Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Good out of tragedy? Turkey and Israel after the earthquake

October 25, 2011

“Earthquake diplomacy” is a term coined after two huge earthquakes struck first Turkey, then Greece in 1999. Putting aside years of mutual distrust, the Greek government immediately offered aid to Turkey when a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck the major Turkish city of Izmit, with severe damage as far as Istanbul. Two weeks later a 5.9 earthquake struck in Athens, and the Turks quickly reciprocated. Ordinary Turks and Greeks rushed to donate blood and money to their stricken neighbors. Official relations between the two countries warmed considerably.

Now earthquake diplomacy may heal relations between former allies Turkey and Israel, seriously breached this May when Israeli forces attacked a Turkish ship attempting to run an Israeli blockade of Gaza, killing nine Turks in a botched attempt to take over the ship.

When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey last week, killing hundreds and destroying thousands of homes, Israeli President Peres was the first to offer aid to his counterpart, Turkish President Gul. (more…)

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Unless you’re Israel—then you can fool me over and over

September 29, 2011

The Israeli government is inexorably annexing conquered Palestine territory, in contravention of international law and against continual requests by the United States. That’s earning them the anguish of much of the Israeli population and the condemnation of most of the world.

Israel shows exquisite timing in its defiance of the rules of civilization. As the United States shows support for Israel, Israel takes odious actions that outrage the entire Muslim world and wreck America’s credibility with that world.

In March 2010 Vice President Biden traveled to Israel to demonstrate “a total U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.” Israel picked that occasion to announce a plan to build 16oo new homes in East Jerusalem. Biden denounced the Israeli plan, but to no effect,

Last week at the United Nations President Obama cravenly surrendered to the Israeli government’s demand that we oppose the Palestinian request for admission to the UN, and called instead for resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Two days later Israel torpedoed negotiations by announcing yet another 1100 homes would be built on occupied land in East Jerusalem. Secretary of State Clinton condemned the announcement, as if that would have any effect on Israel’s reckless plans.

United States support for Israel has become a blank check for relentless expansionism that threatens to plunge the Middle East into another war, one that Israel will do everything to draw the United States into.

Israel whistles, the United States comes running. No matter what’s right

September 23, 2011

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, told a cheering UN General Assembly today, “I do not believe that anyone with a shred of conscience can reject our application for full admission to the United Nations.”

Who can disagree? The government of Israel, for one. And if the GOI objects, the American right will come right along. And so, sadly, will President Obama. Conscience takes a back seat when votes are about to be counted.

Obama’s speech to the UN was a craven surrender to the Israeli government’s demand that we oppose the Palestinian request. This is an ethical disaster, as well as a realpolitik one. It will wipe out the good will Obama earned with his earlier calls for honorable treatment of the Palestinians and his once-brave insistence on a halt to Israeli expansion into the West Bank. Forgotten, too, will be his siding with the Arab Spring, outweighed as it is among most Muslims and young people everywhere (including in Israel) by his opposition to Palestinian rights.

Obama did have support for his position. To Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama’s speech was a “badge of honor.” This is the same Netanyahu that President Clinton blamed, as recently as yesterday, for preventing a peace deal.

Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman liked the speech even more, telling a news conference, “I congratulate President Obama, and I am ready to sign on this speech with both hands.” Lieberman is widely despised in Israel as a racist for his proposal to rid Israel of its Arab citizens by “redrawing its map to ‘exchange’ part of the Arab population and create a more ‘homogenous Jewish state,’ as a solution to Israel’s Arab minority ‘problem.’ ”

Having sabotaged Israel’s own relations with Turkey over Israeli refusal to apologize for killing nine Turkish activists running the Gaza blockade, Israel is now sabotaging American relations with the entire Muslim world, which will have a hard time accepting that America preaches freedom for all, but not for occupied Palestine.

Is Israel becoming a racist state?

June 4, 2011

Americans—especially older Americans—like Israel because it’s like America: democracy, constitutional principles, independent, industrious, and tough people. But the trend on American campuses is to not like Israel so much because of the way they treat the Palestinians (and Syrians) in the territories they conquered in 1967. As Thomas Friedman told Fareed Zakaria last Sunday,

“Netanyahu…can get standing ovations in the U.S. Congress anytime [he wants], seven days a week, 24/7. How many standing ovations do you think he could get at the student government at the University of Missouri? At Stanford? At Harvard? At the University of Virginia? At the University of Texas? If you went to those student governments, they’re the future. They’re the future of voters. They’re the future people who will maintain the strategic relationship with Israel. And there, I can tell you, as anyone who goes to college campuses knows, that people don’t get Israel, what Israel is doing right now. They — some are alienated.”

The students are seeing the right-wing religious parties gaining more of a stranglehold over Israeli government policies, and seeing treatment of the conquered peoples getting worse. Fans of Israel have long defended her by saying (more…)

The Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara wasn’t Gaza-bound, and the Israelis knew it. Or did they? Needed: Israeli cooperation with an independent investigation

October 25, 2010

 


The Turkish newspaper
Hurriyet reports that the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship carrying supplies for blockaded Gaza, had altered their course to avert a diplomatic crisis.

“During our departure, we said we were going to Gaza, but the coordinates that we gave were to Egyptian territorial waters. Everyone was aware of our course to [the Egyptian port] El-Arish,” Bülent Yıldırım, the head of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, said today. “The situation required us to go there.” He added that the U.S. ambassador in Ankara was notified, and told Israeli authorities.

Hurriyet is a credible source, not a mouthpiece for the Turkish government—far from it: it has been so critical of the government and so set on exposing corruption that the Erdogan government, in its most anti-democratic action, is trying to put Hurriyet and its sister publications out of business.

In the same edition the paper reports that the Israeli military chief of staff testified before the Israeli commission investigating the incident that Israeli commandoes fired live ammunition only after the Turks fired first, an account in stark opposition to a recent U.N.-commissioned report into the raid, which said there was “no evidence to suggest that any of the passengers used firearms or that any firearms were taken on board the ship.” (more…)

Israeli leaders condemn Jewish mosque-burners as “criminals” and “terrorists”

October 6, 2010

EthicsBob recently slammed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his failure to denounce Israel’s former chief rabbi for calling for death to all Palestinians: his office merely issued a statement that the rabbi’s views “don’t represent” Netanyahu’s. But when Jewish settlers set fire to a West Bank mosque this week the Israeli Prime Minister quickly ordered Israeli security forces to “act firmly to quickly uncover the criminals and bring them to justice.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak went further, calling the perpetrators “terrorists in every sense of the word.”

It’s beyond my memory that any senior Israeli official publicly called violent religious settlers terrorists. Hooray for Barak; hooray even for Netanyahu.

Sadly there are people on both sides of the Jewish/Arab divide who use the incident to inflame. The UK-based Middle East Monitor headlined its coverage, “Israeli settlers burn yet another mosque in occupied Palestine.” It implied that the crime had the assent of the Israeli establishment, saying that “In the current climate of global Islamophobia these uncivilised and intolerant acts will evoke little or no condemnation or censure.”

Not true. Netanyahu and Barak are siding against the Israeli terrorists. That’s a good thing. There’s no excuse for failing to credit it.

Jews, Muslims, history, and the mosque “at” ground Zero

August 9, 2010

I came home from my tenth grade history class and announced, “Today we learned about the fall of Christian Constantinople to the Muslim Ottomans, and what a tragedy it was.” My father corrected me; “Not for the Jews, it wasn’t.” He went on to explain that the Ottoman Sultan, Beyazit I, in 1492 invited all the Jews of Spain, just expelled by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, to come live in peace in the Ottoman Empire, then the world’s most powerful. Thousands did, and lived peacefully and prosperously there for centuries, to this day.

Jews and Muslims have gotten on well for most of the time since the days of Mohammed, who honored Jews as “people of the book.” It’s easy today, looking at the enmity between Israel and some of her neighbors, to forget that Jewish culture thrived as never before or since in the “golden age of Jewish culture” in Muslim-ruled Spain, or that the Muslim Beyazit rescued the Jews of Spain and Portugal. Even the Jewish-Muslim conflict in the Middle East is over land, not religion.

