Recep Tayyip Erdogan Is Taking Israeli Hostages to Distract from His Domestic Woes

Nov. 16 2021

On Thursday, an Israeli couple vacationing in Turkey was arrested on likely spurious charges of spying for the Mossad; the next day a judge remanded them to twenty days in jail while their case awaits a resolution. Israeli officials, meanwhile, have interceded with Ankara to have them released. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak writes:

In retrospect, the timing of the couple’s arrest is no coincidence. Just one month ago, . . . fifteen Palestinians were arrested by the Turkish intelligence agency for allegedly spying for the Mossad. . . . It’s no secret that over the years, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made a political fortune back home by starting crises with non-Muslim states, and Israel in particular. This is how he has succeeded in distracting the Turkish public from the burning domestic issues of the day. Erdogan knows all too well that public support for him today is at an unprecedented low: for the first time, he and his nationalist allies are not leading the “anyone-but-Erdogan” alliance in the polls.

The main reason for this shift is the lira’s depreciation against the dollar; [the exchange rate] reached an all-time low of ten liras to the dollar on the day the court extended the Israeli couple’s detention. Israel must therefore be very cautious and creative in order not to serve Erdogan’s propaganda interests. Jerusalem must do everything in its power to bring about the release of the innocent couple, including by making use of its ties in Washington and Berlin.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Israeli Security, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter