Press Freedom in Turkey – and democracy on social media

Feelings are running high in Turkey at present over the violent attacks by Israeli security forces on Palestinian protesters in Gaza. The government has openly condemned the Israeli government’s actions. This evening a public meeting will be held in Istanbul, and no doubt strong words will be spoken.

Yenikapı protest

Condemn the cruelty – Support Jerusalem!

Interestingly, the people of Turkey, and before them, the Ottoman Empire have a long history of providing friendship, support and even sanctuary to Jewish people when they were suffering persecution in Europe.

I want to share with you two news items that appeared in our local newspaper this morning:

The first refers to an incident that took place yesterday in Taksim Square – a location teeming with emotive connotations for Turks of all political persuasions.

Israeli journalists

Reaction to two Israeli journalists

Apparently two Israeli journalists representing a TV channel Hadashot were attempting to interview passersby about their views on the recent events in Gaza. It seems things were peaceful enough until a woman, allegedly a citizen of Azerbaijan, became angry. “You are killing people in Palestine,” she shouted, “and you are coming here to do reports!”

A crowd began to gather and two other people joined the woman in starting to push the two journalists around. Luckily for the Israelis, police intervened, listened to their complaints and took the woman into custody.

Netanyahu's son

An ugly share

The second item was about Yair Netanyahu, son of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the article, the PM’s son posted a picture of the Turkish flag on Instagram accompanied by some obscene words.

Possibly the young Netanyahu was surprised at the negative reaction he received to his post, and shortly after closed his Instagram account.

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“We Are All Palestinians Now”

I’m not going to write about the massacres in Palestine, but I’m reblogging this from Shuck and Jive:

Anti-SemiteNakba 1948

Holocaust Denier

Conspiracy Theorist

People are beginning to awaken to the fact that the name-calling is connected to the violent oppression. The name-calling and the smearing is the weapon the oppressors use to silence the resistance. When someone is labeled as an anti-Semite, Holocaust Denier, Conspiracy Theorist and what have you, then we don’t need to listen to what they have to say.  You don’t need an argument.  Call someone an icky name, then avoid them and tell others to avoid them.

The surprising thing is that the name-calling often comes from the mouths of those in opposition to the oppressors. When pro-Palestinian activists call other pro-Palestinian activists these names, then we know the true power of the oppressor. The oppressor controls the language of the opposition.

When I met with divestment activists in the Presbyterian Church (USA) four years ago, I was surprised when one of them told me that we can now use the word “occupation.” When the divestment movement in the PCUSA had begun over a decade previous, calling what Israel was doing to Palestine “an occupation” was not allowed. I asked, “Who makes those rules?” The answer had to do with strategy and who might be offended and who would support and not support their particular goals and so on and so forth.

The rules are self-made and guided by the oppressors.

The oppressors allow the little victories as long as the truth of what keeps the oppressors in power is not allowed to be revealed. When someone like for instance, Gilad Atzmon, starts talking about the ideology behind the oppressors, then an artificial line that has been drawn by the oppressors is crossed. All forces are then unleashed to smear not only Mr. Atzmon but anyone who might even give him space to defend himself against such attacks.

Meanwhile, mass murder continues while churches in America either cheer it on, satisfy themselves with smaller goals that won’t offend the sensitivities of the oppressors, or, as in most cases, remain deadly silent.

palestineI do think people are beginning to awaken to the fact that the name-calling is connected to the violent oppression and that the name-calling says much more about the name-caller than the name-called. The next step is heart or courage. If we are going to dismantle the oppressor by dismantling their control of the discourse, then we must accept that we, too, will be smeared when we give space to those who cross the oppressors’ line.  This may affect our reputations, our jobs, our livelihoods.

But that is nothing compared to what is happening to our sisters and brothers in Gaza on this 70th anniversary of the ongoing Nakba. As Mr. Atzmon writes, “We are all Palestinians now.”

Soner Cagaptay – Zionist Israeli Puppet?

