|Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seconds before being thrown and trampled by a horse in Istanbul, July 2013.|
Both fascism and communism exercised a large influence on the Arab “Baathist” ideology — “resurrection” in Arabic, and which started as a nationalist, Sunni Arab movement to combat Western colonial rule and to promote modernization. In Iraq, the despotic Baathist regime survived 35 years, largely under the leadership of Saddam Hussein. In Syria, it is still struggling under the tyranny of President Bashar al-Assad. These days a non-Arab, but Islamist version of the Baathist ideology is flourishing in an otherwise unlikely country: candidate for membership in the European Union (EU), Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasing authoritarianism is killing Turkey’s already slim chances of finding itself a place in the world’s more civilized clubs and turning the country more and more into a “Baathist” regime.
In 2004 Erdogan’s government abolished the death penalty as part of his ambitions at the time to join the EU. Twelve years later, on Oct. 29, 2016, Erdogan addressed fans of his party, and said he would ratify a bill reinstating capital punishment once it passed in parliament despite objections it might spark in the West. He said: “Soon, our government will bring (the bill) to parliament … It’s what the people say that matters, not what the West thinks”.
EU officials had warned in July that such a move would kill Turkey’s accession process. If Turkey reintroduces the death penalty, said Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, it will not be joining the European Union. “Let me be very clear on one thing,” she said, “… No country can become an EU member state if it introduces [the] death penalty.”
|European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, seen above greeting Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Omer Celik in Brussels last June, says that reintroduction the death penalty will disqualify Turkey from joining the EU.|
On October 30, Europe once again warned Turkey. “Executing the death penalty is incompatible with membership of the Council of Europe,” the 47-member organization, which includes Turkey, tweeted.
The potential re-introduction of the death penalty is not the only “Baathist” signal Erdogan’s Turkey is making. A court in the predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbakir arrested Gulten Kisanak and Firat Anli, the Kurdish co-mayors, following their detention, in the latest blow to political opposition in Turkey.
The co-mayors are being charged with “being a member of an armed terrorist group,” while Anli is also charged with “trying to separate land under the state’s sovereignty.”
“Arrest is a legal term, but [in Turkey] there is no law,” said Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of a pro-Kurdish opposition party. “This is abduction and kidnapping.”
Erdogan could not care less. He is busy strengthening his one-man rule. A governmental state of emergency decree on October 29 gave Erdogan powers directly to appoint presidents to nearly 200 universities in the country. Before that decree, he had to choose from three candidates offered by a central board that oversees higher education, based on free elections at universities.
Before the Turks could digest so many undemocratic practices they had to face in one week, they woke up only to learn that scores of journalists at a newspaper critical of Erdogan had been detained. On October 31, police raided the homes of 11 people, including executives and journalists of Cumhuriyet newspaper, after prosecutors initiated a probe against them on “terrorism” charges. Cumhuriyet said detention warrants were issued for 15 journalists. The prosecutor’s office said the operation was based on accusations that the suspects were “committing crimes on behalf of two terror organizations.”
Large crowds gathered outside the Cumhuriyet office in Istanbul to protest the detention of journalists, while leading press organizations also slammed the raids. The Contemporary Journalists Association released a written statement, saying:
This is about … abolishing all universal values including the right to live and social rights. The most explicit indications of it are the growing pressure against the Turkish press and the policies to destroy it. This is the process of the destruction of free thought.
Precisely. “Universal liberties” and “Turkey” have already become a very unpleasant oxymoron. Erdogan’s populism, based on religious conservatism and ethnic nationalism, are fast driving Turkey toward Arab Baathism instead of Western democratic culture.
Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based columnist for the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.