The Oct. 16 report in The Washington Post that Turkish intelligence blew the cover on an Israeli spy ring in Iran and exposed it to the local authorities is just the tip of a big, evil iceberg that looms over Israel and Turkey’s defense establishments. For dozens of years, Israel and Turkey, like close allies, cooperated in all areas of intelligence and security. Intelligence cooperation was close-knit and accurate. There was great trust between the parties, which yielded many mutually beneficial fruits. No more. The conciliation between Israel and Turkey, which was brokered by US President Barack Obama after immense efforts, is merely a veneer. In essence, there is no change.
High-ranking Israeli security officials contend that the 45-year-old Hakan Fidan, who used to serve as special assistant to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is a radical Islamist who maintains very close ties with Iran. His appointment as chief of intelligence was a watershed that marked Erdogan and his party’s full seizure of the country’s defense establishment. At first, Israel was unaware of this appointment. It was only in the wake of the Mavi Marmara flotilla events in 2010 that its intelligence services became aware of the fact that Fidan was heading Turkey’s intelligence services. Until that point, the working assumption in Israel was that Turkey’s intelligence and military remained independent and that a certain degree of cooperation could be maintained, even when Ankara was being hostile or standoffish.
That’s precisely what happened after the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power in Egypt, where the formula actually worked. Egypt’s intelligence agencies continued to cooperate with their Israeli counterparts, and with greater force yet following the tacit agreement of the now-ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his associates in Cairo.
In Ankara, it turns out, things are done completely differently. Erdogan enhanced his grip on power, carrying out a massive purge of the military by sending dozens of generals to prison and not hesitating to appoint a close Islamist associate as chief of intelligence. According to Israeli sources, the Mavi Marmara flotilla events unearthed the deep schism. Almost instantaneously, Israel realized that it had lost Turkey. Things will never be the same again.
It is hard to believe that it was just a few years ago that Israeli and Turkish generals could have held intimate tête-à-tête consultations and even gossiped about their leaders. One of Israel’s former air force commanders received a perk from his Turkish counterpart by getting a “peek flight” along the Turkish-Iranian border. Another retired Israeli general told me last week about his productive working visits to Istanbul and Ankara, after which he would be hosted by his Turkish counterpart. The latter would take him sailing on a luxury yacht on the Bosporus. He would whisper a secret or two in his ear, perhaps even gossip about Turkey’s senior leadership and the independence of the Turkish military as the “guardian of democracy and the constitution” in accordance with the spirit of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, deemed the founding father of the modern Turkish nation.
Since then, Turkish Kemalism has been waning and has been on the defensive. Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) grip on Ankara is tighter than it has ever been. The Turkish prime minister has engendered impressive economic growth, improving the quality of life for the masses. He has also learned the lesson from his predecessors who were vanquished under the boots of the military. Now he — and nobody else — is in control. The generals are either in prison or have gone underground or been tamed and put in their proper place.
Having received the message loud and clear, Israel improved its relations with Greece and Cyprus, preparing other alternatives, despite the fact that in quite a few areas Turkey remains irreplaceable. It shares a long border with Syria, Iraq and Iran. This is a strategic asset of the first order. It also has efficient intelligence services, a huge army and large air and naval forces. Israel was a major supplier of technology, military materiel, weaponry and much more. It upgraded Turkish tanks and other weaponry systems. Most of these collaborations are long gone. What we have is a huge pool of bad blood.
The reported event where an Israeli spy ring operating in Iran was exposed to Iranian authorities probably did take place. Official Israel, notwithstanding, maintains a roaring silence.
Either way, this marks a serious intelligence setback for Israel and the West’s efforts to gather information from deep inside Iran’s nuclear project. According to Western intelligence sources, Fidan and Tehran make a perfect match. Some of them even joke that “Fidan has long been on Iran’s payroll. He is the Iranians’ long-term investment, which now bears many fruits.”
Despite all this, if the report is correct, blowing the cover on an active spy ring and exposing it to Iran, cold-bloodedly, is considered in Israel to be a scathing transgression of a red line. Even the Americans, who were aware of the incident, viewed this as a severe violation of international codes between friendly nations.
Ankara emphatically denies the incident via various spokespersons (chief among them Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.) So who leaked this story precisely at this time? There’s no telling, but we can surmise: It’s either Israel or the United States.
It is against this backdrop that the Israelis who were opposed to conciliation with Turkey find it hard to conceal their broad smirk. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon was one of the opponents to conciliation in his previous capacity. Now, as defense minister, he is all for it. The only one who remains consistent in his objection is former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
“Turkey has proven,” Liberman says in closed forums, “that it had no intention of reaching conciliation. The Turks don’t want conciliation. All they want is to bring Israel down to its knees. They cooperate fully with the Iranians and have an Islamic agenda. We simply played into their hands. We paid dearly and got nothing in return.”
A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
Sep 30, 2019 0Jeremy Hunt, the British Foreign secretary, has recently commissioned a report on the persecution of Christians, most acutely occurring in the Muslim World, and especially in the Arab/Muslim...
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“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.