Tag: Erdogan


The Real Cost of Afrin: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, Mar. 25, 2018— With the Turkish flag hoisted on top of the municipal building in Afrin the other day, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters are in triumphal mood.

Turkey’s Syrian Battleground: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Mar. 21, 2018— In a rather theatrical show, the fall of the city of Afrin – a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria…

Navigating the US Collision Course with Turkey: Gregg Roman, The Hill, Mar. 5, 2018— In a rare public policy speech in mid-December, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster singled out Turkey as one of the two leading state sponsors (alongside Qatar) of “radical Islamist ideology.”

Erdogan’s Ban on Wikipedia Another Example of his Campaign Against Free Speech: Editorial, Globe & Mail, Mar. 7, 2018 — Wikipedia has entries for every Ottoman sultan.

On Topic Links

Turkey Vows to Widen Offensive to Eastern Syria, Iraq: Suzan Fraser & Sarah El Deeb, Globe & Mail, Mar. 19, 2018

Turkey’s Syrian Battleground: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Mar. 21, 2018

“Army Of Islam”: Erdogan’s Plot Against Israel: Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 21, 2018

Turkish Leader Claims Muslim Victory Over Europe, Cites Trump’s ‘Alliance’ With Jews as Obstacle: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News, Mar. 21, 2018



Amir Taheri

Gatestone Institute, Mar. 25, 2018

With the Turkish flag hoisted on top of the municipal building in Afrin the other day, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters are in triumphal mood. In a sense they have the right to be, as this is the first time in almost 100 years that Turkey has scored a military victory against an adversary ready to fight. (Turkey’s occupation of part of Cyprus in 1974 was achieved without major fighting.)

However, the euphoria inspired by what Erdogan terms “an historic victory” would have to be tempered by reality. That NATO’s largest army in Europe should win a war against a ragtag band of lightly armed Kurds is no surprise. This is neither Alp Arsalan, after Malazegrd, nor Sultan Muhammad Fatih after capturing Byzantium.

The capture of Afrin represents a 19th century solution for a 21st century problem that Turkey faces. Judging by official statements from Ankara, Erdogan is trying to create what 19th century strategists termed a cordon sanitaire or a glacis, supposedly to protect Turkey against incursions by Kurdish “terrorists”. However, military history, at least since the debacle of the Maginot Line enterprise in 1939, shows that such concepts as cordon sanitaire and glacis are no longer relevant to modern warfare, especially of the asymmetric kind to which Turkey remains vulnerable. The classical concepts of glacis and cordon sanitaire triggered a process that would lead either to further expansion and empire-building or ultimate irrelevance. To protect a glacis you have to create another glacis next to it, and so on, ad infinitum.

Thus, Erdogan’s glacis in Syrian-Kurdish territory would need protection from neighboring areas in the rest of Syria as well as Kurdish provinces in Iraq, not to mention Iran which could, as it has done for decades, offer the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) safe haven or even operational bases against Turkey. On a more mundane level, the Kurdish “terrorists” that pose a threat to Turkey could always cross the border with little difficulty, a practice that terrorists of all ilk excel in across the globe.

Paradoxically, sole reliance on force and a determined attempt at humiliating the adversary could help rekindle the PKK’s narrative of victimhood as a justification for violence and terror. That is especially regrettable because Turkey’s Kurdish minority has done rather well under Erdogan. Those familiar with the situation on the ground in Turkey know that during Erdogan’s stewardship of the state, the country’s Kurdish-majority areas have come out of abject poverty and enjoy a measure of prosperity they had never known before.

Empirical and anecdotal evidence indicate that the PKK’s Marxist-Leninist ideology and its chimera of a proletarian state replacing the Turkish Republic have limited appeal among Turkey’s Kurds. What sympathy the PKK attracts is rooted in the cluster of so-called “identity issues”, the “them against us” that feeds secessionism even in Scotland or Catalonia. By removing many of those “identity issues”, Erdogan in the first phases of his leadership succeeded in depriving the PKK of much of its ideological fodder. That great achievement was dramatically illustrated by the public change of tone and course by a significant segment of the PKK leadership, notably its founding father the imprisoned Abdullah Ocalan.

The capture of Afrin, even supposing it will be permanent, will not solve Turkey’s Kurdish problem. But, with the law of unintended consequences being triggered, it could lead Turkey into a whole new maze of problems. Already a good part of Turk’s elite troops are bogged down in Cyprus with no end in sight. The glacis that Erdogan wants to build in Syria could end up pinning down even more of Turkey’s elite troops, provoking a strategic imbalance in the nation’s overall defense doctrine and the means needed to sustain it. And that is without mentioning economic cost of such involvements.

The Syrian glacis would also implicate Turkey in any project for recreating a new Syria out of the bits and pieces of a broken state. Other nations currently involved in the Syrian quagmire, including Russia, Iran and the United States, could easily walk away, as their presence does not have a territorial expression. Even if it decided to hang on to a base in Syria, Russia would be able to defend the enclave on the Mediterranean without seeing is own territory threatened by enemy infiltration. Iran could also withdraw its Lebanese and other mercenaries without exposing its own territory to perennial terrorist threats. Turkey, however, could get locked in the Syrian fate as Rwanda is in Congo-Kinshasa’s interminable turmoil…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]     Contents



Burak Bekdil

BESA, Mar. 21, 2018

In a rather theatrical show, the fall of the city of Afrin – a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria – after two months of battle between Turkish and Turkey-backed troops and Kurdish militia coincided with the 103rd anniversary of the Turkish victory in Gallipoli. Victory speeches were delivered one after another. Turks cheered in collective euphoria. Front pages were splashed with nationalistic headlines and stories of “our heroic soldiers.”

Among the scenes was footage, posted by the military, of a soldier holding a Turkish flag over a local government building. Another image showed a soldier raising and saluting a Turkish flag over the city.  Even footballers who scored on the pitch, both Turkish and foreign, gave audiences a “soldier’s salute.” The opposition rushed to congratulate the “heroic Turkish army.” Some of that sentiment is real and some fake, especially considering the certainty of arrest if one expresses the slightest objection to Operation Olive Branch.

Erdoğan made contradictory speeches during the campaign. One day he promised that “conquest was near”; on another he said Turkish troops would come to Afrin to clear the city of its terrorist population and return it to its rightful owners. But he has been the main beneficiary of a newfound feeling of glory among Turkey’s increasingly nationalistic masses.

There is already speculation in political circles in Ankara that the Syrian offensive has boosted Erdoğan’s popularity by eight to nine percentage points. According to the BBC’s Mark Lowen, “President Erdoğan has achieved his twin objectives: to remove a key area under (the Kurdish People’s Protection Units) YPG control and to rally the vast majority of Turks behind their commander-in-chief. The jingoism here has been breathtaking. Targeting Turkey’s age-old enemy of the Kurdish militants is a rare uniting force in a polarized country.”

The Syrian war theater has also provided the Turkish military with the opportunity to test some of the indigenous weapons systems local defense companies have developed in recent years. In addition, the “real” military exercises in the Afrin enclave allowed Turkish commanders and defense procurement authorities to better spot technological and operational weaknesses and supremacy. For instance, Turkish drones, armed and unarmed, were intensively used and proved to be very successful assets. But Turkey’s aging US-made and German-made tanks were vulnerable to enemy fire, even when that fire did not come from a modern, regular army.

During the two-month military campaign, Turkey tested some of its new weaponry, and not only in Syria. State-controlled missile maker Roketsan tested a ballistic missile over the Black Sea. Military electronics specialist Aselsan, another state-controlled entity and Turkey’s biggest defense firm, tested its Akkor Pulat active protection system, which will be added to Turkish tanks with priority for the fleet used in Syria. Turkey also wants to add other additional defensive measures to its tanks including explosive reactive armor. Also tested recently and probably heading soon for Syria is Alkar, a 360-degree 120-mm gun system developed by Aselsan.

But then there is the political side of the military campaign in Syria. No doubt, the fall of Afrin dealt a blow to Kurdish aspirations for self-rule in northern Syria and further boosted Turkey’s growing military/political clout in the country. The main loser is the YGP, which has sought to consolidate control over Kurdish areas of Syria in the hopes of forging an autonomous state. (The YPG, which Turkey views as a terrorist organization and an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, had controlled Afrin since 2012 in addition to other swaths of territory in northern and eastern Syria.)

Alliances in the area are fragile and complex. Some Syrian Kurds welcomed the Turkish army; some fled to wage guerrilla warfare south and east of Afrin. The Kurds are not monolithic: some feel sympathy for PKK/YPG, but some campaign to break free of the two militant entities. Some Syrian fighters originally took up arms to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s regime but are now fighting the Syrian Kurds. One such fighter complained that Turkey has shifted its focus from regime change in Syria to preventing the emergence of a Kurdish belt in northern Syria. Another says the revolution had gone off course.

Erdoğan, meanwhile, has vowed that the army will not leave Afrin “before the job is done.” He says Turkey will broaden the offensive into northeastern Syria and go to Manbij, where Kurdish forces remain allied with US troops, then go east of the Euphrates and all the way up to the Syrian-Iraqi border. According to the Turkish game plan, the military offensive will not end there. Erdoğan has vowed to fight the PKK in its northern Iraqi stronghold. Press reports said on March 19 that Turkish troops, backed by air cover, had been deployed in northern Iraq amid violent clashes with PKK fighters. Kurdish local officials said Turkish forces were now stationed in the sub-district of Sidakan and had already set up fixed barracks in the border triangle between Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

All the same, there seems to be a missing link between the military operation and its political goal. In its official language, Turkey says its army is fighting in Syria and Iraq to quash terrorists. It is, however, an open secret that the operation aims to quash Kurdish aspirations for self-rule, which Turkey fears could inspire its own Kurdish minority to demand greater autonomy.

The PKK officially launched its violent campaign in 1984. Since then, more than 40,000 people have been killed in the armed dispute, despite the arrest in 1999 of Abdullah Ocalan, PKK’s jailed leader. Some of Turkey’s Kurds aspired to take up arms long before the Iraqi Kurds consolidated power and set up an autonomous region in the country’s north after the US invasion in 2003, and before the Syrian Kurds built their own enclaves in northern Syria after the Syrian civil war in 2011. Experience shows there might not be a strong linkage between the emergence of Kurdish entities in neighboring countries and Turkish Kurds’ aspirations for self-determination…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Gregg Roman

The Hill, Mar. 5, 2018

In a rare public policy speech in mid-December, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster singled out Turkey as one of the two leading state sponsors (alongside Qatar) of “radical Islamist ideology.” The Turkish government protested the statement as “astonishing, baseless and unacceptable,” which means it was a pretty good start. McMaster’s speech highlighted the emergence of the pernicious threat in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey.

Since McMaster’s speech, Erdoğan invaded Afrin (controlled by a U.S. ally) in Syria, resulting in the massacre of women, children and the elderly; promoted the use of child soldiers in his fight against the Kurds; and was found to have undermined U.S. sanctions against Iran. Largely missing from this discussion is why the United States continues to allow Erdoğan’s malign behavior in the region, and more important, what policymakers should do about it.

A Manhattan Federal District Court guilty verdict against a Turkish banker accused of helping Iran evade sanctions speaks volumes about the growing threat posed by Erdoğan’s Turkey. Although Erdoğan was not charged in the case, “testimony suggested he had approved the [defendant’s] sanctions-busting scheme” to launder billions of dollars for Iran beginning in 2012, according to the New York Times.

That Erdoğan was secretly weakening U.S. sanctions right when Iran was feeling the pinch should come as no surprise. He has been repositioning Turkey as an adversary of the United States for years — covertly aiding ISIS in Syria (before switching sides on a dime to align with Russian forces), overtly embracing Hamas terrorists, flooding Europe with migrants, and hosting an international summit condemning U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to name just a few of the lowlights.

While wishful thinkers still hold out hope that U.S.-Turkish relations are strained by short-term concerns and eventually will rebound, a growing chorus of voices led by Daniel Pipes believes that “Erdoğan’s hostile dictatorship” has passed the point of no return and cannot be reconciled with American interests and values. Erdoğan’s increasingly brutal methods of governance, particularly since a July 2016 failed coup attempt against his regime, is wholly unbecoming of a NATO ally. In late December, he issued an emergency decree that effectively legalizes politically-motivated lynching. For Washington, it is time to both up the ante in seeking a course correction by Erdoğan and to prepare for the worst. This path forward should be guided by the following basic principles.

No more silence: Since Erdoğan goes out of his way to lambaste the United States at every turn, Washington should make a practice of not holding back when it disapproves of his behavior. The United States should speak out against Erdoğan’s continuing oppression of minority Kurds, in Turkey and in neighboring Syria and Iraq. In particular, it should call for the release of Kurdish political leaders jailed by Erdoğan, such as Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the Kurdish-dominated Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). It should invite Kurdish representatives to visit Washington for high-profile meetings at the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon.

No more favors: Last June, the United States International Trade Commission issued a report finding that Turkey has been subsidizing the sale of steel reinforcing bars (rebars) in the United States, a judgment that ordinarily leads to the imposition of anti-dumping tariffs. As of yet this hasn’t happened, but it must. More serious penalties await Turkey for purchasing the S-400 missile system from Russia last year, which clearly ran afoul of new U.S. sanctions on Russia (the manufacturer has been explicitly blacklisted by the State Department). The White House should immediately put to rest speculation that it intends to waive these penalties.

No more trust: Whichever direction Erdoğan’s ambitions take Turkey, one thing is certain — his regime cannot be trusted with sensitive military technology and intelligence. The United States should expel Turkey from the nine-nation consortium producing the next-generation F-35 fighter jet. The risk that the plane’s technological secrets will find their way from Turkey to Russia or Iran is too great. The United States should remove dozens of nuclear weapons presently stored at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey. Although adequate safeguards are in place, these weapons serve no practical purpose (aircraft stationed at the base cannot load them) and their continued presence might be misconstrued as a U.S. endorsement of Erdoğan’s reliability as an ally.

No more second chances: Erdoğan’s government arrested more than a dozen American citizens of Turkish descent (along with tens of thousands of its own subjects) in the wake of the July 2016 coup attempt — including a NASA scientist who happened to be visiting family — on unspecified suspicion of involvement. Most were denied consular access until recently and at least seven are still being held — as hostages, more or less, with Erdoğan offering to trade them for the extradition of a political rival living in the United States.

While on a May 2017 visit to Washington, Erdoğan ordered his security detail to viciously attack peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence. A similar, equally appalling episode happened when he visited in 2016. Washington must make it crystal clear to Erdoğan that egregiously violating the laws of the United States, the sanctity of its soil, or the rights of its citizens one more time will result in immediate sanctions banning him and his lieutenants from stepping foot in this country (or inside one of its embassies) ever again. In conclusion, while Turkey’s relative political stability, economic strength and military power make it a desirable ally, they also make it a formidable enemy. Now is the time to make it clear to Erdoğan and his subjects that America no longer plays nice with its enemies.







Globe & Mail, Mar. 7, 2018

Wikipedia has entries for every Ottoman sultan. There is Mehmed the Conqueror, Suleiman the Magnificent, and even lesser known grandees such as Selim the Blond. To this list, the site may soon have to add Erdogan the Censor. Not that anyone in Turkey would notice.

Since last April, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic regime has blocked the digital encyclopedia in his country for being part of a “smear campaign” against Turkey. The government said it objected to content on Wikipedia presenting Turkey as a terror supporter, but the particular offence hardly matters: Mr. Erdogan has been such a consistent and egregious foe of free expression that it would surprising if he had failed to interfere with the site. Wikipedia recently launched a public campaign to get the site back online, with the slogan We Miss Turkey.

They’ll be lucky to get anywhere. Mr. Erdogan has become shameless about blocking access to websites and needling their administrators to remove controversial content, according to the website Turkey Blocks. That crackdown is part of a much larger and nastier campaign against critics of the government launched in the wake of a failed coup in 2016. According to Human Rights Watch, Turkey has jailed more than 150 media workers in recent years. Just last month, a Turkish court sentenced three prominent journalists to life in prison for alleged involvement in the coup attempt. Mr. Erdogan’s turn to autocracy, crystallized by his victory in a referendum last year that consolidated his power, has been tragic for a country that just over a decade ago was en route to joining the European Union.

Where does Wikipedia fit into all of this? It is easy to mock, full of errors large and small. But at its best, what a miracle the site is. As a repository of the world’s knowledge, it makes the Library of Alexandria (which has a solid Wikipedia page of its own) look like a curbside book bin. Among the more than 300,000 Turkish-language Wikipedia entries, you can read about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Unless, that is, you live in Turkey. Mr. Erdogan is deliberately undoing Ataturk’s vision of a progressive, secular and open state. It’s clear he would prefer that no one in his country discuss that subject.


On Topic Links

Turkey Vows to Widen Offensive to Eastern Syria, Iraq: Suzan Fraser & Sarah El Deeb, Globe & Mail, Mar. 19, 2018—Turkey’s president vowed Monday to keep up the pressure against a U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia after his troops captured the Syrian town of Afrin, threatening to expand the military offensive into other Kurdish-held areas across northern Syria and even into neighbouring Iraq.

Turkey’s Syrian Battleground: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Mar. 21, 2018—In a rather theatrical show, the fall of the city of Afrin – a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria – after two months of battle between Turkish and Turkey-backed troops and Kurdish militia coincided with the 103rd anniversary of the Turkish victory in Gallipoli. Victory speeches were delivered one after another. Turks cheered in collective euphoria. Front pages were splashed with nationalistic headlines and stories of “our heroic soldiers.”

“Army Of Islam”: Erdogan’s Plot Against Israel: Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 21, 2018—Less than a month ago, in advance of the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, the Turkish daily Yeni Şafak, which is considered one of the mouthpieces of Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), published an article entitled “A Call for Urgent Action.”

Turkish Leader Claims Muslim Victory Over Europe, Cites Trump’s ‘Alliance’ With Jews as Obstacle: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News, Mar. 21, 2018—A prominent Turkish official has claimed that as a result of demographic trends in Europe, “Europe will be Muslim.” An expert on Islam says this “Islamization” is intentional, a form of silent Jihad explicitly described in the Quran as a way of conquering nations demographically.




What We Thought of the Rev. Billy Graham: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Feb. 23, 2018— Perhaps the saddest thing about the death of the Rev. Billy Graham on Feb. 21, at the age of 99, was the fact that virtually every obituary gave prominent mention to what was arguably his worst moment.

Mike Pence’s Faith, Israel and Middle East Policy: Ron Kampeas, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2018— When Mike Pence moved to Washington earlier this year, he and his wife took with them a framed phrase they had for years hung over their fireplace in their Indiana home, and then over the fireplace in the governor’s mansion in that state.

Restoring Persecuted Middle East Christians’ Faith in America: Johny Messo, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 21, 2018— Without urgent action on the part of the United States, Christianity in biblically historic lands, such as Iraq, Syria and Turkey, will be clinically dead before the year 2030.

Dealing with the Devil: Pope Francis, Erdogan, and Jerusalem: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Times of Israel, Feb. 18, 2018— The sudden explosion of hostilities between Iran and Israel points to the seemingly permanent instability of the Middle East – which makes the recent 50-minute meeting between Pope Francis and Turkish President Erdogan all the more disturbing.


On Topic Links


Jewish Leaders Mourn the Passing of Reverend Billy Graham, Friend of Israel: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 21, 2018

Infidel Women: Spoils of War: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 17, 2018

Closing Down Christianity at its Source: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, Dec. 21, 2018

America’s 20 Most Influential Pro-Israel Evangelical Christians: Eliana Rudee, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 24, 2017



Jonathan S. Tobin

JNS, Feb. 23, 2018

Perhaps the saddest thing about the death of the Rev. Billy Graham on Feb. 21, at the age of 99, was the fact that virtually every obituary gave prominent mention to what was arguably his worst moment. Graham was a giant of American evangelism, whose worldwide fame as a preacher eclipsed that of any American religious figure of the 20th century. But it was impossible to do an assessment of a life full of achievements without also talking about the fact that he was caught on tape expressing antisemitic sentiments while speaking with former President Richard Nixon.


The comments — in which he spoke of his negative feelings about his many Jewish friends and his belief that a Jewish “stranglehold” on the media was destroying the country — were indeed despicable. Graham said those words in 1972, not knowing that Nixon’s taping system would preserve them for eternity. When former Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman first revealed them in 1994, few believed the kindly churchman was capable of speaking in that fashion. Years later, when the Nixon library released the tapes in 2002, there was no denying what he said. Graham publicly apologized and asked the Jewish community for forgiveness. The real damage here was not so much the hurt feelings that the comments caused as much as the way it confirmed the negative opinions that so many in the community already held about Evangelical Christians.