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Turkey

Friends again – that’s diplomacy

The headline on Time‘s news feed read: Political Scientist: How President Erdogan Is Turning Turkey into Putin’s Russia”.

Well, that’s a pretty strange claim for a number of reasons, but I live in Turkey, and if anyone is magically turning it into Russia, I want to know about it – so I took a look.

The “political scientist” writer is a Turkish guy, long-term resident in the United States, called Soner Cagaptay. That’s an unfortunate name for a start. He must experience a lot of problems with monolingual, monocultural Americans who struggle to pronounce English words – and have no interest at all in familiarising themselves with the marvellously phonetic Turkish alphabet. For your information, “Soner” doesn’t rhyme with “boner”, and his surname should be pronounced “Charp-tie”.

zionist puppetBut that’s his problem – or one of his problems. Another big problem for Mr Cagaptay must be reconciling his academic integrity with the political agenda of his paymasters. After all, his CV claims a PhD from Yale, and teaching posts at Princeton and other top universities in the USA. I assume you don’t scale those heights by churning out sensationalist propaganda based on unsupported assertions. “Political scientist” may be one of his jobs – but I suspect a good chunk of his income derives from the fat wallets of bankers and industrial tycoons with major interests in controlling the Middle East for their own profit.

So what does this guy have to say about Turkey?

He starts by claiming the country is profoundly polarised, governed by a right-wing regime funded by resources far outweighing those devoted to opposing him.

WRONG.These days, despite the tireless efforts of anti-Erdoğan forces, Turkey is less polarised than it ever was. One of the larger opposition parties has thrown its weight behind Mr Erdoğan’s campaign for re-election. If “left” and “right” have any political meaning, surely “left” means taking a serious interest in the plight of society’s poorer members – in which case Turkey’s AK Party government is more “left” than any in earlier decades. Furthermore, it is clear that significant resources are being channelled by forces outside Turkey to getting rid of the country’s popular president.

Cagaptay goes on to speak of Mr Erdoğan’s “surging authoritarianism”, which he attributes to the president’s desire for “the country’s educated and creative elites to pack their bags and leave.” “Erdogan,“he says, “knows that an opposition led by powerful elites poses a permanent threat to him.”

WRONG AGAIN. What Mr Erdoğan surely knows is that for twenty years well-educated types and liberal urban professionals” have been bleating and complaining about everything he has done for the country, without showing any ability to organise themselves into an opposition capable of achieving victory at the ballot box. Most of them would love to return to the good old days when military coups were staged regularly to overthrow democratically elected governments and restore power to those “elites”.

rich-cat-with-food-scotch3

What a terrible country! I need to get out now!

Many distinguished professors are said to be leaving the country, and their students are flocking away to Oxford University in “alarming”numbers. Among these are “many old-money Turks who espouse liberal values”. According to Cagaptay, in one of the few statistics he actually provides (though no source is given), in 2016 “Turkey was among the top five countries globally to experience the highest outflow of millionaires.”

Some truth here, perhaps. Certainly the biggest complainers I meet in Turkey are people living in nice houses, driving late-model cars, with well-paying jobs or private incomes – in short, people who you would think would be grateful for a government that has, Cagaptay admits, “made strides towards that goal [of making Turkey great again],by delivering economic growth. When he came to power in 2003, Turkey was country of mostly poor people. Now it is a country of mostly middle-income citizens.”In 2001, before the AK Party came to power, Turkey was, in fact, a country of millionaires, because it cost a million Turkish Lira to buy a newspaper or get on a city bus.

turkey economyBut those, I’m sure, are the real reasons Cagaptay and his money-masters oppose Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government so rabidly. They don’t want to see genuinely populist governments succeeding in their aim of creating a more egalitarian society. Why did the United States government oppose Fidel Castro’s Cuba for 50 years with such determined ferocity? Why have they repeatedly used military and economic power to overthrow elected socialist governments in Central and South America? Why did they use the CIA to overthrow Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister in 1952? Why did they support the dictatorship of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak for 30 years? Then support the ousting of Mohammed Morsi, elected democratically after Egypt’s Arab Spring?

