Saturday, January 15, 2011

Two Big Developments: Lebanon: Government Falls; Egypt/Islam: Jihad? We're Just Getting Started!

Barry Rubin

Both of these stories are important so please read to the end as the new fatwa it discusses could be a turning point.

--Hizballah ministers walked out of Lebanon’s government bringing it down. Why? They didn’t have to do it since they have veto power and would have prevented the government from endorsing the international tribunal investigation that would point to Syria (and perhaps Hizballah) as the source of terrorism in Lebanon, including the killing of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. I view this as a power grab. Hizballah doesn’t just want the government just to be silent on the tribunal but to condemn the investigation explicitly. They want to renegotiate the coalition agreement to give themselves more power. And they timed it for the moment when Lebanon’s prime minister was meeting with President Obama to embarrass their opponents. In Middle East talk, that timing signals: Our enemies are American puppets.

Finally, it is a message to America and the world: We--Iran, Syria, and Hizballah--are in control of Lebanon now, not you. There is no question--no question at all--that this assertion is true, yet U.S. and Western policy is simply not adjusting to meet this situation.

Here's are some good analysis on this issue from: David Schenker; Lee Smith; Michael Young; Jonathan Spyer; and Tony Badran. Funny note: It's been hysterically funny as the Western mass media has quoted as Lebanon experts almost exclusively either people who are no such things or those who are reliable flunkies of Hizballah and Syria. These five people know what they are talking about.

Actually, media coverage on this story was worse than usual. Here's my favorite line from the end of a New York Times story:

“`Hezbollah doesn’t want to control the government or country, even though they could if they wanted,” said Anis Nakkash, director of the Aman Research Center here in Beirut.'"

Well, now I feel much better! No need to worry about Hizballah trying to grab power. For the record, I don't think Hizballah wants to control the country and I don't think they could do so. I do think they want to control the government, not in the sense of being in power exclusively but by deciding all the main policy questions.

But one little detail: Nakkash is well-known as a strong Hizballah supporter, a point nowhere indicated in the story, so this point of view might be a tad biased. In fact the other two people quoted in the story are:

Robert Malley, who always sides with the anti-American forces, and a reporter from al-Safir, described as an opposition newspaper. In fact, it is historically an extremely radical newspaper that has long been in the pockets of the Syrians and a supporter of Hizballah. However, since last week the Times raved about the wonderfulness of al-Akhbar, the other Syrian-backed newspaper in Lebanon, I guess this week al-Safir has to be given some time as well.

Nobody either neutral or supporting the March 14 coalition is quoted. And isn't how it always seems to be with articles in the Times and a long list of other mass media outlets? Either everyone is on the left-wing, anti-Israel, anti-American side or, at best, one person is thrown in to provide cover so that bias can be credibly denied.

So is there nothing to fear from Hizballah? Well, let's go to the Washington Post's coverage. The headline?
"Hizballah Reaches for More Power in Lebanon."

"A day after toppling the Lebanese government, the Shiite Hezbollah movement and its allies were working to gain enough support in parliament to control the selection of Lebanon's next prime minister, Lebanese officials said."

Yes, that's more like it.

On the more negative side (Western policy, naturally), the French have asked Syrian dictator Bashar al-Asad to help mediate the situation in Lebanon, which is sort of like asking Usama bin Ladin to mediate the situation in Afghanistan.

--An off-duty Egyptian policeman killed a Christian and wounded five others on a train. He reportedly made sure they were Christians (women not wearing veils; people with a tattooed cross on their arm which is a custom of Coptic Christians) before shooting them and shouted “Allahu Akhbar” while doing it. Obviously, this is an Islamist terrorist attack but the media is sort of ignoring this point, unlike the rush to judgment after the Tucson shootings.

This is also part of a huge anti-Christian campaign in the Muslim-majority world, the biggest in our lifetime, including bloody attacks on churches in Iraq and Egypt within the last month among many other assaults. When the Pope called on world leaders to protect Egyptian Christians, after 21 were killed during a Christmas mass in Alexandria, the Egyptian government recalled its ambassador to the Vatican complaining about “interference” in Egyptian affairs.

It was also denounced by Egypt’s highest-ranking Muslim cleric with an intriguing argument: "I ask why did the pope not call for the protection of Muslims when they were subjected to killings in Iraq?"

Presumably, he wanted the Pope to condemn the United States and other countries for their actions in Iraq. In other words, Egypt’s government-appointed and government-supervised leader of the country’s Muslims defines the fighting in Iraq as Christians cold-bloodedly murdering Muslims. No wonder Muslims seek revenge on local Christians if “moderate” clerics tell them this.

And here's a question for you: Do you think that radical Islamist attacks on Christians in the Middle East over the next few years will:

A. Increase; B. Decrease; C. Stay the same.

I'd say "A," until, of course, they run out of Christians.

--But there’s more, and worse, to come. An extraordinarily important fatwa has been issued by Dr. Imad Mustafa, the professor on that subject at al-Azhar University, the world's most important Islamic university. He began by stating the well-known doctrine of “defensive jihad,” that is Muslims must go to war against infidels who attack them. Of course, the word “attack” is often spread rather thinly to justify aggression.

But now Mustafa has publicly and explicitly come up with a new concept, one that up until now was supposedly restricted to groups like al-Qaida:

“Then there is another type of fighting against the non-Muslims known as offensive jihad…which is to pursue the infidels into their own land without any aggression [on their part]….

“...Two schools [of Islamic jurisprudence] have ruled that offensive jihad is permissible in order to secure Islam's border, to extend God's religion to people in cases where the governments do not allow it, such as the Pharaoh did with the children of Israel, and to remove every religion but Islam from the Arabian peninsula....”

What does it mean about extending "God's religion," i.e., Islam? On the surface, "where the governments do not allow it" and the reference to Pharaoh seems to imply the complete prohibition of Islam.

But in the current context, I think this means that it is permissible to wage jihad on a country.if anything "necessary" to Islam according to (hardline) clerics' interpretations is blocked (polygamy, child marriage, special privileges at work places, building mosques anywhere, permitting the wearing of headscarves or burqas, and so on).

In practice, according to this doctrine, then, any non-Muslim can be attacked anywhere in the world. Thus, mainstream, powerful clerics are now calling for a seventh-century-style Jihad against non-Muslim lands even if the victims cannot be accused of attacking Muslim-ruled lands! Merely to "extend God's religion" to others is a sufficient motive. Mustafa says that two of Islam's main schools have always endorsed offensive Jihad but I doubt if he would have made that argument ten or twenty years ago.

Of course, that doesn't mean most Muslims will accept this new stance. But it does mean that radical groups now have mainstream support for their most extreme, aggressive behavior. Even if nobody repeats Mustafa's statement publicly--if for no other reasons than it is bad public relations in the West--this idea will be more and more taken for granted. Presumably, Mustafa won't be forced to retract this fatwa by his colleagues or Egypt's government. Moreover, we probably won't see senior clerics denouncing and rejecting the doctrine of offensive Jihad.

This is a development of stupendous proportions that will probably not even be covered in the Western mass media. If this view point continues to spread--along with the growing al-Qaida type doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood--it could be a historical turning point that will greatly intensify revolutionary Islamist terrorism and attacks on the West. Watch this trend very carefully.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Clinton in Qatar: Stop Corruption or Extremists Will Take Over

Amiel Ungar
A7 News

The featured speaker at the Forum for the Future conference in Doha, Qatar was American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but the audience could be excused if it thought that it was hearing a representative of the Bush Administration. It was the Bush administration that had embraced the approach that the best way to combat Islamic radicalism was to introduce democracy to the Middle East. When the Obama Administration took office it scrapped the Bush approach for a combination of what it portrayed as realism with an extra helping of American humble pie.

The new policy was that it would be arrogance for the United States to attempt to preach to other nations how they should conduct themselves. Simultaneously, the world would be safer and the burden on the United States reduced if the United States could forge agreements even with authoritarian regimes that served mutual interests.

Critics of the Obama Administration have claimed that it is so enamored of engagement that it fails to defend democratic forces throughout the world, with a notable example being the too little-too late response to the student demonstrations in Iran.

In its report today, Freedom House reported that Twenty-five countries showed significant declines in democracy in 2010 while the democratic world displayed apathy. David J. Kramer, executive director of Freedom House, lamented "Our adversaries are not just engaging in widespread repression, they are doing so with unprecedented aggressiveness and self-confidence…And the democratic community is not rising to the challenge." This, too, could be seen as implicit criticism of the Obama Administration.

Yet here was Clinton warning the Arab elites that "the region's foundations are sinking into the sand,"due to the pervasive culture of corruption that discouraged participation and hard work. Since the ordinary citizens were now more politically aware, they realized that the tiny elite was the beneficiary of the petrodollars and this engendered attitudes ranging from apathy to anger. If the Arab regimes would not provide vehicles for participation, they would be outflanked by 'Extremist elements, terrorist groups and others who would prey on desperation and poverty are already out there appealing for allegiance and competing for influence'".

The Forum of the Future was launched in 2004 by the G-8 to encourage civil groups who were not mere puppets of the government. The Arab leaders at the forum replied with a stock answer that the pace of reform had to be measured because too rapid a change could play into the hands of extremists (with the obvious example of the Shah of Iran whose ambitions to rapidly remake his country led to his downfall). Secretary of State Clinton was reverting to the Bush administration in rejecting that argument.

Responding to a question about America's failure to induce Israel to stop settlement building, Clinton testily replied that the United States has failed to get a lot of countries to do what it wanted and in general America carried a disproportionate burden of the world's problems on her shoulders. For example, America was the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority, meaning that it was time for the Arab states to walk the monetary walk in addition to the pro-Palestinian talk.

CAIR Imagery Makes Obstructionist Goal Clear

IPT News

Any question about the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) attitude toward law enforcement in terrorism investigations has been put to rest by the group's San Francisco chapter.

"Build a Wall of Resistance," a poster announcing a Feb. 9 event published on the group's website says, "Don't Talk to the FBI."

A dark, sinister FBI agent is shown lurking in front of people's homes as doors slam shut. It's in response to an FBI investigation in Minneapolis and Chicago involving possible support for two designated terrorist groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). A series of raids Sept. 24 targeted the homes of activists in both cities. They claim the investigation is an attempt by Eric Holder's Justice Department to silence anti-war dissent.

"This type of investigation is a tool to repress our movements for social justice and divide our communities," the announcement of the event said.

But that assessment is based solely on the word of those targeted. So far, no official information about the ongoing investigation or the probable cause that led a federal judge to authorize the searches has been released.

In response, however, supporters of those targeted have protested outside of courthouses and federal offices in several cities. The next one is scheduled for Jan. 25 in Chicago and elsewhere, corresponding to compelled grand jury appearances by several people. A website,, posts articles and updates on the case.

CAIR's Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab called the investigation "a waste of taxpayer dollars." His chapter issued a statement denouncing the September raids. "The FBI has overstepped its bounds in targeting individuals based on their commitment to peacefully challenge US policies in Palestine and Columbia," it said. The Justice Department should call off the investigation and return what was taken in the searches.

Subsequently, Rehab's Michigan counterpart called the raids "a witch hunt to chill the 1st amendment rights of Americans." Dawud Walid later accused the FBI of having "recruited more so-called extremist Muslims than al-Qaida themselves" and likened the use of informants in terrorism-related investigations to the systematic discrimination inherent in Jim Crow laws, and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Walid's rants follow his year-long campaign to find fault in FBI's shooting death of a Detroit imam in October 2009 after the imam opened fire first. That effort continued even after separate investigations by the state of Michigan and the Department of Justice found no wrongdoing.

CAIR's hostility toward law enforcement is long-standing, but the organization's rhetoric has increased since the FBI cut off formal communication with the group in 2008. That decision was based on exhibits admitted into evidence during a terror-financing trial in Dallas that showed CAIR founders were part of a Hamas-support network.

"[U]ntil we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner," an FBI official explained in a 2009 letter to U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

CAIR petitioned the Texas court to be removed from a list of unindicted co-conspirators in that case. But the district judge refused, ruling there is "ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR" and others "with Hamas."

It remains to be seen what, if anything, will result from the FBI investigation in Minneapolis and Chicago. CAIR, in one image, has spoken more than 1,000 words about its hostility toward law enforcement.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Woman with Many Names

Naomi Ragen

My mother- in- law passed away yesterday in Jerusalem at age 85 after seven torturous years succumbing to a merciless illness which left her unable to speak, walk, or move her limbs. But the last period of her long life, was not her worst. The worst happened when she was eighteen and the Nazis come to her home in Uzhhorod (now in Ukraine), beating her little brother
senseless, and carting away herself, her three sisters, two brothers, parents, and beloved grandmother. The worst was the cattle car ride, and the platform in Auschwitz in which she and her sisters were separated from their mother, never to see her, or any other member of their family alive again. The worst was the year spent in concentration camp starving, trying desperately with her older sister Zipporah to keep their youngest sister Malka alive. I remember the stories she told me those Friday nights when my husband, her beloved only son, was away in the synagogue with his father. How she cut her slice of bread into tiny portions instead of eating it all at once, to save some for the next day, the willpower that took. How she managed to take bits of cloth and form them into collars that she bartered to other prisoners for food and other essentials. Her sisters and camp shvesters' called her by her Czech name, Magda.

And then there was the death march and the story of how she and her sisters and some friends took the life or death plunge to escape, hiding under hay in a hayloft, as the Germans stuck pitchforks in looking for them, until finally giving up. On the road, finally free, they found a crate. Starving, they pried it open. Inside was the finest French champagne, fallen off some German truck. They celebrated the end of their captivity by drinking it straight from the bottle still in the striped uniforms of Auschwitz. And then they found an empty house abandoned by the German family who lived there to escape the advancing Russians. Using the soap and towels left behind they heated water and bathed, seeing the color of their skin for the first time in many months.

Deciding to go to Israel, she and her two sisters waited for the Zionist organizers to bring them. But delay after delay made Magda lose hope. And so she decided to go home to see if anyone she knew had survived. Leaving her sisters behind, she traveled by train to her home town. But, she said later, she couldn't bring herself to look her neighbors in the face,
remembering how they had lined up to watch her family being taken away, smirking with satisfaction. She boarded the next train out, taking it down the line to where the Sudenten Germans had been chased out, leaving behind houses the government was handing over to refugees like herself. By chance, my father-in-law got off at this same stop. He had also gone home
to see if his wife or son and daughter had survived. Finding proof that Auschwitz had taken his entire family, and that his neighbors had helped themselves to all his belongings, he went house to house gathering his possessions together, then left them in the wagon, handing them over to the wagon driver as he hopped the next train out.