The profound distrust among liberal American Jews bordering on contempt for Evangelicals in general and Christian conservatives in particular is so pervasive as to be unremarkable. That it often crosses over into religious prejudice is something few in the American Jewish community — which tends to think of religious bias as something only done to them, rather than what they can possibly do to others — think actually occurs. Most Jews also rarely consider the vital role these same Christians play in maintaining support for Israel and opposing antisemitism.


While his message of faith inspired countless numbers of people who flocked to hear his sermons at his “crusades,” Graham was not a profound religious philosopher. His homespun, God-centered philosophy and strict views about sex was not the sort of things most liberal Jews contemplated with respect. So in that sense, Jewish opinion about Graham, which was often negative even before the public learned of his conversation with Nixon, illustrates both the difficult nature of the relationship between Jews and Evangelicals, as well as the need to rise above negative attitudes that are rooted in the prejudices of the past, rather than on the needs and realities of the present. The salient point about Graham is not so much what he was taped telling the president, but that in his public life he was an important friend of the Jewish people, even though most Jews often dismissed him as the epitome of a “holly roller” who hated Jews.


Graham was an early and impassioned supporter of Israel. A much-publicized tour of the country in 1960 helped galvanize support for the Jewish state among Evangelicals at a time when sympathy for Zionism in this country was far greater among liberals than among conservatives, who were Graham’s base of supporters. He was willing to stand with Israel when it was both popular and unpopular, publicly urging it not to endanger its security and even producing a film about it that’s still popular among Christian audiences. He was also an early and influential supporter of the cause of freedom for Soviet Jewry.


There will be those who will look back on his antisemitic remarks as “proof” that Evangelicals are not sincere about their love for Israel and their friendship for the Jews. But such reasoning ought to be rejected by thinking people. As George Will pointed out in a not particularly sympathetic appreciation of Graham in The Washington Post, the famous preacher’s predilection for fawning over world leaders (including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, as viewers of Netflix’s series “The Crown” learned) may have been the real reason for his comments to Nixon. One can, as he put it, “acquit him of anti-Semitism only by convicting him of toadying.”


But there was more to the man than that gaffe or any other foolish statements uttered in several decades in the limelight. Born in North Carolina in 1918 and the grandson of two Confederate soldiers, Graham was a product of an era in the American South in which antisemitism and racial bigotry were commonplace. But Graham was able to transcend those prejudices to become an opponent of segregation, as well as a very public supporter of Jewish causes.


His willingness to embrace Israel is significant because the world in which he made his mark as an international religious celebrity was not one in which Jews were widely accepted. Nor was his advocacy for Zionism rooted in dispensationalist beliefs about Jews being converted and bringing on the end of days. Unlike some Evangelicals — and in spite of the fact that conversions were a prominent part of his ministry — Graham opposed proselytizing Jews, reminding Christians that seeking to impose faith on those who resisted such overtures was wrong.


Seen in that context, a Jewish rejection of Graham and the tens of millions of other Evangelicals not only makes no sense, but also is deeply self-destructive. Why continue to question the good intentions of people who not only think well of Israel, but also donate generously to charities that help Jews (as Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has proved) and who only vote for candidates that support Israel with a single-minded mindset that most Jews reject.


In remembering Billy Graham, Jews can acknowledge his flaws, but they must also understand how much good he did not just for his own flock of believers, but for them as well. At a time when Israel remains beset by hatred and many are urging boycotts rooted in antisemitic animosity, friends like Billy Graham — and all the many other evangelicals who followed in his footsteps in support of Israel — should be embraced, rather than disdained. To do otherwise says more about our own prejudices against Christians than it does about the shortcomings of Evangelicals.                                                                                                




Ron Kampeas

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 24, 2018

When Mike Pence moved to Washington earlier this year, he and his wife took with them a framed phrase they had for years hung over their fireplace in their Indiana home, and then over the fireplace in the governor’s mansion in that state. Now it hangs over the mantle at the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. The words, from the Book of Jeremiah, read: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope, and a future.”


The “you” is the people of Israel, and Pence, an evangelical Christian, makes that clear when he addresses pro-Israel audiences. “They’re words to which my family has repaired to as generations of Americans have done so throughout our history, and the people of Israel through all their storied history have clung,” Pence said last August at the annual conference of Christians United for Israel. Pence took that message to Israel this week on a trip ostensibly aimed in part at reviving the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. He is seen as a key Trump administration figure when it comes to Israel policy and reportedly helped nudge the president to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital


Pence’s first visit to Israel as vice president led some to ask to what degree are his views — and the administration’s policies — shaped by the brand of evangelical Christianity that invests his faith? Pence, a convert to evangelical Christianity from Roman Catholicism, has spooked some liberals with his insistence on rooting his pro-Israel bona fides in faith as much as realpolitik considerations of the United States’ national security. Their fear is that a messianic outlook might run riot over one of the most delicate dilemmas facing successive US governments, namely stability in the Middle East.


“Trump has handed Israel policy to Evangelicals,” The Forward’s Jane Eisner wrote last week in an editorial as Pence headed to Israel. “That’s terrifying.” Like many liberals, she worries that policy will be driven by evangelical beliefs that certain conditions — like Jewish control over the West Bank and sovereignty in Jerusalem — fulfill biblical prophecies.


Republicans and conservatives say that it is reductive to believe that Pence shapes his views solely according to the tenets of his faith. “They always highlight the fact that he’s an evangelical, as if that’s a pejorative when in fact [Pence and other evangelicals] are motivated first and foremost by shared values with Israel,” said Matt Brooks, the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, who has known Pence for years. “And not just by the shared values, but the important efforts of collectively standing up to threats of Iran, pushing back on ISIS, and on radical Islam, or whether it’s being a critical democratic foundation in a very dangerous place. There are so many places where US and Israel’s interests intersect.”


Pence began his speech to the Knesset by outlining the shared values Brooks described. “We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight,” he said. “We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil and in liberty over tyranny.” But he quickly pivoted to depict support of Israel as both biblical (Deuteronomy 30:4, to be exact) and rooted in an American strain of Christianity. “Down through the generations, the American people became fierce advocates of the Jewish people’s aspiration to return to the land of your forefathers, to claim your own new birth of freedom in your beloved homeland,” he said to applause. “The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages, written so long ago, that ‘even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,’ from there He would gather and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed.”


Pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, described a natural trajectory for evangelical supporters of Israel from biblical belief to the more practical modern reasons for supporting the state. “The promises of the Hebrew Bible are the foundation of Christian Zionism, but our motivations for supporting Israel do not end there,” he told JTA in an email. “We see in Israel a democracy that shares Western values and is a force for stability in the Middle East. While standing with Israel is a Biblical mandate, it is also a moral imperative and in the national security interests of the US. I am confident that all three of these considerations inform the Vice President’s approach to the Middle East and I believe that is perfectly appropriate.”


Pence has since the outset of his political career made it clear that his support for Israel is first grounded in biblical precepts. “My support for Israel stems largely from my personal faith,” he told Congressional Quarterly in 2002, a year after he was first elected to Congress. “God promises Abraham, ‘those who bless you, I will bless, and those who curse you, I will curse.’” Sarah Posner, a journalist who for years has tracked evangelicals, said Pence’s faith seemed to be preeminent in his consideration of Israel. “I don’t think he is thinking about that in terms of shared democracy or not shared democracy, he’s thinking about it providential terms, that these missions are God’s plans for Israel,” said Posner, a reporting fellow at The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    



Johny Messo

Gatestone Institute, Jan. 21, 2018

Without urgent action on the part of the United States, Christianity in biblically historic lands, such as Iraq, Syria and Turkey, will be clinically dead before the year 2030. The current administration in Washington has expressed, in words, that this situation cannot be tolerated. It is time now for deeds, as well, to reverse the previous administrations’ virtual abandonment of Christians in the Middle East to the fate of persecution at the hands of Islamists.


In September 2007, then-Senator Obama wrote a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, expressing “concern for Iraq’s Christian and other non-Muslim religious minorities, including Catholic Chaldeans, Syriac Orthodox, Assyrian, Armenian and Protestant Christians, as well as smaller Yazidi and Sabean Mandaean communities.” Obama warned: “These communities appear to be targeted by Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish militants… And according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, ‘violence against members of Iraq’s Christian community occurs throughout the country’… Such violence bespeaks a humanitarian crisis of grave proportions. The severe violations of religious freedom faced by members of these indigenous communities, and their potential extinction from their ancient homeland, is deeply alarming… and demand an urgent response from our government.”


In spite of Senator Obama’s having addressed the growing threat to Christians and other ethno-religious minorities in Iraq, their situation would only deteriorate during the eight years of his presidency. While President George W. Bush may have opened the gates of hell for Iraq’s Christians, President Obama not only widened them, but unleashed the demons on Syria. The following give some idea of this downward spiral: Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, after earlier underreported exoduses of Christians from the country, there were 1.4 million Christians in Iraq, making up 5.4% of its overall population of 26 million. Today, 15 years later, Iraq’s Christian population stands at less than 250,000, a drop of 82%, and a mere 0.65% of Iraq’s general and much larger population of 38 million. In 2011, there were 1.8 – 2 million Christians in Syria, who made up 8% of the country’s total population of 23 million. Today, less than seven years later, no more than 500,000 Christians, out of a total population of 18.2 million can be found in their war-torn homeland — a drop of more than 72%.


The classical Christian populations in the Middle East consist of Copts, Greeks, Armenians and Arameans — the latter being the indigenous people of Southeast Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. As a stateless Semitic people, who live in a global diaspora, the Arameans include the traditionally Aramaic-speaking churches of the Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholics, Chaldeans, Nestorians (also known as Assyrians), Maronites, Melkite Orthodox and Melkite Catholics. Their incessant pleas and cries for help from the international community seem to have fallen on deaf ears for more than a decade; these Middle Eastern Christians feel abandoned and betrayed by both the United Nations and America. Statements emerging from the Trump administration, however, have given rise to new hope. Addressing the “In Defense of Christians” summit in Washington at the end of October, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a message that “help is on the way.” Declaring that the U.N. “has too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities… [and] too often denies their funding requests,” Pence promised that “from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted [Christian] communities through USAID.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Times of Israel, Feb. 18, 2018

The sudden explosion of hostilities between Iran and Israel points to the seemingly permanent instability of the Middle East – which makes the recent 50-minute meeting between Pope Francis and Turkish President Erdogan all the more disturbing. Why would the Pope appear so relaxed, collegial and accepting of one of the most volatile leaders of our day? Why did he let stand Erdogan’s claim that the two of them see eye to eye about Jerusalem?


Ostensibly, this new strange alliance grew out of President Trump’s recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Neither of these two leaders is a friend of Donald Trump.  But Erdogan is a supporter of Hamas and a frequent demonizer of the Jewish State. Pope Francis is not. Trump’s Jerusalem announcement simply does not suffice to explain this new apparent geopolitical partnership. The US President made clear that the final map of Jerusalem would be left to Israel and the Palestinians to figure out. He did not recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of the city. Indeed, the reaction of the Arab world was generally muted. Calls for another Intifada fell on deaf ears. So why would the Pope, in effect, encourage a leader who constantly strives to ignite the flickering embers of Palestinian violence in the crucible of faiths that is Jerusalem?


Does the Pontiff believe that weakening Israel’s control of the holy places, in place since 1967, would strengthen Christendom? In all those decades, Israel has been a protector of religious freedoms. It is her police who are called in by disputing Christian denominations to restore peace when physical violence breaks out between factions. In 2018, the Church bells ring throughout the Holy City and the Vatican’s flag flies atop its properties across all sectors of Jerusalem, something that was impossible to conceive of when the Ottoman Empire was in charge. And while the Ottomans were not particularly into religious fanaticism, Erdogan has been pushing Turkey– once the role model of a Muslim secular state– down the road towards extreme Islamization.  Does this pope believe that Christian interests will be safer with an Islamist state with which Israel’s enemies want to replace Israel?


Hard to believe when the Pope daily reads reports on the fate of the shrinking presence of threatened Christian minorities in many Arab and Muslim countries, where Christians face discrimination, persecution, and even death. Could it be about taxes? Israel has attempted to tax the property of churches that is not used for religious purposes, and Rome is not happy about that. But Israel is hardly alone. The same conflict has taken place in Italy, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, and Montreal. In fact, taxation in the United States of church-owned property that does not serve a religious function is the rule, not the exception.


Getting cozy with the tyrannical Erdogan is a strange way to jockey for a tax break for the Vatican. Perhaps the Pope was blind-sided by the wily Turkish leader.  No. Even before their meeting, Erdogan announced that the two of them were of a common mind regarding Jerusalem. If the Pope was walking into a trap, he could have politely but firmly used the meeting to create some distance between the two. This never happened. The ugliest possibility is that the Vatican has signaled a shift from its policies of the last decades. There are conservative elements in the Vatican who are unhappy over the rapprochement with the Jews that was engineered by the last few popes. These forces would lose no sleep if the current occupant of the Throne of St. Peter will jeopardize that relationship.


There are those in the Church hierarchy who would argue that the Vatican stands more to gain by currying favor with Muslims. Let Jewish concerns be damned; Israel won’t turn around and persecute the Christian faithful, while Muslims, they fear, are more likely to do just that.  It is difficult to fathom, however, that any Church leader could think that such an approach would do anything but hasten and seal Christian dhimmitude in a Middle East. Sometimes, even the inscrutable ways of G-d make more sense than the decisions of those who speak in His name. Aquinas, Maimonides, and Ibn Rushd together would not be able to make sense out of the Pope’s dangerous Middle East move. Getting in bed with the Erdogan will not serve the Divine. It will only strengthen the devil.

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!




On Topic Links


Jewish Leaders Mourn the Passing of Reverend Billy Graham, Friend of Israel: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 21, 2018—Reverend Billy Graham, a powerful advocate of Israel and one of the most influential Evangelical leaders of the era, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 99. In a career that spanned six decades and reached all corners of the world, his message of faith was listened too by over 215 million followers. Recently, Newsmax voted Reverend Graham one of the most influential Evangelicals in America, praising him for his influence that crossed all boundaries.

Infidel Women: Spoils of War: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 17, 2018—One aspect of radical Islamist aggression that is overlooked – or purposely ignored – by Western liberals is that non-Muslim women tend to be its greatest victims. According to a recent Open Doors study, “Christian women are among the most violated in the world, in maybe a way that we haven’t seen before.” The study revealed that six women are raped every day simply for being Christian.

Closing Down Christianity at its Source: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, Dec. 21, 2018—The Muslim campaign to extirpate Christianity has been inaugurated at the place of the birth of Jesus– and no one seems to have noticed. The Mayor of Bethlehem, has decreed that, in protest of President Trump’s recent declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, it is necessary for him to close down Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. The result has been catastrophic for Bethlehem’s Christmas trade.

America’s 20 Most Influential Pro-Israel Evangelical Christians: Eliana Rudee, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 24, 2017—Newsmax has recently published its 100 Most Influential Evangelicals in America list, ranking pastors, teachers, politicians, athletes, and entertainers “from all walks of life whose faith leads them to live differently and to help others in a variety of ways.” Breaking Israel News wondered: How many of these prominent Christians use their influence to support Israel through investment and advocacy? Below, find BIN’s exclusive list of the top 20 pro-Israel Christians in America.







Middle East Regression: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 31, 2017— A century after the Ottoman Empire's demise, it has been reincarnated.

Turkey Will Not Emerge Victorious From the Battle of Afrin: Akil Marceau, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2018— Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, must be turning in his grave like a whirling dervish. “Peace at home, peace in the world,” was his motto.

Hamas: Turkey's Longtime Love: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 22, 2018— Despite the nominal 'normalization' of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel, Ankara is still fully supporting a terrorist organization — one that Washington, among others, lists as terrorist.

Turkey’s Jews Are Scared – But Afraid to Talk About it: Kristina Jovanovski, The Media Line, Feb. 4, 2018— Movie producer Jozef Ercevik Amado sits at a bar in central Istanbul stressing how, as a Jewish Turk, he can live his daily life without any fear.


On Topic Links


Turkey: U.S., Iran, Russia Are Working Against Turkish Interests In Syria, President Says: Stratfor, Feb. 6, 2018

Analysis: Turkey Causing Major Escalation in Syrian War: Yochanan Visser, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 9, 2018

Shin Bet Investigation Exposes Depth of Turkey's Hamas Support: Yaakov Lappin, IPT News, Feb. 15, 2018

Turkey Stokes Unrest Over Jerusalem Recognition: Dmitri Shufutinsky, Daily Caller, Feb. 13, 2018





Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Arutz Sheva, Jan. 31, 2017


A century after the Ottoman Empire's demise, it has been reincarnated. Once again, Turkey is conquering parts of the Arab World, with Syria serving as its current goal. Using the "war on terror" as its lame excuse, Turkey has managed, in the last two weeks, to take over a strip of Syrian land along the border shared by the two countries, in order to prevent the Kurds from controlling a contiguous region.


Turkey intends to extend its "security belt" on Syrian soil to cover the entire length of its 500 mile-long border with Syria, and to widen that strip to a depth of 18 miles inside Syrian territory. If Turkey succeeds in doing this, that "security belt" will be larger than the State of Israel, and span over 9000 square miles. The Turks intend to turn the area into a no-man's land.


The only name that this plan can be given is "ethnic cleansing." The tens of thousands of villagers and town-dwellers who have lived on this "belt" for hundreds and  even thousands of years will have to uproot themselves and scatter in  all direction, all because Erdogan does not want an independent or non-independent Kurdish entity south of the Turkish border. Calling the Syrian Kurds "terrorists" who must be expelled from their historic living space is exactly the same as calling all the Arabs or all the Jews "terrorists" and treating them all as equally guilty. Erdogan's racism is simply beyond the pale.


What is most shocking about Turkey's behavior is the world's total silence. The Security Council has not met to discuss the new takeover and has not uttered a single word of condemnation. There are no demonstrations and the streets of the Arab, European and North America are as silent as the tomb. For those who have short memories, Turkey conquered 37% of the island of Cyprus in 1974 and established a state there that not one country recognized "de jure" – barring Turkey itself, of course. Its presence there is "occupation" any way you look at it, but who is aware of it?  Who condemns Turkey for occupying more than a third of Cyprus?  Has it crossed anyone's mind to boycott, sanction or divest of investments in Turkey – BDS – because of its 44 year occupation of Cyprus? Now it is the turn of the Turkish takeover of Kurdish Syria. Is the world going to wake up now and realize what Turkey is doing?  Will it demonstrate? Condemn? Boycott? Do anything at all?


It is not only the current occupation that presents a problem, it is Turkey's problematic behavior way before 1974. Anyone with a conscience remembers what happened to the Christian Armenians in Turkey. They suffered mass genocide from 1894-1896 and another during WWI from1915-1918. Millions of Armenians and Christians were cruelly murdered by Muslim Turks and the world's absolute silence is what led Hitler to believe, in 1941, that the world would do nothing if he did the same to the Jews. The cynical world in which we live acts in accordance with its best interests and the West – read that the US and Europe – fears that angering impulsive and hot-headed Erdogan may result in his forcing them out of Incherlake air force base, which is the foundation of every Western campaign plan in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iran.


The big unknown is how the Kurds will react in response to the threats of ethnic cleansing Erdogan has in store for them: Will they sit quietly and wait for death to strike or will they put up a fight against the Turkish forces?  Another question lurking in the background is how the Kurds in Turkey will react to what may happen to their Syrian brothers. Reminder: Every Turkish city includes a Kurdish neighborhood. If the Kurds wish to, they can sow destruction over all of Turkey. The price they will have to pay is steep, but they are well aware of that.


The question of Kurdish response is not without its own problems. We recently witnessed what occurred in the Kurdish region of Iraq, where the Kurds lacked solidarity, were split into warring factions, and at times, even fought one another. Erdogan may be counting on that divisiveness to allow him to continue the brutality he has shown against the Kurdish Syrians without having to worry about the Kurds in Turkey coming to the aid of their Syrian brethren. Enter another factor, the volunteers pouring in to help the Kurds from all over the world. Some have arrived from France, others from the USA, the UK, Algeria, Japan and more. They are being drafted through social media in a way reminiscent of how ISIS succeeded in getting volunteers. Some have adopted Kurdish names and learned the Kurdish language. If this phenomenon continues to grow and leads to foreign volunteers falling in battle, the Turks are going to find themselves lost in an international blizzard…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Akil Marceau

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2018


Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, must be turning in his grave like a whirling dervish. “Peace at home, peace in the world,” was his motto. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his successor and current Turkish head of state, has transformed this into “war at home, war in the world.” This secular republic was established in 1923 by Ataturk to align with the West. Today, it is allied to fundamentalist Muslim groups in a war unleashed against the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin.