The real goal of Cagaptay’s financial backers becomes clear in his closing paragraphs: “They want to transform Turkey from an economy that exports cars [and other real things] into one that is a hub for software, IT, finance, and services — in other words an information-based economy and a star power.” There you have it. An economy like the USA, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and other “First World” states where money rules, the country is governed by a wealthy elite with no patriotic loyalty, who have exported offshore their manufacturing sector, created systemic unemployment and keep most of their fellow citizens struggling to survive in a condition little removed from slavery.

How do I know this? Soner Cagaptay’s ubiquitous CV proudly boasts that he is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ”So I took a look at their website. Now I want you to know that I am as liberalminded as the next guy. I have very few prejudices and I have never been anti-Semitic. I know, and have known some very nice members of the international Jewish community. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help noticing a striking feature of the WINEP’s Directors. Check the surnames: Kassen, Berkowwitz, Weinberg, Leventhal, Adler, Bernstein, Freidman . . . to cite just a few.

Well, that’s no big deal, you say – and maybe not. But I checked out some of the owners of those names:

President Shelly Kassen– chaired the religious school committee at The Conservative Synagogue, very active in the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, recipient of the United Jewish Appeal/Federation Community Service Award in 2007.

Her husband of 30 years, Michael Kassen, former president of the American Israel Public affairs Committee, America’s pro-Israel lobby; has always been involved in the Jewish community, since his childhood in Cleveland, where his parents were active in the local Jewish federation. The couple has always been involved in a Jewish federation, first in Boston and currently in New York and Westport. Check out this speech if you want to know his politics.

Chairman Martin Gross– president of Sandalwood Securities, Inc. of Roseland, New Jersey, which he founded in 1990. Gross began in fund management in 1983. Previously, Gross “practiced tax and corporate law in New York City, and worked in the corporate finance department of L.F. Rothschild, Unterberg, Towbin[1]. A member of the New Jersey and New York Bars, he has written numerous articles for The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and other financial publications and often lectures at industry (what industry?)conferences.

Chairman Emeritus Howard P. Berkowitz – Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at HPB Management LLC. Mr. Berkowitz was the Managing General Partner at Hpb Associates Lp since 1980 which he also founded. He has managed investment funds since 1967, when he was a Founding Partner at Steinhardt, Fine, Berkowitz & Company. He served as Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. BlackRock, Inc. is an American global investment management corporation based in New York City. Founded in 1988, initially as a risk management and fixed income institutional asset manager.

Founding President and Chairman Emeritus Barbi Weinberg – Past vice-president of AIPAC, major contributor to the World Alliance for Israel Political Action Committee and the Women’s Pro-Israel National Political Action Committee.

Well, maybe Mr Cagaptay believe all the stuff he spouts about Turkey – but I have my doubts. Four short years ago, he was saying this about Turkey’s attitude towards a possible Kurdistan on its southern border: “The takeover of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has cemented the rapprochement between Turkey and the region’s Kurds, casting them as best friends in the increasingly unstable Middle East. The relationship has improved so much that if the Kurds in Iraq were to declare independence, Turkey would be the first country to recognize Kurdistan.” I wonder what he is saying now, after Turkey criticised the US government for supplying weapons to its Kurdish “allies” in Syria, and has been carrying out a military operation to drive them out of the area.

democracyOur learned “political scientist” also boasts that he has provided private briefings about Turkey to such champions of democracy and world peace as US Vice President Joe Biden, Presidential Envoy in Syria, Brett McGurk, former US Ambassador to Ankara, John Bass (currently, I believe, in exile in Afghanistan), former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton . . .

President Erdoğan is “turning Turkey into Putin’s Russia”? What does that even mean? One thing Mr Erdoğan does have in common with the Russian President is a total belief in the sovereign right of his own people to govern themselves free from outside interference. I only wish the leaders of my own country, New Zealand, had as much strength of character.