Fate brought them together. And they brought each other love, comfort and the hope for a new beginning.

Eventually, they wound up in New York City, working as a tailor and a seamstress. There she was known as Shirley. They raised a son and a daughter. They achieved the American dream, owning a home. And when their son married and moved to Israel, they decided to join him.

Those were, they always said, the best years of their lives. They owned a lovely apartment in Netanya near the sea, and spent their time being grandparents, enjoying their many friends, or volunteering for good causes.

When we say Yizkor for her, we will use the name Shaindel, the name her parents gave her. But I always called her "Mom." And my kids called her "Bubbee." She was a wonderful, giving person as well as a tough cookie. Though not always easy to accept, her criticism came from love and from wanting things to be better for those she loved, in the way she understood
it. We loved her very much. May her name and memory be blessed.
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The Crime of Building a House at site of Shepherd Hotel in Jerusalem

Daniel Greenfield (Sultan Knish)

In Niger, two Frenchmen were murdered by their Islamic kidnappers. Saudi Arabia sentenced a 23 year old girl who was gang raped to a year in prison and 100 lashes. Iran arrested two dozen Christians for the crime of being well… Christians. Which of these awful things did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the EU’s Red Baroness Ashton forcefully condemn?

The answer is none of them.

Instead they forcefully and vigorously condemned the demolition of a hotel built by a Muslim Nazi collaborator and now owned by an American-Jewish businessman who bought it in order to build an apartment complex on the spot. An apartment complex for a mere 20 families that is somehow worse than all the aforementioned murders and atrocities. So much worse that they demanded the personal intervention of the highest diplomatic officials of the United States and the European Union. The Shepherd Hotel in Jerusalem is not the Plaza Hotel. It is a dilapidated neighborhood eyesore that has been abandoned since the 1980′s. No one lives in the Shepherd Hotel, a grim ugly fortress surrounded by barbed wire, that remains behind as a legacy of the Mufti of Jerusalem, who championed Hitler and helped recruit Muslims to serve in the SS. But with its demolition, people might actually begin to live on that spot. Children might actually play on ground that had been previously fenced off by barbed wire. And the worst thing of it all is that those people and their children will be Jews.

Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem, might have been displeased to look up from the netherworld and behold the demolition of his hotel, but to see the representatives of the United States and the EU taking up his work and treating the demolition of his hotel as the gravest issue of the day would surely have cheered him up. If he had ever been worried that his work would die with a bullet in Berlin or when his Holy War Army, even with the support of seven Arab countries and half the British officer corps failed to drive the Jews into the sea during the War of Independence, the statements of Hillary Clinton and the EUSSR’s Red Baroness Ashton testify once again that the evil that men and muftis do lives on after them.

In her statement, Hillary Clinton said the United States is “very concerned” about the demolition of a Nazi collaborator’s abandoned hotel. In a world where North Korea and Iran are racing ahead to build nuclear weapons, Russia and China are racing to outstrip the United States in weapons development and the economy is on the brink– that is what the Obama Administration is “very concerned” about. That 20 Jewish families will be able to have homes in the capital of their own city.

Hillary Clinton chose to attack Israel from Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, a totalitarian regime whose own construction boom was built on slave labor imported from India. Where there are no political freedoms and where non-Muslim foreigners have few rights, if any. Where a video showed the brother of the ruler of Abu Dhabi torturing a man in ways too horrifying to describe, with the approval of the police and the judicial system over a debt. Where 42 percent of the prisoners are there for being indebted. The UAE is essentially a slave state, built on the backs of mostly non-Muslim migrant workers with no human or legal rights.

While in Abu Dhabi, Hillary Clinton might have called on its rulers to open up the system to democratic elections. She might have raised the issue of Western women who are raped in Dubai and then sentenced to jail for being raped. Or the case of Roxanne Hillier, who was sentenced to jail for just being in the same room as her male boss. It certainly would have been appropriate for Hillary Clinton to have challenged the UAE on its abusive treatment of female visitors and tourists. But none of that happened.

How dare the Jews bulldoze this man’s hotel?
Instead Hillary Clinton used the platform of a barbaric skyscraper studded dictatorship to denounce the only democracy in the region. In a speech more inspired by Monty Python, than any concern for human rights, she described the demolition of a long abandoned hotel as a “disturbing development” and warned that “this move contradicts the logic of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties on the status of Jerusalem”. Yet oddly enough, Arab construction does not contradict such an agreement, only Jewish construction does.

This is not about Israel vs Palestine. The population of Jerusalem, both Jew and Arab, are Israeli citizens. If the Shepherd Hotel were being demolished to build homes for Arab citizens of Israel, does anyone seriously believe that Hillary or the Red Baroness would be getting so worked up over it? It’s not the passport that makes the difference, but the race and the religion. And if so, it’s not Israeli roads that are Apartheid, but the policies of Obama and the EU which strive to carve out a new “Pale of Settlement” where Jews may and may not live.

The Red Baroness, who has been too busy ordering bulletproof limousines and dispatching dozens of EU diplomats to such trouble spots as Barbados for vital martini drinking assignments, to actually attend European Commission meetings– found time to blast Israel instead. Baroness Ashton has missed two thirds of the EC meetings, but she has found time to show her commitment to human rights by lobbying on behalf of the People’s Republic of China. She may have ignored the persecution of Christian Copts in Muslim Egypt– but when the Jews demolish an abandoned hotel, then by all of the EU’s stars, the Red Baroness is on the ball.

“I strongly condemn this morning’s demolition of the Shepherd Hotel and the planned construction of a new illegal settlement,” said Baroness Ashton. The “settlement” is somewhat confusingly a housing project being built in place of an existing hotel in one of the oldest cities of the world. But somehow the term “settlement” no longer means a new town in an unsettled region, it now simply means a place where Jews live. Or propose to live. As Nazi Germany termed some art as “Jewish art” and the Soviet Union euphemistically labeled some science as “cosmopolitan science”, the word “settlement” has become untethered from its literal meaning and instead become synonymous with a Jewish dwelling place.

While Baroness Ashton sent out her spokesman to condemn the attack on Christian Copts in Egypt and the assassination of Salman Taseer in Punjab, she personally declared her outrage over a hotel in which no one was killed, aside perhaps from a stray lizard or two sunning themselves on the nearby rocks. It’s rather clear where her priorities lie and it isn’t with the victims of Muslim terror, rather with its perpetrators. For that same reason, Hillary Clinton can’t be bothered to offer sympathy to the Western women raped in Dubai and raped again by its Muslim legal system, but lashes out over something as petty as the demolition of an abandoned hotel.

The EU’s Red Baroness
It was perfectly fitting for Hillary Clinton to deliver her condemnation of Israel from Abu Dhabi, one of the region’s centers of corruption, where oil money buys human slavery, and rape victims are sent to jail by the law of a Muslim tyranny. And the West keeps silent, rather than offend the fat greasy hands of the royals who control the pipeline. It was similarly fitting that the Red Baroness neglected representing her country, in order to come prancing down to Israel, berate the locals for not dismantling itself quickly enough to suit the rulers of those same oil rich countries, who pull the strings on those like Baroness Ashton, that the Soviet Union grew tired of playing with.

Hillary Clinton and the Red Baroness accuse Israel of obstructing peace negotiations by demolishing the Shepherd Hotel. But was there any serious prospect for negotiations before that? While the Mufti’s hotel still stood, then Israel was charged with obstructing peace by allowing Jewish families to build homes in Judea and Samaria. And during the 9 month construction freeze in which they were not allowed to do it– then Israel was charged with obstructing peace through its blockade of Gaza’s terrorists. And before Israel withdrew from Gaza, it was charged with obstructing peace by not withdrawing from Gaza. And before Israel liberated Gaza in 1967, it was still charged with obstructing peace by refusing to do one thing or another that the Arab Muslim regimes wanted from it. Israel is always under attack and always at fault. If not for one thing, then for another. And while women are gang raped and whipped by our friendly allies in the Gulf, Israel is charged with the terrible crime of building a house.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Palestinian conspiracy theories: Israel and US behind major crises in Arab world

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Blaming Israel, the Jews and America for the Arab world's problems, is a recurring theme of Palestinian ideology.

The latest Palestinian Authority libel accuses Israel of involvement in major international conspiracies to undermine Arab and Muslim countries, from Yemen to Sudan, all in order to distract international attention from what Palestinians call the "Palestinian cause." These conspiracy accusations were expressed by a senior PA official, the Director General of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's office, Abd Al-Rahim.

According to Abd Al-Rahim, Israel has orchestrated all of the following major destructive events in the Arab world:
1- the civil war in Lebanon
2- the division of Sudan
3- the civil strife in Yemen
4- the massacre of Christians in Iraq
5- the persecution of Palestinians in Iraq

Also blaming Israel for Arab world troubles, the General Union of Palestinian Writers, following the murder of Christian Copts in a bombing in Egypt, said that Israel was behind conspiracies against the Arab world, including Egypt:
"The conspiracies that are being concocted against Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and anywhere else in the world are proof that the Israeli occupation and the imperialist circles are still damaging the spirit of the [Arab] nation and its unity."

Joining the chorus of conspiracy accusations, Tawfiq Tirawi, member of the Fatah Central Committee, accused America of collaborating to attempt "to stir up civil strife" "in Arab countries, from Yemen to Sudan."

The following are excerpts from the three news items accusing Israel and America of conspiring against the Arab world, all from the official PA daily:

"There are other conspiracies which the occupation [Israel] plans so as to cause a decrease [in attention] to the Palestinian cause and to turn it into a secondary matter with no priority, such as the ethic-religious battle going on in Lebanon. There is a third [Israeli] conspiracy, which is the division of Sudan. In addition, there are Arab countries which are facing dangers, such as what is happening in Yemen and the existence of the so-called Southern Movement, the Houthis, and Al-Qaeda in Yemen... There are also the massacres being carried out against the Christian communities in Iraq, and what some regional groups have done to Palestinians in Iraq." He warned of additional [Israeli] conspiracies, whose aim is that our [Palestinian] cause will not be a top priority, all in accordance with a precise plan."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 4, 2011]

Headline: "The Writers' Union denounces the attack on the church in Alexandria"
"The General Union of Palestinian Writers, and Palestinian intellectuals both inside and outside [of Palestine], denounced the attack on the church in Alexandria, describing it as a cowardly attack aimed at lighting the fuse of strife and fighting between Muslim and Christian brethren in Arab Egypt...
The union said that the conspiracies that are being concocted against Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and anywhere else in the world are proof that the Israeli occupation and the imperialist circles are still damaging the spirit of the [Arab] nation and its unity, with the aim of ripping apart, dividing, and deflecting attention from what is most important."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 6, 2011]

"[Tawfiq] Tirawi [member of the Fatah Central Committee] denounced what happened in Egypt [reference to the terror attack at the Coptic Church in Alexandria, in which more than 20 people were killed, -Ed.] and what is happening in Arab countries, from Yemen to Sudan, carried out by foreign elements and with American collaboration, in an attempt to stir up civil strife, which our nation decries."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 5, 2011]
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Spanish government sponsors PA TV ad calling for boycott of all Israeli products

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

spanish boycottLast week Palestinian Authority TV started broadcasting an ad promoting the boycott of all Israeli products.

The ad is sponsored by the Spanish government, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and AECID - the Spanish governmental humanitarian aid development. The TV ad opens as a Palestinian boy enters a store and overhears a conversation. A customer informs the shopkeeper that "they're plastering the city with advertisements about boycotting Israeli goods." The shopkeeper argues that he has to offer Israeli goods because the Palestinian customers demand it. The customer agrees adding that "Israeli products are better than the local products."

The shopkeeper then ask the boy him what he wants. The boy looks at the Israeli products in the store and says: "I want Israeli chips." He takes the chips, walks to the door, and then hears gunfire, presumably from Israeli soldiers, and he decides that he will not buy Israeli goods. He looks to each side, drops the chips on the floor, returns to the shopkeeper and says: "I don't want the Israeli product, I want the Palestinian product."

The ad ends with this text on the screen:
"Don't prolong the occupation's life upon our land,"
while displaying the logo of the Palestinian NGO Health Work Committees, followed by the logos of the ad's sponsors:
"The Spanish government, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and AECID (Spanish governmental humanitarian aid development), ACSUR (a Spanish non-profit organization), and Canaan Joint Development Project for Jerusalem (Palestinian)."

The following is the full description and transcript of the PA TV ad calling for boycott of all Israeli products sponsored by Spain:

A boy enters a store and overhears a conversation.
Customer to shopkeeper: "Do you see them? They're plastering the city with advertisements about boycotting Israeli goods."
Shopkeeper: "I can't not bring in [Israeli products], because people ask for them."
Customer: "Israeli products are better than the local products."
Shopkeeper to the boy: "What do you want?"
Boy, after looking at Israeli products: "I want Israeli chips."
He takes the chips, walks to the door, and hears gunfire. He looks around, drops the chips on the floor, returns to the shopkeeper and says: "I don't want the Israeli product, I want the Palestinian product."

The advertisement ends by displaying the text: "Don't prolong the occupation's life upon our land," with the logo of the Palestinian NGO Health Work Committees, followed by the logos of the ad's sponsors:
The Spanish government,
the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
AECID (Spanish governmental humanitarian aid development),
ACSUR (a Spanish non-profit organization),
Canaan Joint Development Project for Jerusalem (Palestinian).
[PA TV (Fatah), Jan. 5, 2010]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Conclusion Is That You Simply Cannot Trust An Article By Isabel Kershner

Martin Peretz

She is not Walter Duranty, the New York Times’ fancifully favorable correspondent in the Soviet Union during the darkest years of Stalin’s rule. And she also is not Herbert Matthews, the Times’ ritual denier of Castro’s crimes in Cuba. To both of these journalists but not them alone (after all, we had I.F. Stone to put lies in our eyes during both regimes) we can credit the infatuation of many liberals and radicals with two of the differently paradigmatic communist tyrannies of the twentieth century.

Believe me, Isabel Kershner, the Times reporter who mostly covers the Palestinians, has few illusions about them and their leaderships. But her war is in Israeli politics where a battle won for the Palestinians in the New York Times is a battle lost by the Netanyahu government in Washington. Now, in God’s world, everybody’s life is worth anyone else’s. But if you read the Times online, you will find that Kershner’s reports of one Palestinian woman killed is more important than scores of human beings elsewhere. he particular tale I have in mind has been written up by Barry Rubin, a scholar of the Middle East and an essayist on the Palestinians. He and just about every other reliable journalist (some of them forced into retractions by the facts and only the facts) found Jawaher Abu Rahmah of Bilin died not from tear gas, which never kills, but from an overdose of medicine for cancer. Anyway, here’s the story.

