Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

New York lessons from the ‘ground zero mosque’

April 7, 2011

 

The story of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” has spread halfway around the world to Turkey and to Hurriyet, the Turkish daily I scan (the English edition) on my iPhone every day. Today’s edition has an article by David Dyssegaard Kallick about lessons from the mosque. It’s not so much about the mosque as it is about the endless rhythmic flow of immigrants to New York.

Germans, Irish, Italians, Chinese and Jews, they were all considered “other” at first, despised and feared, but eventually each group became integrated into the New York scene, “not by shedding their culture, but by making a place for it in America.”

Kallick says he’s seen this movie before and it always has a happy ending. He explains why he’s certain that Muslims will find their rightful place in New York—shaping the city and being shaped by it. It’ll be another building block in America’s exceptionalism.

 

Turks trust strangers, and the trust is repaid

March 20, 2011

I’ve written here about the remarkable honesty of—seemingly everybody—in Turkey. I got another example two days ago when our taksi stopped at our chosen restaurant in Gaziantep. The meter showed TL 7—about $4.00. Our friend Arzu Tutuk handed the driver a TL20 note. “Sorry, no change,” he said (in Turkish). “Here’s my card, just call me when you’ve finished dinner and I’ll take you back to your hotel. We can settle then.”

And so we did. After a sumptuous dinner at Imam Cağdas Arzu called the driver, he picked us up within two minutes, and she settled the bill for the round trip.

What’s remarkable about this story? The cab driver trusted a total stranger to go out of her way to pay him, when she could have stiffed him with impunity. It never occurred to the driver or to Arzu that the trust could be broken.

Hooray—again—for Turkish honesty.

A Turkish-style solution for Egypt? The military shepherds transition to democracy?

February 11, 2011

What next for Egypt? Last night was a huge letdown, today’s a high. Up to now the crowds have been united–they all wanted Mubarak to go. Now comes the divisions. Turkey offers a promising model, in which a popular military takes over and shepherds the country to a civilian democracy. This ARTICLE from the Turkish paper, Hurriyet, lays out the promise and the pitfalls.


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…)

Open Season on Muslims? Here in America? Read on.

August 23, 2010

Racial and religious prejudice and defamation will always be with us, although they are growing less acceptable socially. Call someone a nigger or dago or spic or kike and you’re out of the game. Write about how Jews control the banks and the media, or how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has destroyed our schools and nice people will come down hard on you. But these same nice people have no such compunctions about spreading hateful misinformation about Muslims.

I got such an email just this morning, from a very nice person. It’s subject line was “Life is a Journey, Not a guided tour,” and it forwarded something called “Jihad watch, Islam Explained in Layman’s terms.”

I’m uncomfortable repeating the vile race-hatred but people need to see what’s circulating virally on the internet and through our society. So here are some of the “explanations,” quotes truncated but—I promise—all in context:

  • “Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life. Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components…
  • “Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges…
  • “As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving minority…
  • “At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and (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…)

What’s the true story of the blockade-running Mavi Marmara and the Israel Defense Force: What happened off Gaza? Who to believe?

June 13, 2010

There are two dramatically different stories of the botched May 31 incident that cost at least ten lives and poisoned relations between Israel and Turkey, and perhaps damaged the relations of both with the United States.

In one version, Israeli forces attacked a peaceful group that was trying to deliver humanitarian relief to the besieged people of Gaza; in the other, violent extremists, in league with Hamas, surrounded themselves with naïve civilians while attacking Israeli forces exercising a legal search of a ship attempting to run a legal blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza.

We won’t know the true story for a long time. The best that could happen would be an objective and unbiased inquiry, but that won’t happen. As George Orwell said, “History is written by the winners.” The Israelis won, and they released video showing Israeli commandos sliding down ropes from helicopters and being attacked with what appear to be metal pipes.

The people on the Mavi Marmara took videos, too. All have been confiscated by the Israeli forces, all except one, snuck past the Israelis by San Francisco-based activist Lara Lee, available here. It records sixty minutes, starting about 30 minutes before the commandos boarded the ship. The dialog is mostly in Turkish, perhaps five percent in English. A brief and admittedly amateur analysis of the video is posted on the website of the United States Naval Institute, here.

Like any government that covers up evidence, Israel is damaging its credibility. Israel’s friends and impartial observers will believe Israel has much to hide, else why would they be hiding so much.

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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…)

If you’ve got to lose something, lose it in Turkey, not in Silicon Valley

May 15, 2010

I’ve written here about how I recently left a wallet with all my credit cards and $300 in cash in an Istanbul Starbucks, and how the finder tracked me down and returned it intact. I had a similar experience in Turkey several years before. Good thing I didn’t do that in Silicon Valley, where Apple engineer Gray Powell left a priceless prototype of Apple’s next edition of the iPhone in a Redwood City bar. Brian Hogan, a 21-year-old college student, found the phone and shopped it around, finally selling it to technology blog Gizmodo for $5,000.


Hogan’s roommate, Katherine Martinson, said she and other friends tried to talk Hogan out of selling the phone, arguing it would ruin the career of the Apple engineer who lost it. Hogan responded,


“Sucks for him. He lost his phone. Shouldn’t have lost his phone.”


He sure shouldn’t have lost it where Brian Hogan could find it, steal it, and sell it. He should have lost it in Istanbul where it would have been quickly returned to him.

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