WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW”

On Topic Links

Erdogan Wins in Turkey, Gets Ready to Assume Sweeping Powers: Suzan Fraser, National Post, June 25, 2018

Turkey’s Future Just Got a Whole Lot Scarier: Editorial, New York Post, June 26, 2018

An ‘Israeli’ Port In Cyprus: Kicking The Gaza Can Down The Waterway?: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, June 26, 2018

The Gazan Kite Offensive and the Arc of Human Progress: Dan Feferman, Jerusalem Post, June 24, 2018

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“Turkey made its choice in favour of a more determined fight against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and (Gulenists)…We will go after terror organizations with stronger determination.” — Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s President. Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for the past 15 years, will extend his rule and take on sweeping new powers after his election victory. Erdogan’s win will usher in a new system in which the prime minister’s post is eliminated and executive powers are transferred to the president. His win could deepen Turkey’s rift with its Western and NATO allies, who are already concerned by the country’s setbacks in democracy and human rights as well as Turkey’s closer ties with Russia. Erdogan pledged a more “determined” fight against outlawed Kurdish rebels and alleged members of a movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating a 2016 failed coup. Gulen denies involvement. (National Post, June 25, 2018)

“After election results on June 24 Turkey will be further dragged into authoritarian politics with the blend of Islamism and nationalism emerging as the new state ideology. Deep polarization in the Turkish society will probably get deeper. There are already signs. In a victory speech in the evening hours of June 24 Erdoğan’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said that the losers of the election were the “terrorists”. In this politically-divisive, pathetic logic, 47.5% of Turks are terrorists: that makes about 38.5 million people.” — Burak Bekdil. (Gatestone Institute, June 26, 2018)

 “Erdogan has been quite consistent on the issue of Jerusalem and Gaza…It has benefits both in the domestic audience and in the Muslim world for him, but he also genuinely believes he should confront Israel on these issues. The fact that he both believes in this cause and it has dividends for him reinforces his stance.” — Gallia Lindenstrauss, a fellow at the Tel Aviv University-affiliated Institute for National Security Studies (INS). It is uncertain what, if any, effect Erdogan’s electoral victory will have on Ankara-Jerusalem ties. He has been a vehement critic of Israel and an advocate of the Palestinian cause, which he uses to whip up support among voters. (Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2018)

“What’s inexplicable is why the administration, led by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, would go ahead with the F-35 deliveries after Republican and Democratic senators tried to block the delivery until Turkey releases Pastor Brunson, drops its bid to buy Russian missiles, and improves its overall behavior. The F-35 was leverage. We just squandered it. Worse, we did it just days before the election, handing Erdogan a political prize that he can wield as evidence that the United States doesn’t dare to oppose him and that he can continue to behave as he pleases. In the meantime, a country now moving into Russia’s orbit will acquire one of the most sophisticated pieces of military hardware ever made. If and when Erdogan goes fully anti-American — he’s already nine-tenths of the way there — what’s to keep him from allowing Russian technicians to take a closer look, so they might gain a better idea of how to shoot it down? Or from using it against American allies in the region, including Israel? If Obama were making this delivery today, Republicans would call it treason.” — Bret Stephens. (New York Times, June 22, 2018)

“Today’s resolution is another important step in our efforts as we change the rules of the game at the UN…Less than two weeks ago, a plurality of members in the General Assembly voted to denounce Hamas, and now today’s resolution explicitly condemned terrorists for the despicable double war crime of hiding behind women and children while attacking civilians…There is much work to be done…but this milestone accomplishment brings us closer to the day when the UN will focus on truly bringing security and stability to the world.” — Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel’s UN envoy. Danon hailed the General Assembly’s passage of an update of its Global Counter Terrorism Strategy that features a condemnation of the use of civilians as human shields by terror groups. He credited the Israeli UN Mission for the inclusion of the “unprecedented” paragraph on human shields. The Global Counter Terrorism Strategy is reviewed every two years. The update decries the use of “schools and hospitals, for military purposes such as launching attacks and storing weapons,” as well as the use of “civilians to shield military objectives from attacks.” (Algemeiner, June 26, 2018)

“One of the more bizarre contradictions from supposedly pro-Palestinian groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, the International Solidarity Movement, and others is that while they all pretend to want peace, when something that resembles actual peace occurs, they are either silent (J Street) or upset (Students for Justice in Palestine). Recently in Israel, there have been visits by a group of professionals from Morocco, as well as a major Muslim leader from Indonesia. These types of visits, which could help lead the Muslim world to accept Israel as a permanent part of the Middle East and a nation to be cooperated with, are exactly what any “pro-peace” group should want…Still, despite their anti-Israel efforts, these types of visits and peaceful exchanges continue to happen, which obviously upsets the crowd that wants Israel destroyed in the name of “peace.” — Elder of Ziyon. (Algemeiner, June 20, 2018) 