Present-day Turkey is separating itself from Western values and is now in open conflict with its Western partners on multiple hot topics. Erdogan’s Turkey has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, supports the Hamas movement in Gaza, and has for years allowed aspiring European jihadists to transit through Turkey to Syria. He continues to arm and finance Syrian Salafist armed groups from the Muslim Brotherhood. Western intelligence services and think tanks are perfectly aware of the structural reasons that, if this evolution continues, will see us accelerating toward an inevitable divorce between Turkey and the West.


This Turkish Islamist shift is torpedoing Western plans in the current phase to end Islamic State (ISIS) terrorism, the cause of the deadly attacks on the streets of European capitals. The latest military intervention in Syria clearly prevents the stabilization of areas which required cost of heavy fighting and thousands of deaths to liberate.


The Kurdish enclave of Afrin borders Idlib province, largely controlled by local groups affiliated with al-Qaida. The fall of the enclave would consequently reinforce these groups and other Salafist movements linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, all of which are part of the Turkish-led military intervention. Not one bullet had been fired from Afrin at Turkey. The enclave had been, until now, preserved from the war. Its peace and security offered refuge to tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing both the regime and jihadist groups. The only possible justification for the Turkish military intervention is to halt the establishment of a Kurdish zone in northern Syria. A zone that is already creating its own administrative structures and local elections.


Turkey is fearful of the consequences regarding its own Kurdish population, whose legally elected representatives to the Turkish Parliament are either being prosecuted or are already in prison. With 15 to 20 million Kurds living in its territory and 40 years of failed military interventions, shouldn’t Turkey be convinced that such an option is not exportable and will only lead to the same failure in neighboring Syria? On top of which, the local Syrian Kurdish population is hostile and, given the military complexity on the ground, the Western powers involved in the Syrian conflict are not in any position to offer support.


The Kurds, as part of a secular, multi-faith society, have proven to be the most reliable allies and the only option on the ground able to fight ISIS alongside the international alliance. Today, they are paying the price for this alliance, attacked by Turkey and Sunni Salafist groups within Syria. This is a replay of the attack by Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia on Kurdish territory following the recent Iraqi Kurdish referendum on independence.


In an Arab-Muslim world devoid of leadership, especially in its Sunni version, and still struggling with modernity, the all-out populism of the Turkish president, who dreams of himself as a new caliph, acts as a performance enhancer for the mass of the disinherited. His dubious alliances with Islamist networks in countries across the region as well as his vocal position on the status of Jerusalem, outsmarting any Arab leader on this issue, provides a Trojan horse in his strategy of regional domination.


When Erdogan and his Islamic AKP party came to power, many in the West hoped that he would form the “Christian Democrats of the East.” Unfortunately, those who placed their bets on the “Islam Democrats” have been roundly disappointed. When, in 1998, Erdogan was tried and jailed for reciting a jihadist poem, “the minarets are our bayonets, the domes are our helmets, the mosques are our barracks,” the army was still guardian of Turkish secularism. After silencing the moderates from his own party, such as former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu and former president Abdullah Gul, the 2016 coup d’etat then gave him the opportunity to purge both the army and judicial apparatus.


Thousands of academics, teachers and journalists have also been fired, and many arrested. Erdogan’s hands now free to ally with jihadist groups, he launched the current military operation with a public recitation in mosques across the country of the “Victory” verse from the Koran, banned demonstrations hostile to the war and imprisoned opponents of it. This Turkish intervention will fail. Encouraged behind the scenes by Russia and Iran to distance Turkey from the West, these two countries will never allow Turkey to become a serious player on the Syrian chessboard. As veterans, they consider it their private hunting ground and retain exclusive leverage, with Turkey being the novice in this demonic alliance.


Faced with the massive challenge that political Islam poses now and for some time to come, let us not forget that its victims are overwhelmingly Muslims themselves. We must not waiver from the values and ethics that are the foundations of Western democracies. These values remain the best weapons to fight the international jihadist. Abandoning the Kurds to slaughter would be a major moral defeat for the West. Furthermore, the fall of Afrin would be a defeat of Western strategy in its fight against terrorism, reinforcing the jihadists and forcing us back to square one.                                               






Burak Bekdil

Gatestone Institute, Feb. 22, 2018


Despite the nominal 'normalization' of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel, Ankara is still fully supporting a terrorist organization — one that Washington, among others, lists as terrorist. The Shin Bet's report, the Istanbul conference and its contents, the official Turkish support for that conference and Turkish Foreign Ministry's explicit support of Hamas make new evidence that Turkey insists on siding ideologically with a terrorist organization — ironically at a time when Erdogan claims Turkish troops are fighting terrorists in Syria.


In 2014, Turkey hosted Salah al-Arouri, a Hamas commander whom the Palestinian Authority had accused of planning multiple attacks against Israeli targets. At that time, the newspaper Israel Hayom called Turkey's important guest "an infamous arch-terrorist believed to be responsible for dozens of attacks against Israelis". In August 2014, speaking at the World Conference of Islamic Sages in Turkey, Arouri admitted that Hamas had instigated the "heroic action carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades [the military wing of Hamas], which captured three settlers in Hebron." The "heroic action" consisted of Hamas operatives kidnapping and murdering three teenage boys, an incident that triggered the spiral of violence that led to the 50-day war in Gaza.


In December 2014, a Hamas leader confirmed that his organization was using NATO member Turkey as a refuge for logistics, training and planning terrorist attacks. The same month, then-Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu hosted the chief at that time of Hamas's political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, at a high-profile party congress in Konya, Central Turkey. Taking the stage at the event, Mashaal congratulated the Turkish people "for having [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and Davutoglu." His remarks were received passionately, with thunderous applause, the waving of Palestinian flags and thousands of party fans shouting, "Down with Israel!"


In June 2016, Jonathan Schanzer forcefully reminded the public that although Arouri had been expelled from his safe base in Istanbul, "many other senior Hamas officials remain there [a]nd their ejection from Turkey appears to be at the heart of Israel's demands as rapprochement talks near completion." Schanzer named half a dozen or so Hamas militants enjoying refuge in Turkey. These included Mahmoud Attoun, who had been found guilty of kidnapping and murdering a 29-year-old Israeli. Also enjoying safe haven in Turkey were three members of the Izzedine al-Qassam brigades. Ten Hamas figures were believed to be in Turkey, Schanzer said: "There are a handful more that can be easily identified in the Arabic and Turkish press, and nearly all of them maintain profiles on Facebook and Twitter, where they regularly post updates on their lives in Turkey."


Stubbornly ignoring Hamas's violent past –and present — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed more than once that Hamas is not a terrorist group but a legitimate political party. He has also repeatedly described Hamas militants as "freedom fighters". In November 2016, Erdogan said again that he did not view Hamas as a terrorist organization; he called it instead a "political movement born from [a] national resurrection," and mentioned that he meets with Hamas "all the time".


Erdogan's ideological love affair with Hamas is obligatory for all Islamists in this part of the world, and they do not tend to forget it. In February, a deported Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) board member, Sami al-Arian, denounced the United States as "our enemy." The venue was an Istanbul conference sponsored by Diyanet, Turkey's powerful religious affairs authority. Diyanet's president and Turkey's top cleric Ali Erbas, an Erdogan loyalist, said: "Diyanet is with the suffering Palestinian Muslims who have been serving as the guardians of al-Aqsa for years despite any kind of invasion and violence, and will continue to be by their side and provide any kind of support for them." Arian, meanwhile, is the founder of a charity called the Islamic Committee for Palestine and raises money for PIJ. It was only too normal that Diyanet sponsored an event featuring hatred of the U.S. and Israel while promoting the "Palestinian cause."


Recently, the U.S. government declared Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh a "specially designated global terrorist" and imposed a raft of sanctions against him. Immediately afterwards, the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the U.S. for this decision. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the timing of Washington's decision was "suspicious". Apparently, the Turkish love affair with Hamas is not only about nice words. Israel's Shin Bet security service has announced that a Turkish law professor was deported and that an Israeli Arab was facing indictment over involvement in a Hamas effort to funnel money for terrorism to the West Bank and Gaza via Turkey. According to Shin Bet, both men were recruited by a Hamas operative who was deported from the West Bank after Israel released him from prison in 2011 as part of the deal to ensure the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.


Enter Arouri — again. The Hamas recruiter, according to Shin Bet, was one of the chiefs of Hamas's West Bank Command, headed by Arouri, until recently Turkey's very important guest. The Hamas West Bank Command's mission is to plan and fund acts of terror in the West Bank. The Shin Bet also accused Turkey of aiding Hamas's military build-up by means of a Turkish company called SADAT, a security services and training specialist. SADAT's owner, Adnan Tanriverdi, is a retired Turkish general who is now one of Erdogan's chief advisors…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    





Kristina Jovanovski

The Media Line, Feb. 4, 2018


Movie producer Jozef Ercevik Amado sits at a bar in central Istanbul stressing how, as a Jewish Turk, he can live his daily life without any fear. But the backlash to the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has made some in the Jewish community feel unsettled. “There are all these Israeli consulate protests and that’s not something that I enjoy… it’s scary,” Amado says. He says that some of his fellow citizens who talk to him believe he isn’t fully Turkish. “I think the essence of the problem is with otherness or foreignness… There’s this hospitality in Turkey, incredible hospitality, but then when you hit the wall, for some reason, that you don’t belong in that conversation or there, then it’s something different.”


The Jewish minority – believed to number around 15,000 – has been under threat for decades, including deadly terrorist attacks targeting synagogues in Istanbul. But the Turkish government’s shift toward greater Muslim conservatism has put the minority under the spotlight. That shift has only strengthened since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a strong stance against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In December, Turkey hosted a meeting of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, denouncing the decision. Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at Brooklyn College CUNY who focuses on Turkey and Israeli/Palestinian issues, says supporting Palestinians is beneficial for Erdogan because it will play well with Turks across the political spectrum. “Politically, [Erdogan] doesn’t have much to lose, in the sense it does capture not just his own audience but other audiences.”


However, Turkey still has motivation to protect its relationship with Israel, partly due to their strong economic relations. Turkish Airlines, for instance, was the most popular airline for people flying to and from Israel last year according to the daily Haaretz. Fishman, who has lived in both Turkey and Israel, says there has been a sharp rise in antisemitism over the last couple of years. “It’s not something that’s systematic within the law that you’re going to feel [discriminated] against on a daily basis, but the weight of antisemitism is there.” A 2015 poll reported that 71% of respondents in Turkey held antisemitic beliefs, a result borne out by a terrorist attack against a synagogue in 1986 that killed 22 people, while a series of deadly bombings in 2003 also targeted synagogues…


Betsy Penso, a lawyer who volunteers for an organization called Avlaremoz, which keeps track of antisemitism online and in the media, says hate speech seems to be on the rise. “I think it’s getting stronger… since there is no punishment, people continue to write it, [and] nobody says anything to them.” Part of that, she suspects, is the advent of social media, which have allowed people to voice opinions they may already have held but kept to themselves. Yet, social media have also allowed the small Jewish minority a chance to speak up as well. “Avlaremoz” means “Let’s talk” in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish dialect. Penso says it is to contrast a tradition among Turkish Jews called “Kayadez” – to be invisible or unseen – which means people do not speak out on issues – even among their own families. “They’ve faced lots of things… they believe if they speak, they won’t be welcome anymore, so they don’t speak.” She says much of the problem for Turkey’s Jews is that many fellow citizens equate them with Israel and blame them for the actions of the government. “They see us as foreigners for sure,” Penso says…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]



On Topic Links


Turkey: U.S., Iran, Russia Are Working Against Turkish Interests In Syria, President Says: Stratfor, Feb. 6, 2018—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States is working against the interests of Turkey, Iran and possibly Russia by sending military supplies to northern Syria, Reuters reported Feb. 6. Erdogan also repeated his call for the United States to withdraw its troops from Manbij, Syria, despite a Jan. 29 report that the United States would not.

Analysis: Turkey Causing Major Escalation in Syrian War: Yochanan Visser, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 9, 2018—More than two weeks after Turkey launched another invasion into Syria dubbed “Olive Branch” by the Erdogan regime, it looks as though the Turkish army is slowly drowning in the Syrian swamp.

Shin Bet Investigation Exposes Depth of Turkey's Hamas Support: Yaakov Lappin, IPT News, Feb. 15, 2018—Hamas is operating freely on Turkish soil, gathering terrorist finances and looking for ways to upgrade the capabilities of the Hamas armed wing in Gaza, an Israeli security source has told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). It is highly likely that these activities occur with the knowledge of Turkish authorities, the source said.

Turkey Stokes Unrest Over Jerusalem Recognition: Dmitri Shufutinsky, Daily Caller, Feb. 13, 2018—For decades, politicians and pundits have claimed that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would destabilize and further radicalize the Middle East. Two months after President Trump signed the order to move the embassy, however, the Palestinian Territories are relatively calm.





Erdogan’s Fire and Fury: Robert Ellis, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2018— Under the bizarre name “Olive Branch,” Turkey has launched an offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria.

Don’t Abandon the Kurds to the ‘Mercies’ of Turkey’s Tyrant: Ralph Peters, New York Post, Jan. 22, 2018— The United States has been the protector and ally of the Kurds for a quarter-century.

Turkey, the Arab World Is Just Not That into You: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 14, 2018— He runs around in a fake fire extinguisher's outfit, holding a silly hose in his hands and knocking on neighbors' doors to put out the fire in their homes.

Erdogan's Israel Obsession: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Dec. 24, 2017— Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's hostility toward Israel can be puzzling at times.


On Topic Links


Trump Sharply Warns Turkey Against Military Strikes in Syria: Gardiner Harris, New York Times, Jan. 24, 2018

Watching Turkey's Descent into Islamist Dictatorship: Andrew Harrod, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2018

Turkey is Becoming New Hub for Salafist-Jihadi Exodus from Syria: Metin Gurcan, Al-Monitor, Jan. 8, 2018

Turkey’s Expansionist Military Policies in the Middle East: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Jan. 24, 2018





Robert Ellis

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 22, 2018


Under the bizarre name “Olive Branch,” Turkey has launched an offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria. This operation had been expected for the past week and only needed Moscow’s blessing to begin.


US support for the struggle by Kurdish forces to drive Islamic State (ISIS) from northern Syria has long been a thorn in Turkey’s side, as has the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish region (Rojava). The backbone of the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is considered by Turkey to be part and parcel of Turkey’s separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).



Matters came to a head on January 13, when the US-led Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) announced the formation of a 30,000-strong “Border Security Force,” half of which would consist of SDF veterans. The force would be deployed along the border with Turkey, the Iraqi border and along the Euphrates River Valley, an area which contains two of Rojava’s three regions. This was a red flag to Turkey’s already belligerent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who threatened to “strangle” this force “before it’s even born.” The Pentagon said this was “a mischaracterization of the training that we are providing to local security forces in Syria” and instead it was a “kind of security or stabilization force” or “some sort of hold force.” According to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “Some people misspoke. We are not creating a border security force at all.”


Erdogan warned that Turkey would destroy all terrorist nests in Syria, starting from the Afrin and Manbij regions, and that it would do so in about a week. In August 2016, a month after the attempted coup in Turkey, the Turkish army crossed the Syrian border and in Operation Euphrates Shield occupied most of the area west of the Euphrates and east of the third Kurdish region, Afrin, effectively blocking any attempt to create a Kurdish corridor south of the Turkish border.


But Manbij, which lies west of the Euphrates, was captured by the SDF from ISIS in 2016 and is a thorn in Turkey’s eye. The Pentagon immediately distanced itself from Afrin and stated it did not support YPG elements in Afrin and did not consider them part of their fight against ISIS. “We are not involved with them at all,” the Pentagon’s spokesman added.


The Syrian government has warned Turkey that combat operations in the Afrin area would be considered an act of aggression which would be met by Syrian air defenses. However, as Syrian airspace is controlled by Russia, on Thursday Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar and head of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) Hakan Fidan were sent to Moscow to meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov to pave the way for the operation. In August a Russian Center for Reconciliation was set up near the city of Afrin, but the personnel have now been withdrawn “to prevent potential provocation and exclude the threat to the life and well-being of Russian military [personnel].”


On Saturday the Turkish General Staff announced that it had launched “Operation Olive Branch” to establish security and stability on Turkey’s borders, to eliminate terrorists and to save “our friends and brothers” (a reference to opposition forces backed by Turkey) from oppression and cruelty. It also claimed the right to self-defense while being respectful of Syria’s territorial integrity. In turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern and called on the sides to exercise constraint.


However, the Russian Defense Ministry put the blame for Turkey’s “extremely negative reaction” fair and square on “the provocative US steps aimed at the separation of regions with a predominantly Kurdish population” and “the Pentagon’s uncontrolled deliveries of modern weapons to the pro-US forces in northern Syria.”


Nevertheless, Russia’s attempts to include Syria’s Kurdish minority in an overall settlement for Syria have suffered a major setback. A draft constitution for Syria put forward by Russia in Astana a year ago safeguarded the status of what it termed “Kurdish cultural autonomy.” With regard to the National Dialogue Congress which will take place in Sochi next week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated, “The Kurds are definitely part of the Syrian nation and we need to take their interests into consideration.”


Furthermore, the opportunity for what Lavrov has called “a constructive dialogue” with the US has also been sacrificed on the altar of President Erdogan’s ambition. Former Turkish foreign minister Yasar Yakis believes an accommodation over the Kurdish question in Syria is a possible area of convergence between the US and Russia – if political and military developments do not get out of control. Which is what they at present show every sign of doing.               




Ralph Peters

New York Post, Jan. 22, 2018


The United States has been the protector and ally of the Kurds for a quarter-century. And the Kurds have proven to be, man-for-man and woman-for-woman, the best fighters in the region. Without Kurdish boots on the ground, we would not have made the sweeping progress achieved against the Islamic State caliphate. Now, with ISIS crushed (but still wriggling and snapping), we’re turning our backs on our Kurdish allies in Syria as they’re attacked by a NATO ally gone rogue — Turkey, which is led by an Islamist strongman, the odious “President” Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


The Kurds are fighting for freedom and a state of their own. There are at least 30 million Kurds divided between Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, and possibly 10 million more — none of the states where they’re captive have allowed an honest census. Kurds have been butchered en masse, denied fundamental rights, imprisoned, tortured, raped, cheated and scapegoated. (All of which should sound unnervingly familiar to those who know Israel’s backstory.)


After letting the Kurds down at Versailles a century ago, when we acquiesced to denying them a state, we finally stepped up to do the right thing in the wake of Desert Storm — after Saddam Hussein had used poison gas on Iraq’s Kurdish population. In return, the Kurds have fought bravely beside us in a succession of conflicts. Outside of Israel, no one has done more to support our priorities — especially in combatting Islamist terrorists. Now we’re on the verge of permitting another slaughter of Kurds. To please Turkey. We should be on the side of the underdogs, not of the rabid dogs.


As Turkish tanks roll into Syria’s Afrin Province to kill Kurds, it’s time to recognize that Turkey’s no longer an ally and no longer belongs in NATO (Erdogan is even buying Russian air-defense systems). Turkey’s dictator-in-all-but-name has gutted democracy, imprisoned tens of thousands on false charges, suppressed the free media, rigged the courts, backed Islamist hardliners in Syria — and, for political advantage, reignited a conflict that had gone quiet with Turkey’s internal Kurdish population. Oh, and Erdogan’s a prime supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Turkey and abroad.


Why on earth are we permitting his attack on our Kurdish allies? It really comes down to two related issues. First, inertia. Turkey has been our ally (if a difficult one) since the early Cold War, so we blindly accept the notion that it must remain an ally forever — even as Erdogan works against our strategic interests. Second, restricted use of a single air base has paralyzed our Turkey policy. Unquestionably, Incirlik air base, in southeastern Turkey, has a prime strategic location. Our operations would be more challenging without it. And Turkey uses that as leverage. It’s time to call Erdogan’s bluff. We should not sacrifice the future of 30 million to 40 million pro-American Kurds for the sake of a couple of runways.


Erdogan’s excuse for sending his air force and army across the border into Syrian territory liberated by Kurds is his bogus claim that the Kurds we’ve backed — who fought ISIS house to house — are all terrorists. In the alphabet game of the Middle East, Erdogan insists that Syria’s Kurdish YPG forces — our allies — are indistinguishable from the PKK, a Turkish domestic resistance group that had abandoned terror to seek a political accommodation. While oppressed Kurds everywhere do feel a measure of solidarity with one another, claiming that the YPG is the same as the PKK is like blaming Rand Paul for Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks.


