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Israel prays for demonstrators in Taksim Square

I have a number of comments to make on current events in Turkey; some regarding its appearance and others regarding its substance.

In his daily column for the London-based al-Hayat newspaper, Jihad al-Khazin looked at statements published in Western newspapers regarding the events in Turkey, including one in the Likud "Commentary" Magazine, which noted that peace between the Turkish government and the PKK would fail because it (the magazine) and the Likud wished it so.


'Al-Khazin, who praised Erdogan's role, also criticised his individualism and the fact that he did not welcome criticism from the opposition'I have a number of comments to make on current events in Turkey; some regarding its appearance and others regarding its substance. In terms of its appearance, the following drew my attention:

  • Hebrew Radio broadcast a statement made by Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin on 5/6 in which he said, "We are praying for the protests in Turkey to continue until Erdogan is overthrown. He is anti-Semitic and bad for Israel; he takes up positions against us, despite the efforts we have made to reconcile with him, which have ended in us making an official apology."
  • Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee chairman, Avigdor Lieberman, made a statement to Israeli television on 7/6 saying that, "we are not concerned with interfering in Turkish affairs, but I cannot hide my joy over the events there."
  • In a statement made to Israeli Army Radio on the same night, Minister of Infrastructure, Silvan Shalom, said, "Israel is concerned with improving relations with Turkey, but at the same time, we welcome any development ridding it from its neo-Ottoman rule."

In his daily column for the London-based al-Hayat newspaper, Jihad al-Khazin looked at statements published in Western newspapers regarding the events in Turkey, including one in the Likud "Commentary" Magazine, which noted that peace between the Turkish government and the PKK would fail because it (the magazine) and the Likud wished it so.

The magazine claimed that one of the reasons the protests in Istanbul and other Turkish cities had erupted was because the government had decided to build a mosque in Taksim Square (which is incorrect as it is in the process of building an opera house). They claim it then passed a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol within 100 metres of mosques; however it did not mention that the law also applies to schools, similar to practices in many European countries.

However, the magazine did speak sympathetically about comparisons between the stability of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and demonstrations against Erdogan in Turkey. It asserted that Mubarak was over 80 years old and ill, so he only worked half an hour a day. While under Erdogan, Turkey's economy has grown by over 100 per cent in ten years, and that per capita income has risen from $3,000 to $11,000 a year.

Al-Khazin added that one of Likud's American icons, Daniel Pipes, wrote what he described as a despicable article in praise of events in Turkey entitled "The Good News in Turkey". He also mentioned a Likud website that talked about a hot summer in Turkey and accused Erdogan of attempting to "Islamise" the country forcing him to face his people's wrath. Al-Khazin also mentioned the British newspaper headline in the "Daily Telegraph" that read "Turkey accused of Islamic fascism after alcohol sale crackdown". When he read the article, he found that it was credited to the owner of a liquor shop and wondered when liquor shop owners had become references for alleged Islamic fascism.

Although he criticised the negative comments made by Zionist parties who welcomed what they consider to be the turmoil threatening the Turkish regime, Al-Khazin, who praised Erdogan's role, also criticised his individualism and the fact that he did not welcome criticism from the opposition. He also expressed his hope that the protests would ground Erdogan in order for him to become more humble in the future.

In Sunday 9/6 issue of Al-Hayat newspaper, its correspondent in Istanbul, Youssef al-Sharif, described Taksim Square as crowded with tents pitched by protesters from various different trends; a tent with Alawites was pitched next one with Kurdish supporters of the PKK, which in turn was close to one with communist supporters of the left and another with nationalists and others.

Moreover, the Square is visited by a group of revolutionary Islamists who oppose American Imperialism and Capitalism. At the same time, the horizon is full of pictures of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Nazim Hikmet, Deniz Gezmis, and Che Guevara. The pictures also covered the walls of the Ataturk Cultural Centre located on one of the Square's sides – the centre which Erdogan plans to demolish and replace with an opera house.

Moreover, the gloating Syrian media continued to passionately defend freedom and democracy in Turkey. Furthermore, Iranian Al-Alam TV gloated and settled Tehran's accounts with Ankara by supporting the Free Syrian Army. It also pressured its correspondent in Ankara to speak about the Turkish revolution and the Spring winds blowing towards the banks of the Bosporus, which he refused to do, forcing him to resign from his job.

Some friends told me about a French television station refusing to broadcast the unbiased perspective of the events in Taksim Square, and the fact that it only hosted Erdogan's opposition, and no one else. When I found that some Egyptian media outlets were trying to settle their accounts with the Muslim Brotherhood by joining the gloaters, even if they were Israelis, I realised that intense rivalry has no limits, neither moral nor patriotic.

The author is an Egyptian writer. This article is a translation of the Arabic text which first appeared in Shorouk Newspaper, 10 June, 2103

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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