“One of the biggest problems (for Canadian soldiers in Mali) isn’t that we have really tough rivals but that we have really bad allies…Those groups are implicated in cocaine trafficking and illicit business and have become financially incentivized to maintain the status quo…We got into bed with some pretty rough characters…I’m deeply concerned that our men and women in uniform would be put into a situation where they’re potentially being handed an unwinnable war.” — Aisha Ahmad, a terrorism researcher who regularly travels to Mali. Starting in August, Canadians are taking part in an aviation mission in Mali, relieving German troops who are part of a multinational UN mission that’s been in place since 2013. In the bigger sense, Canada is part of a wider mission to support a five-year-old peace agreement. But the parties which signed that agreement, including pro-government groups and separatist and rebel factions, are seen to be breaking it on nearly a daily basis. (National Post, June 26, 2018)

“The politically correct on campus should not think that they can defame people, slander people and bully people implicitly and explicitly with impunity…This isn’t just some internet troll mouthing off in a way that no one pays attention to and doesn’t give any credence to. These are professors and head of gender equity studies making comments that are atrocious about Dr. Peterson who is one of if not Canada’s most prominent intellectual.” —Howard Levitt. U of T Prof. Jordan Peterson has launched a $1.5-million defamation suit against Wilfrid Laurier University, two of its professors and a former gender and equity manager for suggesting he was “analogous to Adolf Hitler.” The statement of claim, prepared by Levitt, says Peterson was falsely labelled as incompetent, sexist, misogynist, dangerous and racist in a disciplinary meeting with Wilfrid Laurier teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd. Shepherd was disciplined for showing students a TV clip of Peterson discussing gender-neutral pronouns, something the university later apologized for. (Toronto Sun, June 21, 2018)

“In May, when the outrage over the separation of migrant children from their parents was beginning to boil, President Trump’s secretary for Homeland Security shrugged off accusations that it was a “form of state terror.” After all, she said, “We do it every day in every part of the country.” On this point, the secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, is right. Family separation is a fact of life here, happening hundreds — if not thousands — of times a day. “In the United States,” she said, “we call that law enforcement.” Advocates for criminal justice reform have argued that Americans appalled at the treatment of immigrant families at the border should realize that prosecutors and the police routinely separate children from their parents. It happens when parents or children are arrested, it happens when incarcerated women give birth — it can even be triggered when a pregnant woman fails a mandatory drug test, or when a child skips school. It comes with no warning, sometimes in the middle of the night.” — Shaila Dewan. (New York Times, June 22, 2018)

“Israel’s remarkable story is partly one of remembering this terrible past but, also, looking forward to a much more hopeful future. There is – and I’ve seen it already – an essential vibrancy to this country…From the early stories of the kibbutzim; to the revival of Hebrew as a living, modern language; to the hi-tech economies that we see around us here in Tel Aviv — the modern story of Israel is one of inventing, creating, innovating, and striding confidently into its future.” — Britain’s Prince William. William promised Britain’s support in the quest for peace between Israel and its neighbors. And at the only public speech during his official visit to Israel this week — the first ever by a member of the royal family — William also pledged to uphold the memory of the Holocaust. Ties between the UK and Israel “have never been stronger,” the future king went on, citing record levels of trade and investment, cooperation in science and technology, and robust bilateral security ties. On Thursday, he is scheduled to visit the grave of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, who is considered by Yad Vashem a “Righteous Among the Nations” for saving Jews during the Holocaust. (Times of Israel, June 26, 2018)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

IRANIANS PROTEST DWINDLING ECONOMY, SHOUT ‘DEATH TO PALESTINE’ (Tehran) — Thousands of Iranians returned to the streets of Tehran in response to the significant devaluation of the country’s currency, the rial, which is disrupting business by driving up the cost of imports. “Death to Palestine,” “Help us, not Gaza,” and “Leave Syria alone and deal with Iran,” protesters shouted, calling on the Iranian regime to invest in its own economy rather than interfering in other spheres. These were the first large-scale demonstrations since December 2017 when protests erupted which were violently contained by Iranian security forces. (Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2018)

 REPORT: ISRAEL-SUPERVISED GAZA SEAPORT TO BE BUILT IN CYPRUS (Jerusalem) — Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has struck an agreement with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to begin plans to build a seaport for Gaza that will operate in Cyprus and will be supervised by Israel. According to Channel 2 News, within three months the blueprint for the construction of the seaport will be presented which will include an Israel supervision apparatus to ensure that the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group is unable to exploit the new port for smuggling weapons into the strip. (Ynet, June 26, 2018)