What should we do to stop Turkey from using US-supplied, US-made weapons to kill our only dependable regional allies outside of Israel? It’s time to embrace the future rather than clinging to the past. It’s time to imagine a strategy without Incirlik air base and with Turkey suspended from NATO until it returns to the rule of law and honest elections. It’s time to recognize that the Kurds deserve and have earned a state of their own. And, right now, it’s past time to draw a red line for Erdogan, who cannot be permitted to slaughter Kurds who have been fighting beside us and for us. The Kurds aren’t terrorists. The terrorist sits in his president’s chair in Ankara.               




Burak Bekdil

Gatestone Institute, Jan. 14, 2018


He runs around in a fake fire extinguisher's outfit, holding a silly hose in his hands and knocking on neighbors' doors to put out the fire in their homes. "Go away," his neighbors keep telling him. "There is no fire here!" I am the person to put out that fire, he insists, as doors keep shutting on his face. That was more or less how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's neo-Ottoman, pro-ummah (Islamic community), "Big Brother" game has looked in the Middle East.


After years of trial and failure Erdogan does not understand that his services are not wanted in the Muslim neighborhood: The Iranians are too Shiite to trust his Sunni Islamism; the (mostly Sunni) Kurds' decades-long dispute with the Turks is more ethnic than religious; and Sunni Arabs do not wish to revisit their Ottoman colonial past. Still, Erdogan insists.


Turkish textbooks have taught children how treacherous Arab tribes stabbed their Ottoman ancestors in the back during the First World War, and even how Arabs collaborated with non-Muslim Western powers against Muslim Ottoman Turks. A pro-Western, secular rule in the modern Turkish state in the 20th century coupled with various flavors of Islamism in the Arab world added to an already ingrained anti-Arabism in the Turkish psyche. Erdogan's indoctrination, on the other hand, had to break that anti-Arabism if he wanted to revive the Ottoman Turkish rule over a future united ummah. The Turks had to rediscover their "Arab brothers" if Erdogan's pan-Islamism had to advance into the former Ottoman realms in the Middle East.


It was not a coincidence that the number of imam [religious] school students, under Erdogan's rule, has risen sharply to 1.3 million from a mere 60,000 when he first came to power in 2002, an increase of more than twenty-fold. Erdogan is happy. "We are grateful to God for that," he said late in 2017. Meanwhile, the Turkish Education Ministry added Arabic courses to its curriculum and the state broadcaster, TRT, launched an Arabic television channel.


Not enough. In addition, Erdogan would pursue a systematic policy to bash Israel at every opportunity and play the champion Muslim leader of the "Palestinian cause." He has done that, too, and in an exaggerated way, by countless times declaring himself the champion of the Palestinian cause — and he still does it. Erdogan's Turkey championed an international campaign to recognize eastern Jerusalem as the capital city of the Palestinian state, with several Arab pats on the shoulder.


His spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, happily said that the dispute over Jerusalem after President Donald Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital "had in fact united the Muslim world." A united Muslim front around the "Palestinian capital Jerusalem" is a myth. Iran, for instance, renounced Turkey's Jerusalem efforts because, according to the regime, the entire city of Jerusalem, not just eastern Jerusalem, should have been recognized as the Palestinian capital. Before that, Turkey accused some Arab countries of showing a weak reaction to Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.


The Turkish-Arab fraternity along Muslims lines is an even bigger myth. For instance, the Saudi-led Gulf blockade of Qatar imposed in June came as a complete shock. One of his Sunni brothers had taken out the sword against another?! Turkey's Sunni brothers had once been sympathetic to his ideas but no longer are. Only two years ago, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were mulling the idea of a joint military strike in Syria.


For the Sunni Saudis, the Turks were allies only if they could be of use in any fight against Shiite Iran or its proxies, such as the Baghdad government or the Syrian regime. For the Saudis, Turkey was only useful if it could serve a sectarian purpose. Meanwhile, as Turkey, together with Qatar, kept on championing Hamas, Saudi Arabia and Egypt distanced themselves from the Palestinian cause and consequently from Turkey. Both the Saudi kingdom and Egypt's al-Sisi regime have viewed Hamas, an Iranian satellite, with hostility, whereas Turkey gave it logistical and ideological support. Another reason for the change in Saudi Arabia's position toward Turkey — from "friendly" to "semi-medium-hostile" — is Saudi Arabia's newfound alliance with Egypt's President el-Sisi. El-Sisi replaced the Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, in Egypt, while Turkey and Qatar, have effectively been the embodiments of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Erdogan offered to build a Turkish military base in the Kingdom, for example, but in June, Saudi officials turned him down.


Erdogan might benefit by being reminded of a few facts and shaken out of his make-believe world. For instance, he might recall, that his worst regional nemesis is an Arab leader, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, not an "infidel king." He must realize that he is no longer the "rock star" he was in the streets of Amman or Beirut that he once was – when the only currency he could sell on the Arab Street was his anti-Semitic rants. Turkey does not even have full diplomatic relations with the most populous Sunni Arab nation, Egypt. More recently, a tiny sheikdom had to remind Erdogan that his expansionist, "ummah-ist" design for the Middle East was no more than a fairy tale he persistently wanted to believe. In December, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan shared a tweet that accused Turkish troops of looting the holy city of Medina a century ago. In response, Erdogan himself lashed out: “Some impertinent man sinks low and goes as far as accusing our ancestors of thievery … What spoiled this man? He was spoiled by oil, by the money he has.”


But that was not the end of what looks like a minor historical debate. The row symbolized the impossibility of what Erdogan has been trying to build: An eternal Arab-Turkish fraternity. Anwar Gargash, UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said there was a need for Arab countries to rally around the "Arab axis" of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Did Erdogan hear that? If not, he should have heard this one: Gargash also said that "the Arab world would not be led by Turkey." In what better plain diplomatic language could the idea have been expressed? Meanwhile Erdogan keeps living in his make-believe world. Last summer, as part of his futile "euphemizing Arab-Ottoman history" campaign, he claimed that "Arabs stabbed us in the back was a lie." Not even the Arabs claim they did not revolt against the Ottomans in alliance with Western powers.


If none of that is enough to convince Erdogan he should read some credible polling results. Taha Akyol, a prominent Turkish columnist, recently noted some research conducted by the pollster Zogby in 2016. The poll found that 67% of Egyptians, 65% of Saudis, 59% of UAE citizens, and 70% of Iraqis had an unfavorable opinion of Turkey. Do not tell Erdogan, but if "polling" had existed a century ago, the numbers might have been even worse.                                            




Prof. Efraim Inbar

Israel Hayom, Dec. 24, 2017


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's hostility toward Israel can be puzzling at times. When his Justice and Development (AKP) party rose to power through democratic elections in 2002, ties with Israel had been solid for a number of years. Erdogan visited Israel himself in 2005. His government purchased weapons from and held joint military maneuvers with Israel. Under Erdogan, Turkey attempted to serve as mediator between Israel and Syria and expressed interest in collaborating with Israel on projects to benefit Palestinians. Economic ties between the two countries continue to flourish, and Turkey's official airline operates around 10 flights per day between Tel Aviv and Istanbul. The reasons for the change can be found in Erdogan's personality and Turkey's strategic environment. Erdogan has acquired status and unprecedented political power, and he is fearlessly working to realize his personal preferences in both Turkey's domestic and foreign policies.


Erdogan's treatment of the Jewish state stems from his negative opinion of Jews in general. Erdogan had issues with anti-Semitic remarks in the past, which stem from his Islamist education and the anti-Jewish atmosphere in Islamist circles in Turkey. Many in those circles believe that the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was secretly a Jew. They see Jews as having been a central agent in Turkey's process of secularization under Ataturk, a process they consider destructive. Therefore, Jews are the bitter enemy sabotaging Turkey's Muslim identity. A shrewd politician, Erdogan is aware that his anti-Semitic positions earn him praise that translates to votes come election time. Opinion polls from the previous decade indicate that around half of all Turks do not want a Jewish neighbor and believe Jews are disloyal to the state. In Turkey, anti-Semitic sentiments are no longer politically incorrect.


Another important factor behind the poor relations between the two countries is Turkey's desire to wield influence in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world. Turkey's foreign policy has broken off from the Kemalist outlook that saw ties with Middle Eastern states as a cultural and political burden, and Turkey now draws more from its imperial Ottoman heritage. Under Erdogan, Muslim identity plays a large part in Turkey's foreign policy. The desire to become a regional and global leader demands that Turkey lower the profile of its relations with Israel.


At the same time, Turkey is distancing itself from the West, and the United States in particular. With the fall of the Soviet Union, there is less strategic need for NATO membership, especially given EU opposition to Turkey joining the organization. Alongside a weakened EU, America's diminished presence in the Middle East under former President Barack Obama and now under President Donald Trump has bolstered the Turkish trend of deviating from the West in its policy on Israel. And yet Turkey maintains diplomatic ties and excellent financial ties with Israel, which has a vested interest in ties with as important a Muslim state as Turkey. While Israel cannot let Erdogan's attacks slide, its response must differentiate between Turkish society and its popular but problematic leader.


The struggle for Turkey's identity is not over. Only half of all Turks voted for Erdogan in the last elections. In the Middle East, countries that can afford to oppose Erdogan are few and far between. Turkey and Iran are historic rivals, and tensions between them also stem from the Sunni-Shiite divide. Today, Turkey cooperates with Iran, largely out of both countries' concern over Kurdish nationalism and the Muslim character of their foreign policies. In the future, Turkey may decide to oppose Iran's expansion and as a result improve ties with Israel. The international reality is fluid, and Israel must keep all options open.



On Topic Links


Trump Sharply Warns Turkey Against Military Strikes in Syria: Gardiner Harris, New York Times, Jan. 24, 2018—Simmering tensions between Turkey and the United States spilled into the open on Wednesday as President Trump warned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against the growing risk of conflict between the two nations. The Turkish president, for his part, demanded that the United States end its support for Kurdish militias.

Watching Turkey's Descent into Islamist Dictatorship: Andrew Harrod, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2018—"Deep trouble" in Turkey's relationships with Europe and the United States was a recurring theme in the December address of Michael Meier — representative to America and Canada for Germany's Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), or the Foundation for Social Democracy. His introduction to the Middle East Institute (MEI) and FES' eighth annual Turkey Conference, at Washington, DC's National Press Club was an appropriately gloomy preface to the discussion of Turkey's troubled past and present.

Turkey is Becoming New Hub for Salafist-Jihadi Exodus from Syria: Metin Gurcan, Al-Monitor, Jan. 8, 2018—As the Islamic State (IS) has lost territory in Syria and Iraq, and as efforts are being made to separate radical elements from moderate Sunni opposition groups in and around Idlib, the violent Salafist-jihadi networks are migrating to Turkey.

Turkey’s Expansionist Military Policies in the Middle East: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Jan. 24, 2018—While Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East have been under the world’s magnifying glass, Turkey has been silently projecting its military presence in the area to such an extent it has become a source of worry to the “moderate” Arab states and specifically to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.





Islamic Summit on Jerusalem Showcases New Mideast Alliances: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, December 14, 2017— Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called in Istanbul on Wednesday for unity among Muslim nations in opposing US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Turkey’s Tantrum: Editorial, Washington Times, Dec. 13, 2017— The ability to respond smartly to controversy is a measure of responsible leadership. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan just flunked a test.

Why Does the Average Turk Love Erdoğan?: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Dec. 10, 2017— Since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has never lost an election, be it parliamentary, municipal, presidential, or a referendum. Countless theories, academic and otherwise, have tried to explain why he has remained unchallenged.

Trump, Jerusalem, Arabs, Muslims: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 14, 2017 — Trump's declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital city aroused, unsurprisingly, a massive wave of opposition in the Arab and Islamic world for two main reasons – one religious and one nationalist.


On Topic Links


Erdogan and Abbas Bark About Jerusalem, But Their Threats Have No Bite: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Dec. 14, 2017

Erdogan Invokes Islamic Text Sanctioning Killing Jews at Party Convention: John Rossomando, IPT, Dec. 12, 2017

Reza Zarrab Reveals a Plot to Kill Him, and Is Accused of Rape: Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, Dec. 9, 2017

Turkey Ignores NATO Threats – Russian Air Defence System to be Delivered in 2019: David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 26, 2017                                        



Seth J. Frantzman

Jerusalem Post, December 14, 2017


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called in Istanbul on Wednesday for unity among Muslim nations in opposing US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. However, the attendees at the emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation were not unified. The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates did not attend, sending a message that they would not be standing shoulder to shoulder with Iran.


Eighteen heads of state attended the meeting, including those of Azerbaijan, Qatar, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan. In addition the prime ministers of Malaysia and Pakistan came to Istanbul. Leaders of several weak and failed states, such as Yemen, Somalia and Libya, showed up as well. Lower-level attendance was common from the allies of Saudi Arabia, the same group that cut relations with Qatar in June.


The Egypt-Saudi-UAE alliance represents a new Arab core in the Middle East. In the strictest sense it opposes Iran and Iran’s proxies such as Hezbollah. However, this alliance also opposes Qatar because it views Doha as supporting extremism and terrorism, by which it means the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Turkey has recently grown closer to Iran, first via its alliance with Qatar, which it sent troops to protect in July, and also via its discussions on Syria that it had with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran at Sochi in November. Turkey has hosted Hamas and supported Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, even after he was deposed in 2013.


These countries are not on the same side in Yemen either. There, Iran is with the Houthis and Qatar’s media highlights the civilian casualties in Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign. Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun attended the Istanbul summit as well. He is an ally of Hezbollah.


Outside the Turkey-Qatar-Iran and Egypt-UAE-Saudi groups are countries that straddle the fence. King Abdullah of Jordan was in Turkey on the day of Trump’s Jerusalem announcement last week and it is clear that he and Abbas see Erdogan as a key ally on the Jerusalem issue. Jordan and Turkey are also on the same side in Syria. Ostensibly Saudi Arabia is also on their side in Syria, which adds a layer of complexity to a complex region. Kuwait is an ally of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but it too seeks to go its own way on the Qatar dispute. It is too geographically close to Iran not to know that it can be destabilized more easily than Riyadh.


Why was attendance so weak from Central Asia and Africa? In Africa the OIC only garnered the heads of tiny Togo, Djibouti and Guinea. Of the five “stans” in Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan sent parliament speakers, it appears the other three didn’t. Russia and Venezuela sent observers. The poor attendance was not lost on commentators. Dr. Ali Bakeer, an analyst on the Middle East, noted that news media in Saudi Arabia showed the weather and economic news as Erdogan spoke. Ammar Ali-Qureshi, who tweets about a variety of topics, noted that in 1969 arson against al-Aksa Mosque had been a catalyst for founding the OIC, yet today the “low key attendance” by some members was telling.


King Salman of Saudi Arabia made a point of addressing his Shura council during the OIC meeting. “The kingdom has called for a political solution to resolve the regional crises. Foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital.” The reference to “east Jerusalem” is a clear indication Saudi Arabia accepts the concept of Israel’s capital in west Jerusalem.


The fallout from the OIC meeting is that its decisions on Jerusalem will lack wholehearted support from key play players in the region. The growing divisions in the region come as the war against Islamic State ends and the Syrian civil war seems to slow into a frozen conflict. In some ways it appears Iran has been successful in its outreach to non-Shi’ite states such as Turkey and Qatar. It would like to use the Jerusalem issue to solidify this pan-Islamic unity and fuel tensions on the border with Israel.


That Jordan and the Palestinians are seeking leadership from Ankara, as opposed to Riyadh, is not encouraging for Israel. This is especially true given the Turkish president’s comments calling Israel a “terror state.” This could leave Riyadh more isolated unless it can achieve some kind of success, either in Yemen or elsewhere.                                                       Contents



Washington Times, December 13, 2017


The ability to respond smartly to controversy is a measure of responsible leadership. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan just flunked a test. The Turkish president-cum-caliph with a tart tongue has flown off the handle over the U.S. foreign policy turn toward Israel, demonstrating why he is an unreliable ally. Eliminating common ground undermines the basis for friendship.


President Trump’s announcement that the United States would move its embassy to Jerusalem, endorsed by a succession of presidents of both parties and long delayed, was treated like poison in the Islamic capitals, where poison abounds. Better than that would have once been expected from Istanbul.


No one should have been surprised that Mr. Trump delivered on the promise made by several presidents. The decision was classic Trump, somewhere between fearless and oblivious. And it is classic retribution that an ally of the Turkish strongman has placed a reward of $800,000 on the heads of two U.S. diplomats who dared condemn the Erdogan retaliation against supposed organizers of a 2016 coup attempt.


Mr. Erdogan reacted with venom in keeping with his full salute to the forces that have conducted the siege of Israel in their long war to establish an adjacent Palestinian state from which to dislodge the Jewish nation. “Palestine is an innocent victim,” Mr. Erdogan said in a speech the other day to his masses. “As for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist. We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children.” If diplomacy is war by other means, such harsh language is close to the real thing.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned a volley: “I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran get around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people.” Mr. Netanyahu’s rhetoric is fact-based. Mr. Erdogan’s is not. The difference is between defending one’s homeland and invading another’s. Turkey lowers itself by joining in the Muslim me-too campaign that blames Israel’s mere existence for disturbing the peace that never was.


Mr. Erdogan might at one time have felt emboldened by the winds of change sweeping the Middle East. Then, a tack toward Islamism could have looked promising on the strength of fellow Sunnis and their ascendant Islamic State. But times have changed. Visions of a new caliphate shattered with the destruction of the ISIS army. Mr. Erdogan’s ambition to reverse the secularization of Turkey is hardly a worthy one.


Turkey has been a sometime partner of the Jewish state in moderating the excesses of other Muslim regimes, but Mr. Erdogan’s failure to make even a whisper of reason about Jerusalem as the Israeli capital betrays a full about-face. For a nation that once proudly proclaimed its NATO membership as proof of an irreversible commitment to Western values, Turkey is moving the wrong way.


Turks deserve better. A new Pew Research Center survey reveals that 63 percent of respondents in Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia believe Turkey is playing a greater role in Middle East affairs than it did 10 years ago. With elevated influence comes greater responsibility. The nation that was a bridge between East and West should think twice about blowing up that bridge.



Burak Bekdil

BESA, Dec. 10, 2017


Since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has never lost an election, be it parliamentary, municipal, presidential, or a referendum. Countless theories, academic and otherwise, have tried to explain why he has remained unchallenged. Erdoğan’s opponents, Turkish and not, blame Erdoğan and his one-man rule for the visible Islamization of the once secular country. In their view, Erdoğan has taken a nation of 80 million souls hostage.


That is not true. A quick glance at Turkey’s facts and figures should explain why. There are remarkable parallels between the political sociology of the average Turkish voter and Erdoğan’s Islamist worldview. It can be argued that Erdoğan is, in a way, what the average Turk sees when he looks in the mirror.


It is true that Erdoğan has won millions of votes through his impressive “mega projects,” including a huge mosque on an Istanbul hill; a third airport (one of the world’s biggest) for the city; roads, highways, and bridges elsewhere on Anatolian land; a third bridge over the Bosphorus; generous social transfers; and persistent economic growth (though Turkey looks more like a consumption-construction economy). But one must also consider the sociological profile of the voters.


The number of families receiving free coal from Erdoğan’s governments rose from 1.1 million in 2003 to 2.15 million in 2014. Is this good news or bad? The rapid rise in the number of poor families means poverty was spreading, which suggests that millions should be unhappy about Erdoğan’s governance. Apparently it works the other way around: Turks are happy because they receive free coal to heat their homes.


Turks seem to care more about free coal and other social transfers than about the embarrassing democratic credentials of their country. Turkey ranks 155th out of 180 countries surveyed on the Global Press Freedom Index. Nearly 200 journalists are in jail and more than 120 on the run abroad – but 60% of Turks say they believe media censorship can be legitimate.


They do not much care about domestic tranquility, either. Turkey ranks 146th on the Global Peace Index. There are an average of 5.6 murders per day in the country, and that number excludes terror attacks. There are an average of 18 physical attacks on individuals per day. According to a 2014 survey, 11.3% of Turks do not view ISIS as a terrorist organization. But in the past couple of years alone, ISIS has killed 304 people in 14 major attacks inside Turkey. Of course, death does not always come via machine guns or bombs. In the 10 years leading up to 2016, more than 43,000 Turks lost their lives in fatal road accidents.