To end this piece, I want to share with you a delightful little clip I came across on Youtube: Vladimir Putin performing in public his own interpretation of Fats Domino’s great song, Blueberry Hill.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV4IjHz2yIo

That guy went way up in my estimation!

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[1] known for its merchant banking investments, particularly in high-technology companies. In the early 1980s, the firm emerged as the leading underwriter of initial public offerings, surpassing the elite investment banks (at the time, including Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley).

Maybe I can start feeling proud of my country again

NZ likely to vote against Trump and the US in UN vote on Jerusalem tomorrow

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signalled that New Zealand will criticise US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a United Nations vote tomorrow. But she stopped short of calling him a bully, as Trump threatened to cut US aid money to countries that voted against him.

jerusalem

In fact there was no state of Israel until 1948 – and Jerusalem hadn’t been under Jewish control for 1,939 years. Some people’s history is certainly BUNK!

Countries will vote tomorrow on the UN General Assembly resolution declaring that Jerusalem’s status can be changed only by direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The US president strongly supported US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who said that the United States “will be taking names” of countries that support the resolution.

“For all these nations, they take our money and then vote against us. They take hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Trump told reporters in Washington today. “We’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us … We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Ardern was critical when Trump first recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month, saying it “will make things difficult” for peace.

Asked about possible aid sanctions, she said: “I would push back strongly and say New Zealand has and will always have an independent foreign policy. We base our decisions on principle, not on being bullied.”

why-jerusalem-is-the-jewish-capital-of-israel-2-638

No reputable historian accepts the Old Testament as a historical document. Archeologists have found no trace of Solomon’s temple – and not for want of trying. At least the writer says “Jewish capital” and not “Israel’s”.

The Palestinians sought the General Assembly vote after the United States on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other UN Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not move the US Embassy there.

Unlike the Security Council, assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion.

The Israel Institute of NZ urged the Government to vote against the UN resolution and said it should also recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

In fact, if you know your history, you will know that Muslims allowed Jews and Christians to visit, live and build places of worship in “The Holy Land” during the years it was in their domain. The Christian concept of “Holy land” actually didn’t extend to recognising the rights of Jews or Muslims. Jewish students of history might think they have more to fear from Christians than from Muslims.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Crusades:

“The Crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The most commonly known Crusades are the campaigns in the Eastern Mediterranean aimed at recovering the Holy Land from Muslim rule.

constntnople1204_tintoretto

European Crusaders besieging and pillaging Christian Constantinople in 1204 CE

Pilgrimages by Catholics to sacred sites were permitted, Christian residents in Muslim territories were given Dhimmi status, legal rights, and legal protection. These Christians [and Jews] were allowed to maintain churches [and synagogues], and marriages between faiths were not uncommon.

One of Urban’s aims was to guarantee pilgrims access to the Eastern Mediterranean holy sites that were under Muslim control but scholars disagree as to whether this was the primary motive for Urban or those who heeded his call. Urban’s strategy may have been to unite the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom, which had been divided since the East–West Schism of 1054 and to establish himself as head of the unified Church.

The enthusiastic response to Urban’s preaching from all classes in Western Europe established a precedent for other Crusades. Volunteers became Crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving plenary indulgences from the Church. Some were hoping for a mass ascension into heaven at Jerusalem or God’s forgiveness for all their sins. Others participated to satisfy feudal obligations, obtain glory and honour or to seek economic and political gain.

Massacre-of-Jews-at-Metz

German Crusaders massacring Jews, 1096 CE

Modern historians hold widely varying opinions of the Crusaders. To some, their conduct was incongruous with the stated aims and implied moral authority of the papacy, as evidenced by the fact that on occasion the Pope excommunicated Crusaders. Crusaders often pillaged as they travelled, and their leaders generally retained control of captured territory instead of returning it to the Byzantines. During the People’s Crusade, in 1096, thousands of Jews were murdered in what is now called the Rhineland massacres.

The Crusades also reinforced the connection between Western Christendom, feudalism, and militarism.”