NETANYAHU AND KING ABDULLAH II OF JORDAN MEET (Amman) — Prime Minister Netanyahu paid an unannounced visit to Amman for a meeting with King Abdullah II. According to the statement, the two men discussed “regional developments and advancing the peace process, and bilateral relations.” The meeting comes prior to the scheduled arrival this week in the region of US officials Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt to discuss Trump’s long-awaited peace proposal. The PMO said that Netanyahu reiterated in his meeting with Abdullah Israel’s commitment to maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem, an issue of sensitivity to the Jordanian king. (Jerusalem Post, June 18, 2018)

U.N. ACCUSES SYRIAN ARMY, AND REBELS, OF WAR CRIMES (Damascus) — The UN said Syrian army and rebel forces committed war crimes as they fought over a Damascus suburb gripped by the longest siege in modern history. Hundreds of civilians were killed earlier this year during the government’s months-long offensive to push rebel groups from Eastern Ghouta. In a 23-page report, investigators from the U.N. said the Syrian campaign to seize Eastern Ghouta after five years of rebel control involved indiscriminate attacks on civilian homes, markets and hospitals. Under international law, the panel said, those attacks amounted to war crimes. The U.N. panel also said that hard-line rebel forces had arbitrarily arrested and tortured civilians in areas under its control. (Washington Post, June 20, 2018)

2 ISRAELI MISSILES REPORTEDLY HIT AREA NEAR DAMASCUS AIRPORT (Damascus) — Two Israeli missiles struck an area near the Damascus Airport Tuesday, Syria state media reported, but didn’t name a specific target. It was the latest strike on Syrian territory blamed on Israel. Such strikes have increased in frequency amid soaring tension between Israel and Iran. Israel has warned that it sees Iranian influence in Syria as a threat and has in recent weeks targeted suspected Iranian targets in Syria. The offensive shattered a truce negotiated in the area by the U.S., Russia and Jordan last July. There was no immediate comment from Israel, which rarely responds to the claims. (National Post, June 26, 2018)

ISRAEL STRIKES GAZA SITES IN RESPONSE TO AIRBORNE ‘ARSON KITES’ (Jerusalem) — Israel’s military says it has struck Gaza after Palestinians tried to launch flaming kites into its territory. It said aircraft targeted “infrastructure” without elaborating. It said the strike came after Palestinians attempted to launch “arson kites” into Israel. Israel has been battling large fires caused by kites and balloons rigged with incendiary devices or burning rags launched from Gaza that have destroyed forests, burned crops and killed wildlife and livestock. (CBC, June 21, 2018)

TERRORISM IN ISRAEL HIGHEST IN OVER TWO YEARS (Jerusalem) — The Israel Security Agency recorded 365 attacks in May, representing a 40 percent increase from April, when 223 attacks were reported. 271 of the attacks in May were firebombs, including incendiary kites and balloons from Gaza. An IDF soldier was killed in May when a marble slab was dropped on his head from the third floor. One soldier was injured by an explosion in Jerusalem. Three soldiers and a civilian were injured by rockets launched from Gaza. This is the highest number of attacks in one month since October 2015 when 620 attacks were recorded. (Breaking Israel News, June 24, 2018)

POLAND MAKES PARTIAL U-TURN ON CONTROVERSIAL HOLOCAUST LAW (Warsaw) — The lower house of the Polish parliament has voted to decriminalise the false attribution to Poland and Poles of crimes committed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, signalling a partial retreat on contentious legislation enacted this year. The legislation, which had envisaged prison terms of up to three years for those who contravened the regulations, sparked a war of words between Polish and Israeli politicians, and an outpouring of antisemitic rhetoric in Poland. The legislation also appears to have placed strain on Poland’s relationship with the US, amid reports that the government had been warned that high-level contacts with US officials would be affected until the issue was resolved. (Guardian, June 27, 2018)

U.S. SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN (Washington) — A sharply divided Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries. The 5-4 decision was a big victory for Trump in the court’s first substantive ruling on one of his administration’s policies. It also was the latest demonstration of a newly invigorated conservative majority and a bitter defeat for the court’s liberals. The policy applies to travellers from five countries with overwhelmingly Muslim populations — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. It also affects two non-Muslim countries, blocking travellers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families. A sixth majority Muslim country, Chad, was removed from the list in April. (CTV, June 26, 2018)

ALGERIA ABANDONS 13,000 MIGRANTS IN THE SAHARA (Algiers) — Algeria has abandoned more than 13,000 people in the Sahara Desert over the past 14 months, including pregnant women and children, expelling them without food or water and forcing them to walk, sometimes at gunpoint, under under temperatures of up to 48 C. Algeria’s mass expulsions have picked up since October 2017, as the European Union renewed pressure on North African countries to head off migrants going north to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea or the barrier fences with Spain. (CBC, June 25, 2018)

