Erdogan Struck Out

There’s joy in Istanbul tonight, mighty Recep Tayyip Erdogan struck out. There was a sigh of relief that corruption and the suppression of opposition and of the media had been rejected at the polls. Although the President is supposed to be above politics in Turkey, Erdogan ignored the rules and campaigned shamelessly for the AKP . His hope was to win 400 mandates. That would have been enough of a majority to amend the Turkish constitution to make the President all powerful. Instead the AKP got only 256 mandates and Erdogan’s dreams of assuming Sultan like power are dashed for the moment. Erdogan’s defeat is good news for lovers of democracy and particularly for Israel. Erdogan is a Jew hater! (Anti-semite is an anemic and imprecise word.)

Erdogan attempted to win his mandates with the politics of fear and hate. One of his campaign planks was to liberate Jerusalem from the Jews. YnetNews of June 1 quotes Erdogan, “Conquest is Mecca, conquest is Saladin, it’s to hoist the Islamic flag over Jerusalem again” The AKP is making an effort to portray Erdogan as the new Saladin.

The article goes on to note, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu dedicated a new airport in the south of the country, naming it after Saladin. According to Davutoğlu, “It’s a name that says to the Kurds, to Turkey, and to the Arabs, yes, this is our leader. “It’s a symbol that unites us,” he continued. “All those who claim that Jerusalem is the Jew’s holy city should be ashamed. We chose the name Saladin in order to send a message with the help of Allah that Jerusalem will always belong to the Kurds, to Turkey, to Arabs, to Muslims.” Hatred of the Jews was used in the failed attempt to unite all of the voting blocs in Turkey behind the AKP.

Perhaps Erdogan would not have linked himself to Saladin if he were aware that Saladin’s physician was a Jew and a distinguished Jew at that – the Rambam. Saladin, incidentally, was of Kurdish ancestry.

Compounding the campaign of fear and hate the Times of Israel of June 6 reports Erdogan as characterizing the New York Times as, “Now, they are spitting out the same hatred on me… It’s clear who their patrons are. There is Jewish capital behind it, unfortunately.” The Times is everyone’s favorite punching bag.

An even bigger story than Erdogan’s failure is the success of the HDP (Kurdish Party).The HDP ran on a platform of hope and inclusion and picked up 13% of the seats in the Parliament. Analyzing the election, a New York Times article of June 7 notes, ‘The election turned on the historic performance at the ballot box of Turkey’s Kurdish minority, which aligned with liberals and secular Turks opposed to Mr. Erdogan’s leadership to win almost 13 percent of the vote, passing a 10 percent legal threshold and earning representation in Parliament. The People’s Democratic Party, a largely Kurdish bloc known as H.D.P., was able to broaden its base by fielding a slate of candidates that included women, gays and other minorities and appealed to voters whose goal was to curtail Mr. Erdogan’s powers.

Turning to Israel, PM Netanyahu recently lashed out against the world for its silence on the latest rocket attacks from Gaza. An AP article of June 7 states, ‘Netanyahu, speaking at his weekly Cabinet meeting, said he hadn’t heard anyone condemn three rocket attacks from Gaza over the past two weeks. The rockets caused no damage, nor any injuries. “It will be interesting to see if this silence continues when we use all our strength in exercising our right to defend ourselves,” Netanyahu said. “It should be clear: the hypocrisy that is sweeping the world will not chain our hands from defending the citizens of Israel.”

Just whom should the world be condemning? According to the Israeli military establishment, as Yaakov Lappin writes in the Jerusalem Post of June 7, ‘Hamas does not appear to be behind the latest increase in rocket fire on southern Israel, and is in fact attempting to quell the attacks by repressing the Gaza-based Salafi jihadis who are firing the projectiles at Israel. Israel’s defense establishment has received indications from Gaza that Hamas has no interest in the recent attacks, and that it is making arrests to try and put a stop to the rockets, driven purely by its own interests.’

Apparently, the Israeli military establishment would rather have Hamas running Gaza than the even more radical Salafists. There may be a convergence of thinking between Israel and Egypt concerning Hamas. According to a Reuters article of June 6, An Egyptian appeals court on Saturday canceled a ruling to list the Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist organization, judicial sources said, signaling a possible easing of pressure on the Gaza Strip’s ruling faction.’ It is likely that the Egyptian judiciary reflects the position of the government as it has shown little independence.

An end of June deadline for an agreement with Iran is rapidly approaching. Representatives of the Obama administration are actively promoting the emerging deal but serious doubts remain. Issues of compliance and re-imposition of sanctions in the event of non-compliance are still unresolved. Filling in for the seriously injured Secretary of State John Kerry, a June 8 Times of Israel article notes, ‘Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told the audience at the American Jewish Committee’s annual Global Forum that Israel’s security had already been improved under the provisions of the temporary agreement that went into effect in January 2014, known as the Joint Plan of Action’.

However, there is evidence that Iran is not living up to its commitments. A June 2 article in the New York Times states, ‘With only one month left before a deadline to complete a nuclear deal with Iran, international inspectors (IAEA) have reported that Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations, partially undercutting the Obama administration’s contention that the Iranian program had been “frozen” during that period. On the other hand, the The IAEA report also found, ‘no evidence that Iran was racing toward a nuclear weapon, and said Tehran had halted work on facilities that could have given it bomb-making capabilities.’

At this point, the IAEA and Iran are at loggerheads over the issues of inspection of military sites and interviewing Iranian nuclear scientists. An AP article of June 8 states, ‘The International Atomic Energy Agency, led by Yukiya Amano, will monitor Iran’s compliance with the deal. The U.S. and its allies also say the IAEA must rule on whether or not Iran worked in the past on nuclear weapons before all sanctions imposed over Tehran’s nuclear program can be lifted. The article goes on to note, ‘Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month declared that “no inspection of any military site and interview with nuclear scientists will be allowed,” and Iranian negotiators have since said Khamenei’s ban is indisputable.’ We hope that President Obama will insist on full compliance by Iran before sanctions are lifted.

About the Author
Richard Chasman, 1934-2018, was a member of the Modern Orthodox community in Chicago. Professionally, he was a theoretical nuclear physicist. Richard, who described his perspective as "centrist," wrote a newsletter for more than 20 years called "Chovevai Tsion of Chicago," on subjects of interest to the Modern Orthodox community.
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