A New Palestinian Lie About Israel and The Need to Discount Such Stories Systematically
By Barry Rubin *
January 4, 2011

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What happens when the New York Times publishes, with no investigation, an atrocity story about Israel that is not only false but ridiculously so, based on the most obvious starting point: death by tear-gas doesn't happen?

Well, much of the world media may not report it and the anti-Israel crowd won't believe it but the IDF has concluded on the basis of Palestinian hospital documents that the woman who allegedly died of tear gas poisoning in fact was being treated for cancer and died as a result of being overdosed with medicine. In other words, this isn't an Israeli war crime but a potential Palestinian malpractice suit.

That's why the death certificate has no medical diagnosis, there was no autopsy, and the body was quickly buried.

Let's assume that nobody wanted to take the IDF's word for it but conducted a serious investigation and reviewed the evidence. And let's say that it turns out what I've reported here and earlier turns out to be true.

Would a more general lesson be drawn and an end be put to the transmutation within hours of phony Palestinian tales about Israel into page-one news stories around the world? Probably not, but it would be nice to think that.

There's a long history of Palestinians (including the Palestinian Authority) making up atrocity stories that blame Israel and then having these widely disseminated by the mass media. This is one of the main factors leading to increased hatred or criticism of Israel. These tales are disproven but the facts never catch up with the lies. Here's a history of the phenomenon with a number of examples.

Now we have the first phony slander of 2011. You can check out the cartoon version also. The Palestinian Authority claims that Jawaher Abu Rahma, 36 years old, died during a demonstration, killed by "poison" in tear gas fired there by Israeli soldiers.

This was put out by Saeb Erakat, one of the main PA leaders, and the story was published as true by the French press agency (AFP), the Guardian and Associated Press (note the picture of the huge funeral given her as a "martyr" to an Israeli "war crime)," The Independent, UPI, Voice of America, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, China's news agency and main newspaper, and also in important Dutch newspapers. And here's National Public Radio's usual obviously biased version. The BBC played up the story big, stating as a fact (it is still on their site with no hint that another side to the story exists) that she was killed by teargas.

Even the U.S. State Department apparently gets its information from reading misleading newspaper stories. Here's a round-up of the online reporting and an analysis of the incident appropriately entitled, "Repeating Palestinian Allegations without Evidence."

By the way, Saeb Erakat was the man who claimed that Israel massacred 500 Palestinians in Jenin, a claim that was massively covered in the media and turned out (as even the UN admits) to be a total lie for which he had no evidence at all.

And so, these publications reported as fact something about which they had zero direct knowledge merely because partisan Palestinian sources--with a bad track record due to past misstatements of fact--claimed it.

So far, as I can discover, only AFP has even published additional information showing the story might be false or even mentioning the results of the IDF's quick, detailed investigation of the incident in anything approaching a balanced account.

A day later the New York Times did deign to take notice in an article that presented every Palestinian claim as fact while the journalist challenged every point on the other side. [See detailed critique of this article in Reference Material, below]

[Update: The Times has finally run a story pointing out some of the contradictions in this story written about by us bloggers.]

Will any of these places publish a prominent correction or a balanced story? Will any of them learn anything from this experience, though they haven't from dozens of previous, precisely-the-same experiences?

[On the other hand, the Washington Post has usually done a better job on this kind of thing. Here's an article about past anti-Israel propaganda scams published there in 1997. Why hasn't the mass media caught up with this issue 13 years later?]

Let's suppose that she had participated in the demonstration, the Israeli troops had fired tear gas, and she had died. That would hardly be a war crime since police and military forces around the world routinely use tear gas. There was obviously no intent to kill anyone or even injure them. So it is a non-story to start with in terms of any evil-doing.

But it is also based on a series of lies. In fact, it is impossible for any normal person to die from tear gas in an open area. There is no recorded incident of this happening in any country. But that's only the beginning of the truth, explained also here and here. The woman was not even at the demonstration itself where she was supposedly killed--according to her cousin and mother--though she might have been in the general area (where tear gas concentrations would be even lower).

Equally, the PA refused to produce any medical record and there is no emergency room report at all. The Palestinian story about her medical history keeps changing. The family says that she went to the hospital from home, not the demonstration (another contradiction), making it less credible that her death came from tear gas since even a short time outside the place of highest concentration dispels symptoms. Moreover, she had been given a CAT scan previously, implying she had some serious health problem.

What the hospital records for the day of the demonstration do show--obtianed by Ha'aretz and others--is that two people were taken there with light injuries and released. She wasn't one of them. Only later did the story change and it was claimed that she had died. Studying the videotape of the demonstration doesn't show any picture of her there. In fact, according to videotapes she had not participated in previous demonstrations there either.

And what does the PA death certificate say? "Cause of death: Inhaling gas of an Israeli soldier according to the family." But there was no autopsy, no certification of that cause of death by a doctor, and she was buried with suspicious speed, quite the opposite of what would happen if the Palestinians thought they had a real case.

The Palestinian claim that the demonstrations there were peaceful is also not true. Here is the IDF's response on that point:

"In 2009, there were weekly riots in both Nil'in and Bil'in every Friday, with the exception of 18.12.2009 in Nil'in. Every one of these protests has featured violence on the part of the protesters, for the most part that entails rock throwing, although firebombs, and burning tires are also a frequent occurrence.

"These riots have been taking place on a regular basis at both locations for the past two years. In 2009, 57 defense force personnel were injured by rioters. The security forces take standard riot dispersal measures when the riots turn violent and in 2009 they arrested 20 rioters in Nil'in and 20 in Bil'in.

"On several occasions during these riots, defense force personnel were seriously injured. In January, a Nil'in rioter hurled a rock, hitting a reservist in the face, causing permanent damage to his eye socket. In another incident during a Nil'in riot in April, both an IDF officer and Border Police officer were seriously injured by hurled rocks and had to be taken to a hospital to treat their facial injuries."

Oh, by the way, her brother, Rahman, is a militant anti-Israel activist who was leading the demonstration. Presumably he is the source of this claim.

So that's the bottom line: The whole worldwide story and still another blood libel is based evidence.

As you've probably guessed by now, however, few people--and most incredibly of all, very few if any journalists--are going to read this article or go through all of this evidence.

That's precisely my point: Anti-Israel sources can produce an infinite number of these stories that take time and a detailed explanation to debunk. And then nobody will pay any attention to such responses. That's why this kind of thing should be systematically discounted and not reported unless some real evidence is offered that there is any truth in the accusation.

The huge anti-Israel demonstration at her funeral and mass media coverage shows us that Abu Rahma will be remembered as a Palestinian martyr to an Israeli war crime. She will also figure anonymously in the statistics intended to prove how evil Israel behaves. In future, people might be killed in terrorist attacks intended to revenge her death. And so on.

Only when it is understood in general that the Palestinian Authority and such sources as extremist anti-Israel activists who happen to be Jewish do everything possible in order to slander Israel--and that none of these claims should be accepted unless accompanied by real proof--will the situation improve. Haven't the mass media and others had enough lessons that they should discount such claims?

Here, here, and here are some sources on the story. But these are all on blogs that will be read by hundreds or a few thousands. The credulous behavior of spreading anti-Israel propaganda and making it credible for a big audience is on mass media outlets read or seen by hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.

Again, what is needed is not the obligation to disprove these wild stories one by one, but rather their being discredited as a group, in general, as a propaganda technique that no one should believe. There will be 365 days in 2011 but there will be far more than 365 information scams manufactured by the Palestinian And Friends propaganda machine.

Meanwhile, the mass media hardly ever reports what Palestinian leaders, media, and clerics actually say in Arabic unless it can be spun as proving moderation. Indeed, it barely reports that this month marks the second anniversary of the Palestinian Authority's refusal to negotiate with Israel.

Reference material:

Map of event

Tear gas and its medical effects: (Israel uses CS)

"CN, CS and CR cause almost instant pain in the eyes, excessive flow of tears and closure of the eyelids, and incapacitation of exposed individuals. Apart from the effects on the eyes, these agents also cause irritation in the nose and mouth, throat and airways and sometimes to the skin, particularly in moist and warm areas. In situations of massive exposure, tear gas, which is swallowed, may cause vomiting. Serious systemic toxicity is rare and occurs most frequently with CN; it is most likely to occur when these agents are used in very high concentrations within confined non-ventilated spaces. Based on the available toxicological and medical evidence, CS and CR have a large safety margin for life-threatening or irreversible toxic effects. There is no evidence that a healthy individual will experience long-term health effects from open-air exposures to CS or CR, although contamination with CR is less easy to remove." (emphasis added)

Analysis of NY Times follow-up article:

From: Leo Rennert []

Sent: January 5, 2011 1:21 PM
To:;; Ethan Bronner;
Cc: Isabel Kershner

On New Year's Eve, a weekly protest at a West Bank Palestinian village against Israel 's security barrier turned violent . The barrier was breached in three places and demonstrators hurled stones at Israeli security forces. Isreli troops responded by firing tear gas to disperse the crowd. The next day, Palestinian offcials announced that a Palestinian woman was sickened by the tear gas during the demonstration. taken to hospital and died on New Year's Day.

The New York Times published a dispatch by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner on Jan. 2, which flatly declared that Israel 's use of tear gas had killed the woman. Kershner relied entirely on Palestinian accounts and failed to inform readers that the IDF has asked to be included in a joint investigation with Palestinian medical personel into the woman's death -- an offer immediately rejected by the Palestinian side.

In the ensurng couple or three days, Israeli military officials raised a series of questions about the circumstances of the woman's death -- whether she had other ailments requiring strong medications that might have been contributing factors. After all, there were about a thousan protesters at this weekly demonstration and nobody else seemed to have been seriously harmed or dealt a lethal blow from the tear gas. Israeli officials also pointed to nconsistencies in medical records released by Palestinian doctors, lack of an autopsy and a hurried process to get her quickly buried.

All these questions immediately received prompt attention from Israeli media. But the Times, like most Western media, kept silent. Until three news cycles later, on Jan. 5, when the paper published a follow-up dispatch by Kershner under a headline that reads : "Israeli Military Officials Challenge Account of Palestinian Woman's Death."

To a Times reader, the headline seems at first blush a welcome initiative by the Times to make up for its exclusive reliance on Palestinian sources in the original Kershner piece and finally present what Israel had to say. Better late than never.

Except that Kershner's story unfortunately does not comport with the straightfoward headline about Israel challenging the Palestinian account of the woman's death.

Instead, Kershner makes it clear that, in sum, she's more than willing to believe what the Palestinians tell her and to disbelieve what the Israerlis tell her.

So, she puts great weight on the fact that the Israeli account is based on unidentified sources -- something that otherwise doesn't bother Times correpondents very much -- and that Palestinian medical records about the woman's death are unassailably true.

Here's Kershner's lead paragraph:

"BILIN, West Bank -- Clashing narratives over the case of a 36-year-old Palestinian woman who died on Saturday is fast making her a new symbol of the enduring conflict here, with the Israeli military anonymously casting doubt on Palestinian accounts -- backed by medical documents -- that she died from inhaling tear gas."

Quite a clumsny, convoluted lead -- but it tells us where Kershner is headed. Note Kershner's emphasis on the anonymity of Israeli sources and the presumed reliability of Palestinian "medical documents."

In fact, a few paragraphs farther down, Kershner preemptorily dismisses Israel 's slepticism about the Palestinian account of events as based on "anonymous conjectures."

When Israeli officials question whether the woman had pre-existing medical conditions that might have contribured to her death or whether there had been medical negligence in the treatment she received from Palestinian doctors, Kershner will have none of it.

"Dr. Mohammed Aideh," she writes, "said her death was caused by 'unknown gas inhalation' after an 'attack by Israeli soldiers as the family said.'''

Here's a Palestinian doctor filling a death certificate and he finds it obligatory to stress that everything happened "as the family said." The official Palestinian narrative already was in full sway and this doctor felt obliged to fall in line. Yet, this doesn't register with Kershner that the doctor might have been coached in what he was supposed to write. After all, what reputable medical examiner would go out of his way to signal that his conclusions were based on what "the family said"? Kershner, however, swallows this Palestinian doctor's report hook, line and sinker.

Kershner would have Times readers believe that there were just two "narratives" about the woman's death -- a credible Palestinian one and a conjectural Israeli one. Actually,therre are three "narratives" in her piece. Not just what the Palestinians said and what the Isrelis said, but Kershner's own narrative that tilts heavyily toward the Palestinian side and is thoroughly dismissive of questions raised by IDF officials.

I was not in Bilin when this incident occured. Neither was Kershner. Short of exhuming the woman's body for a thorough post-mortem, there can be no certainty about this event. Under these circimstances, when faced with conflicting versions, it behooves a news reporter to dispasionately lay out what one side claims and what the other side claims. But this is not Kershner's modus operandi. She's determined to ram her "truth" down readers' throats.

When it comes to Palestinian veracity, there's also no awareness on her part that, while Israeli officials may occasionally fall a bit short, that's nothing compared to the shameless lies that are part of the Palestinians' stock in trade. After all, the doctor who signed the death certificate works for a regime that, as part of its official creed, proclaims that Jews have no historical or religious ties to Jerusalem and that Jesus was a Palestinian.

With that kind of a record, one would think that any journalist would take with a grain of salt any self-serving Palestinian assertions when reporting second-hand abput a disputed, murkey event. But not Kershner, who vouches for Palestinian veracity without batting an eye.

Bottom line: The only part of this Times report that qualifies as good journalism is the headline. The bad part is Kershner's determination to steer readers to believe the Palestinian version and dismiss as "anonymous conjectures" important points and questions raised by Israel . The ugly part is that Kershner and the Times peddle such blatant editorializing as fair, accurate and objective news reporting.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"One More Hoax"

Arlene Kushner

They are without shame, and they didn't give up without a real fight: That is, with regard to the accusation by the PA that Israel had "killed" Jawaher Abu Rahma with tear gas in the course of the demonstration at the fence at Bil'in a little over a week ago.

When the IDF, examining the evidence that was available, raised doubts about the story, the response was furious and all sorts of "witnesses" came forward, people who had seen her at the demonstration choking on that tear gas.

