Friday, April 26, 2013

Turkey: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and Acceptance Into SCO or NATO

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                   

Turkey is a secular democratic country.  This is the scary part.  It is not a  democratic country like the USA and Israel but is proof of what can happen to even a democratic government. They have a separation of power, but what has happened to it?  Erdogan has a lot of this power. Their checks and balances in their type of parliamentary democracy either isn't working or everyone agrees that nothing is wrong.  Is he just a reflection of his people?  "The party of Prime Minister Erdogan, the Justice and Development Party, while known to be Islamic, sought to convey that it would be secular so as to avoid the army's preventing it from taking power."

We have many Turkish Jews that came to this country  along with all the other Jews from Russia and eastern Europe looking for a better life.   Turkish Jews settled in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Some are my relatives.  A few families came here as early as the 1880's.  They came from Marmora and Constantinople.  They were in the fish market businesses.  It was said that they spoke Spanish.     What was it that drove them here?  Most likely "freedom."  What had Turkey been like?

For starters, Turkey was the hub of the Ottoman Empire that lasted for 400 years and ended with WWI.  That's because they took the side of the Axis with Germany and lost.  For that, they lost their empire in 1917 and Britain got the mandate of deciding what to do with Palestine, which was part of the empire.

In 1900, there were 350,000 Jews living in Turkey, who had the 3rd largest Jewish population at that time.  By 1990 20,000 Jews remained of which 18,000 lived in Istanbul.  37,000 of Turkey's Jews moved to Israel after 1948.  Turkey is the 7th largest country with a majority Muslim population of 73,722,988.  They have a mixture of Sunnis and Shiites who follow the Hanafi and Alevi fighs. We have almost 8 million people in Israel of which 6 million are Jewish. About 1.7 million are Arabs.

Turkey was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948.  "Military, strategic, and diplomatic cooperation between Turkey and Israel were accorded high priority by both countries, which shared concerns with respect to the regional instabilities in the Middle East."

Their friendship started to die during 2008's Gaza war.  This Muslim country was siding with all the other Muslim countries who support the Palestinian terrorists.  Relations had been fair  with Israel up until the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's  recent move towards embracing the Muslim Brotherhood. since that's his political party.  It's believed that Turkey wants to be the leader of the Muslim world.  Thus they are taking a tough stand and are showing their muscles.

  When their ship Marmara entered the waters to break the Gazan blockade in 2010 and Israel had to search their ship,  the attack was on.  Some Turks on board attacked the Israeli seamen and they in turn protected their own lives. 9 Turks were killed as a result.   Now Turkey wants retribution which is turning into a lot of money.  Netanyahu has apologized for the action when most of us feel it was Turkey that should have apologized, but that's politics.  The smaller country had to apologize to the larger one.

  Back in 1983 a friend of mine, Gene Hirshhorn LePere,  traveled to Turkey with a tour group.  She dawdled at a table of fine embroidery and her group  left her.  Along came a street peddler with a little statue insisting she buy it, which she finally relented and did, just to get him off her back.  When she departed from Turkey she was arrested and put in a woman's prison for stealing a precious antique.  She tells what prison was like in her book,  "Never Pass This Way Again," which was turned into an NBC TV special.  She almost didn't get out of prison and was in there for a shocking amount of time.  None of this happened because she was Jewish.  They didn't know.  Because of her horrible experience, Turkey fixed their laws about antiques now having tags on them. Her book is a warning to vacationers in foreign lands to beware.  Like Dorothy said, "We're not in Kansas, Toto!"  This is simply an example of an overzealous court system that works unfairly.

Erdogan is getting restless.  On January 25th of this year he said he was thinking of joining up with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).  This club, like a fraternity, is made up of Russia, China and the Soviet Central Asian republics.  Their goal is to be an authoritarian counterweight to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of NATO.  Why?  His bid to join the EU has been stalled and so he has become interested in their opposition.  He said that if President Vladimir Putin of Russia chooses Turkey for the SCO, Turkey will forget about joining the EU.  Notice that this choice has nothing to do with philosophy or ethics.  It's more like the mentality of a pledge getting into a fraternity.  It's his way of putting pressure on NATO for a decision.

Two years ago Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, told the SCO that the USA had caused the 9/11/2001 attacks in New York and are using it as an excuse for invading Afghanistan and Iraq and for killing and wounding over a million people.  That's the same excuse that Dzhokar Tsarnaev told authorities from his hospital bed that he and his brother, Tamerlan decided to blow up the Boston Marathon.  Now reports have come from him telling that their next project was to blow up a section of New York City afterwards.  They believed this sort of rot.  This is the group Erdogan is ready to join.

Today we have a fellow who has had an epiphany of 180 degrees who is a TV host in Turkey.  He now likes Jews. I pray that his feelings include Israel as well.   He's broadcasting about it and Sinem Tezyapar, another TV host who is a glamorous and very intelligent young lady,  is following suit.  This goes against the grain of their Prime Minister's philosophy, so I wish them well.  Their government has not been kind to people who disagree with this government.

The Tower tells of the Turkish government abusing the practice of detention without trial.  Over 75% of the country's jailed journalists were detained while awaiting trial or verdict.  There is an ongoing investigation into a large conspiracy of media personalities, politicians and generals to overthrow the government by a military coup.  150 people have been jailed on charges of being a party to this plot.  Just last year the government arrested the former chief of the military staff, Ilker Basbug, saying he was involved in the scheme even though he had retired 2 years ago.  Eric Edelman, former American Ambassador to Turkey told the Economist that this idea of Basbug being a terrorist and heading the group strained credulity.

So this man at the helm with so much power has been responsible for arrests, tax investigations, and condemnations which has chilled his constituents.  In 2008 he told a magazine that "either you close your journal down or you will not write lies".  They had reported about air pollution.  It must be that he doesn't want true facts confusing his people.

Turkey has a monopoly on words.  You can't use Kurdish as stated in a 1991 law.  Turkey has been persecuting Kurds insidiously.  On the books is the law that stating that you cannot insult the Turkish nation."  They have the power of giving the government wide authority to prosecute whomever it wants.  Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel Prize-winning author committed the crime of acknowledging the reality of the Armenian genocide.  This was in a 2006 interview with a Swiss magazine.  The charges were finally dropped only because of  massive international pressure.

Resource:,_the_Bad_and_the_Ugly, movie about 3 gunslingers

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