Saturday, November 29, 2014

29-Nov-14: Is Turkey providing cover for Hamas terror?

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey hosts Khaled Mashaal
and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas in his Ankara bureau, June 18, 2013
[Image Source: Turkish Prime Minister's Press Office]
Since the disclosures made in Israel two days ago about Turkey's involvement in a major Hamas terrorism initiative directed at killing yet more Jews and sowing ever-greater chaos in Jerusalem, we have been paying extra attention to what is making news in Turkey.

(For the background, see this post: "27-Nov-14: Hamas terrorist ring is busted; Israel says the handlers operate from Turkey; Qatar is involved")

Let's start with the Turkish 'denials' of involvement in hosting, tolerating or otherwise co-operating with the terrorists of Hamas. Ynet yesterday published a not-so-comprehensive refutation of the allegations:
Turkey denies harboring Hamas terror command | Ynet, November 28, 2014 | Itamar Eichner | Turkey denied on Friday the claim that Hamas planned terrorist attacks from headquarters in Istanbul. The Shin Bet made the accusation on Thursday, setting off a diplomatic face-off between Israel and Turkey. Turkish sources argued that the Shin Bet's announcement was meant to demonize Turkey and sabotage attempts to mend the countries' diplomatic ties. Israel requested NATO and the American government to take steps against Turkey in response. "It's illogical for a NATO member to host a terrorist organization that trains and plans terror attacks on its soil," said the Israeli statement. Turkish diplomats were enraged by Israel's allegations, calling them "lies and deception... There are elements in Israel who are trying to torpedo the attempts to smooth things out between the two countries and turn a new leaf. They are telling lies, as though Hamas operates in Turkey with the government's knowledge. Turkey has a dialogue with Hamas, but will absolutely not allow any terror organization to operate on its soil."
Had Ynet quoted Turkish names or Turkish titles, the broad, but entirely non-specific, Turkish statements might have had some persuasive value. But they did not. It's simply "Turkey denied" and "diplomats said". So we went looking elsewhere.

So far, the only article we have found (Turkish, but published in English) is from the website of the Turkish newspaper, Daily Sabah. It published the denials of Turkish involvement with the busted Hamas gang ["Top Hamas Official Denies Israel's Claims of Hamas Fighters Trained in Turkey", November 2, 2014], by interviewing a person it oddly sees as a credible source: Osama Hamdan, the man who runs Hamas operations in Lebanon. The 'unimpeachable' Hamdan clears things up by saying (direct quote):
"This is a story made up by Israel... I can say this for certain this is a big lie. They say these lies about Turkey or Jordan for political reasons. They know that after their attack in Gaza there is huge sympathy for Palestine from Europe, from Latin America. Also there is huge sympathy for Turkey. The Turkish government, politically, stands by the rights of Palestinians. They are trying to create stories about militant activities outside Palestine and involve these countries in it. These countries are not supporting terrorist actions. They are supporting Palestinians against occupation. What Israelis say about training and recruiting in Turkey is a big lie..."
To us, it's actually fairly clear that Hamdan is admitting the facts. But he is changing the definitions: what Turkey is doing (our interpretation of what the Hamas terrorists is saying) is supporting the Palestinian Arab anti-"occupation" "resistance" activities. And that's not terrorism, even if Israel and the rest of the world say it is.

Daily Sabah has some fascinating aspects to its own story, according to its Wikipedia entry. Established in 1985, it ran afoul of the Erdogan government which seized its assets in 2007 and then sold them off to (as it happens) a media company controlled by Erdogan's son-in-law. Starting in 2009, it was the local publishing partner in Turkey of the New York Times, distributing the New York Times International Weekly on Sundays. That Sabah/NYT partnership ended earlier this year but Wikipedia is unable to say why. We also don't know.

Osama Hamdan, defender of Turkish virtue, pursuing
a favourite theme in July 2014 [Image Source]
What we do know is that in choosing to defend Turkey's honour by turning to Osama Hamdan, the editors at Daily Sabah somehow neglected to draw readers' attention to the man's passionate attachment to nauseating antisemitic blood libels. On July 28, 2014, here's what he said on the Al-Quds TV channel (controlled by Hamas, beamed throughout the Arabic-speaking world). It's translated from Arabic by the indispensible MEMRI organization:
The Israelis concentrate on killing children. I believe that this is engraved in the historical Zionist and Jewish mentality, which has become addicted to the killing of women and children. We all remember how the Jews used to slaughter Christians, in order to mix their blood in their holy matzos. This is not a figment of imagination or something taken from a film. It is a fact, acknowledged by their own books and by historical evidence. It happened everywhere, here and there. [Transcript here; Video clip here]
Another major Turkish news source, Todays Zaman, published the Israeli claims ["Israel claims ‘foiled Hamas attacks’ were planned in Turkey", November 27, 2014] but has not - as far as we can tell - found any Turkish government source who will go on the record to deny them. Nor have we seen any Turkish official going on the record anywhere else so far to deny. We do expect those denials to come.

Some of the stories that are capturing Turkey's headlines in the recent past are, we think, worth noting.
  • "Muslims discovered Earth is round, Turkey's science minister says", Hürriyet Daily News, November 29, 2014 | Muslim scientists working around 1,200 years ago were the first to determine that the Earth is a sphere, Turkey's science, industry and technology minister, becoming the latest Turkish official to inform the world about apparent scientific firsts on the part of Islamic world...
  • "Foreigners don’t like Muslims, only their money: Turkish President Erdoğan", Good Morning Turkey, November 28, 2014 | “Foreigners” are unable to solve the problems of the Middle East because Western states “don’t like us” and are more interested in just following the cash, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Nov. 27. “Only we can solve our problems. I speak openly; foreigners love oil, gold, diamonds, and the cheap labor force of the Islamic world. They like the conflicts, fights and quarrels of the Middle East. Believe me, they don’t like us,” said Erdoğan during an address to the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC) in Istanbul. “They look like friends, but they want us dead, they like seeing our children die. How long will we stand that fact?”...
  • "Erdoğan says America was discovered by Muslims, not Columbus", Hürriyet Daily News, November 15, 2014 | "...Converting people by force, by the sword, has never been a part of Islam. Our religion has never been a tool of exploitation," Erdoğan continued, arguing that "those who colonialized America for its gold and Africa for its diamonds, now do it in the Middle East for its oil with the same dirty plot..."
Tonight there are reports in many news channels [for instance, "Isis launches attack on Kobani from inside Turkey for first time", The Guardian, November 29, 2014] that jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror forces have launched an attack on the beleagured border town of Kobane, Syria, from inside Turkish territory. Turkey is officially and energetically [here] denying that too.

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