And those looney American fundamentalist “Christians” are still hoping Jesus is going to come back and rapture them from Jerusalem!  Come on, people! It’s been two thousand years! He ain’t coming, I’m sorry to have to tell you.

AND, others, be warned. Accept American money, and become their “b***h”!

Who are the Terrorists? The search for justice in Jerusalem

“. . . from a purely mathematical point-of-view, if we consider the 2,464 years up to 1948 anti-israel[when the modern state of Israel was founded] for which there is conclusive evidence, Jewish occupation counts for 651 years (ending 1,813 years previously), Christians maybe 400 years, leaving the remaining, and most recent 1,313 years to the Muslims. And if you wanted to award a prize for the religion that accorded most tolerance to others, Muslims would win it without a contest.”

If you have time, you can check out the piece I wrote back in 2014.

Wheels within Wheels – Israel’s relationship with the Saudi Arabs

The following items are sourced from Al Jazeera:

After Saudi Arabia and other GCC nations cut ties with Qatar, a series of surreal decisions were taken against it

These are two of them:

TerroristsTo stem the flow of negative reactions Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain took steps to curb their citizens from expressing opinions that opposed their policies.

The UAE Attorney General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi announced that any objections to the UAE’s strict measures against the government of Qatar or expression of sympathy with Qatar would be a crime punishable by a prison sentence of 3-15 years and a fine of no less than $136,000 (500,000AED), whether on a social media platform or via any written or spoken medium.

Hotel residents in Saudi Arabia can no longer watch Al Jazeera channels, after the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage warned against airing Al Jazeera inside any hotel or tourist establishment.

The commission stressed that all channels belonging to the Al Jazeera Media Network are to be removed from the list of satellite stations in “all hotel rooms and touristic facilities and furnished residential units … including the TV lists kept within”, in order to avoid punishments that included fines up to $27,000 (100,000 Saudi riyals) and a cancellation of the hotel’s licence.

The Qatar-Gulf crisis has given Israel an opportunity to normalise its presence in the region, analysts say

The current Qatar-Gulf crisis has offered Israel a golden opportunity to normalise its presence in the region, undermine the Palestinian cause and deliver a diplomatic blow to the Islamic Resistance movement, Hamas, analysts say.

Israel arabUnder the pretext of fighting “terrorism”, the anti-Hamas, anti-political Islam coalition seems to be emerging with the Saudi-led bloc and Israel at its heart, they added.

Researcher and expert on Israeli affairs, Antoine Shalhat, believes that Israel’s rapid adoption of the Saudi position confirms that the two countries share Israel’s vision on regional developments and the Palestinian cause.

Shalhat told Al Jazeera that Israel is hoping to make political gains from the Gulf crisis and the blockade on Qatar by weakening Hamas and undermining its influence in the Gaza Strip, and demonising it in the Arab world under the pretext of “terrorism”.

He added that the Saudi attack on Hamas and its portrayal of the movement as a “terrorist organisation” serves the Israeli agenda and is consistent with Israel’s goal to eliminate the Palestinian cause.

US legislation threatening Qatar for Hamas support is tied to donations from UAE, Saudi, and Israel lobbyists

US legislation threatening to sanction Qatar for its support of “Palestinian terror” was sponsored by 10 legislators who received more than $1m over the last 18 months from lobbyists and groups linked to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

For Trita Parsi, author and founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a nonprofit that aims to strengthen the voice of US citizens of Iranian descent, the similarities between the US-allied Arab nations’ “terror list” and HR 2712 show growing cooperation between Gulf Arab states and Israel.

The-Scarlet-Letters

Defending democracy

“The coordination between hawkish pro-Israel groups and UAE and Saudi Arabia has been going on for quite some time,” Parsi told Al Jazeera. What is new, he continued, is pro-Israel groups such as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies “coming out with pro-Saudi [articles] and lobbying for them on Capitol Hill”.

Israel’s influence on US policymakers is clear. HR 2712’s sponsors received donations totalling $1,009,796 from pro-Israel individuals and groups for the 2016 election cycle alone, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group tracking money in US politics and its effect on elections and public policy, and then compiled by Al Jazeera. 

