkey’s Constitutional Court—its equivalent of a supreme court—from eleven to seventeen, allowing the AKP to achieve a majority of its own supporters. The size of the Supreme Board of Prosecutors and Judges (HSYK), the body that approves judges and prosecutors, was increased from seven to twenty-two appointees. AKP filled the positions with partisans, ensuring itself absolute power over the judiciary branch of government in Turkey.

Under the AKP, Turkey has become a world leader in imprisoning journalists, students, and politicians of opposing viewpoints exercising their rights to free speech. According to the International Center for Prison Studies, the number of people in Turkey’s prisons doubled between 2006 and 2010. Close to half of them are being held without trial.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2011 “Global Gender Gap Report” measuring the gap between men and women in economic participation, educational attainment, health, and political empowerment, Turkey bottomed at 122 out of 135—down from 106 in 2006, and heading in the direction of Saudi Arabia.…

Since Western governments and media don’t criticize [Erdogan’s] regime, it can claim that it has increased Turkey’s prestige and power in the world. But central to this strategy is the conquest of all national institutions, like the mass media. In 2009, for example, the Dogan Media Group—one of the largest media enterprises to be accused of being “anti-government”—was slapped with a tax fine of about $3 billion, an amount that exceeded its market value. The fine is held over its head as a way of achieving a more positive stance toward the government.…

If the current Turkish regime is the model for the entire Middle East or Muslim world, this is a rather questionable model.…

Kemal Kılıçdaroglu

Washington Post, February 5, 2012

Many in Washington have been debating whether Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) could be a model for the Arab Spring.… But the reality in Turkey makes clear that the AKP model does not hold.

On Nov. 9 I visited the Silivri prison where hundreds of journalists, publishers, military officers, academics and politicians are being held. Trials were opened in 2007 on charges that an ultranationalist underground organization had plotted for years to overthrow the government. Many of those indicted have been detained for years without trial. There has not been a single conviction to date. Justice is at stake—and, so far, has been flagrantly denied. At work is an insidious attack on the rule of law by Turkey’s governing party. These trials could have been an occasion for Turkey to achieve a much-needed catharsis for correcting past wrongs, but they have been turned into instruments to silence the opposition and suppress freedoms.

Among those being held are eight opposition members of parliament. Turkey’s high election board declared that these people were qualified to stand for elections, and all won seats in parliament. That they are incarcerated violates their rights under Turkish law as elected representatives of the people.

A universal norm of the rule of law is that one is innocent until proven guilty. Another is that evidence leads to the arrest of a suspect. In today’s Turkey, however, people are treated as guilty until proven innocent. One gets arrested; then authorities gather evidence to establish an infraction. Presumed guilt is the norm. Sadly, all opponents of the government are viewed as potential terrorists or plotters against the state.

The AKP is systematic and ruthless in its persecution of any opposition to its policies. Authoritarian pressure methods such as heavy tax fines and illegal videotaping and phone tapping are widely used to silence opponents. Even more disturbing is the AKP’s claim that such things are being done in the name of democratic progress. The latest government target is the primary vestige of our democracy, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which I lead.

While at the Silivri center in November, I likened the conditions to those of a concentration camp and said that prosecutors and judges were not meting out justice and did not deserve to be called upholders of justice. This month, I learned that the prosecutor’s office had opened an inquiry into my comments, contending that I was “seeking to influence a fair trial” and “insulting public officials.…” Clearly, an effort to single out the leader of the main opposition party ratchets up the pressures on freedom of expression.…

It all boils down to this: In today’s Turkey, when one criticizes the justice system, one is prosecuted. When one appeals to the courts, one is penalized. But here is why I stand behind my words: I have the right and duty to be critical of all that is wrong in my country. It is my inalienable right to point to injustices and to ask for justice. If the courts are not performing their duty, one can, and should, stand up and say so.…

Turkey today is a country where people live in fear and are divided politically, economically and socially. Our democracy is regressing in terms of the separation of powers, basic human rights and freedoms and social development and justice. Citizens worry deeply about their future. These points are, sadly, reflected in most major international indexes…which rank Turkey quite low in terms of human rights, democracy, freedoms and equality.…

A nation plagued by multiple forms of division and polarization is doomed to failure. Tactics such as oppression, preying on fear and restricting freedoms can help sustain a government’s rule for only so long. Never in history has a government succeeded in ruling permanently through authoritarian measures. Oppression does not endure; righteousness does. Turkey will be no exception.

(Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP),
the main opposition party in Turkey.