The Turks have been living under emergency rule since July 2016, when a group of military officers staged an unsuccessful coup d’état against Erdoğan’s government. More than 50,000 people have been imprisoned since then, and 150,000 public employees have been removed from their positions. In the aftermath of the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup, the purge within Turkish academia was limited to 120 scholars – but more than 5,000 scholars were purged following the failed putsch of 2016. A top judge recently revealed that a total of 6.9 million Turks, or nearly 9% of the entire population, are under some kind of legal investigation.


Let’s consider education. In Turkey, the average schooling period is a mere 6.51 years. In the age group 18-24, only 26.6% of male Turks and 18.9% of female Turks attend a school. The August 2017 OECD Regional Well-Being Index showed that Turkey came dead last out of 362 in the education area, and only 16% of Turks over the age of 18 are university graduates. The number of Turkish students studying to become imams, however, rose from a mere 60,000 in 2002 to 1.2 million in 2014.


But who is your average Turk, sociologically speaking? Seventy-four percent of Turks identify themselves as people who perform “all duties” of Islam. Ninety-four percent say they have never had holidays abroad, and 70% say they have never participated in any cultural or arts events. Seventy-four percent identify as either conservative or religiously conservative – which, among other reasons, explains Erdoğan’s popularity, especially among conservative Turks. It makes mathematical sense that Erdoğan, who does not hide his hatred of alcohol consumption for religious reasons, is popular in a country where 79% say they never consume alcohol (per capita alcohol consumption in Turkey is as low as 1.5 liters, compared, for example, to 12 liters in Austria).


And Turks are poor. Boasting barely $10,000 per capita income, the country has 92% of its population living on incomes between $180 and $1,280 per month – with 56% earning between $180 and $510 per month. But despite the country’s failings, happiness seems to be a Turkish word. In a 2015 survey, 56.6% of Turks said they were happy. In 2016, after thousands of terror victims, a near civil war, arbitrary rule by decree, poverty, tens of thousands of new prisoners, murder, attacks, and thousands of deaths by road accident, that number rose to 61.3%. The Turks believe they have a wonderful leader who makes their country great again. Don’t disturb their conservative peace.                                




Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Arutz Sheva, Dec. 14, 2017


Trump's declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital city aroused, unsurprisingly, a massive wave of opposition in the Arab and Islamic world for two main reasons – one religious and one nationalist. The religious reason is rooted in Islam's conception of itself as a faith whose mission is to bring both Judaism and Christianity to an end, inheriting all that was once Jewish or Christian: Land, places of worship and people. In Islam's worldview, Falestin in its entirely belongs to Muslims alone because both Jews and Christians betrayed Allah when they refused to become followers of His prophet Mohammed, the punishment for that being expulsion from their land and the forfeiture of all rights to it.


Throughout the history of Islam, Muslims turned churches into mosques, including: The Great Mosque of Ramle, the Beni Omaya Mosque in Damascus, the Hagia Sofia of Istanbul, and many Spanish churches. The reason for this is the belief that Christianity, like Judaism, was nullified by Islam, making churches unnecessary. The prophets revered by these obsolete religions are Muslims, according to Islamic tenets. That list includes Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron and others – all of them Muslims. And, according to Islam, Solomon built a mosque, not a Temple, in Jerusalem. The fifteen hundred year gap between the reign of King Solomon and the birth of Islam is of no import to true believers.


Jews and Christians can be protected under Muslim rule by being subservient to Islam in what is known as dhimmi status, deprived of the right to own land, bear arms and, naturally, not allowed to harm Muslims. Dhimmis are forced to pay a head tax (jyzia) and are to be kept in a downtrodden state, as is the Quran mandates.  In Islam's view, Jews are not a nation but a collection of communities to be found in various countries: A Jew in Poland is a "Pole of the Mosaic religion" and a Jew in Morocco is a "Moroccan Arab of the Mosaic religion."


Suddenly, towards the end of the 19th century, it all changed. Jews began coming to Falestin in ever increasing numbers and the Zionists invented a new nation, the "Jewish People" and decided that the land holy to Islam is their homeland and known as Eretz Yisrael. They built communities and a protective fighting force even though, as Jews, they were not supposed to be allowed to bear arms.


In 1948, the Jews actually declared a state, although they were not allowed sovereignty either, and in 1967, they "conquered" Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem. They now attempt to pray on the Temple Mount, making it a distinct possibility that Judaism has returned to being an active, live and even dynamic religion. This brings the very raison d'etre of Islam into question, as, after all, Islam came into the world in order to make Judaism obsolete. Muslims loyal to their religion and aware of this danger cannot possibly accept the existence of a Jewish state, not even a tiny one on the Tel Aviv coast. To them, Israel as the state of the Jewish people is a theological threat to Islam and only later a nationalistic, political, judicial or territorial threat.


Along comes Trump and authorizes Israel's existence by recognizing Jerusalem as its capital, a double blow for Islam: Trump, a Christian, has granted recognition to the Jews!! This must be a Christo-Judaic plot against Islam, and it infuriates the Muslim world. Trump's Declaration reminds them (and also several Jews) of the Balfour Declaration exactly a century ago, concerning which the Arabs continue to accuse the world, saying: “You made the promises of non-owners to those who do not have the right to be given those promises.''


Accordingly, during the week following Trump's declaration, we have seen Muslims all over the world expressing their fury at the stamp of approval granted the Jewish State, despite its very existence being opposed to that of Islam. Leader and ordinary citizens, men and women, have been going out to the streets to demonstrate their inability to live with the fact that Trump, a Christian, has recognized the capital chosen by the Jewish nation and by extension, the right to their own land.


The disturbances in Wadi Ara, in central Israel, were another manifestation of Muslim fury, as rioters attempted to block the main road and damaged a public bus. The location is not surprising, because the Wadi Ara area includes the city of Umm el Fahm, where the main concentration of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement headed by the infamous Raed Salah is to be found. The Northern Branch has been declared illegal along with some of the smaller organizations it fostered, resulting in its members having no lawful way to express their fury at the existence of the state of Israel, so that they attempt to act in the public, open space as individuals – without an organizational identity.


Anyone with eyes in his head and an active brain knows and understands that the entire raison d'etre of the Palestinian nationalist movement is based on negating the Jewish people's right to its land and state. The Palestine Liberation Organization was established in 1964 when the only "occupied" areas were Tel Aviv and Haifa. Its mission was to destroy the State of Israel, a goal Arabs expressed openly at the end of the 1948 War of Independence.


Despite what certain naïve people think, the PLO has never amended its Charter calling for the destruction of Israel and  the Oslo Accords and the agreements with the PLO that followed in their wake were worth nothing  These babes in the woods included Yossi Beilin, Shimon Peres, Yitschak Rabin, Yossi Sarid, Shulamit Aloni, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and a good many others, who, despite proofs of Arafat and his inheritor Mahmoud Abbas' treachery staring them in the face, continued to foster the illusion of peace in the hearts of war-weary Israelis.  This put the country to sleep, allowing it to be hit with a fatal plague while still drunk on the perfume of the very temporary peace those true believers had achieved…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]



On Topic Links


Erdogan and Abbas Bark About Jerusalem, But Their Threats Have No Bite: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Dec. 14, 2017—At the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s “Extraordinary Islamic Summit” Wednesday in Istanbul, many leaders from Arab and Muslim-majority countries spoke out harshly about the US administration’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Erdogan Invokes Islamic Text Sanctioning Killing Jews at Party Convention: John Rossomando, IPT, Dec. 12, 2017—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invoked a Muslim hadith commonly used by Hamas and other terrorist supporters to sanction killing Jews during a party convention Sunday.

Reza Zarrab Reveals a Plot to Kill Him, and Is Accused of Rape: Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, Dec. 9, 2017—Reza Zarrab, the star prosecution witness in the trial of a Turkish banker charged in a billion-dollar scheme to violate United States sanctions on Iran, was in his seventh day of testimony in Manhattan this past week when he revealed what he called a jailhouse attempt to kill him.

Turkey Ignores NATO Threats – Russian Air Defence System to be Delivered in 2019: David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 26, 2017—There had been talk about whether NATO will somehow punish Turkey for its purchase of the S-400 air defence system. NATO is worried its own air defence systems could be compromised or interoperability could be hindered. It has warned Turkey about the ramifications of such a purchase.





Europe’s Got it Way Worse Than Trump’s America: Douglas Murray, New York Post, Sept. 16, 2017— If you think America feels slightly unstable at present, relax. At least you’re not European.

Germany: The Rise of Islam: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Sept. 12, 2017— Jan Fleischhauer, a journalist of the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, coined an expression to define the free fall of German Christianity: Selbstsäkularisierung ("self-secularization").

Europe’s Destructive Holocaust Shame: Richard Landes, Tablet, Sept. 5, 2017— When I first heard about Catherine Nay—a prominent, mainstream, French journalist…

Open Letter to the Incoming EU Ambassador to Israel: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2017— Dear Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret, Welcome to Israel.


On Topic Links


Europe Is Killing Itself (Video): Pat Condell, Youtube, Sept. 7, 2017

Merkel Can't Lead Germany, Much Less the Free World: Alex Berezow, National Interest, Sept. 15, 2017

Illegal Migrant Problem? Greece Offers a Solution: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Sept. 12, 2017

Ending the War in Syria Could Be a Disaster for Europe: Mordechai Kedar, Algemeiner, Sept. 18, 2017




Douglas Murray

New York Post, Sept. 16, 2017


If you think America feels slightly unstable at present, relax. At least you’re not European. Currently, Britain is still going through the fallout from last year’s Brexit vote. A year after that shock result, Prime Minister Theresa May put herself before the public to strengthen her hand in negotiations with Brussels. In their wisdom, the British public responded by clobbering May in a general election that stripped her party of its majority in Parliament.


Meanwhile, France has just seen the first presidential election in which neither of the two main parties even made it through to the final round. Instead, the country chose young leader Emmanuel Macron, who had to form his party after being elected. All this is against the usual backdrop of a eurozone staggering from crisis to crisis and a political elite that celebrates when the far-right Austrian Freedom Party “only” receives 46 percent of the votes for the presidency.


In the midst of all this chaos, one country and one woman appear to be standing strong: Germany and its chancellor, Angela Merkel. On Sept. 24, the Germans will go to the polls. These are the first federal elections since 2013, and quite a lot has happened since then.


The minds of German voters will be on many things. They will be thinking about how to stabilize the eurozone, the 19 EU countries that have adopted the euro as their common currency. They will also be wondering how to stop other countries from following Britain in exiting the European Union. During that process, Berlin (along with Paris) will have to pull off the double trick of persuading people that the building is not on fire and reassuring them that the fire doors are in any case jammed. But one more thing also hovers over these elections.


It is now seven years since Chancellor Merkel told her country in a speech in Potsdam that “multiculturalism has utterly failed.” It had been a mistake, she admitted, to think that the guest workers invited into the country since WWII would leave. They did not leave. They stayed. Since then, thanks to growing immigration from the developing world, parallel societies have formed in Germany. All of which was a damning, unprecedented admission by the chancellor. But then in 2015 she did something even more unprecedented and with far more damning consequences. Having admitted that mass immigration into her country had been a disaster when it had been at a relative low point, she opened up her country’s borders to bring in a historically unprecedented number of migrants.


During 2015 up to 1.5 million economic migrants and asylum seekers from Africa, the Middle East and Far East entered Germany, adding an extra 2 percent to the country’s population in just one year. Merkel’s actions spurred a crisis across the entire continent. In the days and months following her unilateral decision, she and her colleagues attempted to bully other European leaders to take on a share of the problem she had presented them with. Some supported her. Others bailed.


As I argue in my latest book “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam,” there are specific local and historical reasons why the German chancellor did what she did in August 2015. But she also exacerbated an immigration challenge which threatens the whole future of our continent. Any culture would find it hard to accommodate the rapid movement of so many people. But for it to happen at the same time that the European continent is suffering from such a weight of historical guilt, fatigue and lack of self-belief makes it all but impossible.


The situation Merkel identified as a failure in 2010 was turned into a disaster by that same leader during her subsequent term in office. Naturally, like other leaders across Europe, the German government occasionally recognizes it must do something about this. Its main answer is to occasionally talk tough about the problem. Like the politicians of Sweden and other countries, it even occasionally suggests that it will start deporting the hundreds of thousands of illegitimate asylum seekers who (by the EU’s own figures) should never have entered Europe in 2015. But the words “horse,” “gate,” “shut” and “bolted” are on everybody’s minds, even when not on their lips.


In regional elections last September, Merkel’s party was severely punished by the electorate who elected the anti-immigration Alternative for Deutschland party to the country’s regional assemblies. Moreover, the AfD was just three years old when it beat Merkel’s own party into third place in her own constituency. The chancellor subsequently gave what was reported as an “apology,” saying that Germany should have been better prepared for the 2015 crisis. In reality, this was no apology at all.


With the rise of politicians like Geert Wilders in Holland and Marine le Pen in France, there were those who predicted a drubbing for Merkel this year. But both Wilders and Le Pen under-performed in their national polls earlier this year. The AfD is also struggling to break through, and it appears that the German people already expressed their anger last year. This year they look set to maintain the status quo. A recent poll showed most Germans (63 percent) now to be satisfied with the job the Chancellor is doing. It was Hilaire Belloc who famously gave the advice: “Always keep ahold of nurse/For fear of finding something worse.” The German people — surveying the continent around them — are most likely to hold on. The realization that nurse is part of the problem may have to wait for another day.





Giulio Meotti

Gatestone Institute, Sept. 12, 2017


Jan Fleischhauer, a journalist of the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, coined an expression to define the free fall of German Christianity: Selbstsäkularisierung ("self-secularization"). It is the Church being liquidated? The German Bishops' Conference just released the data on the decline of Catholicism in Germany for 2016. In one year, the German Catholic Church lost 162,093 faithful and closed 537 parishes. From 1996 to today, one quarter of the Catholic communities have been closed. "The faith has evaporated," said Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1982 to 2007.


Christians in Germany will become a minority in the next 20 years, according to Die Welt. Around 60% of the country is currently Christian, with 24 million Catholics and 23 million Protestants. But that number is falling by 500,000 a year through deaths alone. "Those statistics are embodied by what visitors observe in German cities on Sunday: largely empty churches", the Catholic theologian George Weigel wrote.


German Protestantism is facing the same crisis. Die Zeit revealed that in 2016, 340,000 Protestants passed away, and there were just 180,000 baptisms. Some 190,000 people left the church and just 25,000 people chose to join it. In his most famous lecture, Pope Benedict XVI famously said that the West, including those who do not accept transcendence, should act "etsi Deus daretur", as if God does exist. The old-fashioned Christian society will never come back, but it is critical for even a secular West to stay based on — and profoundly inspired by — its Judeo-Christian values.


The next stage seems to be a German cultural and religious landscape dominated by atheists and two minority religions: Islam and Christianity. If the secularists do not take Western Christian heritage — or at least the Judeo-Christian values from which it sprang — more seriously and start defending it, both atheists and Christians will soon be dominated by the rising political and supremacist religion, Islam. A prominent Muslim fundamentalist organization in Germany, banned by the federal government, calls itself "The True Religion" ("Die Wahre Religion"). They apparently think they are overtaking Judeo-Christian values.


There are dramatic instances of Christian decay in Germany. In the diocese of Trier, for example, site of the oldest Catholic community and the birthplace of Karl Marx, the number of parishes will drop from 903 to 35 by 2020, according to bishop Stephan Ackermann — a decrease of more than 90%. In the diocese of Essen, more than 200 parishes have been closed; their number has fallen from 259 to 43. A demographic decline is also involved in this religious crisis. "Christianity is literally dying in Europe," said Conrad Hackett, head of the researchers who drafted a Pew Forum report a few months ago. In Europe, between 2010 and 2015, Christian deaths outnumbered births by nearly 6 million. In Germany alone, there were about 1.4 million more Christian deaths.


This decline also apparent from the recruitment crisis for the priesthood. The official website of the German Catholic Church, noted in May that the dioceses of Osnabrück and Mainz did not receive any new priests this year. The archdiocese of Munich last year drew only one candidate. Throughout the Archdiocese of Munich today, there are only 37 seminarians in the various training stages, for about 1.7 million Catholics. In comparison, the American diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, currently has 49 seminarians for about 96,000 Catholics. In the U.S., Christianity is strong; in Germany it is literally dying.


A German architect, Joaquim Reinig, told Die Tageszeitung that to integrate Muslim immigrants better, churches should be demolished and replaced with "highly visible mosques". It might sound a bit crazy, but it contains a dramatic truth. In his book The Last Days of Europe, the historian Walter Laqueur wrote that "Germany had some 700 little mosques and prayer rooms in the 1980s, but there are more than 2,500 at the present time". If, in Germany, Christianity is evaporating, Islam is proliferating.


The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) just opened a new mega-mosque for worship in the German city of Cologne. The new German mega-mosque has a 1,200-person capacity and the tallest minaret of Europe. According to Deutsche Welle, "Christian leaders bristled at the idea of Cologne's famed Dom cathedral sharing the skyline with minarets". When the mosque was planned in 2007, a citizens' initiative was launched to say that "we want the cathedral here, not minarets". The Muslim authorities then announced the plan to "double" the number of mosques…


Since he took power in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has built 17,000 Islamic prayer sites there. The Turkish president is committed to the construction of mosques in European capitals as well. Turkey controls 900 mosques in Germany and feels free to say that a "liberal mosque" in Germany is "incompatible" with Islam, according to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. That is why the 57 percent of Germans fear the rise of Islam in their country.


When Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her country to mass migration in 2014, she apparently did not see any cultural problem in accepting more than another million Muslims. In the words of Erdogan, however, "Our minarets are our bayonets, our domes are our helmets, our mosques are our barracks". Islamic regimes are, in fact, offering to fill the empty spaces in Germany's religious landscape. Saudi Arabia proposed building 200 new mosques in Germany, "one for every 100 refugees". Can you imagine Germany offering Iraq, Syria and Egypt to build "200 new churches" to reconstruct the derelict and dispossessed Christian communities there? No, because in the Middle East, Christians have been eradicated in a forced de-Christianization. In Europe, Christians are also becoming extinct by a process of "self-secularization". We risk losing not only our churches, but more importantly, our cultural strength and even confidence in the values of our own civilization.                                                      



EUROPE’S DESTRUCTIVE HOLOCAUST SHAME                                                       

Richard Landes

Tablet, Sept. 5, 2017


When I first heard about Catherine Nay—a prominent, mainstream, French journalist—stating on her Europe1 news program, in reference to the 2000 IDF killing of 12-year-old Muhammad al Durah in the arms of his father, that “with the symbolic charge [of the image of al Durah], Muhammad’s death cancels, erases the [famous WWII] picture of the Jewish boy, his hands up before the SS, in the Warsaw Ghetto,” I realized that Europeans had taken the story as a “get-out-of-Holocaust-guilt-free card.”


At the time I marveled—and continue to marvel—at the astounding folly of the statement. How can a brief, blurry, chopped up video of a boy who, at best was caught in a crossfire started by his own people firing behind him, at worst a lethal fake, eliminate—in fact, replace—a picture that symbolizes the systematic murder of over a million children and their families? How morally disoriented can one get? Apparently, the hope of escaping guilt is enough to induce people to adopt a supersessionist narrative: Israelis are the new Nazis, and Palestinians are the new Jews.


But the profound distinction between guilt and shame suggests that the right formula is “get-out-of-Holocaust-shame-free card.” Doesn’t sound as good. The difference: Guilt is an internally generated sense of moral obligation not to repeat past transgressions, like the extermination of a helpless minority within one’s own society. Shame, on the other hand, is externally generated, driven by the “shaming look” of others (the “honor-group”). Therein lies a key difference: For guilt, it’s the awareness of the deed and its meaning; for shame, it’s whether others know. In some countries in the world, it’s not a question of whether you’re corrupt or not (everyone is, everyone knows), but whether you get caught. When Germans got caught carrying out genocide, their nation was not only guilty of the deed but shamed before the world … for committing such a hideous atrocity? … Or simply for getting caught?


While honor-shame cultures have moral codes, their vulnerability to the fear of shame can readily lead to a jettisoning of any moral concerns. After all, the limbic dread of shame—its disastrous psychological and practical impact—kicks in in times of humiliation and fear. Those afflicted with oneidophobia (overriding [limbic] fear of public blame/humiliation) are desperate that others not see, not know about, not talk about, what they have done; that one not bear the shame publicly, that one need not pay the steep price in social capital for one’s (mis)deeds.