“They’re not traditional pro-Saudi legislators. They’re in the pro-Likud camp,” Parsi said, referring to the party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The bill has bipartisan sponsorship. Five of the legislators come from the House Committee on Foreign Relations (HCFR), including sponsor Brian Mast, a first-term Republican congressman from Florida, and Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, the ranking Republican and Democrat of the HCFR, respectively.

Royce received $242,143 from pro-Israel sources for the 2016 election cycle, $190,150 went to Engel. Mast, who volunteered with the Israeli military after he finished serving in the US Army, received $90,178.

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And incidentally:

King Faisal

King Faisal, son of King Ibn Saud, fought in the military campaigns in the 1920s and ’30s that helped forge modern Saudi Arabia. He later served as Saudi ambassador to the United Nations and in 1953 was made premier upon the ascension of his older brother, Saud. In 1964, King Saud was pressured to abdicate, and Faisal became the absolute ruler of Saudi Arabia. As king, he sought to modernize his nation, and lent financial and moral support to anti-Israeli efforts in the Middle East. In 1975, Faisal was assassinated for reasons that remain obscure, and his son, Crown Prince Khalid, ascended to the throne.

Source: History.com

Interestingly, Faisal’s assassin was one of the family, subsequently declared insane and executed (in the normal humane Saudi fashion, by decapitation).

 

Black Propaganda Against Turkey

I have some sympathy for Vladimir Putin. He inherited a Russia on the bones of its bum. They’d lost the Cold War, were suffering from runaway inflation, and the USA was crowing about being the last remaining superpower. Putin, with his manly pecs and his uncompromising attitude to the West was the iron tonic his people needed to give them back a modicum of self-respect. I could totally see his point in Ukraine. Not that I support the Russian position, but access to the warm waters of the Black Sea and the Aegean has been the driving force of Russian foreign policy for 300 years, and there’s no way they are going to let the gnomes of Brussels create a Euro-zone barrier in that region.

Putin pecs

Reputation built on machismo

I couldn’t suppress a chuckle when the Russian president thumbed his nose at the Obama administration by giving sanctuary to Wikileaks hero Edward Snowden. I can understand his chagrin at the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft on active service by a Turkish F16. Turkey? The last time they beat us was 1710, and the last time we fought a war with them in 1878, we were outside the gates of Istanbul when the British intervened to save them. Putin’s charisma is heavily based on machismo – which has been somewhat tarnished by having that plane shot down, and Putin isn’t happy.

I have been blizzarded recently with links to blogs purporting to prove conclusively that Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan and his family are making ‘gadzillions’ of dollars out of an illicit oil trade with ISIS/Daesh, thereby funding that organization and allowing it to continue its dastardly fight against the free world. Well, I don’t have the time or inclination to read all those chatterers. If I had a dollar for every lie disseminated about Turkey’s AK Party since they became the government in 2003 I might not be as rich as Carlos Slim, or even Mr Erdoğan, but I’d have a good wallet-full for a night on the town.

Twitter 3

Enlightened twitterers bringing tolerance and democracy to a troubled world

One article I did read recently purported to ‘trace how some more authoritarian countries and groups have used the freedom of social media to control their populations’. The four ‘baddies’ were China, Russia, ISIS, and, top of the list, Turkey. The bright spot, according to Time correspondent Ian Bremner, is India, whose ‘Modi government loves social media—and the Indian public loves them for it.’ Proof of this, allegedly, is that India has 143 million social media users. Well, I’m sorry to tell Mr Bremner that that represents a mere one in every nine Indians, compared to the impoverished 23% of the population who subsist on less than $1.25 a day.

Twitter 2

There are far worse, but I couldn’t bring myself to show you

So I question the wisdom that suggests the number of Facebook and Twitter users accurately reflect the level of democracy in a country. Social media and ‘flash mobs’ were credited with bringing democracy to despot-ruled countries in the Middle East and North Africa during the so-called Arab Spring. Five years on, what’s changed? Egypt’s brief flirtation with democracy was quickly stamped out by the military. Libya since the demise of Muammar Gaddafi has descended into chaos, if I can believe the Libyan students I have in my university classes.

