Turkey’s Slide into Islamist Militarism Threatens Its Alliance with the U.S.

March 7 2018

At a recent rally, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made headlines by telling a terrified, crying six-year-old girl—in military uniform—that if she died a martyr her coffin would be draped in her country’s flag. To Eric Edelman and Merve Tahiroglu, this incident exemplifies the growing Islamist and militaristic messaging emanating from Ankara, alongside large doses of anti-American rhetoric:

Erdogan has done his best to promote militarism among the populace, including by openly encouraging the formation of civilian militias claiming to defend his government—and the Turkish nation.

Children have not been immune to these efforts. Over the last year, the Turkish government sent ministers to facilitate militaristic student parades, while Turkey’s state-run religious affairs directorate has been publishing its own propaganda materials to “teach” Turkish children about the grandeurs of martyrdom. Turkish students, including kindergarteners, around the country have been made to conduct military marches and recite ultranationalist poems at schools. . . .

U.S. officials are watching with growing concern. The Turkish government has stirred and sponsored anti-Americanism. . . . Ankara blames Washington for both the failed putsch [in 2016]—which has all but become the founding myth of Erdogan’s new Turkish republic—and the rise of Kurdish self-rule in northern Syria. Erdogan’s ministers and media continuously slander American citizens as coup-plotters and depict the Turkish war against Kurdish militants in Syria as a fight against pro-Kurdish Americans. Most Turkish people, opinion polls show, now consider the United States the top threat to their national security. . . .

The challenge for the U.S.-Turkish relationship is that it cannot survive in the long run if the bulk of the Turkish population sees the United States in such adversarial terms. Moreover, the importance of Turkey to the United States has long been as an exemplar of a majority-Muslim society that was making its way along a long road of democratization and meeting the standards of rule of law and human rights that are associated with the European Union and NATO. . . . American officials who write off Erdogan’s anti-American rhetoric as pandering to his base fail to understand that demonizing the United States is an integral part of Erdogan’s agenda. Only “tough love” will put the U.S.-Turkish relationship on a steadier long-term course.

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More about: Islamism, NATO, Politics & Current Affairs, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy

Zionists Can, and Do, Criticize Israel. Are Anti-Zionists Capable of Criticizing Anti-Semitism?

Dec. 12 2018

Last week, the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg defended the newly elected anti-Israel congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, ostensibly arguing that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism aren’t identical. Abe Greenwald comments:

Tlaib . . . has tweeted and retweeted her enthusiasm for terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh, who murdered two American students in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969. If Tlaib’s anti-Zionism is of the Jew-loving kind, she has a funny way of showing it.

Ilhan Omar, for her part, once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And wouldn’t you know it, just because she believes that Zionist hypnotists have cast global spells masking Israeli evil, some people think she’s anti-Semitic! Go figure! . . .

Goldberg spends the bulk of her column trying very hard to uncouple American Jewishness from Israel. To do that, she enumerates Israel’s sins, as she sees them. . . . [But] her basic premise is at odds with reality. Zionists aren’t afraid of finding fault with Israel and don’t need to embrace anti-Zionism in order to [do so]. A poll conducted in October by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that a majority of Americans Jews have no problem both supporting Israel and criticizing it. And unlike Goldberg, they have no problem criticizing anti-Semitism, either.

Goldberg gives the game away entirely when she discusses the discomfort that liberal American Jews have felt in “defending multi-ethnic pluralism here, where they’re in the minority, while treating it as unspeakable in Israel, where Jews are the majority.” She adds: “American white nationalists, some of whom liken their project to Zionism, love to poke at this contradiction.” Read that again. She thinks the white nationalists have a point. Because, really, what anti-Semite doesn’t?

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, New York Times