But the IDF then acquired additional information, and it became clear that this woman -- for whom a "martyr's" funeral was staged -- had been lying in a hospital for ten days before her death and clearly was not at the demonstration. She died of cancer, and of the improper treatment she received. Picture it, my friends: A mother newly bereaved, probably having watched her daughter's deterioration from cancer over the course of several days prior, facing journalists and, in the midst of what we must assume to be deep grief, recounting a series of lies: Oh, I saw her, she was at the demonstration, and then came home unable to breathe. We want to pursue peace, but how can we when the Israelis act this way?

A bit unfathomable for some -- but the better you fathom it, the better you understand the enemy Israel faces. This mother, with her lies, was convinced that she was serving the larger Palestinian cause.


At any rate, there was no "war crime" by Israel, even if PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said there had been.

This is one more instance of multiple such fraudulent instances that have occurred over the years. But, as Arutz Sheva pointed out: "...when their lies are discovered, the damage has already been done and the refutation of the story will receive less publicity than the original libel did."

That's why it's important for each of you to not only know the truth, but to speak out when the accusations against Israel continue. In fact, even if the accusations don't continue, but there is no retraction or follow-up story, it's important to set the record straight.


If it's a peaceful demonstration, as Erekat said it was, why did the IDF find it necessary to use that tear gas? Once you see the video available here (the action starts at about 38 seconds), you will understand that it was anything but peaceful.

Over the years that this has been going on, week in and week out, some 200 Israeli soldiers have been hurt by the peaceful demonstrators of Bil'in.


I wrote the other day about the PA prison revolving door, and the fact that when six Hamas men -- including terrorist Wael Bitar -- were released, a PA official made the comment that they would have been let go sooner, but had been held for their own safety (meaning to protect them from Israel). I wondered then what had changed, that made the PA decide to accede to Hamas pressure and let them go. The answer, according to the spokesman for the Fatah (PA) forces, is that "Hamas said they would be responsible for the safety of the men...The detainees and their families signed a document stating that they are fully aware of the risks and that they alone bear responsibility."

What a perverted situation. Both Saeb Erekat and Namr Hammad, a political advisor to Abbas, said publicly that the PA keeps Hamas people in prison to protect them from Israel.

They are playing, of course, to Hamas, and not to Israel or the West, in which case they would be talking about how they do cooperative security with Israel.


The IDF did capture these men-- including Bitar -- in an arrest raid in Hevron on Friday morning. In the course of the operation, another man, who lived in the building where one of the terrorists had been hiding, was shot and killed. He had reportedly made a sudden move, so that the soldiers thought he was reaching for a gun.

The PA governor of Hevron called the Israeli operation "a campaign of incitement." Incitement? He charged Israel with undermining the PA and sabotaging efforts to end the PA feud with Hamas by arresting these terrorists so quickly after the PA had arrested them.

Did I not say it was a perverted situation?

You will have noted that the issue of what the men in prison had done was totally ignored. But it always is.


Oh, and there's something else dire that we're being accused of: Destroying chances for peace (which was about to break out any moment) by demolishing the Shepherd Hotel in the Shimon HaTzaddik-Sheik Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.

The hotel and the land it is on are owned by Jews -- it was purchased legally, a full 25 years ago, by Irving Moskowitz -- American financier and major supporter of Jewish building in Jerusalem. It's not exactly as if it was torn from Arab hands yesterday. But what upsets the Arabs is that now that the hotel has gone down, 20 housing units for Jews will be constructed.

Noam Moskowitz


Said Adnan Al Husseini, whom the Palestinian Arabs call "governor of Jerusalem": "This hotel is a symbol being ruined, and is sadly not the only one. Many more Palestinian homes will be razed, all this in the future Palestinian capital. If we thought there were some Israelis left who were interested in peace it's clear we were wrong."

Husseini is correct that a symbol is being ruined, but he doesn't realize how telling is his regret in this regard. For this was the home of Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during WWII, a Nazi collaborator, and, not incidentally, a mentor to Arafat.

Daniel Luria, of Ateret Cohanim – which promotes Jewish settlement in Jerusalem -- was on the site as demolition took place and got it right. Said Luria:

"These sounds are special. It’s like destroying Hitler's or Himmler's home. Haj Amin al-Husseini collaborated with the Nazis and set up a Muslim department which was responsible for the murder of 90% of Yugoslavia's Jews. This man wanted to kill any Jew who lived in Israel and therefore nothing is more just and satisfying than demolishing this house.

"The Jews are now returning to our natural home; no one can claim that Jerusalem is not Jewish, and this particular spot is in the heart of Jerusalem. Some Arabs live here, but it is a Jewish area; Simon the Just (Shimon HaTzaddik) is buried here, Jews live right below, the Police Headquarters are located nearby (as are the Jewish areas of Ramat Eshkol, French Hill, and Mount Scopus). The natural process of the Jews returning home is continuing, and with G-d's help it will pick up even more steam."

To this, should we all say Amen!

Of course, the understanding of whose house this was won't stop the outcry from Europeans and other mindless Arab sympathizers who don't get it at all.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Recognizing Palestine

Ari Bussel

Five Latin American countries have already recognized Free, Independent Palestine: Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. American Friends for Peace Now estimates that 30 more countries around the world will recognize Palestine by the next United Nation’s General Assembly in September.

APN also laid down the path for recognition as espoused by the Palestinians. The Palestinians will come to the UN and invite its members to see a viable state, building itself from the very foundation, with security forces that oversee peace and order – in close coordination and cooperation with Israeli forces – transparency that fights corruption and a government that is by the people, for the people and removed from Hamas’ military fight against Israel. It seems a recipe for guaranteed approval.

I see Israel digging her own grave, and a new Palestine emerging from the very fertile graveyard ground that used to be Israel.

APN’s head even went as far as calling one of the Palestinians technocrats the new David Ben Gurion, building an actual state, with a vision for the future.

Only the vision does not stop at the mere act of creation of a Palestinian state. It is the prelude to the grand act of destroying any remnant of the Jewish state, exterminating the Jews and ridding the world of their continued existence once and for all. That is the true and sole purpose of the “Palestinian” exercise.

There are rumblings within Israel against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State, even admonitions of those countries who have already taken the path toward this eventuality. Others in Israel seem to have reached the conclusion this is already the de facto state of affairs, and the full recognition is just an upgrade of current status.

How should Israel respond? Is a free, independent Palestine a bad thing? Why is the declaration of a free, independent Palestine creating such a wrath?

Should Israel boycott the world as country after country rise to the challenge, raising its hand in support of Palestine? After all, would Turkey welcome a new Kurdistan sprouting from within its borders? How about the United States of America relinquishing California or Texas to Mexico? China and a free, independent Tibet? And the list goes on as Israel is held to a different standard.

Should Israel embrace the idea, since a majority of her citizenry support “two states for two people?” Will this misguided notion (“Peace on Earth” ushered as a result of the creation of Palestine) stand the test of reality or expose the naked truth with all its horrors, evilness and ugliness? Palestine is just a stepping-stone to Israel’s destruction and that is its sole purpose of existence.

How should Israel respond?

The Palestinians have made their intentions clear for some time. There were no secrets and the goals were declared explicitly. The package was put on display for all to see. By now, Israel should have had an action plan, other than “let us live and see how this thing plays out.” Acquiescing is interpreted as a sign of weakness. Allowing a Palestinian State to come into fruition is tantamount to allowing Iran have the bomb.

Excusing the status quo as inevitable is agreeing with the process, rather than responding to it. Likewise, those who say that parts of Jerusalem are de facto “Arab,” gravely mistake. They should highlight that Jerusalem is one city, Israel’s eternal capital, unified and indivisible, and work to stem out any misconceptions, misleading notions or action of the ground that creates such a divide.

Whereas Israel has been urging the world community to act against Iran, has it heeded its own advice? In many ways, Israel’s response (or lack there of) to the latest Palestinian move is no different than the world community’s failure to do anything at all to stop Iran.

I argue that a unilateral move by the Palestinians is a blessing in disguise to Israel, and the fact it will be fully supported by the world community is nothing but a reflection of the growing tsunami of anti-Semitism to which Israel must respond.

There is one way for Israel to respond. I am afraid, though, that Israel lacks the leadership, the courage and the conviction to carry it forward.

In response to the new free, independent Palestine, Israel must annex Judea and Samaria. If the former is ludicrous, the latter is long overdue and much more reasonable. To then achieve peace, or for it to be negotiated in earnest, there would be value assigned to Judea and Samaria, whereas today there is none – it is taken for granted not to belong to Israel, not to ever have belonged to her.

Israel must fight for her survival, for she exists in the land of her forefathers, from time immemorial to time everlasting. It is the land of no other, despite any illusions to the contrary.

Israel must call things by their name, and Judea and Samaria must stop to be “Occupied Territories” with Jewish towns and cities referred to as “Settlements.
” Judea and Samaria is Israel’s heart and should be no different than any other region in Israel. Possibly if Israel treated it that way, others would concede, or at the very least listen.

The Middle East understands action, as does the world. There is no one “understood” more, or possibly feared, than the Russians or the Chinese who make no bones about their intentions or determination. Israel should follow suit and do what is good for her, and the only thing good for Israel is to wake up and fight for her own survival.

Judea and Samaria are as much a part of an imaginary “Palestine” as one tearing out another human being’s beating heart and holding it for display in one’s hand with a roar of joy. Just as such an action ensures the death of the person from whom the heart was removed, likewise, removing Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem from Israel would be a brutal deathblow to the Jewish State.

There is only one Jewish country in the world, in a place that has been its home for the past three millennia. Empires rose and fell, countries were created and others disappeared into the dustpan of history. Israel was and still remains. She alone has a claim over her land, and neither Israelis nor the world at large has the right, or the ability, to relinquish even an iota of this ownership to others.

Palestinian Authority’s latest attack against the Jewish State is good in so far as it will force Israel to respond to the reality she is trying to avoid. Annexing Judea and Samaria is an equally brilliant move that will force the world to recognize that Israel is not a laboratory in which experimentations are carried out on a live subject.

Judea and Samaria are the cornerstones of Israel, past present and future, and Israel will not allow anyone to tear her heart out or stab her to death; in theory at least.

The series “Postcards from America—Postcards from Israel” by Ari Bussel and Norma Zager is a compilation of articles capturing the essence of life in America and Israel during the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The writers invite readers to view and experience an Israel and her politics through their eyes, Israel visitors rarely discover.

This point—and often—counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.

© “Postcards from America — Postcards from Israel,” January, 2011


Melanie Phillips, January 3, 2011

Address to Ariel Conference on Law and Mass Media, 30 December 2010

As we all know by now, Israel has lost the battle for public opinion in the west. Even the Israel government is now acknowledging this fact. Israel and its defenders have been outclassed and outmanoeuvred in a war of the mind being waged on a battleground it never even acknowledged it was on.… The message [and] narrative promoted by Israel and its defenders misses the point of the attack being waged upon it…by a mile.

You cannot resist or overcome a threat unless you first understand its nature. The first thing to say is that this phenomenon is characteristic not just of the media animosity or economic or academic boycotts. It goes across the intelligentsia and political class, spreading well beyond the normal suspects on the left into the mainstream middle-classes.… The scale of this phenomenon is nothing short of a multi-layered civilizational crisis.

The west is experiencing a total inversion of truth evidence and reason. A society’s thinking class has overwhelmingly subscribed to an immoral, patently false and in many cases demonstrably absurd account of the Middle East, past and present, which it has uncritically absorbed and assumes to be true.

In routine, everyday discourse history is turned on its head; logic is suspended; and an entirely false narrative of the conflict is now widely accepted as unchallengeable fact, from which fundamental error has been spun a global web of potentially catastrophic false conclusions. This has led to a kind of dialogue of the demented in which rational discussion is simply not possible because there is no shared understanding of the meaning of language. So victim and victimiser, truth and lies, justice and injustice turn into their precise opposite.…

This madness is being promulgated through a global alliance between state and non-state actors--diplomats and journalists, politicians and NGOs and websites.… What Israel is up against is grossly--and fatally--underestimated and misunderstood.

The problem is that we are dealing with a pathology--to which we nevertheless respond as if it were rational behaviour. What’s happened is a pattern of thinking in the west which turns reality upside down. Remarkably, this in turn echoes a very similar inversion of reality within the Islamic world, where such inversion has a theological base.

Because Islam is considered perfect, its adherents can never do wrong. All their aggression is therefore represented as self-defence, while western/Israeli self-defence is said to be aggression. So in this Orwellian universe the enslavement of Muslim women is said to represent their liberation; democracy is a means of enslavement from which the west must be freed; and the murder of Israelis is the purest form of justice.

Furthermore, this is overlaid by the phenomenon of ‘psychological projection’ in which the Islamic world not only denies its own misdeeds but ascribes them instead to its victims. So while Muslims deny the Holocaust, they claim that Israel is carrying out a holocaust in Gaza. Antisemitism is central to Jewish experience in Europe; Muslims claim that ‘Islamophobia’ is rife throughout Europe. Israel gives all Jews the ‘right of return’ to Israel on account of the unique reality of global Jewish persecution; the Muslims claim a ‘right of return’--not to their own putative state of Palestine, but to Israel. They even claim that the Palestinians are the world’s ‘new Jews’.…

What is remarkable is that instead of treating this as a pathological deformity of thinking, the western progressive intelligentsia has largely embraced it as rational and true. And to a large extent this is because that same western intelligentsia has itself supplanted rationality by ideology--or the dogma of a particular idea.… Across a wide range of such issues, it’s no longer possible to have a rational discussion with the progressive intelligentsia, as on each issue there’s only one story for them which brooks no dissent. This is because, rather than arriving at a conclusion from the evidence, ideology inescapably wrenches the evidence to fit a prior idea. So ideology of any kind is fundamentally anti-reason and truth. And if there’s no truth, there can be no lies either; truth and lies become merely ‘alternative narratives’.

Moral and cultural relativism--the belief that subjective experience trumps moral authority and any notion of objectivity or truth--has turned right and wrong on their heads. Because of the dominant belief in multiculturalism, victim culture and minority rights, self-designated victim groups--those without power--can never do wrong while majority groups can never do right. And Jews are not considered a minority because--in the hateful discourse of today--Jews are held to be all-powerful as they ‘control’ the media, Wall Street and America.

So the Muslim world cannot be held responsible for blowing people up as they are the third world victims of the west; so any atrocities they commit must be the fault of their victims; and so the US had it coming to it on 9/11. And in similar fashion, Israel can never be the victim of the Arab world; the murder of Israelis by the Arab world must be Israel’s own fault.