I see very little on Facebook indicating that middle-aged White Turk matrons have much awareness of realities in their own country, let alone the world outside. In spite of that, they are delighted to repeat accusations that the Turkish government is financially and militarily supporting ISIS/Daesh – led by its president Tayyip Erdoğan and his sons and daughters raking in their ‘gadzillions’ from immoral black market activities.

The blogosphere is buzzing with accusations that Turkey is funding ISIS/Daesh by buying oil from . . . whoever is selling it. One item I was advised to read spoke of ‘ISIS oil: the alleged Erdoğan family and UK business connections’. A key sentence said To help understand the report below, first click here to see maps of the oil routes from ISIS to outside world.’ Well, I clicked on the link, but surprisingly (or not surprisingly) none of the maps showed any oil routes passing through any part of Turkey. So if that was a key basis for the Turkey connection, it seems to be based on a falsehood. The two ‘experts’ cited as sources, Dr Nafeez Ahmed and William Engdahl, journalists both, have, it seems, aroused some controversy in the past over the accuracy and credibility of their ‘research’ and claims.

ISIS oil

Journeys of a barrel of Daesh oil – did NOT pass through Turkey

Another of those blogs I checked out informed me, ‘This how ISIS smuggles oil into Turkey’. Barrels of black gold are apparently pumped into underground pipes running under the Turkey-Syrian border, which are then emptied by Turks on the other side. Realistically, I can’t see vast quantities of oil being moved by that method.

Undoubtedly there is smuggling across Turkey’s eastern frontier. There is a 1,700 km border adjoining Iraq, Iran and Syria, much of it passing through extremely inhospitable and mountainous country where the rule of law has a tenuous hold at best. Critics insist on calling it a ‘porous’ border, with the implication that the Turkish government is somehow at fault. A major incentive for smuggling into Turkey is the high tax imposed on cigarettes, alcohol and petrol*. The Turkish government has long believed that income from this illicit trade goes towards funding its own local terrorist organization, the Kurdish separatist PKK. As recently as 2011, Turkey’s military attracted some unwelcome publicity after their air force strafed a donkey-mounted convoy of ‘cigarette smugglers’ near Uludere in South East Turkey, killing 35 villagers. It’s all very well to talk about ‘porous’ borders, but when you try to discourage the leaks, you get slagged off for that too. Let’s ask the US government how easy it is to control their 3,000 km border with Mexico.

Sinking boat

Greek coastguards allegedly sinking refugee boat

Who can know if fighters are crossing from Turkey to help on the other side? And if so, who are they helping? Kurds, ISIS, or the Anti-Assad opposition? And how many have crossed? Who’s counting? What we do know is that more than two million refugees have fled to Turkey from the chaos and violence in Syria, seriously challenging Turkey’s resources of money and goodwill – and Western countries have been studiously ignoring pleas for help for more than four years. Now they seem to be blaming Turkey for its ‘porous’ 8,300 km sea coast, which should somehow be closed to stop asylum-seekers reaching Europe.

A Reuters article written by a lady with a distinctly Russian name (Maria Tsvetkova) trumpets: ‘Russia says it has proof Turkey involved in Islamic State oil trade.’ 350 words of the 400-word article are devoted to what various Russian spokespersons have to say, and, right at the end, if you get that far, you can read:

“‘The United States said it rejected the premise that the Turkish government was in league with the militants to smuggle oil. “We frankly see no evidence, none, to support such an accusation,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.”

A Time article published yesterday also says Turkey is not buying ISIS/Daesh oil:

‘Analysts speaking to TIME say it’s very unlikely Ankara has anything to do with ISIS oil — and Putin’s allegation about the incident carries no weight. “To go as far to say that Turkey would shoot down a plane to protect its oil supply is unfounded,” says Valerie Marcel, an associate fellow in energy, environment and resources at London-based think tank Chatham House.

