Tag Archives: Turkey

Hat And Head Covering Wars Rage In Turkey!

This reporter has just visited the battle front at Bagozici University where combatants eye one another with hats and head coverings in hand prepared to launch a derby or shawl into the direction of opponents. The university faculty has made clear it will not allow women to enter their sacred classes wearing any hair covering like the chador and even those who try to circumvent rules and regulations by wearing hats are considered to be criminals out to disrupt law and order in the university. School administrators struck a blow for freedom by denying women the right to attend classes wearing a headscarf since it is well known that such head coverings essentially cover up religious strategies to end freedom of speech in universities.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that wearing the headscarf violates the nation’s constitution. This writer is not Turkish and is Jewish but quite aware of the historic background surrounding the ban on religious symbols in Turkish education institutions. However, we live in the 21st century at a time of vast economic dislocation and ongoing battles to create a peaceful Middle East. Perhaps, it is time to put aside the famous headscarf issue and just let one’s hair let out. It is doubtful if free speech will end in Turkish universities if some of the speakers are wearing a headscarf. In fact, allowing them to wear the headscarf reinforces the right of all Turkish people to adhere to their own religious and cultural beliefs. Who knows, maybe the Armenians can finally get the rest of the nation to acknowledge what happened to their ancestors and maybe Kurds can finally get freedom of speech.

It’s Not The Words, It’s The Language!

The majority of people in Turkey are not Kurdish, but there is a significant number who belong to that ethnic group. They have a distinctive language and culture which they regard as part of who they are as a people. The leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) was addressing the party’s parliamentary group when a Turkish television cut the live broadcast because Ahmet Turk was speaking in the wrong language– Kurdish. Mr. Turk said he was speaking in Kurdish in recognition of the UN cultural body, UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day which is designed to promote linguistic and cultural diversity. The television station, TRT, said that no other language other than Turkish could be used when making parliamentary speeches of group addresses.

A decade ago, a deputy from a pro-Kurdish party was jailed for speaking Kurdish in the parliament. Ironically, Turkey on January 1, 2009, established a TV channel which is entirely in Kurdish. How about a compromise agreement and make English the official language for all parliament discussions?

What Bush Never Told America About Iran!!

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey told the British Guardian newspaper that Iranian officials made a request while George Bush was president of their desire to establish peaceful relations with the United States but never received any response. George Bush constantly lied to the American people by claiming the Iranian government was only interested in violence and had no desire for peace in the region. Erdogan said he will convey the Iranian desire for peace to President Barack Obama and offered to play the role of a conduit between the two nations in hope of creating a new image in the region that moves away from confrontation and violence. His comments came in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s appointment of Dennis Ross who is to serve as a special envoy in the Middle East and with Iran. In a recent article, Ross suggested a new approach towards Iran should best begin through a “direct, secret back channel.”

In the interview, Erdogan also made clear that Israel acted in a disproportionate manner in the recent invasion of Gaza and insisted that peace between Israel and Palestine would only be achieved if the Israel government recognized the need to include all factions in any peace negotiation. He made clear he has always told Hamas to act differently and accept the legal presence of Israel. “They have to accept this, but Israel also has to accept Palestine.”

Hopefully, the United States and Iran can begin to jaw, jaw and end thoughts of war, war.

Women’s Rights- Equality Or Inequality?

Women rights groups in Turkey are furious at a change that has been made in the name of the commission which is dealing with issues of gender discrimination. The present name is “The Commission of Equality Between Men and Women” but a slight change of wording transforms the group into “The Commission of Equal Opportunity for Men and Women.” The original wording states the truth– there is inequality for men and women in Turkish society and the need is to create equal opportunities for women since men already have them. To suggest that men and women BOTH need equality in the workplace or in family lie is contrary to reality, particularly in a society such as Turkey where men have more rights than women.

More than 50 women rights groups from all over the nation sent protests to the government to refocus the discussion on the need for female equality. The only “inequality” between men and women is that men have the rights and women are fighting for them. As one group put it, “We, the women, do not want opportunity, but real equality.”

How Not To Win Friends For Israel!

The Israel decision to invade Gaza in a massive operation that wound up killing 1,300 people has been hailed by many Israelis as a demonstration of using force to get peace. The results of the recent election indicate Israelis voted for those who want to be “tough” and stand up to Hamas regardless of cost. For decades, Israel has been close to Turkey and the military of both nations have worked together. But, the Gaza invasion now plays out in damaging relations between the two countries. The Turkish Foreign Ministry and military leaders are furious at remarks made by General Avi Mizrahi who told Prime Minister Erdogan to look in the mirror and then went on about the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman empire. General Mizrahi undoubtedly is enjoying that wonderful feeling one gets at putting down another person or nation, but what about the real issue of Turkish-Israel friendship?

A good diplomat looks at the world through the lens of his opponents in order to avoid disaster. Israel is so caught up in its own desire for self justification that it has now ignored the only friend it has in the Middle East. Was the manner in which bombing was carried out in Gaza worth loss of Turkish friendship? There is a streak of self destruction among Israelis in which over focus on the self has resulted in loss of connection to the rest of the world. ISRAEL NEEDS FRIENDS, NOT MORE ENEMIES!

Turkish Women Accept Domestic Violence

According to the study, “Domestic Violence Against Women in Turkey,” a large percent of females are somewhat reluctant to take action against their husbands who engage in violence against them. About 14% of women say is sometimes acceptable for their husbands to physically abuse them and 64% of women who have been subject to domestic violence do not seek help because they believe it is not a serious problem in their lives. About one in three women report problems with the families of their husbands were a major source of tension in their marriage and a major source of domestic violence. The rate of physical violence against women is 38% in cities and 43% in rural areas.