So the way has been opened for mass credulity towards propaganda and fabrication. The custodians of reason have thus turned into destroyers of reason--centred in the crucible of reason, the university. All these different ideologies are utopian; in their different ways, they all posit the creation of the perfect society. That is why they are considered ‘progressive’, and people on the progressive wing of politics sign up to them. That helps explain the distressing fact that so many Jews on the left also sign up to Israel-hatred, since they too sign up to such utopian ideologies.

But when utopias fail, as they always do, their adherents invariably select scapegoats on whom they turn to express their rage over the thwarting of the establishment of that perfect society. And since utopia is all about realising the perfect society, these scapegoats become enemies of humanity. For Greens, such enemies of humanity are capitalists; for anti imperialists, America; for militant atheists, religious believers. Anti-Zionists turn on Israel for thwarting the end to the ‘Jewish question’: the redemption of western guilt for the persecution of the Jews--a guilt which can never be redeemed as long as the wretched Jews continue to make themselves the targets of attack.…

It cannot be stressed enough that the reason why those promoting genocidal bigotry are winning is that the western world has not sought to defeat them but instead has appeased them from the very start. In Palestine under the British Mandate, when the Arabs used terrorist violence to frustrate the will of the League of Nations in restoring the Jewish home, Britain rewarded them by offering them part of the Jews’ legal and moral entitlement. When the Arabs started hijacking planes, the west’s response was to invite them to the UN to plead their cause. And despite the Arabs’ repeated refus[al] to accept the two state solution, offered in the 1930s, in 2000 and under Ehud Olmert and their current refusal to negotiate at all, America punishes Israel for not making enough concessions to them--while giving a free pass to those who still refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist.

It is astonishing that the west expects Israel to make any concessions to such attackers at all. After all, forcing a country which has endured more than six decades of existential siege to give any ground to its attackers amounts to forcing such a victim to surrender. This is expected by the civilised world of no other country. Yet we are repeatedly told even by certain supporters of Israel that the Palestinians have a right to a state. Why? In any other conflict, such aggression forfeits any rights at all.…

The single greatest reason for the endless continuation of the Middle East impasse is that Britain, Europe and America have continuously rewarded the aggressor and either attacked the victim or left it twisting in the wind. That’s what needs to be said by Israel and its defenders. But Israel and its defenders themselves have been crippled or cowed by the false analysis of the enemy’s narrative. Even many of Israel’s friends spout the demonstrably absurd proposition that a Palestine state would solve the problem, that the impediment to a Palestine state is the ‘settlers’, but that Israel is not taking action to remove the ‘settlers’--and so therefore they too inescapably agree that Israel is the problem.

Israel and its defenders have been fighting on the wrong battleground: the one that has been chosen by its enemies. The Arabs brilliantly reconfigured the Arab war of extermination against Israel as the oppression by Israel of the Palestinians. That has transformed Israel from victim to aggressor--the reversal of reality which lies at the very heart of the western obsession with the ‘settlements’ and the territories.…

The Arab and Muslim world long ago realised if it set the narrative in its own image, it would recruit millions of fanatics to its cause and also confuse and demoralise its victims. In this it has wildly succeeded. There is therefore an overwhelming need for Israel to alter its strategy. Indeed, it needs to have a strategy.… The fact remains that both Israel and Diaspora Jews have to rethink. They have to realise they must start fighting on the battleground where the attack is actually being mounted against them. And the goal has to be to seize and retake the moral high ground. This strategy requires two different tactics: one for those who are capable of rational thought, and another for those who are not.

The first group comprises those who are not irrational but merely desperately ignorant. Much of the obsession with Israel’s behaviour is due to the widespread belief that its very existence is an aberration.… People believe that Israel was created as a way of redeeming Holocaust guilt. Accordingly, they believe that European Jews with no previous connection to Palestine…were transplanted there as foreign invaders, from where they drove out the indigenous Arabs into the West Bank and Gaza. These are territories which Israel is now occupying illegally oppressing the Palestinians and frustrating the creation of a state of Palestine which would end the conflict.

Of course every one of those assumptions is false. But from those false assumptions proceeds the understandable belief not just that Israel’s behaviour is unjust, illegal and oppressive but that it is unjust and oppressive by virtue of its very existence. For these people there is an urgent need for a proactive educational approach. No-one has ever told them that these beliefs are false--and when they are told, the effect is often transformative.…

For bigots, however, there is no point arguing with them. They are, by definition, beyond all reason. Their influence simply has to be destroyed. They have to be held to account for their lies and bigotry which should be forensically exposed. So Israel and its defenders should be demanding of the world why it expects Israel alone to make compromises with people who have tried for nine decades to wipe out the Jewish presence in the land and are still firing rockets at it.

They should expose the pretence of Britain or European countries which claim to have Israel’s security needs at heart but forbid it from using military means to defend itself.… Israel and its defenders should be asking why so-called friends in the west want a Palestine state, since once the IDF depart the disputed territories they will become in short order yet another Iranian-backed Islamic terrorist entity which will pose a further threat not just to Israel but to the west.

They should be asking why the EU is continuing to fund the genocidal incitement against Jews promoted by the Palestine Authority. They should be asking so-called ‘progressives’--including Jewish ‘progressives’--why they support the racist ethnic cleansing of every Jew from a future state of Palestine. They should be asking them why they are not marching against Hamas on account of its tyrannical oppression of Palestinians in Gaza. Why they are ignoring Arab and Muslim persecution of women and homosexuals.

Why they are not mounting a boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Mahmoud Abbas’s PA and Hamas, on account of Abbas’s Holocaust denial and the clear evidence of continuation of Nazi Jew-hatred in a direct line of descent from predecessors who were Hitler’s supporters in Palestine.

As for western Israel-bashers, Israel and its defenders should accuse them not of Jew-hating motives that cannot be proved but of absurdities and contradictions and untruths they cannot deny. They should ridicule them, humiliate them, destroy their reputations; boycott them, not invite them to social gatherings, show them disapproval and contempt. Treat them as pariahs. Turn their own weapons against them.

They should be telling the Jews’ own story of refugees and ethnic cleansing--the 800,000 Jews driven out of Arab lands after 1948, and who now make up more than half of Israel’s population. It’s good to see that at last Israel is beginning to bring this to the world’s attention.… At a stroke it takes the ground from under the feet of those demanding the ‘right of return’ for Arabs.

They should be holding Arab and Islamic democracy weeks on campus, to expose the oppression and persecution within that world against women, homosexuals and others. They should be singling out the Anglican church and the revival of ancient theological Jew-hatred being spread within the Anglican world by the Palestinian Christians of the Sabeel centre.… They should be campaigning against the UN and the hijacking of international law and human rights by anti-western, anti-Jewish and anti-Christian ideologues.

They should be confronting head-on the false claim that bigotry is confined to the right. They should be pointing the finger at the ‘progressive’ left to show how it is actually supporting the mortal enemies not just of Israel but the west. And they should be making this case to Israelis themselves, to counter the delegitimisation and ignorance in Israeli universities and to educate the Israeli young in their own national history.

In other words, both Israel and Diaspora Jews have to stop playing defence and go onto the offence. Israel has nothing to be defensive about or for which it needs to apologise. It is the enemies of Israel who are promoting injustice and the denial of international law and human rights. Playing defence intrinsically cedes ground to the enemy.…

In short, Israel and its defenders must understand that the tsunami of bigotry against Israel sweeping the west is intimately related to Israel’s seriously flawed diplomatic strategy. For years, Israel has been playing a defensive diplomatic game, which suggests inescapably that it has a case to answer.… It’s time for Israel to realise that military campaigns against its enemies are not enough. It has to call time on its false friends too, and start fighting both these and its more obvious enemies on the battleground of the mind.

Water Level in Lake Kinneret Inching Away from 'Red Line'

Chana Ya'ar
A7 News

Weekend rains have brought the water level of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) up by 2.5 centimeters (1 inch), the Water Authority said Sunday.

The increase means the water level of the lake now stands at 213.98 centimeters below sea level – still some five meters below its full level.

The level is just shy of one centimeter above the “red line” located 213 meters below sea level, the level that signifies the lake is approaching a point where it is potentially dangerous to draw water. Light rain fell in Jerusalem early Sunday morning, with scattered showers, partly cloudy skies and rising temperatures in the forecast for in northern and central Israel for Monday as well.

Water Level Close to ‘Red Line’

In recent years the government also added a “black line” at 215 meters below sea level – the point beyond which water absolutely should not be drawn.

Rabbis from the Jordan Valley conducted a mass prayer rally in November, leading more than 100 people in special prayers for rain at the Western Wall in Jerusalem and from a boat on the Kinneret. In addition, Israel’s chief rabbis called on the public to observe a fast in hopes the effort would bring forth the blessing of rain from Heaven.

Last February Israel was indeed blessed with the largest rainfall to hit the country in five years, all within the space of less than a week. The heavy rains left most regions of the country with a higher-than-average accumulated rainfall that refreshed the parched desert lands to the south while raising the level of the lake in the north above the “red line.”

The Slow Disappearance of Turkey's Jewish Community

Rifat N. Bali

Turkey's Jewish community is one of the few remaining Diaspora communities in a country with a Muslim majority. Despite its apparent dynamism, its long-term viability is doubtful. The community does not have any influence or play any role worth mentioning in Turkey's cultural, political, or intellectual life. Furthermore, in recent years the entire community has become the target of much resentment and hostile rhetoric from the country's Islamist and ultranationalist sectors.
Another problem concerns the question of identity. In Turkey, a "Zionist" education-stressing both Jewish tradition and a connection with Israel-is used to prevent Jewish youth from further assimilation. But such an education is extremely difficult to impart under the conditions prevailing in Turkey. Jewish parents counsel their children not to display Star of David necklaces in public, and to remain silent and if possible completely ignore the constant, hateful, often slanderous criticism of Israel in the Turkish public sphere.
The Mavi Marmara incident was an acid test for Turkish Jewry. It came as no surprise that the public perceived the incident as the murder of Muslim Turks by the Jewish army and started asking Turkish Jews whose side they were on. The incident also triggered a wave of anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories in the Turkish media and among public figures. For the most part, the Turkish Jewish leadership found itself unable to address the issue publicly.
For the situation to change, Turkish society would have to veer away from the current insular nationalist and Islamist atmosphere and move in a more liberal, democratic, multicultural direction. Turkey could then both come to grips with the darker aspects of its past and work for a different and better future. At present, the indications that such a transition might occur are mixed at best.

A Low Profile and a Shrinking Community

Turkey's Jewish community is one of the few remaining Diaspora communities in a country with a Muslim majority.[1] For any researcher or journalist seeking information about this community and its current state, two of the most important accessible sources are the community's sole remaining paper, the weekly Şalom, and the community's lay and religious leadership. If such a person were to peruse Şalom for the cultural activities held by the community's various organizations and speak with the lay leaders and the Chief Rabbinate, the impression he would receive is that, despite its relatively small numbers, Turkey's Jewish community[2] is extremely dynamic and has even been undergoing a certain cultural renaissance in recent years.[3]

Yet, for all of the community's apparent dynamism, a number of factors would dampen optimism for its long-term viability. Among these is that the community does not have any influence or play any role worth mentioning in Turkey's cultural, political, or intellectual life. Although a small number of Turkish Jews served in Turkey's Grand National Assembly from 1946 to 1961,[4] since then they have largely disappeared from the political scene.[5] Furthermore, in recent years the entire Jewish community has become the target of much resentment and hostile rhetoric from the country's Islamist and ultranationalist sectors.[6]

The relations between Turkey's Jewish community and the state of Israel have, by their very nature, remained ambiguous and highly sensitive. In the current Turkish situation, where anti-Americanism[7] and anti-Israeli sentiment often cross the line into outright anti-Semitism and a popular demonization of both Zionism and Israel, it is inconceivable for a Turkish Jew to express pro-Israeli sentiment openly. As a result, community leaders and others who publicly declare their "Turkishness" are careful to keep all personal and institutional relations with Israel very low-key and far from the scrutiny of the Turkish media.

Another problem concerns the question of identity. In Turkey, the educational approach that is used to prevent the youth from further assimilation and for the preservation of Jewish identity-one of the primary concerns of all Diaspora communities-is a "Zionist" education. Its central tenet is the maintaining of a connection with Jewish tradition on one hand and the state of Israel on the other. But such an education is extremely difficult to impart under the conditions prevailing in Turkey. Because of the strong current of hostility toward Israel and Zionism, Jewish parents counsel their children not to display Star of David necklaces in public, and to remain silent and if possible completely ignore the constant, hateful, often slanderous criticism of Israel in the Turkish public sphere.

Finally, the demography of Turkey's Jewish population presents little to encourage optimism. In 1927, the year of the Turkish Republic's first general census,[8] the community numbered 81,872. Eighty years later it had dwindled to somewhere between one-fourth and one-fifth of that figure.[9]

The Reasons for the Present Situation

Turkish Jewry has faced far fewer problems than other Jewish groups living in Islamic lands. Why, then, has this community, which still appears so dynamic in some regards, arrived at such a state? There are a number of clear reasons for the situation.

The first major demographic turning point for Turkey's Jewish community since the founding of the Republic was the establishment of the state of Israel. From 1945, there was every indication that the Turkish Republic would permit the founding of new political parties and enter a freer period of multiparty democracy. Yet, by the autumn of 1948, close to half of Turkey's Jews had left for the new Jewish state.[10] Thus, Turkey's Jewish population fell from 76,965 in 1945 to 45,995 just three years later.[11]

There were several factors behind this large-scale emigration. First and foremost, because of a series of bitter experiences over the first two and a half decades of the Turkish Republic's existence, Turkish Jews had lost all hope of being considered equal Turkish citiziens. Second, they realized that they could fully live their Judaism only in Israel. The Turkish government had always required a single unambiguous loyalty of its citizens, one that brooked no whiff of external affiliation to a religion, ethnicity, or even a voluntary organization. Lastly, many young Turkish Jews who had received a Zionist education saw Israel's establishment as fulfilling the national dream of the Jewish people.

Conditions during the Single-Party Period (1923-1945)

Around the time of Israel's establishment, the prospects both for Turkey and its Jewish population looked favorable. For many of Turkey's Jews, however, this was not enough to erase the memory of twenty-two years of single-party rule under the Republican People's Party. During that time they were repeatedly exposed to anti-Semitism, discrimination, and chauvinism on the part of the intellectual elites or the authorities. They were subjected to heavy pressures toward "Turkification"-assimilation into Turkish society-from the Kemalist political and intellectual elite. This elite claimed to regard all who lived within the new Republic as Turkish citizens possessing equal rights, regardless of language, religion, and race; at the same time, they expected the various non-Turkish and non-Muslim inhabitants to wholeheartedly adopt Turkish customs, language, religion, and culture. Moreover, Turkey's Jewish bourgeoisie was constantly forced to contend with the jealousy and resentment-sentiments that often morphed into anti-Semitism-resulting from their far greater economic success than their Muslim counterparts.