Oneidophobes, people driven by shame-honor dynamics, avoid being subjected to criticism, especially public criticism. They consider both lying (to save face), and, where one can get away with it, violence (to regain respect), as normal recourse. Lancelot could publicly proclaim his innocence of adultery with the Queen because he killed everyone who accused him. Shame-driven oneidophobes want the negative spotlight off at all costs. In cases of those already shamed, they want to have the shame lifted.


Honest searching, motivated by well-deserved guilt, could have led post-Shoah Germans to become the most substantive academic critics of the Western grand narrative. After all, it wasn’t just European lunatics who disliked the Jews. How many great Western figures, when they bothered to mention the Jews, did so disparagingly, as the negative version of their great accomplishment? Instead of viewing this pattern of ancient, medieval, and modern—and now postmodern—denigration of Jews, as “they must be doing something to make others hate them so,” the self-critical German might have asked, “Maybe this has something to do with us and our problems?” German historians might have played a leading role in reinterpreting and integrating the story of the Jews into majority Western history, to a degree no earlier gentile historians had ever done…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]



OPEN LETTER TO THE INCOMING EU AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL                                          

Manfred Gerstenfeld                                        

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2017


Dear Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret, Welcome to Israel. As the European Union has often given doubtful advice to Israel, I take the liberty of making some suggestions in order to make your assignment here more successful. Please remember that you represent the greater part of a continent where antisemitism has been ingrained in the culture for over a thousand years. The leading academic scholar of antisemitism in our generation, the late Robert Wistrich, has shown that almost all Europe’s ideological currents during those centuries were antisemitic.


Please also be aware that in the past decades EU members have let in – without a selection process – millions of people from countries where most citizens are antisemitic. To make matters worse, in the past two years large numbers of such people have been given the opportunity to immigrate to the EU. The fact is that all Jews who have been killed in Western Europe for ideological reasons in the current century were murdered by Muslim immigrants or their descendants.


Your predecessor, Mr. Ambassador, repeatedly told Israel that “settlement construction was a hindrance to peace.” Sometimes he went so far as to threaten us. For instance in 2014, he stated, “if Israel’s settlement policies wrecked the current US-led peace efforts, then Israel would be held responsible for the failure of the negotiations.” He did not point out that the Palestinian Authority continuously pays high “salaries” to the families of murderers of Israeli civilians. Not mentioning how big a hindrance to peace this is was one of many ways he undermined the EU’s credibility in Israel. He should also have admitted publicly that European countries who finance the PA indirectly reward the murderers of Israelis.


I also suggest that you do not paint rosy pictures of a future peace. Your predecessor told us how beautiful the Middle East would look after a peace agreement is signed. He said, “Israel would be in a pole position to promote regional integration in the eastern Mediterranean” The fact is that despite Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt in 1978 and the one with Jordan in 1994, both countries appear on the list of major anti-Israel inciters and antisemitism promoters in a recent report by the US State Department. Earlier this year Palestinian murderers coming from the Temple Mount killed Israeli policemen. Israel thereupon took security measures which the Palestinians turned into an opportunity for international Muslim incitement against Israel. It is not difficult to see that after Israel makes territorial concessions for a two-state peace agreement with the Palestinians, nothing will prevent the Palestinians from creating more unjustified international religious mayhem around the Temple Mount.


I would also suggest that you avoid giving bad advice. Your predecessor advised Israel to collaborate with the UNHRC investigation commission on the 2014 Gaza war despite the fact that the UNHRC is biased against Israel from the outset. Also please avoid making statements in which the lack of truth is transparent. For example, your predecessor’s attempt to deny the discriminatory character of the EU’s labeling of products from the West Bank. In response, Israel’s Foreign Ministry accused the EU of ignoring more than 200 other territorial conflicts around the world by singling out Israel, since the territories are the only place requiring separate labels.


It is indeed crucial for an EU ambassador to be truthful and credible. In his departure speech Mr. Faaborg-Andersen said that Israel could learn from Europe about fighting terrorism. There have been far more attempted terrorist attacks in Israel than in Europe. Yet none of the deadly attacks in Israel have seen as many people killed as those in Madrid in 2004, in London in 2005, in Paris in 2015 and in Nice in 2016. There is much information about EU member countries’ lack of ability to identify the early radicalization of Muslim individuals, as well as their intention to join jihadi organizations and carry out terrorist attacks.


Your predecessor also said that “antisemitism in Europe is a phenomenon we are combating – even more than Israel is.” The first step to effectively combat antisemitisms is to establish an accepted definition of it. The only working definition accepted by some in Europe was suddenly taken off the website of the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency in 2013. What would have been easier for the EU than to accept the 2016 definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and become an associated member of the IHRA? It did not. All the above has helped create suspicion toward the EU even if there are many interesting aspects to EU-Israeli cooperation…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


Europe Is Killing Itself (Video): Pat Condell, Youtube, Sept. 7, 2017

Merkel Can't Lead Germany, Much Less the Free World: Alex Berezow, National Interest, Sept. 15, 2017—Angela Merkel is likely cruising to an easy re-election as Germany’s chancellor. Because many pundits in America refer to her as the “leader of the free world,” it is tempting to speculate that her electoral success is due to keen wisdom and firm leadership. In reality, quite the opposite is the case. In many ways, Angela Merkel is Germany’s Bill Clinton, minus the philandering.

Illegal Migrant Problem? Greece Offers a Solution: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Sept. 12, 2017—As Western states prove incapable of deporting their millions of illegal migrants – the current crisis features Italy – authorities in Greece have found a surprising and simple way to convince them to take the long route back home.

Ending the War in Syria Could Be a Disaster for Europe: Mordechai Kedar, Algemeiner, Sept. 18, 2017—Blinded by the smokescreen of the war against ISIS, the world failed to notice that Tehran was taking over considerable parts of Syria — particularly in the sparsely populated center and east of the country.








A Lesson in Democracy for Turkey’s Islamist President: Steven Emerson, Algemeiner, Sept. 6, 2017 — When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Washington, DC this past May…

Victims of Turkey's Islamization: Women: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 31, 2017— On Feb. 6, 1935, Turkish women were allowed to vote in national elections for the first time, and eighteen female candidates were elected to parliament…

The US Standoff with Turkey: Robert Ellis, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 2, 2017— When it comes to Turkey, the US is faced with a dilemma.

Erdogan’s Turkey: Reliable Partner or Western Foe?: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Aug. 22, 2017— Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan forcefully inserted himself into Germany’s upcoming elections by urging Turkish foreign-nationals to boycott major parties, including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.


On Topic Links


How Turkey Went From Being a Strategic Asset to a Liability: Simon A. Waldman, World Politics Review, June 14, 2017

Get NATO’s Nukes Out of Turkey: Jonathan Marshall, Huffington Post, Sept. 5, 2017

Pro-Erdogan Media in Turkey Inciting Antisemitism Over Kurdish Independence Referendum: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Sept. 17, 2017

New Mideast Realities Require Support for Kurds: Trudy Rubin, The Inquirer, Sept. 15, 2017





Steven Emerson

Algemeiner, Sept. 6, 2017


When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Washington, DC this past May, he was greeted outside the home of the Turkish ambassador by a small group of protesters concerned about his crackdowns on civil rights, and his antagonism towards Turkey’s Kurdish population. Within minutes, Erdogan’s bodyguards sprang into action, accompanied by others in the Turkish posse, beating and kicking the protesters — who included women and senior citizens. A 61-year-old woman later told the Guardian that she had feared for her life after guards punched her in the face. When 60-year-old Turkish-American Reza Dersimi tried to assist the elderly woman, he, too, was assaulted.


Local police quickly intervened, arresting several of the attackers, including Erdogan’s guards. Some of those who ran off were apprehended in the days that followed — but many remain at large. The arrests infuriated Turkey’s president. “They have incarcerated our citizens!” cried Erdogan, who has regularly thrown foreign journalists and human rights leaders into Turkish prisons for absolutely no crime whatsoever.


Now the US government has indicted 19 of the attackers for their violent abuse of the protesters, whom Turkish leaders accuse of having been members of the Kurdish terrorist group PKK. (There is no evidence, however, to suggest that any protester had terror ties.) Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has described the indictments as “unjust and biased,” and claims that the indictments include the “names of people that have never been to the US.” The indictment — against 15 Turkish security guards, two Turkish-Canadians, and two Turkish-Americans — contains 21 counts of assault and hate crimes, and describes the incident as a “conspiracy to assault protesters and law enforcement officials.”…


Yet rather than apologize for the violence, Erdogan has declared the indictments “scandalous,” praised the attackers for their actions, and decried America’s failure to protect him from the protesters. True, some protesters did shout “Long Live the YPG,” referring to a Syrian-Kurdish militant group that the United States has engaged with in its fight against the Islamic State (Turkey considers this group to be a terrorist organization). But such cries, in a democratic state, hardly call for a violent response.


Moreover, Erdogan’s objections reek of hypocrisy. In the past two years, his government has detained numerous foreign nationals on trumped-up charges of “terrorism,” a word that Erdogan bandies about to describe critics of his ideology or his regime, including human rights workers and journalists. He has called on foreign governments to arrest their own citizens for statements critical of him, such as his April 2016 demand in April that Germany charge comedian Jan Böhmermann for his profanity-laced poem criticizing the Turkish president.


And only days later, Dutch-Turkish columnist Ebru Umar, vacationing in the Aegean coastal town of Kusadasi, was pulled from her bed in the middle of the night by police and arrested for cursing Erdogan on Twitter. She was released from custody the following day, but was not permitted to leave the country for several weeks. Other dual-citizens have suffered similar fates or worse, such as German-Turkish Die Welt reporter Deniz Yucel, who was arrested in February on charges of “terror propaganda and inciting hatred,” according to CNN. Yucel had “interviewed PKK leader Cemil Bayik ‘under the guise of being a journalist’ and reported on security forces’ operations in Turkey’s southeast against Kurdish militants by ‘undertaking propaganda by expressing the discourses of the armed terror organization,'” the prosecutor’s office told CNN.


And it’s not just dual nationals. Turkey’s July arrest of German activist Peter Steudtner and several others attending a workshop on digital security — again on terrorism charges — led German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to issue a warning to Germans about visiting Turkey. French freelance reporter Loup Bureau was also taken into custody last month in Turkey, again on charges of assisting terrorists. The charges were based not on anything he was doing at the time, but on a 2013 story that he had produced about members of the YPG for France’s TV5 Monde.


And in one particularly notorious case, Turkish police arrested British VICE reporters and their Iraqi fixer in 2015 in Diyarbakir, a city with a large Kurdish population. The charge: “knowingly and willfully helping the armed terrorist organization without being part of its hierarchical structure,” according to Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency. Although court papers did not include the name of the terrorist group, the journalists’ lawyer, Tahir Elci, told Reuters that, “They were accused of meeting and siding with both the Islamic State and the PKK-affiliated group [YDG].”


Erdogan’s message here is clear: his critics and dissenters and their associates are “terrorists” who must be subdued through violence, imprisonment or both — and those who oppress them, preferably through violence and imprisonment, are the righteous ones, the heroes. This ideology, unsurprisingly, links Erdogan far more closely to Islamist, authoritarian governments than to the democracies of the West. Indeed, as Scott Peterson observed in the Christian Science Monitor:


Fifteen years into his rule, Erdogan has gradually turned his country away from the secular tradition of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who founded the modern state from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923. And there is little room for any competing views as the once ardently secular eastern anchor of NATO, which has aspired to membership in the European Union, weakens once-promising linkages with the West, promotes the role of religion in public life, clamps down on opponents and the media, and moves ever more firmly away from democratic norms.


By contrast, in America and other Western nations, reporters are free to follow their investigations; peaceful protesters are free to voice their views; and government agents may not use violence against innocent civilians. What type of law is this? It’s called democracy, Mr. Erdogan. And this is what it looks like.





Burak Bekdil

Gatestone Institute, Aug. 31, 2017


On Feb. 6, 1935, Turkish women were allowed to vote in national elections for the first time, and eighteen female candidates were elected to parliament – a decade or more before women even in Western countries such as France, Italy and Belgium. Eight decades later, Turkish women look like unwilling passengers on H.G. Wells' Time Machine traveling back to their great-grandmothers' Ottoman lives.


Turkey's strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once proudly said that "Women should know their place," and that "Gender equality is against human nature". His deputy prime minister said that women not to laugh in public. It was not shocking to anyone when Turkey's Ministry of Family and Social Policies found in 2016 that no fewer than 86% of Turkish women have suffered physical or psychological violence at the hands of their partners or family. According to the ministry's findings, physical violence is the most common form of abuse: 70% of women reported they have been physically assaulted.


More recently, Kadin Cinayetlerini Durduracagiz Platformu, a women's rights organization, reported that 28 women were murdered by men in July 2017 alone. The same month, eight other — luckier — women were physically assaulted for "wearing shorts or 'indecent' outfits or smoking in public." The report concluded by saying, "The state remains silent."


Turkey increasingly features all possible social and political reflections of Islamism: authoritarianism, majoritarianism and officially-tolerated intolerance to everything Islamists may deem "un-Islamic." Women are often the target group, and might not avoid intimidation even if they dress in line with the Islamic code. Hayrettin Karaman, an Islamic scholar and the darling of Turkey's pro-Erdogan Islamists, recently argued that smoking cigarettes sends signals about women's morals. He wrote in his Aug. 3 column: "When I see a woman who wears a headscarf but also smokes in public, I get the impression that she's saying: 'Don't mind the fact that I am covering my head. Don't give up on me, I have a lot more to share with you.'"


Naturally, many Turkish men took the cleric's words as a message of sexual availability. This kind of thinking is common in conservative Muslim societies. It did not used to be that way in secular Turkey. It is simply an outcome of Turkey's top-down government-induced social Islamization. That has two disturbing aspects: willing social participation of people who comply, and inequality before law.


In 2014, 17-year-old K.C. was raped and beaten by two men. She filed a complaint with the police, and the two suspects were detained. All normal, up to this point. One of the suspects made a deal with K.C.'s family: he paid a sum of about $5,700 to the family and agreed to marry K.C. The family arranged a bogus wedding ceremony, took pictures and presented them to the court to save the man. Under pressure from her family, K.C. changed her testimony and said she was not raped. The rapist had suddenly become her fiancé. Both suspects were released, an Islamic religious ceremony was arranged and the rapists were acquitted. Not really a happy ending. K.C.'s "husband" started to beat her regularly and the girl once again went to the police and told her real story. Her husband was her rapist and she had been forced to marry him…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




THE US STANDOFF WITH TURKEY                                                   

Robert Ellis

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 2, 2017


When it comes to Turkey, the US is faced with a dilemma. Initial enthusiasm for regime change in Syria gradually waned when it was realized that one of the actors in the proxy war, Turkey, was furthering its own agenda with US support. The spectacular failure of the half-a-billion-dollar program to train Syrian rebels was one marker to signal the end of this policy and make way for another objective: the defeat of Islamic State.


This in turn has led to the realization that the only effective boots on the ground are the predominantly Kurdish SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), which with US advisers and materiel is leading the assault on the ISIS stronghold, Raqqa. The bone of contention is that the YPG (People’s Protection Units), which makes up the backbone of the SDF, is considered by Turkey to be the Syrian counterpart of Turkey’s PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which both the US and Turkey have designated as a terrorist organization.


President Barack Obama gave Turkey carte blanche to reignite its war with the PKK in July 2015 in return for access to Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey. The same day vice president Joe Biden landed in Ankara last August to make nice with Turkey after the attempted coup, Turkey launched a cross-border operation into Syria to block an attempt to create a contiguous Kurdish zone along Turkey’s southern border. Now Turkish forces are stuck west of the Euphrates, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatens with a new cross-border operation against the Kurdish canton of Afrin in Syria’s northwest corner.


President Obama’s decision in October 2014 to airdrop supplies to Kurdish forces besieged by ISIS in Kobane was a thorn in Turkey’s eye, whereas Erdogan’s meeting with his successor in May was a bitter disappointment. Instead of entering into an alliance with Turkey to defeat ISIS, President Donald Trump approved the Pentagon’s plan to supply arms to the Syrian Kurds. The only concrete outcome of the visit was the passing of an unanimous resolution by the House of Representatives condemning the attack by President Erdogan’s security detail on demonstrators outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence. The security officials have also been indicted by a grand jury for violence.


A further aggravation was remarked late July by US special envoy Brett McGurk at the Middle East Institute in Washington, where he blamed the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into Syria for the creation of an al-Qaida safe haven at Idlib “right on the border of Turkey.” Turkey considered McGurk’s statements provocative, as the US itself supported a terrorist organization (YPG). At his meeting with US Defense Secretary James Mattis in Ankara last week President Erdogan expressed Turkey’s unease at continued US support for the YPG, although Mattis assured his host the alliance was temporary and “not a choice but a necessity.” If this is the case, the US will once again leave the Kurds in the lurch.


On the other hand, in a telephone conversation in May between President Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin both expressed a commitment to furthering their strategic partnership, including trade and joint energy projects. Furthermore, they confirmed their cooperation in the Astana process and the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria. The crunch will come when it comes to determining the future of Syria’s Kurds and their demand for regional autonomy. President Erdogan has warned Turkey will not permit “a terror corridor” in northern Syria and will intervene “whatever the cost.”


When in Ankara, Secretary Mattis also met with Turkey’s defense minister, Nurettin Canikli, where they discussed the importance of Syria and Iraq’s territorial integrity and concern over “Iran’s malign influence in the region.” A week earlier when Iran’s chief of staff General Bagheri visited Turkey, President Erdogan declared that a joint operation with Iran against the PKK in Iraq was on the government’s agenda. The situation has been further complicated by the Kurdish Regional Government’s president Masoud Barzani’s intention to hold a referendum on independence on September 25.


Relations between Europe and Turkey are already strained, as an overwhelming majority of the European Parliament in July called for a suspension of accession talks. The EU’s enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn has declared it is time for member states to discuss the strategic implications of Turkey’s behavior, as “shrugging alone is not a political strategy.” Similarly, in view of the turn events are taking, a review of US policy would be timely. If the deal is finalized, Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system will make nonsense of its NATO membership. The director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), Dmitry Shugaev, has also said that all decisions regarding delivery of the S-400 missile system to Turkey correspond with Russia’s geopolitical and strategic interests.


In addition, the charge by a Turkish court that American pastor Andrew Brunson attempted to destroy constitutional order and overthrow the Turkish parliament is a blatant attempt to pressure the US into handing over the Turkish imam Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Turkey of masterminding the attempted coup, and dropping charges against Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish businessman, who is indicted for conspiring to evade sanctions against Iran.





Charles Bybelezer                                             

The Media Line, Aug. 22, 2017


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan forcefully inserted himself into Germany’s upcoming elections by urging Turkish foreign-nationals to boycott major parties, including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. “I am calling on all my countrymen in Germany,” he affirmed, “the Christian Democrats, SDP [Social Democrats], the Green Party are all enemies of Turkey, [therefore] support [other] political parties.” Germany has a large Turkish diaspora estimated at some three million people, many of whom will vote on September 24 when Merkel bids for a fourth term.


Erdogan’s comments are the latest in an escalating war-of-words between Ankara and Berlin, whose ties deteriorated sharply in the wake of last year’s failed coup in Turkey, to which authorities responded with a major crackdown on civil society. Some 150,000 public workers, journalists and activists have been dismissed, suspended or imprisoned—many over dubious charges—by their government, which blames the unrest on a clandestine network led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally-turned-foe.


Earlier this month, the Turkish leader accused Germany of “abetting terrorists” for failing to extradite so-called “Gulenists” and claimed the country’s Nazi past was not behind it; this, after he asserted that Berlin was “committing suicide” by not allowing him to speak to Turks at a July rally on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg (it was deemed a security threat by German authorities due to potential counter-protests by Kurdish nationals). In April, Erdogan slammed Germany as “fascist and cruel” after demonstrations by his supporters were banned ahead of a referendum that gave him sweeping new powers.


For her part, Merkel has questioned Turkey’s commitment to democracy and suggested there would be no further progress towards its ascension to the European Union.  Over the weekend, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel censured Erdogan’s “unprecedented act of interference in the sovereignty of our country…[which shows] that he wants to incite people in Germany against each other.”


According to Dr. Deniz Cifci, a political advisor at the Center for Turkey Studies in London, Erdogan’s attacks on Germany are largely precipitated by internal politics. “The president is trying to strengthen his position,” he asserted to The Media Line, “by lashing out he is sending a message to the public that Erdogan is the only power in Turkey, and that this power can take on Europe.” Moreover, Cifci reinforced the notion that Erdogan remains furious at Germany for providing asylum to members of the Turkish army following the 2016 coup attempt—and by accusing Berlin of complicity in the affair he is trying to pressure Merkel to take a hard line against Gulen’s German-based network. “But Germany has refused to bend,” he stressed.