In-law issues crop up as sources of domestic violence but 18% cited financial problems and 13% attributed the cause as stemming from dealing with children. About one third of women admitted they contemplated suicide as a result of the abuse they suffer from husbands. Domestic violence is not an issue particular to Muslim societies and it occurs in virtually all societies in the world. The report did not offer suggestions for how to deal with this issue other than counseling.

Israel And Turkey- Obama And Middle East

Ahmet Turan Ayhan, writing in the Turkish newspaper, Zaman, argues an Israel conflict with Turkey is an act of suicide since the Israelis need their friendship with a powerful Muslim nation in the region which has consistently adopted a cooperative attitude towards peace in the Middle East. He believes Barack Obama begins his presidency with the initial problem of undoing the past eight years of Bush that have caused considerable mistrust of the United States by Muslim nations. Among the issues dividing Muslim people and the United States has been the Bush policy of giving unqualified support to Israel even as that nation expanded its territory by seizing land on the West Bank and pushing into east Jerusalem. The Israel belief it could do as it pleases has even caused its friend, Turkey, to turn aside and demand an end of the oppression of Palestinians.

The invasion of Gaza was probably among the most inept blunders on the part of Israel during its entire history. It received the semblance of having accomplished something while the reality was to further antagonize Muslim moderates. Can Barack Obama stand up to the Israel government and fight for a peace that entails ending the West Bank settlements and allowing Muslims a fair share in the governance of Jerusalem?

The Middle East needs American leadership that is fair and balanced. It needs a new policy which reaches out to Iran in a peaceful manner and it requires placing barriers to Israel expansion in Palestinian areas. Can Barack Obama take that leadership role?

Turkish President Blasts Islamophobia

Palestinian leaders have been arguing with Israel for decades and during the same period have been bitterly opposed to one another. Turkish President Abdullah Gul, made clear there would be no success in establishing a Palestinian state until all factions agree to cease their infighting and unite in the pursuit of diplomatic victory. He was the first foreign born Muslim to address the Saudi Arabia Consultative Council and he spoke in support of the Saudi proposal for recognition of Israel in exchange for withdrawal to the 1967 borders including evacuation of the West Bank. But, he made clear conflict within the ranks of Palestinians has made difficult achieving Palestinian goals. Gul emphasized Palestinians had to embrace one another because “division among Palestinians is the heaviest dynamite in the foundations of an independent Palestinian state.”

Gul went to great length to make clear the Muslim religion is NOT one of terrorism or violence. “We’ve never had any business with terrorism; however, terrorists may emerge from (all) societies, from every religion.” Perhaps, it is time for Israeli leaders to reach out in peace with Muslim leaders who seek reconciliation and compromise. But, Israel, must accept the principle of compromise and giving up some of its goals.

Will Israel Lose A Close Friend?

Israel has been diplomatically isolated from other nations in the Middle East except for its friendship with Turkey, but recent actions such as the Gaza invasion now cast doubt if Israel will be able to maintain that relationship. An Israel official recently indicated his nation was re-evaluating military relationships with Israel and may not sell their military advanced military equipment. As Turkey moves away from Israel due to its anger, the Israelis will most probably ensure its close friend moves away because when it comes to blunders and ineptness few can compare to the Israel leadership. Common sense would suggest if one is down to only one ally it pays to be sensitive to that friendship and avoid angering Turkish leadership. But, Israel political leaders believe in the righteousness of their cause.

The trade between Israel and Turkey is about $2.6 billion and military equipment accounts for a high percent of that trade. If Israel refused to sell military equipment there is always someone else in the world wiling to do so. Perhaps, it is wise for Israel to involve Turkey in helping it maintain peace and security in the Gaza region.

Israel Excellent At Losing Friends And Influence In World

Israel was born in violence when Arab nations refused to accept the United Nations partition plan and during its entire existence, the Israel government and people have reacted in the manner of a besieged mentality. Turkey has been the only Muslim nation which has maintained close relations with Israel even to the extend to conducting joint military exercises. Turkish leaders have paid the price in their relations with Muslims by refusing to end close contacts with Israel. But, the Turkish government finally gave up supporting Israel due to the disastrous IDF invasion of Gaza which led to the death of 1,300 (including hundreds of civilians) and the wounding of 5000 while Israel had ten soldiers and three civilians killed. Prime Minister Erdogan told Newsweek, “I’m not saying that Hamas is a good organization, and makes no mistakes. They have made mistakes. But, I am evaluating the end result.. the current Israel government should check itself. They should not exploit this issue for the upcoming elections.”

Erdogan confronted Israel President Peres at the Davos conference and stormed out of the room after an angry meeting. The Israel propaganda machine is trying to convey the message the European Union backs them and is angry at Turkey. Hogwash. The entire world is furious and after death and destruction, rockets still come. The solution was never military in nature but working with Arab nations to achieve peace. The Arab League offered a sensible compromise of returning to 1967 borders in exchange for peace, but Israel internal politics prevent such agreements. Erdogan was right on target– the Gaza invasion was linked to the upcoming Israel elections and Defense Minister Barak is now posing as a savior in order to get votes.

It is time for Israel to end the power of West Bank settlers and the religious right, and create a secular society that is centered in compromise and peace.