One of the reasons for the ongoing pressure to assimilate and speak Turkish, which was directed at non-Muslims in general during those years, concerned the special situation of the country's Jewish population. From the viewpoint of the Kemalist elites, the "national language" of the Jews was Hebrew. In actuality, the principal languages of most Turkish Jews were the Judeo-Spanish dialect known as Ladino and, as a result of several generations of educating their youth at Alliance Israélite Universelle schools, French.[12] Only those fervent Zionists intent on immigrating to Palestine had some grasp of spoken Hebrew.

Nevertheless, those Jews who failed to sufficiently devote themselves to learning and speaking Turkish became, along with their distinctive accents, an indispensable subject for satire in the popular press, and more seriously, the subjects of ongoing public pressure to do so. Coupled with their economic success, the relative failure of Turkish Jewry to fully "Turkify" themselves led much of the country's elite to view them as an ungrateful minority. Some four hundred years after the Spanish Expulsion, they still refused to learn the language of their tolerant and magnanimous hosts, preferring to continue speaking the language of their former oppressors or even French, all the while exploiting the true sons of the nation, the Turks.[13]

The reality underlying such a notion was the impossibilty of abruptly transforming the collective attitudes of the Turkish Republic, built as they were on the ashes of six hundred years of Islamic rule. Regardless of the Western concepts of citizenship and secularism enshrined in the Turkish Constitution, Turkey's Muslim majority continued to look upon its Jews not as Turks but as Jews and, therefore, dhimmis, persons by definition not entitled to the same privileges as its Muslim inhabitants. Because of this perception non-Muslims in general were considered inherently unreliable, fostering discrimination during both their military service and daily life.

Although the existing legislation specified that a public servant needed only to be a "Turk," those responsible for applying it consistently acted in line with the aforementioned perception. That is, while the state required unswerving loyalty from its citizens, the loyalty of non-Muslims was always closely monitored for any sign of divergence. Despite the demand that they thoroughly behave as Turks, they were never truly considered as such. For the authorities and most of the public, the term Turk was understood as synonymous with Muslim and/or "ethnic Turk," inevitably producing discrimination against non-Muslims.

Thus, in the public sphere non-Muslims were unable to obtain employment as public servants, police officers, or noncommissioned officers in the Turkish army.[14] A more proactive form of discrimination against non-Muslims in the early years of the Republic was the imposition of strict legal quotas on the number or percentage of non-Muslims whom foreign-owned companies could employ. Until that time these companies had almost exclusively employed non-Muslims, since they had the requisite lingustic and commercial capabilities. In the summer of 1923, the Commerce Ministry ordered foreign companies to fire 50-75 percent of their non-Muslim staff and replace them with Muslims.[15]

During the first decades of the Republic, three landmark events in particular marked the collective memory of Turkey's Jews. The first of these was the anti-Jewish riots and looting of June-July 1934, which have come to be known as the "Thrace Incidents" (Trakya Olayları). The events of the last days of June and first days of July that year, in the cities and villages of Turkey's European provinces of Edirne, Çanakkale, and Kırklareli where there were large concentrations of Jews, began with a boycott of Jewish artisans and merchants. In subsequent days the Jewish neighborhoods of these areas were besieged by Turks from the surrounding villages, local residents, and students. The mobs threw rocks at Jewish houses and shops and harassed Jewish women and young girls.

As events unfolded, the local Jews fell into panic and sold their businesses, houses, and possessions for next to nothing, or simply abandoned them in attempting to flee the area for Istanbul. Despite the flood of Jewish refugees into that city, Prime Minister İsmet İnönü, in a speech to the Turkish parliament on 5 July, would only publicly make mention of these events to condemn them and announce that an investigation had been launched. Until that point the Istanbul press had not run a single story on the incidents. Even after İnönü's speech they were portrayed as minor, or used as pretexts to call on the Jews to assimilate more quickly and to learn and speak Turkish.

Following the prime minister's statements, a committee was formed headed by Interior Minister Şükrü Kaya. It was to investigate the locales where the disturbances had occurred and submit a report to the Council of Ministers. In light of the report, an official communiqué was issued on 14 July 1934. It presented a full account of the events and declared that the guilty parties would be brought to justice.

In light of the available archival documents, one can tentatively conclude that the incidents occurred for a number of reasons. One was the accumulated resentments and jealousies of the local population toward the Jews of Thrace, who had not learned Turkish and whose merchants dominated the region's economy. In addition, the Turkish regime and army increasingly desired to remilitarize the Bosphorus Straits and surrounding area-which the 1923 Lausanne Treaty 1923 had demilitarized-and to reestablish Turkish military bases and presence there. Both the politicians and military chiefs tended to view both the local non-Muslim inhabitants and those with foreign citizenship who lived in the region as unreliable, and hoped somehow to relocate them. The method ultimately employed was a slow but constant campaign of attacks, harassment, and intimidation against the area's Jews in the hope of compelling them to leave. Yet the hatred against the region's Jews proved harder to keep on a low heat than supposed, quickly generating the large-scale disturbances that finally erupted.[16]

The second event was the formation of "labor batallions" out of non-Muslim conscripts in May 1941. In that month it was suddenly decided to draft all non-Muslim males aged 27-40 and station them in the various provinces of Anatolia. Even so, these recruits were segregated from their Muslim fellow recruits and provided with neither weapons nor uniforms, instead being ordered to work in the construction of roads and air bases.

In essence, this was a reprise of the old Ottoman practice. During the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), for instance, the Ottoman state, facing the rising tide of ethnic and regional nationalism, began to view its non-Muslim soldiers as a potential fifth column. Hence they were given picks and shovels instead of weapons and sent off to build roads.[17] These units composed of non-Muslim recruits became known as the "labor battalions."

Thus, the actions of May 1941 were a repeat of a thirty-year-old practice. The German army, having conquered most of the Balkans, was now threatening to attack Turkey. The Turkish Council of Ministers, fearful that in the event of a German invasion the country's non-Muslim minorities (particularly the Armenians) would serve as a fifth column for the Nazi-led forces, decided to intern the entire male populations of the respective minority communities. The soldiers in question were decomissioned in July 1942, barely one year into their service.[18]

The last of these incidents was the Capital Tax Law (Varlık Vergisi Kanunu), along with its discriminatory implementation against non-Muslims. Even after the decomissioning of the country's non-Muslim males, they would receive a second blow only four months later, this time an economic one. In response to the excessive profiteering and wealth of the black marketeers and speculators who emerged as a result of Turkey's wartime economic conditions, on 11 November 1942 the Turkish legislature passed the Capital Tax Law, which was intended to tax these profits. While not discriminatory in its conception or wording, in its arbitrary and selective implementation that is what it became.

The committees formed to determine the amount of taxes that the country's citizens would be obliged to pay divided the taxpayers into four categories: M (Muslim), GM (gayri Müslim, or non-Muslim), D (Dönme),[19] and E (Ecnebi, or foreigner). The rate at which those non-Muslim-Turkish professionals, merchants, and industrialists were to be taxed was set at four times that of their Muslim counterparts. In the event that they were unable to pay the full amounts assessed, they would be legally obligated to work off their outstanding debt through physical labor.

As a result, over the course of the law's existence hundreds of non-Muslim males were sent to the small eastern Anatolian village of Aşkale to labor under severe winter conditions. In constrast, not a single tax delinquent from the M or D categories (i.e., Muslims or Dönmes) was ever sent east, while the tax burdens assessed to those in the E category (foreigners) were usually lowered retroactively through the intervention of their respective diplomatic missions.

In 1943 Cyrus L. Sulzberger, a New York Times reporter, published a four-part series on the tax and its discriminatory implementation.[20] Three months after these reports and only a few days before the Cairo meeting between the Allied leaders Roosevelt and Churchill, Prime Minister İnönü announced that the delinquent taxpayers then in Aşkale would be freed. A new law pardoning them and releasing them from their outstanding debts was passed on 1 March 1944. Yet, ultimately, the Capital Tax Law was a great economic blow to Turkey's non-Muslim bourgeoisie. As a result of the huge and often impossible tax burdens it placed on them, a great number of non-Muslim merchants and industrialists went bankrupt or had to liquidate their businesses or sell them for next to nothing to Muslim counterparts.[21]

These three events have assumed an almost mythical quality among Turkish Jewry. Each is representative of the general discrimination that they constantly faced during the single-party period.

Despite the initial mass wave of emigration in 1948-1949 that came in response to these harsh experiences, there was no further out-migration of such a scale. Nevertheless, the country's Jewish population, which stood at 45,995 in 1955,[22] kept declining over the next decade to 38,267[23] in 1965, a trend that would continue unabated to the present, with the community now numbering approximately seventeen thousand.[24] One difference between then and now is that, whereas the preferred destination of Turkish Jewish youth was once Israel, these days, like their Muslim fellow citizens, they prefer to both study and live in the United States. There are also many Turkish Jews to be found in Turkey's business, media, and academic sectors. Nevertheless, while the discrimination of the single-party period has not returned, the community continues to live with something like a siege mentality. Emigration, if at a lower rate, continues, and the issue is why.

The answer lies partly in how Turkey's population and its political, social, and intellectual elites view its Jewish citizens. The struggles between the country's various ideological streams have also had repercussions on the Jewish population.

The Situation During the Multiparty Years (1946-)

During the first two decades of the Republic, one of the principal goals of the Kemalist cadres was to secularize a society that had for centuries been run on the basis of Islamic shari'a law. This was an encouraging development for the country's non-Muslims, who saw the prospect of being treated for the first time as full members of society, possessing rights and duties on par with those of the Muslim majority.

Despite the failure of this promise to materialize during the single-party period, the transition to multiparty democracy following the Second World War gave renewed hope. The years from the establishment of the Democratic Party in 1946 to its coming to power in 1950 fostered an optimism reminiscent of the initial enthusiasm following the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. There were grounds for believing that the equality promised by the 1924 Constitution but never fulfilled would finally be implemented, ensuring that non-Muslims would be both viewed and treated as full members of Turkish society and allowed to participate in all areas of Turkish life.

It is ironic, then, that Turkey's march toward greater democratization and liberalization has brought such meager long-term benefit to the country's Jewish community. In fact, the multiparty period has witnessed a clear, if uneven, veering away from the staunch secularism of the early Republic. Political parties jockey for the support of Turkey's largely uneducated rural voters by using populist tactics and appealing to their more traditional and religious sentiments.

The Rise of the Islamist Movement

Within the new democratic paradigm even the ruling Republican People's Party (CHP), the steadfast proponent of an authoritarian, top-down secularization of Turkish society, found itself forced to soften its approach to Islamic tradition in an attempt to cater to voters' wishes. During the last CHP government (1946-1950) this trend was already apparent. Courses for new imams and Islamic preachers began to be held again, faculties of divinity were reopened, parents were given the option of religious education for their children at the primary- school level, persons going on the Hajj were granted special appropriations, and the tombs of twenty of Turkey's most famous saints were reopened to visitors by a law passed on 1 March 1950.

This would turn out to be insufficient, however, as the party was decisively defeated in the first truly democratic elections of 14 May 1950. But this was not merely an electoral tactic, as once in office the first measure the Democratic Party took was to allow the ezan, or Islamic call to prayer, to be read in Arabic again for the first time in almost three decades. Subsequently the new regime also revoked the previous ban on broadcasting religious programs on the state-run radio station, effectively allowing, among others, Qur'anic and other religious recitations.

In addition to the greater social latitude permitted to Islam, the liberalization also eventually led to the phenomenon known as political Islam. This initially took the form of the National Order Party (Millî Nizam Partisi), founded in 1970 by a professor of mechanical engineering, Necmettin Erbakan. Over the following three decades Erbakan promoted his National Viewpoint (Millî Görüş) ideology through a series of political parties,[25] the most recent of which was the Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi, SP). All of these, apart from the Felicity Party, were closed down by the Constitutional Court for acting contrary to the principle of secularism.

Upon the closure of the SP-predecessor Virtue Party (Fazilet Partisi, FP) in 2001, the movement founded by Erbakan split into two factions. One was the SP, which faithfully continued its founder's ideology. Other SP members, however, left it to found the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP). It depicted itself as a "Muslim democratic" party, something akin to Europe's various Christian Democratic parties, while in fact still largely adhereing to Erbakan's National Viewpoint ideology.

The Islamist Movement and the Turkish Jews

The steady growth of Turkey's Islamist movement that accompanied the country's transition to multiparty democracy has brought with it a growing trend of public anti-Semitism. Over the past decade this has appeared constantly in the ultranationalist and the Islamist press, gradually becoming a defining tenet of both ideologies.

Whereas during the single-party period the main catalysts for anti-Jewish sentiment were a certain class resentment and a perceived resistance to full assimilation on the part of the Jews, during the multiperiod the phenomenon would continue while undergoing certain transformations. From 1946 to 1980, resentments over income and wealth disparities continued to foster anti-Semitism. However, the birth, survival, and even prosperity of the state of Israel, despite attempts to destroy it in 1948, 1967, and 1973, added to the mix a general Muslim frustration and humiliation at their inability to do away with such an entity in their midst.

In the period from the military coup of 12 September 1980 to the present, Turkey's liberal economic policies have largely eliminated the financial and monetary gaps between Muslim and Jewish entrepreneurs and businessmen, and hence also the economic motivation for Turkish anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, while this resentment at least had some basis in the material world, it has been replaced by a more virulent strain, intractable in nature: the widely held belief that the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the establishment of the secular Turkish Republic, and the creation of Israel were all part of a vast Jewish plot to weaken Islam, the Muslims, and the mighty Turkish nation.[26] Zionists, Dönmes, and Freemasons, all seen as branches of Judaism or "Jewish World Government," are believed to play a greater or lesser role in this enterprise.

As elsewhere in the world, this brand of anti-Semitism has intensified in parallel with growing Islamic radicalization. Two of the more recent manifestations in Turkey were, first, the murder of the Jewish dentist Yasef Yahya (1964-2003) in August 2003-by his assailants' admission, for the crime of being Jewish. Second, three months later Islamic radicals carried out suicide bombings against two of Istanbul's main synagogues, Neve Shalom in the Galata district and Beth Israel in the Osmanbey neighborhood. These and other acts have proved the physical threat that this form of anti-Semitism poses to the individual members and institutions of Turkey's Jewish community. The lack of further acts in the succeeding years, however, has allowed both the authorities and the media to largely ignore the phenomenon. They claim that the attacks were isolated events carried out by extremist individuals (preferably portrayed as foreigners), and dismiss the ongoing anti-Semitic diatribes as marginal rhetoric.