As regards Erdogan’s intrusion into the German political arena, Cifci believes that it will have little tangible effect, as “most ethnic Turks there support either Kurdish-associated or left-oriented parties, those defined by Erdogan as enemies. They do not share the same views as the Turkish president and even if they did they will vote rationally and not for racist or nationalist parties because it is not in their interest.” Erdogan’s actions may also be motivated, Cifci elaborated, by a desire to confront the “one million Turks in Germany of Kurdish origin, most of whom left Turkey for political reasons. The majority of these Kurds oppose Erdogan and have some form of ties with the PKK.”


The rift between Turkey and its largest trading partner, the most influential country in Europe, has deepened a growing chasm with the west, in general, a dispute complicated by the fact that Ankara is a member of NATO. Nevertheless, according to Prof. Dror Zeevi, an expert on Turkey at Israel’s Ben Gurion University and a Fellow at the Forum for Regional Thinking, no formal decision has yet been made by either side to abandon the prospect of Ankara joining the EU. “While relations have soured considerably,” he expressed to The Media Line, “the Europeans have not closed the door to the bloc. They have made clear that should Turkey make changes this could lead to renewed talks. [For its part], Erdogan has been considering ditching the process for several years, but there are advantages to [maintaining good ties] with Europe—for example, the customs union—so he will tread very carefully.”


Zeevi highlighted that the “Turkish government, while showing little enthusiasm for Europe, is in a bind because of its role in NATO. Whereas Ankara would like to be closer to Russia and Iran, it is limited because [the western military alliance] is still important in terms of training and equipment as NATO has long been a part of Turkey’s geo-strategy.” Despite this, he concluded, under Erdogan’s leadership “there has been a slow shift towards the far east.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


Get NATO’s Nukes Out of Turkey: Jonathan Marshall, Huffington Post, Sept. 5, 2017—Even in this contentious era, one proposition still enjoys near-universal support: the United States should make it the highest priority to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of hostile states.

Pro-Erdogan Media in Turkey Inciting Antisemitism Over Kurdish Independence Referendum: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Sept. 17, 2017 —As the impending referendum on independence for the Kurdish region of Iraq draws closer, pro-government media outlets in Turkey – which remains bitterly opposed to Kurdish self-determination – are energetically promoting conspiracy theories centered on the alleged relations between Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani and the Israeli authorities.

New Mideast Realities Require Support for Kurds: Trudy Rubin, The Inquirer, Sept. 15, 2017—In 2016, Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani told me that Mideast chaos had already destroyed the region’s old borders.

How Turkey Went From Being a Strategic Asset to a Liability: Simon A. Waldman, World Politics Review, June 14, 2017—As the dust settles from President Donald Trump’s first visit to the Middle East, his policy in the region, such as it exists, is harkening back to the years before his predecessor, Barack Obama










A Year After Failed Coup, the Question of Justice Still Looms in Turkey: Simon Waldman, Globe & Mail, July 12, 2017— Last week, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), led a march from Ankara to Istanbul…

As Turkey and NATO Drift Apart, Russia, China, and Iran Stand to Gain: Marc C. Johnson, National Review, July 19, 2017— On paper at least, NATO is looking pretty healthy.

Erdoğan’s Mission Impossible: Sustainable Turkish-Arab Solidarity: Burak Bekdil, BESA, July 20, 2017— The modern Turkish language refers to an impasse without a solution as “an Arab’s hair.”

The End of Turkey’s Jews?: Michael Rubin, Commentary, May 9, 2017— Much has been written about Turkey’s turn toward Islamism and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s growing autocracy.


On Topic Links


EU Threatens to Sanction Turkey for Imprisonment of Journalists: Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2017

Turkish Report Exposes Locations of U.S. Troops in Syria: Benjamin Harvey and Taylan Bilgic, Bloomberg, July 19, 2017

Another Turkish Ambassador Confronts Me: Daniel Pipes, Gatestone Institute, July 18, 2017

Is Turkey Headed for Another Coup?: Mohammed Ayoob, National Interest, July 18, 2017





THE QUESTION OF JUSTICE STILL LOOMS IN TURKEY                                                           

Simon Waldman

                                                  Globe & Mail, July 12, 2017


Last week, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), led a march from Ankara to Istanbul (about 425 kilometres) under the banner “adalet”, Turkish for justice. He was protesting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling party, which also features the word justice in its name – the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Justice is an important rallying cry in today’s Turkey. The trouble is, it means different things to different people.


Contrasting conceptions of justice loom over the country as it commemorates one year since last summer’s attempted coup. The perpetrators were a faction within the military loyal to Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based Turkish Islamic preacher. After the putsch was thwarted, the government declared a state of emergency. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people were either arrested or fired. They include soldiers, police officers, judges, school teachers, university professors and civil service workers.


Turkey’s opposition considers the crackdowns a purge of the government’s opponents, but for Mr. Erdogan and the AKP government, justice is being served. To understand the meaning of justice for Mr. Erdogan and the AKP, one needs to set aside notions such as equality, fairness or the rule of law. Instead, they seek to right past wrongs and reshape Turkish society to represent the interests of its conservative and religious support base, for decades marginalized and suppressed.


The establishment in 1923 of the modern Republic of Turkey took place under the leadership of decorated general Mustafa Kemal. Later adopting the surname Ataturk, meaning father of the Turks, he built a secular state on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. Outward expressions of Islamic identity were considered an affront to the new modern and “civilized” state. A secular elite emerged while the military became the self-styled guardians of Ataturk’s vision. The armed forces intervened in 1960, 1971 and 1980 against governments not to its liking. In 1997, there was a “postmodern coup.” The military staged a behind-the-scenes intervention against the openly Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan of the Welfare Party, from which founding members of the AKP, Mr. Erdogan included, were members.


This is why Mr. Erdogan and the AKP see coup plots, some real and some imagined, everywhere they turn. In 2008, the AKP was brought before the constitutional court charged with violating secularism. Narrowly escaping a ban, the AKP was heavily fined instead. That was real. From 2008 onwards, there were the Ergenekon and Balyoz investigations alleging a clandestine alliance between military factions and members of civil society to ouster the AKP government. These were imagined; the convictions were later overturned after irregularities were found. They were also said to be Gulenist fabrications. Mr. Erdogan even considered the 2013 Gezi Park protests a coup attempt.


Regardless, last summer’s events were all too real. This time, Mr. Erdogan, who called it a “gift from God,” seized the opportunity to rid himself of political competition and then spearhead a referendum to gain additional power. He won by the slimmest of margins in an election marred by irregularities and an unfree campaigning environment. Regardless, he will now seek to change Turkey socially, politically and culturally, or at least try.


But Mr. Erdogan’s supporters only consist of half the country. What about the other half? From their perspective, even before last year’s events, AKP rule only brought more cronyism, repression and authoritarianism. Arrests of writers, intellectuals and critics were commonplace. Turkey was considered the world’s largest prison for journalists. But since the post-coup state of emergency, repression has become an everyday reality.


Until 2013, the AKP were bedfellows of the Gulen movement, even encouraging and facilitating Gulenist infiltration into state apparatus. When the sons-in-law of two AKP politicians were arrested, they were soon released, highlighting the extent of nepotism in the country. Surely, if the government was serious about justice it would have taken more care separating the innocent from the guilty, and not absolving itself?


Instead it tries to crush its opposition. Leading members of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish and liberal party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), such as Selahattin Demirtas were arrested and remain detained under politically motivated charges related to terrorism, and CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoglu was jailed under spurious espionage charges. As Turkey commemorates the attempted coup, the lofty goal of justice is as far away as ever.                                                                





Marc C. Johnson

National Review, July 19, 2017


On paper at least, NATO is looking pretty healthy. From Tallinn on the Baltic to Dubrovnik on the Adriatic, Churchill’s Iron Curtain has more or less ascended from Eastern Europe, in no small part owing to the NATO expansion process begun after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But if policymakers have confidence about the political stability and martial resolve of the former Warsaw Pact states, they are also disquieted by developments on NATO’s southern flank. Turkey, long a bulwark against Soviet (later Russian) adventurism, has started to look wobbly.


Most of the concern within NATO’s leadership and in the halls of its member states’ parliaments can be traced back to one man: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014 and since then its president. Turkey’s foreign policy has shifted since Erdogan’s arrival. Once a stalwart secular Western partner, Turkey is now an increasingly antagonistic and theocracy-curious fair-weather friend. The government of the secular republic founded by Ataturk is now focused more on consolidating political power with appeals to Islamic constituencies than on playing the role of NATO’s southernmost partner. And it’s getting worse, not better.


Erdogan has a long list of grievances, some more understandable than others, with NATO’s largest member states. Not without some justification, he feels that Ankara has been unfairly strung along by Brussels in Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. Turkey’s recent open flirtation with a re-imposition of the death penalty — a red line for the EU’s acquis communautaire — suggests that Erdogan has more or less given up on membership. Erdogan’s open hostility to Germany in particular has been notable. When the German parliament recognized the Armenian genocide of 1915–17, he refused to guarantee the security of German troops posted at Incirlik Air Base, prompting Angela Merkel to threaten to withdraw them. Erdogan’s retort: “Auf wiedersehen.” The German troops began leaving Incirlik in early July.


The Turkish president appears to be interested in building good relations with the Trump administration, but here, too, significant bilateral issues remain unresolved. Erdogan is principally focused on the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, the cleric whose followers were blamed for the failed coup against him last year. So far the new White House has stuck to the previous administration’s position — namely, that it is a matter for courts to decide. (The recent mini-riot caused by Erdogan’s bodyguards in Washington, D.C., didn’t help relations.)


Another person Erdogan wants back in Turkey, but for entirely different reasons, is Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-born Turkish businessman. Zarrab was charged last year with money laundering and skirting U.S. sanctions on Iran. The Economist speculated that the Zarrab case, if pursued in open court, could expose high-level Turkish government corruption. The American prosecutor in the case argued that if Zarrab was granted bail (even the $50 million his legal team proposed), he would be spirited back to Turkey and never face justice in the United States. That prosecutor, Preet Bharara, was dismissed from his position by President Trump in March of this year, but Zarrab remains in custody.


Erdogan’s frustration with the United States doesn’t end there. Ankara, along with Damascus, Moscow, and Tehran, considers many of the Kurdish fighters supported by the United States against the Assad government to be terrorists. Turkey was relatively restrained in its military activity within Syria during most of the Obama administration. Since early 2016, however, the Turkish army has been more assertive, using its participation in joint military operations against ISIS as cover for also hitting Rojava Kurds. If the Kurds were to supplant the Islamic State in Northern Syria, Erdogan fears, they would support PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) forces within Turkey.


Erdogan’s participation in the anti-ISIS alliance has brought him closer to two countries, Russia and Iran, with which Turkey had previously maintained frosty relations. The Obama administration’s Iran deal resulted in the lifting of many sanctions that Turkey was eager to see go away, and Turkey is already benefiting from additional commerce between itself and Iran. And Erdogan eagerly stepped into the middle of the recent Qatar diplomatic crisis, appearing to take Iran’s side in the dispute and even fast-tracking the deployment of additional Turkish troops to Doha. Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet in November 2015 marked a low point in the bilateral relationship, but tensions have eased since then; Erdogan met with Putin for an hour at the recent G20 event in Hamburg. Turkey is near agreement with Moscow to purchase a version of Russia’s most advanced air defense system, the S-400, in a deal rumored to be worth $2.5 billion. Russia is so keen on moving the deal forward that it reportedly plans to loan Turkey the money to purchase the system. The Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik was quick to trumpet the deal as a “tectonic shift,” a “game-changer in the arms market.”


It goes without saying that Russian air-defense systems are not NATO-compatible, but this isn’t even the first time Turkey has looked outside NATO for such options. It approached a Chinese weapons manufacturer a few years ago but bowed to pressure from Washington to abandon the deal when it emerged that the Chinese company had also supplied missiles to Iran. And Turkey’s spending on defense has been declining since 2009, from the NATO-mandated 2 percent then to 1.7 percent in 2016.


Taken together, these developments raise the question of whether Turkey intends to remain in NATO, and — if push came to shove — whether Ankara would honor its mutual-defense pledge under Article 5 of the NATO agreement, especially if that would mean responding to a military threat from Russia or Iran. It is difficult to make the case that leaving NATO would be a good move for Turkey. But if Erdogan needed a short-term political boost, threatening to leave could position him well domestically as a leader willing to stand up to “Western powers.” His post-coup crackdown on the press (along with public servants) leaves him with fewer journalists likely to call departure from NATO a diplomatic or strategic blunder.


Moreover, there is a precedent for such a seemingly rash action. In 1966, during a period of worldwide societal upheaval, Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of NATO’s military structure. While Paris never fully withdrew its support for the treaty, the country did not rejoin the alliance militarily until 1996. Who would be the biggest loser if Turkey felt the need to withdraw — in whatever form — from NATO? It’s hard to say. Clearly, though, it would be viewed as a massive strategic windfall for Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and other capitals with an interest in counteracting the influence of the United States and NATO. And it’s a scenario that seems more plausible now than at any point in the alliance’s history.                  






Burak Bekdil

BESA, July 20, 2017


The modern Turkish language refers to an impasse without a solution as “an Arab’s hair.” To convince others he is telling the truth, a Turk swears: “I should be an Arab if I am telling a lie.” If Turks wish to describe a negative that is accompanied by something tempting, they say, “Neither an Arab’s [ugly] face nor sweets from Damascus.”


Most of the dozen or so common and rather racist Turkish proverbs denigrating Arabs and their culture date back to Ottoman times, despite the fact that during that period, Turks and Arabs lived in peace, shared a common religion, and did not have major political disputes. After the founding of the modern Turkish state in 1923, however, the Turks’ dislike of Arabs gained rational ground. Modern Turkish textbooks teach children how treacherous Arabs stabbed their Ottoman ancestors in the back during WWI, how Arabs collaborated with non-Muslim western powers against Muslim Ottomans, and how Arabs fought Ottoman soldiers in desert battlegrounds.


All that ingrained anti-Arabism in the Turkish psyche had to be reversed after a Sunni imam took over as Turkey’s prime minister in 2002. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, now president, firmly believes religion must shape friendships and enmities between nations – and even among members of the same nation. With that in mind, he has tried systematically to inject love of the Arab into Turkish society. Since Erdoğan came to power, the number of students enrolled at imam schools – where pupils are taught to pray in Arabic, among other classes – has risen from 60,000 to more than 1.2 million. The Education Ministry added Arabic courses to its curriculum. The state broadcaster, TRT, launched an Arabic television channel.


An exponentially growing number of Turkish Islamists and pundits rediscovered Arabia and its culture. Islam, they argue, and the umma “which one day will unite under a single banner,” should iron out its cultural and linguistic differences. Ali Bulac, a prominent Islamist columnist and one-time Erdoğan favorite (now jailed for belonging to a rival Islamist community, the Gülenists), wrote an op-ed in 2008, “Sushi and Oratorios,” criticizing world-renowned (and secular) Turkish pianist Fazil Say. He wrote, “First of all, music is not a universal product, music belongs to a time, a religion and a place. Say does not play our music, he plays Western music. Our music is Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdul Wahab and Abdul Khader Marari. Our people will never enjoy theater, opera, an oratorio or a symphony forced on them by the republican elites.” In Bulac’s mentality, Say’s symphonic masterpieces are not Turkish, but the tunes of Kulthum, Wahab, and Marari – all Arabs – are “ours.”


That kind of thinking has implications for Turkish foreign policy. Erdoğan and then foreign minister (later prime minister) Ahmet Davutoglu launched a charm offensive in 2009 that they hoped would make Erdoğan a “rock star” on the Arab street. To accomplish this, they reflexively confronted all things Israeli or Jewish. This tactic had the desired effect: tens of thousands of Arabs greeted Erdoğan passionately in the main squares of Beirut and Cairo. This was good, but not enough. Erdoğan and Davutoglu devised a plan to launch a Muslim EU and Muslim NATO all in one. In that regional design, two countries were of great strategic importance: Saudi Arabia, which has regional clout; and Qatar, which has money and an ideological commitment to the Islamist cause.


The Saudi-led Gulf siege of Qatar imposed on June 5, therefore, came as a complete shock to Erdoğan and his pro-Sunni optimists. One Sunni brother had taken out the sword against another. Once again, Erdoğan chose religious ideology as his lighthouse. He did not abandon his ideological bond with his brothers in Doha, the same bond he has with his brothers in Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. His pro-Qatar, pro-Hamas, and pro-Brotherhood position put him on the same wavelength as al-Qaeda, which, in a video, condemned the sanctions against Qatar and pledged support for the Brotherhood.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “At the top of the quality chain, if I can call it that, there are elements of Muslim Brotherhood that have now become part of governments. There are members of parliament in Bahrain that are parts of government. There are members in Turkey that are parts of government.” Not even one-time Sunni brothers in Saudi Arabia are sympathetic to the Turkish position. Erdoğan offered to build a Turkish military base in the Kingdom, but Saudi officials turned him down.


On a doctrinaire and rhetorical level, too, Erdoğan is showing signs of inconsistency. On June 13, he said Gulf sanctions on Qatar were inhumane and violated Islamic values. Which Islamic values? one might be tempted to ask. Erdoğan likened the sanctions to the death penalty, but this was the first time he had ever objected to the death penalty as imposed by his Saudi “brothers.” Naturally, the Saudis show no inclination to be educated about “Islamic values” by a man who dresses in western suits and ties. Taha Akyol, a prominent Turkish columnist, recently noted some research conducted by the pollster Zogby in 2016. The poll found that 67% of Egyptians, 65% of Saudis, 59% of United Arab Emirates citizens, and 70% of Iraqis had an unfavorable opinion of Turkey. If “polling” had existed a century ago, similar numbers would likely have been found in Arabia.

This is the century-long Turkish alienation. Turkey is too far away and alien to Asian Muslims, too western for Middle Eastern Sunnis, too Sunni for the Shiites, and too Turkish for Arabs of all religious denominations.                                   



THE END OF TURKEY’S JEWS?                                                                                                        

Michael Rubin                                                                                                              

Commentary, May 9, 2017


Much has been written about Turkey’s turn toward Islamism and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s growing autocracy. Turkish officials and their proxies argue, however, that Turkey remains both tolerant and democratic. The problem, they say, is limited to the followers of Islamic theologian Fethullah Gülen and Kurdish politicians and activists whom Erdogan accuses of terrorism. Turkey’s minorities, they say, are safe. The Turkish Heritage Organization, for example, argued, “Turkey has been a safe haven for Jews, Arabs, Kurds, Yazidis and Muslim nations for generations.”


That may have once been true for minorities besides Armenians and Kurds but, increasingly, it’s no longer the case for Yezidis, Christians, and Jews. The Erdoğan years have been scary ones for Turkey’s Jews, with wild anti-Semitic conspiracy theories becoming increasingly commonplace. Many Jews have nonetheless remained hopeful that the repression and intolerance would pass. There were reasons for hope: Turkey was never a perfect democracy but, even after setbacks, its developmental trajectory was toward greater tolerance.


No longer. In many societies, Jews have been the canary in the coal mine. When a country loses its Jews, it is a sign that its democratic evolution has halted. Four years ago, some Turkish Jews began to leave. That trickle appears to be turning into a flood. From the European Jewish Press:


Today Turkey’s Jews, most of whose ancestors sought refuge here from the Spanish Inquisition, are on edge. Their school and synagogues are behind security tunnels, shielded by steel blast protection. “In 2016, the Jewish immigration from Turkey has doubled. In percentage terms, the largest increase of Aliyah registered during this period was the immigration from Turkey,’’ notes the Jewish agency. ‘’It appears to be connected to growing political instability in that country and fears that the Jewish community is being targeted,” the agency says. According to Jewish Agency estimates, more than 220 Turkish Jews moved to Israel by the end of 2016. And 74 Turkish Jews moved to Israel between January and March, almost the triple last year’s quarterly number. The figures seem to reflect a growing insecurity among Turkish Jews, many of whom blame Erdoğan of using anti-Israel rhetoric with anti-Semitic overtones.


The Forward reported that the descendants of many of the Jews who fled Spain for the safety of the Ottoman Empire more than 500 years ago now seek to return to Spain or Portugal:


Over the past 15 months—a stormy political stretch culminating in a disputed vote to expand President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s already substantial executive powers — close to 4,700 Turkish Jews applied for or received passports from Spain, Portugal and Israel. When children of applicants to Spain are added in, the number balloons to over 6,200. The number is cause for concern in a community that totals just 15,500…


Erdogan may meet with American Jewish and Israeli community leaders and offer assurances but, increasingly, such meetings appear to be little more than empty photo opportunities. Simply put, the numbers don’t lie. A centuries-old community appears to be ending faster than most imagined it would or could.