So it’s nice to see so many Jews standing up for the rights of American Muslims to build Cordoba House, a community center with prayer area, 2-1/2 blocks from New York’s Ground Zero. NBC News reported, “Jewish Leaders Gather to Support Ground Zero Mosque.”

And Washington’s Jewish Week criticized the position of the Anti-Defamation League (more…)

Is Turkey becoming anti-American, anti-Israeli, pro-Iran, and radical Islamist? What in the world is going on with Turkey?

June 18, 2010

Turkey, long America’s most reliable, and Israel’s only, ally in the Muslim world, is now being called anti-American, anti-Israel, and most alarming, Islamist, especially after the deadly May 31 incident when Turkish activists sailed into an Israeli blockade of Gaza and came off second best.

Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recap Erdogan (pronounced Re-jep ERD-uh-WAN) is the favorite whipping boy of just about anybody who is for Israel or against Iran, radical Islamists, or Muslims in general. It’s ironic that Erdogan, who has led Turkey toward most of the western democratic-style reforms demanded by the European Union as a condition for Turkey’s acceptance, is at now being accused by many, including many Turks, of wanting to return Turkey to the Muslim caliphate of pre-Ataturk days.

One of the West’s most insightful observers of Turkish affairs is South African journalist and author Hugh Pope, who for years headed the Istanbul office of the Wall Street Journal. Pope has an op-ed in today’s Haaretz, Israel’s most respected newspaper headlined Erdogan is not the bogeyman. In it he debunks the idea of an “Islamist foreign policy for Turkey, (more…)

Israel should apologize to Turkey for the loss of life aboard the Mavi Marmara

June 8, 2010

“We’re sorry.”

Magical words.

When a U.S. C-130 reconnaissance aircraft collided several years ago with a Chinese MIG that had been closely tailing it, the MIG crashed into the sea and the C-130 made an emergency landing in China. The Chinese government delayed releasing the crew, and it looked like a serious threat to U.S.-China relations when the Chinese ambassador paid a call on Secretary of State Colin Powell.

“We demand an apology,” said the ambassador. “We’re sorry,” replied Powell. “You’re sorry?” “Yes, we’re sorry,” Powell repeated

The ambassador was taken aback. “I must talk to Beijing,” he explained and left the State Department. Two hours later he was back with Powell. “Can you regret the loss of life?” he asked. This was a no-brainer for the intrepid Secretary of State.

“Yes, we’re sorry and we regret the loss of life.”

“I can assure you, the American airmen and the wreckage of the plane will be returned immediately,” the Chinese ambassador responded.

And so ended a potentially dangerous confrontation between the United States and China. Two magical words.

If only somebody as sensible as Powell could influence the Israeli government. Israel is about to suffer a costly—and possibly irreversible—breach in relations with Turkey, the only Muslim country it counts as an ally. (more…)

Israel’s policy on Palestinians and their supporters: An eye for a tooth

June 3, 2010

The Bible says “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand.” (Exodus, 21:23) The Israeli government has long since amended this commandment. Israel’s policy appears to be eye for tooth.

Israel’s latest military action was to interdict an attempt to run an Israeli blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. The blockade-running flotilla sailed from Turkey with humanitarian supplies. It was stopped by Israel Defense Forces, who subdued the crews, killing ten of them, seized the boats and supplies, and brought the 700 activists, mostly Turkish, to Israel. The Israeli government said it would deport almost all of them within the next two days, but about 50 would be held for investigation into their part in the violence at sea.

It was another great victory for the once vaunted Israel Defense Forces over unarmed civilians. Here’s the recent scorecard of deaths:

· 2010 Gaza blockade incident: Israelis 0, Turks (and a few others) 10

· 2008-9 Gaza invasion: Israelis 13, Palestinians 1300

· 2006 Lebanon invasion: Israelis 162, Lebanese 1035

Israel asserts the right of self defense, and clearly some of the people they killed were fighting against Israel, including against the civilian population. But most opinion inside Israel is that the vast majority of those killed by the IDF have been unarmed non-combatants.

Israel’s relentless war on Palestinians and those who support them (more…)


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