The Situation in the Wake of the Second Iraq War

A major development in Turkey since the First Iraq War has been the rise in both anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment. This is usually accompanied by conspiracy theories featuring American Jews or Israelis as the operation's main planners, usually on Israel's behalf. This conspiratorial anti-Semitism achieved a new level of respectability with the publication of Soner Yalçın's books Efendi (2004)[27] and Efendi II (2006) by Doğan Book Publishers, a subsidiary of Turkey's largest media group Doğan Holding.

According to the first work, which had record sales for nonfiction in Turkey with almost 150,000 copies sold,[28] all of the important positions in Turkey have been occupied by the Dönmes since the founding of the Republic-including even the founders themselves, effectively making Turkey a "Jewish Republic." The sequel, which was less well received, went further, claiming that even the country's dervish orders and religious institutions had been completely infiltrated by the Dönmes. Although any criticism of the secular regime and its founders was liable to win favor with the country's conservative elements, this allegation proved a bit excessive. But these books, and to a lesser extent those of the Marxist economics professor Yalçın Küçük, almost single-handedly brought anti-Semitism out of the Islamist and ultranationalist circles to which it had been largely confined and made it an acceptable part of the broader parlance.

Moreover, Turkey's Jews have had to face almost wholly negative rhetoric about Israel and Zionism from Turkish society and its elites, where the terms are often used in conjunction with such descriptors as "imperialism" and "rogue state." Nor is this rhetoric limited to the rightists and Islamists; it is found with equal frequency in leftist and even traditionally sympathetic Kemalist circles.[29] Numerous claims in the Turkish press that Mossad agents were active in northern Iraq in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion[30] have greatly augmented the tendency. So has the perception that, particularly in Iraq, Turkish and Israeli interests were increasingly at odds.

Today it is virtually impossible to find someone in Turkey who will give even a neutral view of either Israel or Zionism, much less a favorable one. For public figures in particular, such a statement would be tantamount to political suicide, evoking accusations that the person had "sold his soul to the Zionists." Faced with the prospect of even more extreme reactions including violence, Turkish Jews prefer to remain silent.

The Dual-Loyalty Accusation

Historically, Turkey's non-Muslim (and certain Muslim) minorities have often been suspected of disloyalty to the Turkish state and, in the case of the Jewish population, of dual loyalty or, more precisely, greater loyalty to Israel than Turkey. In such a situation of constant suspicion, the Chief Rabbinate and most Jews have feared to utter any positive public statement about Israel. Perhaps the most cogent manifestation of this can be found in an article by Ankara University political science professor Baskın Oran. In concluding this piece, which appeared simultaneously in July 2004 in the Turkish leftist daily Birgün and the Turkish Armenian weekly Agos, and which strongly criticizes the antiminority and anti-Semitic publications in Turkey, Oran offers this admonition to Turkish Jews:

Israel's disgraceful actions have made it easier for some of our racists to attack the Jews of Turkey. These [actions] must unquestionably be prevented...and will be.

Nevertheless, our own Jews may undertake efforts to excuse Israel, which is a "pariah state" in the full sense of the word, whether because of their "blood ties" [with its inhabitants] or [their] kneejerk reaction [to any criticism of Israel]. Now, hold on just one minute! Let's call a spade a spade!

Our task is to protect our own innocent Jews from our own racists, not to defend racist Israel. There [should be] no tolerance for that.[31]

Similarly, whereas it is legal for a Turkish NGO either to operate internationally, collaborate with a foreign organization, or establish a Turkish branch of such an organization,[32] in such a climate it is unthinkable in practice for any specifically Jewish organization[33] to set up shop and be active in Turkey. Hence, Turkish Jewish religious and lay leaders avoid speaking of the intensive collaboration they have undertaken in the United States-and in response to the Turkish regime's urging-with Israel and American Jewish organizations to block the annual Armenian-genocide resolutions submitted to Congress.

The Acid Test for Turkey's Jewish Community: The Mavi Marmara Incident

The acid test for the Turkish Jewish community was the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) attempted interdiction of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on 31 May 2010. The flotilla was organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief (IHH).[34] The IDF's intervention on the largest ship in the flotilla, the ferry called the Mavi Marmara, resulted in the deaths of eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish American.[35] It was inevitable, regarding the Turkish Jewish leadership, that the Turkish media would inquire "whose side they were on," with its implied questioning of where their loyalties lay.

The Chief Rabbinate reacted succinctly a few hours after the reporting on the incident began:

We are distressed to learn of the military intervention carried out against the ship Mavi Marmara, which was heading toward Gaza.

The fact that, according to the first reports we have received, there have been dead and wounded in the intervention, has increased our sorrow all the more.

We fully share our country's reaction generated by the stopping of the aforementioned [relief] effort in this manner and our sorrow is the same as that of the general public.[36]

The incident was extremely serious, since it was the first time in history that the IDF had killed Turkish nationals. In a country where widespread anti-Israeli resentment and anti-Semitism already exist, it came as no surprise that the public perceived the incident as the murder of Muslim Turks by the Jewish army and started asking Turkish Jews whose side they were on. The incident triggered a wave of anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories in the Turkish media and among public figures. These conspiracy theories included the motif that Israel was behind the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party's (Parti Karkerani Kurdistan, PKK) latest attack on a Turkish military base in Iskenderun, which coincidentally occurred a few hours after the IDF's intervention on the Mavi Marmara.[37]

A poll in Turkey shortly after the latter incident found 45.2 percent believing the IDF had attacked the ship to "put PM Erdoğan in difficulty in Turkey and abroad and wear him out," with 60.7 percent affirming that "Turkey's reaction to Israel was insufficient."[38] Another development was the siege and blockade of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul and of the Israeli embassy in Ankara by Islamist activists, both of which went on for a number of days. The Mavi Marmara incident caused such an uproar in Turkey that the producer of the famous film Valley of the Wolves decided to produce an episode exclusively devoted to it.[39]

Although Turkey is marked by sharp ideological divisions, antagonism toward Israel and Zionism, which are perceived as the source of all evils, is one of the few matters where Islamists, nationalists, liberals, leftists, and Kemalists agree. Thus it was no surprise when petitions circulated against Israel and Zionism, which was called "another form of racism" by Turkish pundits and intellectuals[40] and by the liberal-leftist faculty of the Istanbul Bilgi University.[41] The Turkish media immediately demanded a statement from the only Jewish newspaper, Şalom, and from the community's spokespersons on how Turkish Jews felt about the incident. The community's leadership limited itself to the above-noted Chief Rabbinate's statement and decided to make no further comment. This sharply contrasted with its decision a year earlier to reach out to Turkish society in the hope that this might change the widespread negative perception of Jews.[42]

This reticence by the community's leadership of course attracted media attention. Murat Yalnız, editor in chief of Newsweek's Turkish edition who a year earlier[43] had run a cover story on the community's attempt to reach out, mildly criticized the leadership for "closing up" at a time when it was even more necessary to open up to Turkish society as a whole.[44] Another journalist, Perihan Çakıroğlu of the daily Bugün, wrote that none among her many high-level Jewish friends wanted to speak out on this subject as they did not know what to say. She claimed that the community leadership had imposed a ban on them.[45]

The void created by this unofficial ban would be filled by two Turkish Jewish public figures: the Trotskyite poet and columnist for the Taraf daily, Roni Margulies, and the well-known novelist Mario Levi. Margulies's attitude toward Israel was by then familiar to the Turkish media: he considers Israel a racist and illegal state. The media rushed to ask his opinion as it had in similar situations. In a lengthy interview to the liberal-leftist daily Radikal, Margulies stated that he approved of the Gaza Flotilla, disapprove of Israel's raid, and wished he could have been there. He also remarked that "for a Jew, Israel is the most dangerous place to live in the world and Israel is a danger to world Jewry."[46]

As for Levi, in an interview to the Italian daily La Repubblica[47] he declared that "as Jews of Istanbul, we are in solidarity with the people of Gaza." He added that "personally, I have no impression that anti-Semitism exists in Turkey" and that "Netanyahu is a chauvinist prime minister, Lieberman a fascist foreign minister, Ehud Barak a stupid defense minister." Naturally his words were immediately translated and published in the Turkish press.[48]

Both Margulies's and Levi's statements were very well received by the Turkish media. Ali Bulaç, a writer and an Islamist intellectual for the Zaman daily, which is known for its support of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamist leader living in Pennsylvania, applauded Levi's words and reiterated the false but widely believed notion that Islam is free of anti-Semitism, which is a product of Christianity.[49]

In reaction to the wave of anti-Semitism in the Turkish press, several articles in the international press asserted that Turkish Jews feared physical attacks against individuals or the community's institutions.[50] This obliged the government to state forcefully that the Islamist activists protesting against Israel should differentiate between the Israeli government and the Israeli people, and between Turkish Jews and the state of Israel.[51]

The Mavi Marmara incident showed once again that for the Turkish public and media, a good Jew is an anti-Zionist Jew critical of Zionism and Israel, while a bad Jew is a "Zionist Jew." It was, therefore, impossible for the leadership to keep reaching out to Turkish society unless they adopted the rhetoric of "good Jews." However, adopting such rhetoric was in itself problematic, since Zionism and an attachment to Israel are the two main themes taught to Turkish Jewish youth to help them preserve their Jewish identity.

Wikileaks, Israel, and Conspiracy Theories

The release of the diplomatic correspondence of the American embassies and consulates with the State Department by Julian Assange of the nonprofit media organization Wikileaks, created another wave of conspiracy theories where the "villain hero" was again the state of Israel and the "Jewish lobby dominated by neocons" in Washington.[52] Dr. Yalçın Akdoğan, a top political adviser of Prime Minister Erdoğan,[53] the Islamist press (Yeni Şafak, Milli Gazete, and Yeni Akit), Interior Minister Beşir Atalay,[54] Hüseyin Çelik, deputy chairman for media and publicity of the AKP,[55] and Mehmet Ali Şahin, president of the Turkish parliament,[56] all concurred that Israel was behind the leaked documents that concerned Turkey.

The "logic" behind this assumption was that all the released diplomatic correspondence showed that the U.S. diplomatic mission in Ankara did not trust Erdoğan and regarded him and his colleagues as potentially dangereous Islamists. Some of the reports were prepared while Eric Edelman, an American Jewish diplomat, was U.S. ambassador in Ankara (August 2003-June 2005). In addition, a report prepared by Richard H. Jones, U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv, described a meeting where Under Secretary for Political Affairs William H. Burns and Mossad chief Meir Dagan were present, and Dagan asked "how long Turkey's military-viewing itself as the defender of Turkey's secular identity-will remain quiet."[57] These facts were used as "ultimate proofs" that these leaked documents were a conspiracy engineered by Israel with the aim of discrediting Erdoğan and the AKP.[58]


The claim that a given community is disappearing cannot be proved merely through demographic evidence. Even if this community is clearly small and getting smaller all the time, if its cultural and community life remain vital-perhaps even more so than in previous years-then it is in no way "dying" as a community. When looked at in this light, Turkey's Jewish community is still far from disappearing demographically-yet close to doing so culturally and sociologically.

If one examines the manner in which Turkey's Chief Rabbinate and the community's only remaining press organ, Şalom, have responded to the series of crises that have beset the community over the past half-century, two things are readily apparent. First, the community's leaders have regularly had only limited options both socially and politically. Second, the only solution they have found is simply to continue their traditional low-profile policy and wait for the various storms to pass.

These Turkish Jewish leaders have concluded that, in the eyes of the Turkish Republic, they have no real significance apart from collaborating with the Turkish Foreign Ministry and various American Jewish organizations to block the annual resolutions submitted to Congress calling for official recognition of the events surrounding the 1915 Ottoman deportation of its Armenian population as a genocide. Recently the Anti-Defamation League, after decades of opposing these resolutions, declared that the events in question "were indeed tantamount to genocide."[59] This is an alarm signal that the battle to define what happened as massacres and not genocide, which has long been lost among the American and European intelligentsia, is on the way to being lost among the American Jewish organizations as well. Should this happen, it will be a serious blow to the perceived "added value" of the Turkish Jewish community for the Turkish establishment.

Furthermore, the present climate in Turkey of mounting anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Israeli sentiment, buffeted by the ever-present Turkish ultranationalism, Islamic radicalism, and growing antiminority and anti-Semitic rhetoric, have all led to increased violence against the community as a whole and, in some cases, as individuals. Among such instances are the attempted assassination of Quincentennial Foundation president Jak V. Kamhi on 28 January 1993; the aforementioned murder of the Istanbul dentist Yasef Yahya on 21 August 2003; the attempted assassination (by bomb) of the president of Ankara's small Jewish community, Prof. Yuda Yürüm, on 7 June 1995; and the aforementioned suicide-bomb attacks against two Istanbul synagogues on 15 November 2003. Christian and Armenian figures have also been murdered.

In such a milieu, the prospects for a small minority community to continue leading a dynamic cultural life are meager indeed. Thus Turkey's Jews, who more and more feel forced to isolate themselves from the larger society, and dare not speak publicly of any general Jewish concerns pertaining to Zionism, Israel, or world Jewry, are leading a truncated and, in many ways, conditional existence.

For this to change, Turkish society would have to veer away from the current insular nationalist and Islamist atmosphere, and the resulting "culture of conspiracy" that dominates its public space, and move in a more liberal, democratic, and multicultural direction. Turkey could then both come to grips with the darker aspects of its past and work for a different and better future. At present, the indications that such a transition might occur are mixed at best.

* * *

[1] These countries are Iran (10,000 Jews), Syria (100 Jews), Tunisia (1,000 Jews), Yemen (200 Jews), Egypt (100 Jews), Morocco (5,600 Jews), and Iraq (200 Jews). Sergio Della Pergola, "World Jewish Population 2002," American Jewish Year Book (New York: American Jewish Committee, 2002), 102,

[2] Among the census questions once asked by Turkey's Institute of Statistics (Türkiye İstatistik Kurumu) was that of religious affiliation. This question has not been asked, however, since the 1965 general census. Hence there is today no official figure for the number of Jews in Turkey, though spokespersons for the Chief Rabbinate continue to give an estimate of twenty-six thousand. Other sources give a more realistic figure of around seventeen thousand persons. There are both psychological and political reasons for such discrepancies. The fact is that the community's numbers have continued to dwindle as a result of emigration to Israel, Europe, and the United States. The Rabbinate, however, continues to hold by the figure of twenty-six thousand because the ongoing decline would seem to contradict the official line repeatedly voiced by both the Rabbinate and government representatives: that the county's non-Muslim minorities live in a climate of tolerance and tranquility.