On Topic Links


EU Threatens to Sanction Turkey for Imprisonment of Journalists: Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2017—Turkey's arrest of human rights defenders, journalists and opposition is "alarming", the European Union said on Thursday (July 20), calling for their "immediate release". European Commission Chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said that EU funding for the country would not necessarily be stopped as a sanction against Turkey, as funding is a matter decided jointly by the EU's member states.

Turkish Report Exposes Locations of U.S. Troops in Syria: Benjamin Harvey and Taylan Bilgic, Bloomberg, July 19, 2017—Turkey’s state-run news agency published U.S. base locations in northern Syria, a move that threatens to deepen distrust between the two allies by exposing American soldiers on the front lines of the fight against Islamic State.

Another Turkish Ambassador Confronts Me: Daniel Pipes, Gatestone Institute, July 18, 2017—In February, Turkey's ambassador to Israel told this author to stay away from his country; at least he did so diplomatically. In June, Turkey's ambassador to Bulgaria treated me in a remarkably rude and undiplomatic manner.

Is Turkey Headed for Another Coup?: Mohammed Ayoob, National Interest, July 18, 2017—On July 15 Turkey commemorated the first anniversary of the 2016 failed military coup with a great deal of pomp, grandeur and public rallies in the major cities.












Turkey: Divided We Stand: Burak Bekdil, BESA, Apr. 18, 2017 — On April 16, 2017, nearly half of all voting Turks objected to a new constitutional order that grants Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unchecked powers in a “Turkish-style” executive presidency.

How Erdogan's Victory Might Be Europe's Defeat: Abigail R. Esman, IPT, Apr. 17, 2017— Over lunch in Istanbul last week, a friend and I spoke about the upcoming Turkish referendum.

The Great Reversal — For Now: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Apr. 13, 2017— The world is agog at Donald Trump’s head-snapping foreign policy reversal. He runs on a platform of America First.

Restoring Deterrence, One Bomb at a Time?: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Apr. 17, 2017 — The Tomahawk volley attack, for all its ostentatious symbolism, served larger strategic purposes.


On Topic Links


Blood Libels in Europe, Asia, Africa and Recently the US: Reuven Brenner, Asia Times, Apr. 18, 2017

In Supporting Erdogan, Turks Cite Economic and Religious Gains: Patrick Kingsley, New York Times, Apr. 17, 2017

Report: Trump to Step on Hezbollah’s Neck while Going for Iran’s Jugular: David Israel, Jewish Press, Apr. 16, 2017 The Price of Obama’s Mendacity: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 10, 2017



TURKEY: DIVIDED WE STAND                                                          

Burak Bekdil                                                                                   

BESA, Apr. 18, 2017


On April 16, 2017, nearly half of all voting Turks objected to a new constitutional order that grants Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unchecked powers in a “Turkish-style” executive presidency. At the ballot box, 51.4% of registered voters agreed to give Erdoğan what he so powerfully craved: legitimacy for the powers he has unconstitutionally exercised since he became Turkey’s first directly elected president in August 2014. That result left 48.6% of Turks frustrated and isolated. Turkey’s divide is now deeper and its politics more fragile, and the worsening political polarization promises turmoil.


With his new powers, Erdoğan will be able to further consolidate his rule. As head of the state, the government, and the ruling party, he can now appoint vice presidents, cabinet ministers, state bureaucrats, and senior judges. He can propose budgets and issue government decrees. All of this is now legitimate – although an opposition party is claiming election fraud. Its claim is based on a ruling by the Supreme Board of Elections that votes on papers without official seals are to be declared valid, a clear violation of Turkey’s electoral laws.


Political co-habitation will be much harder now. Protests and the use of brutal police force, especially if vote-rigging claims become more serious allegations, will not be unlikely. Erdoğan’s promise to reinstate the death penalty will finally break the weakening chains keeping Turkey anchored at the European bay, a turn of events that will almost inevitably spark economic and financial chaos. Ankara will have its hands full introducing a new constitutional regime without national consensus. Even the country’s post-military coup constitution of 1982 won over 91% of voter support. A regime change so radical that it includes abolishing the office of prime minister and substantially weakening parliament based on the approval of only slightly more than half the population will not build nationwide political peace.


Was the vote on April 16 a success story for Erdoğan? It depends on the criteria. Erdoğan won almost exactly the same vote he won in the presidential election of August 2014 (51.5% vs. 51.4%). Not a bad score. But the president’s Yes campaign was run (ironically) by two major parties: his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). In theory, the two parties should have won over 60% of the vote on April 16, as their combined vote in the November 1, 2015 parliamentary election was 61.4%. But the Yes campaign’s 51.4% was 10 percentage points lower than the combined vote for the two parties, suggesting that even some AKP and/or MHP voters opposed changing the country’s political regime to favor a disproportionately powerful president.


Can Erdoğan comfortably rule a country of 80 million people with the support of slightly over half the population? The answer is yes and no. Erdoğan has often protested that he did not advocate an executive presidential system “for his own sake and benefit.” He reminded his fans at rallies that “he is merely a mortal” and the system he wanted would remain in place long after his death. But did he want to install the system in order to ensure his own one-man rule until his death? Again, the answer is yes and no. Erdoğan certainly wanted expanded powers for himself, but he also wanted them in the interests of political Islam. In his ideal world, he would be a powerful president for life – and after his death, he would be succeeded by another Islamist (likely chosen by Erdoğan himself). The new system would thus further advance political Islam in Turkey and the Middle East.


The story behind the presidential system goes back to June 7, 2015, another occasion on which the Turks went to the ballot box. Although his doing so was totally illegitimate, President Erdoğan, who was supposed to be non-partisan, campaigned for the AKP. With slightly over 40% of the nationwide vote, the AKP lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since it rose to power in 2002. Then-prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had to negotiate a coalition government with opposition parties, including the Islamists’ archenemy, the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP). Erdoğan objected to this idea and set new elections for November 1, 2015. On that occasion, his AKP won a landslide victory, garnering nearly 50% of the vote and forming a single-party government.


Despite the happy ending for Erdoğan and his Islamist cohort, the June 7 episode deeply worried his strategists. The possibility of another Turkish popular vote forcing a coalition alliance with a secular party had to be eliminated. The only way to do that was to change the presidential system. Under the new system, smaller parties will be gradually made irrelevant (as they are in the US), leaving two major actors on the stage: an Islamist/nationalist party addressing Turkey’s less educated, conservative masses; and a secular, liberal party representing better-educated and more urban Turks. Turkey’s conservative/secular divide typically gives the former group 70-75% of nationwide support and the latter the remaining 25-30%. Such a political set-up would make the election of a secular government and president highly unlikely and a coalition government out of the question…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Abigail R. Esman                                                                      

IPT, Apr. 17, 2017


Over lunch in Istanbul last week, a friend and I spoke about the upcoming Turkish referendum. "Many European Turks are likely to vote 'yes,'" I cautioned my friend, whom I knew was planning to vote 'no,' or against the measure to grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unlimited powers. A "yes" vote, by contrast, would end the democratic parliamentary government established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the republic, and in the eyes of most Western leaders, establish Erdogan as the Muslim world's newest dictator.


My friend was visibly angered. "Then let them, with all their rights and freedoms, come here to live," she retorted. "How dare they think that they can take these rights from us when we are the ones who have to live with the result?"


The outcome of Sunday's referendum showed a Turkey split almost exactly in half, with 51 percent "yes" and just under 49 percent voting "no." Or did it? It is too soon to make a full analysis of the vote results – which some rights groups have already contested – but one thing was immediately made clear: the vast majority of Turks living throughout Europe voted in support of Erdogan's rule, even as the majority of those living in major Turkish cities – Izmir, Ankara and Istanbul – voted against it. If only the votes of Turks living in the country had been counted, would the results have been the same? Or would they show that Turkey's residents support a secular, Western democracy while Europe's Turks do not?


If my friends in Istanbul who voted "no" woke this morning afraid for their country's future, so, too, should my friends in much of Europe. In the Netherlands, for instance, a whopping 71 percent of Dutch-Turks who participated in the vote chose "yes." As the results of the referendum became known, thousands descended on the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam, waving Turkish flags and celebrating the victory of an Islamist leader who had pledged to "raise a new, religious generation," end secular education, and who has imprisoned countless journalists, writers, artists, and others who have dared to criticize him.


It was not only in Holland. According to the Daily Sabah, 75 percent of Belgian Turks who voted opted for "yes," as did 73 percent in Austria, 65 percent in France, and 63 percent in Germany. Only Switzerland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom showed majorities with "no" votes. And of these three, Sweden is effectively the only member of the EU. American-Turks, however, showed the greatest resistance, with 83 percent voting "no." Still, some prominent Islamist voices spoke out in support of Erdogan, including former Muslim American Society president and political activist Esam Omeish, who celebrated the referendum results on his Facebook page with a photo of himself holding a Turkish flag that reads "evet," or "yes."


In Europe, some have argued, as did "Volkan," a pseudonym for the owner of the popular DutchTurks.nl blog, that the results were self-inflicted, the result of having antagonized Turkey and Erdogan in recent months. Holland, for instance, refused entry to pro-Erdogan officials seeking to campaign on his behalf. Germany, where rallies were similarly blocked, has also been outspoken in its criticism of Erdogan's imprisonment of a German-Turkish journalist. But such explanations do not account for the results in Austria and France, or for the similar outcome of the November 2015 election, in which majorities in Germany, the Netherlands, and France all voted for Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).


What I did not tell my friend, as we sat watching the sunlight dance over the Bosphorus, was that the European Turks who were voting to change the Turkish Constitution, who were effectively choosing to establish a more fundamentalist, Islamist Turkey in place of the secular, Western democracy that has been in place since 1923, have no interest in the "freedoms" that she spoke of. That they have them in Europe is meaningless: they don't want them. They don't want them in Turkey, where they come from; and they don't want them in Europe, where they now live. Not for themselves. And not for anybody else. Indeed, as the IPT noted after the November 2015 elections, of the 4.6 million Turks living in Europe, a majority seems to prefer to live in an Islamic state, and not a secular one.


This is the frightening lesson that Europe must learn from the results of the April 16 referendum. While its leaders now confer about the "proper" response to Erdogan in his new role and what they expect of him as the leader of a clearly-divided country, they might also consider their response to his supporters who are not just Turkish citizens, but Europe's own. How to reckon with Europeans who choose against European norms and values, who actively vote against the separation of church and state, who seek a more Islamized society? What does this say about the failure of integration? More, what does it say – or threaten – about Europe's potential future? And what can be done to save it?                                                     




THE GREAT REVERSAL — FOR NOW                                                                                     

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                           

Washington Post, Apr. 13, 2017


The world is agog at Donald Trump’s head-snapping foreign policy reversal. He runs on a platform of America First. He renounces the role of world policeman. He excoriates parasitic foreigners that (I paraphrase) suck dry our precious bodily fluids — and these are allies! On April 4, Trump declared: “I don’t want to be the president of the world. I’m the president of the United States. And from now on, it’s going to be America First.”


A week earlier, both his secretary of state and U.N. ambassador had said that the regime of Bashar Assad is a reality and that changing it is no longer an American priority. Then last week, Assad drops chemical weapons on rebel-held territory and Trump launches 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria. This was, in part, an emotional reaction to images of children dying of sarin poisoning. And, in part, seizing the opportunity to redeem Barack Obama’s unenforced red line on chemical weapons. 

Whatever the reason, moral or strategic, Trump acted. And effectively reset his entire foreign policy. True, in and of itself, the raid will not decisively alter the course of Syria’s civil war. Assad and his Iranian, Russian and Hezbollah co-combatants still have the upper hand — but no longer a free hand. After six years of U.S. passivity, there are limits now and America will enforce them. Nor was the raid the beginning of a campaign for regime change. It was, however, a reassertion of an American stake in both the conduct and the outcome of the war. America’s abdication is over. Be warned.


Moreover, the very swiftness of the response carried a message to the wider world. Obama is gone. No more elaborate forensic investigations. No agonized presidential handwringing over the moral dilemmas of a fallen world. It took Obama 10 months to decide what to do in Afghanistan. It took Trump 63 hours to make Assad pay for his chemical-weapons duplicity. America demonstrated its capacity for swift, decisive action. And in defense, mind you, of an abstract international norm — a rationale that dramatically overrides the constraints of America First.


Trump’s inaugural address had boldly rejected the 70-year American consensus to bear the burdens of world leadership. Less than three months later, the Syrian raid abruptly changed that course with a renewed interventionism — not, to be sure, in the service of a crusade for democracy, but in the service of concrete strategic objectives, broadly defined and extending far beyond our shores. To the North Pacific, for example. The Syria strike sent a message to both China and North Korea that Trump’s threats of unilateral action against Pyongyang’s nukes and missiles are serious. A pre-emptive strike against those facilities is still unlikely but today conceivable. Even more conceivable — perhaps even probable — is a shoot-down of a North Korean missile in flight.


The message to Russia was equally clear. Don’t push too far in Syria and, by extension, in Europe. We’re not seeking a fight, but you don’t set the rules. Syria shared the Sharyat base with Russian troops. Russian barracks were left untouched, but we were clearly not deterred by their proximity. The larger lesson is this: In the end, national interest prevails. Populist isolationism sounds great, rouses crowds and may even win elections. But contraWhite House adviser Steve Bannon, it’s not a governing foreign policy for the United States. Bannon may have written the come-home-America inaugural address. But it was the old hands, Trump’s traditionally internationalist foreign policy team led by Defense Secretary James Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who rewrote the script with the Syria strike.


Assad violated the international taboo on chemical weapons. Who would enforce it, if not us? Candidate Trump would have replied: None of our business. President Trump brought out the Tomahawks. His foreign policy has gone from mere homeland protection to defending certain interests, values and strategic assets abroad. These endure over time. Hence the fundamental continuity of our post-World War II engagement abroad. With apologies to Lord Palmerston, we don’t have permanent enthusiasms, but we do have permanent interests. And they have a way of asserting themselves. Which is why Bannonism is in eclipse. This is not to say that things could not change tomorrow. We’ve just witnessed one about-face. With a president who counts unpredictability as a virtue, he could well reverse course again. For now, however, the traditionalists are in the saddle. U.S. policy has been normalized. The world is on notice: Eight years of sleepwalking is over. America is back.         




RESTORING DETERRENCE, ONE BOMB AT A TIME?                                                                  

Victor Davis Hanson                                                                                                     

National Review, Apr. 17, 2017


The Tomahawk volley attack, for all its ostentatious symbolism, served larger strategic purposes. It reminded a world without morality that there is still a shred of a rule or two: Do not use nerve gas on the battlefield or against civilians. The past faux redline from Obama, the systematic use of chlorine gas by Syria, and its contextualization by the Obama administration had insidiously eroded that old battlefield prohibition. Trump was right to seek to revive it.


The subsequent MOAB bomb strike in Afghanistan is useful against ISIS’s subterranean nests, and in signaling the Taliban and ISIS that the U.S. too can be unpredictable and has not quite written off its 16-year commitment. But as in the case of the Tomahawk strikes against Syria, it also fulfilled the larger purpose of reminding enemies, such as Islamic terrorists, North Korea, and Iran (which all stash weapons of destruction in caves and the like) that the U.S. is capable of anything. In other words, apparently anywhere Trump thinks that he can make a point about deterrence, with good odds of not getting Americans killed or starting a war (he used Tomahawks not pilots where Russian planes were in the vicinity), he will probably drop a bomb or shoot off a missile or send in an iconic carrier fleet.


The message reminds the world that the Obama administration’s “lead from behind,” “don’t do stupid sh**,” plastic red-button reset, Cairo Speech foreign policy followed no historical arc that bent anywhere. And the U.S. was previously on the wrong, not the right, side of both history and the traditions of U.S. bipartisan foreign policy — an aberration from the past, not a blueprint of the future.


Like Ronald Reagan, who, after Jimmy Carter’s managed declinism, shelled Lebanon, bombed Gaddafi, and invaded Grenada, Trump is trying to thread the needle between becoming bogged down somewhere and doing nothing. No president in recent memory also has outsourced such responsibility to his military advisers, whom Trump refers to as “our” or “my” “generals.” He can afford to for now, because he has made excellent appointments at Defense, State, National Security, and Homeland Security. These are men who justifiably have won broad bipartisan support and who believe in the ancient ways of military and spiritual deterrence, balance of power, and alliances rather than the U.N., presidential sonorousness, or soft power to keep the peace.


These opportunistic deterrent expressions are likewise intended to remind several parties in particular that the Obama hiatus is over. Apparently, Trump will not necessarily reset the Obama reset of the Bush reset with Russia. Instead, he probably believes that Putin will soon agree that the 2009–16 era was an abnormal condition in which a far weaker Russia bullied friends and connived against almost everything the U.S. was for. And such asymmetry could not be expected to go on. A return to normal relations is not brinkmanship; it should settle down to tense competition, some cooperation, and grudging respect among two powerful rivals. Who knows, Putin may come to respect (and even prefer) an American leader who is unpredictable and unapologetically tough without being sanctimonious, sermonizing — and weak. The old canard is largely true: Russia has no natural interests in seeing a radical Islamic and nuclear Iran on its border, other than the fact that this change would irritate and aggravate the U.S., which might satisfy Putin. But if Russia no longer felt a need to automatically oppose everything America sought (or if it feared to do so), then many of its unsavory alliances might no longer may seem all that useful.


Trump’s strikes and displays of naval power, and the reactions to them, also remind North Korea that it has no friends and could prove a liability to China (as Syria could to Russia) rather than a useful rabid animal to be occasionally unleashed so that it might bark and nip at Westernized Asia and the U.S. If North Korea’s antics imperil China’s commercial buccaneering or lead to a nuclear Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan on China’s borders, or to U.S. commercial restrictionism, then China could see North Korea’s insanity as not worth the cost. Additionally, if tensions rise, North Korea’s own military elite could remove the unhinged Kim Jong-un after concluding that he’s expendable. Or regional powers, despite differences, might collectively conclude that they can’t live with daily threats of nuclear launchings.


Again, Trump is trying to act unpredictably and forcefully against Pyongyang, the world’s most detested government — on the logic that without war, he can prompt greater containment before the unsustainable status quo leads to a conflagration. This is a sort of post–Cold War brinkmanship. By now, Iran knows that it cannot send another missile toward an American carrier, hijack an American boat, or cheat flagrantly on the Iran Deal without earning some response from a man who dislikes both the revolutionary government and what Iran has done to the U.S. over the past eight years.


The general aims of these iconic acts are to remind the world of U.S. strength and that the new president has the willingness to use it to prevent some weaker entity from doing something stupid. The general aims of these iconic acts are to remind the world of U.S. strength and that the new president has the willingness to use it to prevent some weaker entity from doing something stupid on the misapprehension that the U.S. is in decline rather than reemerging from a temporarily and self-imposed recessional. Once deterrence is reestablished (and only once it is achieved), then the U.S. will be able to appeal to Russia and China to find areas of mutual concern (radical Islam, nuclear proliferation in Asia, rogue nations that threaten the international order, etc.)…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






On Topic Links


Blood Libels in Europe, Asia, Africa and Recently the US: Reuven Brenner, Asia Times, Apr. 18, 2017—With Passover and “fake news” in the news, consider the “blood libels” that Jews and other groups have long been subjected to. The accusations against Jews first appeared during the 12th century AD. They spread during the 13th and 14th centuries, trials reaching their highest number in the Holy Roman Empire two generations before the Reformation.

In Supporting Erdogan, Turks Cite Economic and Religious Gains: Patrick Kingsley, New York Times, Apr. 17, 2017 —Merve Arslan, a teacher, struggles to reconcile her own perception of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey with that of his critics. “He’s not a dictator,” Ms. Arslan, 28, said. “He’s a democrat.”

Report: Trump to Step on Hezbollah’s Neck while Going for Iran’s Jugular: David Israel, Jewish Press, Apr. 16, 2017—The US congress will amend the 2015 HR2297, Hezbollah Financing Prevention Act (HIFPA), aimed at preventing Hezbollah and associated entities from gaining access to international financial and other institutions, According to a US-based source who spoke to the Lebanese daily Annahar.

The Price of Obama’s Mendacity: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 10, 2017—Last week’s cruise-missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons has reopened debate about the wisdom of Barack Obama’s decision to forgo a similar strike, under similar circumstances, in 2013.



















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…


On Topic Links


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



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. 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.





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. 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.                                                  



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. 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?        




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: “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





On Topic Links


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.”