Fawaz Gerges, Professor of International Relations in the London School of Economics and Political Science, agrees that the claims amount to a conspiracy theory. “I think it would be very misleading to say there is an unholy alliance with Turkey and the Islamic State,” he says.’

President Erdoğan says that, in fact, it is Russians who are involved in assisting the ISIS/Daesh oil trade, and names two Russian passport holders who have been targeted with sanctions by the US Treasury. Despite all the anti-Turkey hysteria circulating on the Internet, leaders of the Western allies seem to have a more positive attitude. Well, one might dispute whether that is actually a good thing, but as far as Turkey is concerned, it’s a welcome change. US administrations have long wanted their Muslim NATO ally to join with them in their Middle East activities, and they are delighted that Turkey is not only participating with military support, but is allowing them to launch raids from Turkey’s Incirlik base. It even seems that the EU is softening its position on membership for Turkey. That may also be a mixed blessing these days, especially since Montenegro has apparently received a firm invitation – but it does represent a change of heart after more than 50 years of European cold-shouldering.

Erdoğan Peres

Turkey’s Erdoğan upsets Israel’s Peres, Davos, 2009

Nevertheless, the black propaganda against Turkey continues to pour out from the digital sewers of the World Wide Web. One of the more outlandish accusations I came across this week was a suggestion that Turkey could be about to invade Bulgaria. No evidence offered, of course. Pure unfounded speculation – but that’s what’s out there, so be careful what you believe, or reblog.

Russia, I suppose, is merely the most recent entrant into the game of demonizing Turkey. Ever since President Erdoğan called out President Shimon Peres for his country’s inhuman aggression against Palestinians at the 2009 Davos Conference, the Zionist propaganda machine has been churning out lies and misinformation aimed at discrediting Turkey’s government.

The Huffington Post published a piece the other day by a Dr Joseph Olmert, a barely coherent rave attacking the ‘failed policy’ of zero problems with neighbours and the ‘neo-Ottomanism’ foreign policy; Turkey’s complicity with ISIS actions; the ‘intolerable’ support to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt; dredging up Turkey’s relations with Cyprus, alleged invasions of Greece’s ‘airspace’, and ‘provocative’ attempts to bring aid to Israel-blockaded Gaza.

Well, there are two sides to every story, and there can’t be much doubt about which side Dr Olmert is on – ‘A native of Israel, he was formerly a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv, Hebrew, and Bar-Ilan Universities in his home country [and] served in senior positions in the Israeli government, such as the Director of Communications under Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Policy Advisor to Defense Minister Moshe Arens.’ 

sephardic-migration

Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain found refuge in the Ottoman Empire

Isn’t it interesting how a crisis can bring together strange bedfellows? Armchair liberals who were only recently condemning Putin’s Russia for its aggression in the Ukraine are now seemingly eager to believe the Russian president’s outrageous accusations against the government of Turkey. Jewish people, whose ancestors were persecuted for a hundred years in Russian pogroms, are now apparently ready to side with Vladimir Putin against a people with a proud 500-year history of welcoming them and defending them against European oppression.

Back in June 2012, A Turkish F4 reconnaissance aircraft was shot down near the Turkish Syrian border. The Syrian military alleged that the Turkish plane had violated Syrian airspace, but there is no record of a warning being given. There were suggestions at the time that the F4 had been shot down by a laser-guided or heat-seeking missile from a Russian warship. The Turkish government swallowed their pride and took no retributive action. In July 2014 a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was shot down over Ukraine by a Russian-made missile.

In the case of the Russian Su24, it was a military aircraft engaged on a bombing mission. The US State Department has confirmed Turkey’s claim that they gave multiple warnings to the pilot, but received no response. The area is a war zone; there are Turkish towns close to the border that have been hit by shells and missiles from the conflict. In this case, Turkey’s military was exercising its right to protect its own airspace, and President Putin has no grounds for anger.

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  • The people of Denmark get around a similar problem by shopping across the border in Germany. Turks have no such luxury.