INDONESIA GIVES DEATH SENTENCE TO CLERIC LINKED TO ATTACK (Jakarta) — Radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman was sentenced to death by an Indonesian court for ordering I.S.-affiliated terrorists to carry out attacks including the 2016 suicide bombing at a Starbucks in Jakarta. Police say he is a key ideologue for I.S. in the world’s largest Muslim nation. Prosecutors said Abdurrahman’s instructions from prison, where he was serving a terrorism-related sentence, resulted in several attacks in Indonesia. They included the Starbucks attack, an attack on a bus terminal in Jakarta that killed three police officers and an attack on a church that killed a two-year-old girl. (CBC, June 22, 2018)

CANADIAN PROF. BLAMES JEWISH FAMILIES FOR ‘ISLAMOPHOBIA INDUSTRY’ (Lethbridge) — A Canadian professor under investigation over allegations of Holocaust denial has been condemned by B’nai Brith for “peddling fresh antisemitic conspiracy theories.” In an episode of his online show False Flag Weekly News, Anthony Hall of the University of Lethbridge accused “philanthropic families of Jewish background” of funding “the Islamophobia industry.” B’nai Brith Canada also helped expose his controversial views on Mideast affairs, the 9/11 attacks, and the Holocaust — including his call for “open debate” on the genocide in video testimony. (Algemeiner, June 25, 2018)

BULGARIA TO PUT ‘HONORARY CONSULATE’ IN JERUSALEM (Sofia) — Bulgaria will, “as a first step,” open an honorary consulate in Jerusalem that will not only deal with Bulgarian interests in the capital, but throughout the country. Diplomatic sources, however, said that the move has little real significance. The Czech Republic made a similar move last month. Bulgaria’s Embassy is currently located in Tel Aviv. Bulgaria voted in the UN General Assembly in December to condemn the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. It was one of 22 EU countries that voted for that resolution, as opposed to only six EU countries – including the Czech Republic – that abstained. (Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2018)

HERZOG ELECTED JEWISH AGENCY CHAIRMAN (Jerusalem) — The Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel unanimously elected MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) to succeed Natan Sharansky as Chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive. The board effectively rejected Netanyahu’s choice for the job, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz (Likud). The selection of Herzog, who is the Knesset opposition leader, is viewed as retaliation from the board for Netanyahu’s “betrayal” of US Jewry over the status of non-Orthodox denominations in Israel and their access to a mixed-sex portion of the Western Wall. (Jewish Press, June 24, 2018)    

EL AL TO REMOVE PASSENGERS WHO REFUSE SEATS (Tel Aviv) — El Al will “immediately” remove any passenger who refuses to sit next to another passenger for any reason, the Israeli airline’s CEO announced after Israeli tech company Nice Systems said it would no longer fly its employees on the carrier. Nice’s decision came days after an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv was delayed by more than an hour after four ultra-Orthodox men refused to take their assigned seats next to women. Two women eventually agreed to change their seats in order to allow the flight to take off. A year ago, an Israeli court ruled that El Al cannot ask women to move seats to accommodate a man who does not want to sit next to a woman, in response to a lawsuit filed by a Holocaust survivor in her 80s. (Ha’aretz, June 26, 2018) 

ISRAEL RECEIVES THREE MORE F-35 ADIR JETS (Jerusalem) — Israel received three more F-35 Adir stealth fighter jets, just days after the world’s most advanced jet was rolled out in neighboring Turkey. With the arrival of the three jets the country currently boasts 12 Adir aircrafts. The IAF is expected to receive a total of 50 planes to make two full squadrons by 2024. In December, Israel become the first air force outside the United States to declare Initial Operational Capability of the jet and last month the IAF announced that Israel has struck targets in the Middle East with the F-35 Adir jet twice, making the Jewish state the first country to use the stealth fighter in a combat role in the region. Israel is one of 12 countries participating in the F-35 program. (Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2018)

On Topic Links

Erdogan Wins in Turkey, Gets Ready to Assume Sweeping Powers: Suzan Fraser, National Post, June 25, 2018—Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for the past 15 years, will extend his rule and take on sweeping new powers after his victory in the country’s landmark presidential and parliamentary elections.

Turkey’s Future Just Got a Whole Lot Scarier: Editorial, New York Post, June 26, 2018—In a region where democracy is scarce, it just got scarcer — with Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan claiming victory in last weekend’s presidential election and vowing to “rapidly” usher in a new era of presidential authoritarian rule.

An ‘Israeli’ Port In Cyprus: Kicking The Gaza Can Down The Waterway?: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, June 26, 2018—Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman reportedly has advanced a proposal to establish a port in Cyprus that would be used to supply the Gaza Strip with humanitarian assistance.

The Gazan Kite Offensive and the Arc of Human Progress: Dan Feferman, Jerusalem Post, June 24, 2018—A recent episode of Israel’s political satire show Eretz Nehederet (It’s a Wonderful Land) featured a comedic and tragically accurate representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.