Today nearly all of Turkey's Jewish population lives in Istanbul and, to a lesser extent, Izmir (approximately two thousand).

[3] The Quincentennial Foundation Museum of Turkish Jews opened its doors to the general public in November 2001 amid great fanfare and with then-prime minister Mesut Yılmaz in attendance. Since 2003, the European Day of Jewish Culture long held among Europe's Jewish communities has also been celebrated in Istanbul. In 2006, the week-long Karakare Film Days was held for the first time with the aim of commemorating the Holocaust through movies. Since 2005, Turkey's Chief Rabbinate has also held a Jewish cultural festival every autumn called Limmud (Hebrew for "learning"). The Ottoman Turkish Sephardic Culture Research Center began functioning at the end of 2006 with the aim of preserving the Sephardic cultural heritage and the Ladino language.

Additionally, a number of musical groups in Turkey perform traditional Ladino songs, and various cultural associations stage events with the aim of encouraging Turkish Jewish youth to continue Jewish culture and traditions. The private Jewish High School in Ulus, one of Istanbul's most modern districts, provides twelve years of instruction in the English language, and also teaches Hebrew as a foreign language. Finally, a number of extremely wealthy Turkish Jewish businessmen and industrialists make significant contributions to Turkey's economic life.

[4] Salamon Adato served from 1946 to 1954, Yusuf Salman and Isak Altabev both from 1957 to 1960, and Hanri Soriano from 1954 to 1957.

[5] The sole exception during this period was Cefi Kamhi, the son of industrialist and Quincentennial Foundation chairman Jak V. Kamhi, who served from 1995 to 1999 as a deputy for the center-right True Path Party (DYP). Kamhi's selection to the DYP slate was made at least in part on the assumption that his ethnic background and father's connections would allow him, with the active support of American Jewish organizations, the Turkish Chief Rabbinate, and the Quincentennial Foundation, to significantly contribute to Turkey's lobbying and public relations efforts among American media and political elites.

[6] The ultranationalist trend was manifested in the suicide attack on the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul on 6 September 1986 by Palestinians connected to the Abu Nidal terror organization, and the Islamist trend in the two suicide attacks on Istanbul synagogues on 15 November 2003 by radical Islamist Turks and Al-Qaeda sympathizers. Slightly earlier, in August 2003, a Jewish dentist named Yasef Yahya was murdered by radical Islamists because of his ethnoreligious affiliation.

[7] Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, "America's Image Further Erodes, Europeans Want Weaker Ties," Washington, DC, 18 March 2003, 1; idem, "Global Unease with Major World Powers," Washington, DC, 27 June 2007, 3.

[8] T. C. Başvekâlet İstatistik Umum Müdürlüğü, 28 Teşrinievvel 1927 Umumi Nüfus Tahriri (Ankara: Hüsnütabiat Matbaası, 1929), lx, lxxıv. [Turkish]

[9] Antoine Emmanuel Strobel, Inscription de la Judéo-Hispanicité dans l'Espace Turc-Préliminaires, unpublished MA thesis, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, 2004, 29. [French]

[10] For a narrative of this emigration, see Rıfat N. Bali, Cumhuriyet Yıllarında Türkiye Yahudileri Aliya: Bir Toplu Göçün Öyküsü (1946-1949) (Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2003) [Turkish]; Şule Toktaş, "Turkey's Jews and Their Immigration to Israel," Middle Eastern Studies 42:3 (2006): 505-519.

[11] Devlet İstatistik Enstitüsü, İstatistik Yıllığı 1960-1962, yayın 460, 78. [Turkish]

[12] For the influence of Alliance schools on Turkish Jews, see Aron Rodrigue, French Jews, Turkish Jews: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Politics of Jewish Schooling in Turkey 1860-1925 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990).

[13] For a detailed analysis, see Rıfat N. Bali, Cumhuriyet Yıllarında Türkiye Yahudileri, Bir Türkleştirme Serüveni (1923-1945) (Istanbul: Iletişim Yayınları, 1999), 102-196, 269-322. [Turkish]

[14] Ibid., 196-239, 408-423.

[15] Ibid., 206-227.

[16] For a detailed study of these events, see Rıfat N. Bali, 1934 Trakya Olayları (Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2008). [Turkish]

[17] Erik Jan Zürcher, "Ottoman Labour Bataillons in World War I," www.let.leidenuniv.nel/tcimo/tulp/Research/ej214.htm

[18] For a detailed study, see Rıfat N. Bali, "Yirmi Kur'a İhtiyatlar" İkinci Dünya Savaşı Yıllarında Nafıa Askerleri Mayıs 1941-Temmuz 1942 (Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2008). [Turkish]

[19] Dönmes or crypto-Jews are the descendants of the followers of Sabbatai Zevi, a rabbi from Izmir who in 1666 claimed to be the messiah. Upon the pressure of the Ottoman Sultan, he converted to Islam and his followers did so as well. However, although outwardly they behaved as Muslims, secretly they continued to carry on their Judaism and their belief that Zevi was the Messiah.

[20] New York Times, 9 September 1943.

[21] For a detailed study, see Rıfat N. Bali, The "Varlık Vergisi" Affair: A Study on Its Legacy with Selected Documents (Istanbul: Isis Press), 2005; Rıfat N. Bali, L'Impôt Sur la Fortune (Varlik Vergisi) (Istanbul: Libra Kitap, 2010) [Turkish]; Faik Ökte, The Tragedy of the Turkish Capital Tax, trans. Geoffrey Cox (London: Croom Helm, 1987).

[22] Devlet İstatistik Enstitüsü, İstatistik Yıllığı 1960-1962, 78. [Turkish]

[23] Devlet İstatistik Enstitüsü, Genel Nüfus Sayımı 24 Ekim 1965, yayın 537, 1968, 166-167, 185, 277. [Turkish]

[24] Emigration was prompted, for example, by the 6-7 September 1955 anti-Greek riots in Istanbul and Izmir, the 27 May 1960 military coup, the political and economic turmoil of the 1970s, and the military coup of 12 September 1980. For a detailed study of this emigration, see Walter F. Weiker, The Unseen Israelis: The Jews from Turkey in Israel (Lanham, MD, and Jerusalem: University Press of America and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs/Center for Jewish Community Studies, 1988), 22.

[25] These were the National Order Party (MNP) (26 January 1970-20 May 1971), the National Salvation Party (MSP) (11 October 1972-12 September 1980), the Welfare Party (RP) (19 July 1983-16 January 1998), the Virtue Party (FP) (17 December 1997-22 June 2001), and the Felicity Party (FP) (20 July 2001-).

[26] "Antisemitism in the Turkish Media (Part I)," MEMRI, Special Dispatch no. 900, 28 April 2005,; "Antisemitism in the Turkish Media (Part II): Turkish Intellectuals against Antisemitism," MEMRI, Special Dispatch no. 905, 5 May 2005,; "Antisemitism in the Turkish Media (Part III): Targeting Turkey's Jewish Citiziens," MEMRI, Special Dispatch no. 916, 6 June 2005,; Şule Toktaş, "Perceptions of Anti-Semitism among Turkish Jews," Turkish Studies 7:2 (2006): 203-223.

[27] For a review of this book and the conspiracy theories concerning Dönmes, see Rıfat N. Bali, A Scapegoat for All Seasons: The Dönmes or Crypto-Jews (Istanbul: Isis Press, 2008).

[28] This figure is all the more remarkable considering that it retailed at the rough equivalent of U.S. $20, a major commitment for someone on a Turkish wage.

[29] Two unpublished studies on this topic are: Ali Çarkoğlu and Kemal Kirişçi, "Türkiye Dış Politika Araştırması," Department of Political Science and International Relations, Bosphorous University, March 2002, research conducted by Frekans Araştırma, İstanbul [Turkish]; Yusuf Ziya Özcan and İhsan Dağı, "Türk Dış Siyaseti Araştırması," Ankara, November 2003. [Turkish]

[30] Gary Younge, "Israelis Using Kurds to Build Power Base," The Guardian, 21 June 2004; Seymour M. Hersh, "Plan B: The Kurdish Gambit," The New Yorker, 21 June 2004. According to the daily Cumhuriyet it was Abdullah Gül, the foreign minister, who provided this information to Hersh (source: Michael Rubin, "Talking Turkey," National Review, 6 August 2004; Ertuğrul Özkök, "27 Mayıs sabahı yapılan kahvaltı," Hürriyet, 23 June 2004) [Turkish]. For a critical analysis of Hersh's writings, see Rael Jean Isaac, "Investigating Seymour Hersh," in Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor, eds., The Jewish Divide over Israel: Accusers and Defenders (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2006), 234-248.

[31] Baskın Oran, "Dev Bir Adım, Ama Çok Dikkat," Birgün, 23 July 2004, Agos, 23 July 2004. [Turkish]

[32] Article 5 of the Law on Societies, dated 4 November 2004, no. 5253.

[33] For example, the ADL, B'nai B'rith, Hadasah, WIZO, the American Jewish Commitee, or the American Jewish Congress.

[34] For more information on the IHH, see their official website For an Israeli report that claims the IHH "supports radical Islamic networks," see Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 26 May 2010,

[35] For this incident, see Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 5 October 2010,; "Gaza Flotilla Raid," See also Manfred Gerstenfeld, "The Gaza Flotilla: Facts and Official Reactions," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism (Special Issue), no. 102, 15 September 2010, For the IHH's interpretation of the incident, see For a pro-IHH view of the incident, see Moustafa Bayoumi, ed., Midnight of the Mavi Marmara: The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How It Changed the Course of the Israel/Palestine Conflict (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010). For the Turkish version of the incidents, see M. Şefik Dinç, Kanlı Mavi Marmara, (Istanbul: Kalkedon Yayınları, 2010); [Turkish]; Mediha Olgun, Mavi Marmara'da Neler Oldu? (Istanbul: Turkuvaz Kitap, 2010) [Turkish]; Bülent Akyürek, Mavi Marmara Risalesi (Istanbul: C4 Kitap, 2010). [Turkish]

[36] "Mavi Marmara Gemisine Yapılan Askeri Müdahale İle İlgili Açıklama," [Turkish]

[37] See Sedat Ergin, "Did Israel Orchestrate the Terror Attack in İskenderun?," Hürriyet Daily News, 3 June 2010; Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, "PKK İsrail'in taşeronu mu?," Milliyet, 21 June 2010. [Turkish]

[38] "İsrail saldırısı," June 2010, [Turkish]

[39] "Flotilla Ship Is Setting for Anti-Israel Movie," Jerusalem Post, 3 October 2010; Bünyamin Köseli, "Valley of the Wolves: Palestine," Today's Zaman, 15 August 2010.

[40] Although this website is no more active, on 11 June 2010 it had 8,600 signatures.

[41] "İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi Çalışanları İsrail'e Artık Yeter Diyor," 8 June 2010, [Turkish]

[42]"Research on Perception of Different Identities and Jews," September 2009,

[43] Murat Yalnız, "Hahambaşı'dan Komşuluk Adımı," Newsweek Türkiye, sayı 34, 21 June 2009, 28-32. [Turkish]

[44] Murat Yalnız, "Kelebek etkisi," Newsweek Türkiye, 13 June 2010, 14. [Turkish]

[45] Perihan Çakıroğlu, "Musevi Cemaati neden suskun?," Bugün, 14 July 2010. [Turkish]

[46] Pınar Öğünç, "Ben niye o gemide değilim diye düşündüm," Radikal, 5 June 2010. [Turkish]

[47] "Noi, ebrei di Istanbul solidali con la gente di Gaza," La Repubblica, 2 June 2010. [Italian]

[48] "Yazar Mario Levi Gazzelilerin yanında," Taraf, 3 June 2010 [Turkish]; "İstanbul Musevileri Gazze halkıyla dayanışma içinde," Zaman, 3 June 2010. [Turkish]

[49] Ali Bulaç, "Anti-Semitism and Islam," Today's Zaman, 11 June 2010. The same opinion was also expressed by the conservative journalist Taha Akyol of the daily Milliyet, who concluded: "In fact ‘antisemitism' is a European product! The antisemitic literature is either European racism or Christian obscurantism. There has not been a similar problem in the history of Islam or in the history of the Turk." Taha Akyol, "Yahudi okulunda," Milliyet, 9 November 2010. [Turkish]

[50] "26,000 Turkey's Jews Fear Anti-Semitism after Israel Reaction," European Jewish Press, 2 June 2010,; Nichole Sobecki, "Turkish Jews Feeling the Heat," Global Post, 20 June 2010.

[51] Jonah Mandel, "Turkey Boosts Security for Jews," Jerusalem Post, 3 June 2010.

[52] Marc Champion, "First Come Leaks, then Conspiracy Theories," Wall Street Journal, 3 December 2010.

[53] Doç. Dr. Yalçın Akdoğan, "Küresel Yalanlar Yerel Gerçekler," Star, 6 December 2010. [Turkish]

[54] "Belgeler İsrail lehine görünüyor," Hürriyet, 3 December 2010. [Turkish]

[55] Sevil Küçükkoşum, "Israel Responsible for Wikileaks in Anti-Turkish Plot, AKP Member Says," Hürriyet Daily News, 1 December 2010.

[56] Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, "Erdoğan'a en yakın isim Yalçın Akdoğan: Wikileaks İsrail işi," Milliyet, 6 December 2010.

[57] [Turkish]

[58] Hasan Cemal, "Mossad Şefi de ‘darbe'den mi yana ?...," Milliyet, 4 December 2010. [Turkish]

[59] "ADL Statement on the Armenian Genocide," 21 August 2007,

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Rıfat N. Bali is an independent scholar, a graduate of Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Religious Sciences Division, in Paris, and a research fellow of the Alberto Benveniste Center for Sephardic Studies and Culture (Paris). He is the author of numerous books and articles on the history of Turkish Jewry. His most recent publication is L'Impôt Sur la Fortune (Varlik Vergisi) (Istanbul: Libra Kitap, 2010). He also is the author of two articles published by the JCPA: "Turkish Jewry Today," Changing Jewish Communities, 17, 15 February 2007; "Present-Day Anti-Semitism in Turkey," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, Special Issue, 84, 16 August 2009.