Turkey’s “Darwinian” Islamization: Implications for Israelis and Jews

As Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan returns home from his visit to his biggest western fan, President Barack Obama, only to prepare for a controversial pilgrimage to Hamas-controlled Gaza, Turkey’s educational system is being mocked internationally. A spoof in “The Scientific American” focuses on revelations that Istanbul textbooks have pictured Charles Darwin as “a hook-nosed Jew” who consorted with monkeys. Writer Steve Mirsky offers the counter-revelation that Darwin’s “On the Origins of Species” (1859) was really first titled: “L’Chaim: The Whole Megillah!”

Perhaps Turkey’s increasingly “religious” public schools should have taught instead that Darwin was “the first Islamist.” Certainly Prime Minister’s Erdoğan’s stealth evolutionary blueprint for transforming Turkey from a secular republic into a Muslim state suggests that—in Turkey at least—Islamism may be the “survival of the fittest.” For a detailed analysis see my report, “From Ally to Nemesis: How Erdoğan’s Islamists Hijacked Atatürk’s Nation and Put It on A Collision Course with Israel and the U.S.” (Simon Wiesenthal Center, October, 2011).

In North America and Western Europe, the public knows little about what’s happening in Turkey except it’s avoided the worst of post-2008 global economic turmoil, and is a good place to vacation—unless you are an Israeli, given rocky Turkish-Israeli diplomatic relations since the Turkish “Mavi Marmara,” the flag ship of the so-called “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” was understandably interdicted in 2010 by Israeli commandos. Attempts by Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to repair relations by belatedly apologizing to Ankara have proved unproductive so far.

Today, Turkey’s economy does not look quite as good, and Turkey’s Syrian border looks horrible, compared to a few years ago when Erdoğan visiting Egypt was greeted like a Neo-Ottoman Sultan. Even so, it is important to understand what Erdoğan has accomplished in just over a decade and its implications for the global situation of Jews as well as Israelis.

Norway’s New Generation Quislings

NorwegianBecause it “gives support to old conspiracy theories about Jews controlling media,” the Oslo Newspaper, “Dagsavisen,” recently took down from its site pro-Palestinian activist Siri Lill Thowsen’s article: “Is There Jewish Dominance over International and Norwegian Media?”

Though the anti-Israel Lobby is howling in protest that the removal demonstrates Thowsen’s thesis, nothing could be further from the truth.

Afloat on North Sea oil, Norway is also awash in movements to rehabilitate its Nazi collaborationist past as well as align with Israel’s mortal enemies in the present.

Not too long ago, “Adresseavisen” published a satiric cartoon—”Antisemitism Is Advancing Disturbingly in Europe”—that depicted Palestinian president Abu Mazen kneeling before a skull-capped Israeli prime minister Netanyahu sitting at a desk with the sign: “The new Jerusalem is Being Built Here.” A construction zone was shown featuring the sign that hung over the entrance to Auschwitz: Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work Liberates”).

AAUP: Israel Boycott Violates Academic Freedom

In a stinging rebuke to the Asian-American Studies Association, the American Association of University Professors has just strongly reaffirmed its opposition to academic boycotts.  The new AAUP statement responds to both Stephen Hawking’s recent controversial decision to boycott Israel as well as the AASA decision to endorse the anti-Israel boycott.  The AAUP acknowledges that individual…

Berkeley Student Senate Guts Anti-Israel Divestment Resolution

The University of California’s long, ugly battle over anti-Israel divestment has just gotten even messier.  Brandeis readers will recall that Berkeley’s student senate passed a resolution on April 18 urging divestment from companies that do business with Israel.  Berkeley’s Chancellor Robert Birgeneau immediately repudiated the measure and announced that it would have no impact on university policy.  Nevertheless, the whole situation was bad enough to draw additional legal challenges from the lawyers who had previously filed a federal anti-Semitism complaint against the Berkeley campus.  Now, the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) faces another blow as Berkeley student senators have revised the resolution to remove most of its operative provisions.  Moreover, as details of the resolution come to light, some commentators now argue that the resolution harms the BDS movement itself more than it does the State of  Israel and its supporters.

As the Daily Californian reports, student senators have removed the clauses that dealt with the student senate’s own investments and appropriations, which are the only funds that they control.  The senate has removed these operative provisions in order to settle charges that the divestment resolution violated the institution’s constitution because it was not passed by a two thirds majority.  Some insiders argue that this move neuters the anti-Israel resolution.

 “I think SB 160 has lost a lot of weight through this settlement,” said Noah Ickowitz, SQUELCH! party chair and a former columnist for The Daily Californian. “The bill that passed is now a completely different bill once these clauses are stricken. It loses almost all its authority. I hope the public understands that this is no longer ASUC divestment.”

Others insist that the amendment did not substantially change the resolution, since it never amounted to anything but symbolism anyhow.

Student Action Senator George Kadifa, who authored the bill, disagreed that the settlement watered down the bill in any way, emphasizing that the purpose of the bill has been largely symbolic since its inception.

To the extent that the Berkley resolution was merely symbolic, its meaning will be difficult to ascertain. In fact, some commentators have argued that the boycott resolution was never as much a victory for the BDS movement as most people believed.  Indeed, Berkeley Professor Ron Hassner has argued  that UC Berkeley “killed BDS” by passing a resolution which includes language which is critical not only of Israel but also of the BDS movement.  Hassner argues that the Berkeley boycott resolution was unique in that anti-Israel student leaders distanced themselves from the BDS movement and its international leader, Omar Barguoti.  In his Times of Israel blog, Hassner explained this difference:

“Wake Up to the Anti-Semitism, You Complacent British Middle Classes”

In today’s Ha’aretz, Britain’s’s former Minister for Europe, Denis MacShane, pens a trenchant critique of English anti-Semitism, bitingly entitled: “Wake up to the anti-Semitism, you complacent British middle classes.”  MacShane has seen hard times recently, but today’s intervention demonstrates that he is still a vital voice on the global scene.  In this new piece, MacShane castigates the English middle classes, as well as the U.K. Employment Tribunal, and calls for a thorough review of strategies to combat anti-Semitism.

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AAAS Urges Israel Boycott, Faces Condemnation from SPME

In a general membership vote that has been condemned as “abhorrent,” the Association for Asian-American Studies has unanimously approved a resolution to boycott Israeli universities, becoming the first American scholarly association to do so.  Inside Higher Ed describes the AAAS vote, which was startling in its unanimity:

About 10 percent of the association’s membership was present for last week’s secret ballot vote, which was open to all members and took place on the final day of the AAAS annual conference in Seattle. The resolution raises a number of concerns about the impact of Israeli policies on Palestinian students and scholars – including restrictions on travel and the forced closure or destruction of schools as a result of Israeli military actions – and describes Israeli academic institutions as “deeply complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and human rights and in its denial of the right to education and academic freedom to Palestinians, in addition to their basic rights as guaranteed by international law.”

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East quickly censured the AAAS’ boycott resolution as “antithetical to principles of academic and scientific freedom.”  SPME President Richard Cravatts, an LDB Board member, further castigated the AAS resolution as “morally incoherent.”  The SPME statement appears in full below: