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Turkey-Israel Rapprochement by Shoshana Bryen

Israeli policy (assisted by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden) produced perhaps the best possible outcome.

The UN Secretary General’s Report on the Gaza Flotilla concluded that Israel was within its rights to use force, and found the blockade of Gaza to be legal.

Turkey agreed to Israel’s original condition to the flotilla ships — aid bound for Gaza will offload in Ashdod.

Israel had also wanted to oust Hamas from Turkey — something that may not have been accomplished. But Turkey, by agreeing to a number of humanitarian projects in Gaza, will increase its leverage over Hamas in ways that might benefit Israel.

The announcement of Turkish-Israeli rapprochement was touted first as an economic achievement for Israel. It should be noted, however, that Turkey-Israel civilian trade, as distinct from military trade, was already robust, rising from $1.5 billion in the first half of 2010 to $5.6 billion in 2015. Israel has an interest in Turkey as a customer for Israeli natural gas fields, but a number of countries — including Russia — also seek partnerships in natural gas.

The deal has also been linked to the resolution of three Turkish conditions arising from the “Gaza Flotilla” of 2010. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (who was prime minister at the time of the Gaza flotilla) had demanded an Israeli apology for the deaths of Turkish citizens on one of the flotilla ships, financial compensation, and the lifting of the Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza. The first two were agreed to by Israel years ago. The resolution — or non-resolution — of the third is a window into what is really going on, which is both more, and less, than the news reports.

Critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu naturally blame Israel for delaying the restoration of political and presumably military ties, but, in fact, Israeli policy (assisted by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden) produced perhaps the best possible outcome.

Israel has had some success working with Sunni governments in the region — including Saudi Arabia — on the basis of shared opposition to ISIS and to Iranian plans for regional hegemony. Both are better done with Turkey than without. And Israel’s political and military interlocutors, Russia and Egypt, needed some assurance that would ameliorate their displeasure with Turkish-Israeli reconciliation.

Turkey and Israel: Happy Together? by Burak Bekdil

Ironically, the futile Turkish effort to end the naval blockade of Gaza is ending in quite a different direction: Now that Turkey has agreed to send humanitarian aid through the Ashdod port, it accepts the legitimacy of the blockade.

Ostensibly, almost everyone is happy. After six years and countless rounds of secret and public negotiations Turkey and Israel have finally reached a landmark deal to normalize their downgraded diplomatic relations and ended their cold war. The détente is a regional necessity based on convergent interests: Divergent interests can wait until the next crisis.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon welcomed the deal, calling it a “hopeful signal for the stability of the region.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, too, welcomed the agreement. “We are obviously pleased in the administration. This is a step we wanted to see happen,” he said.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thinks that the agreement to normalize relations will have a positive impact on Israel’s economy. “It has also immense implications for the Israeli economy, and I use that word advisedly,” Netanyahu said, in likely reference to potential deals with Turkey for the exploration and transportation of natural gas off the Israeli coast.

A few years ago, according to the official Turkish narrative, “Israel is a terrorist state and its acts are terrorist acts.” Today, in the words of Turkey’s Minister of the Economy, Nihat Zeybekci, “For us Israel is an important ally.”

Turkey has long claimed that it would not reconcile with Israel unless its three demands have been firmly met by the Jewish state: An official apology for the killings of nine Islamists aboard the Turkish flotilla led by the Mavi Marmara which in 2010 tried to break the naval blockade of Gaza; compensation for the victims’ families; and a complete removal of the blockade. In 2013, Netanyahu, under pressure from President Barack Obama, apologized for the operational mistakes during the raid on the Mavi Marmara. The two sides have also agreed on compensation worth $20 million. With the deal reached now and awaiting Israeli governmental and Turkish parliamentary approvals, the narrative on the third Turkish condition looks tricky.

From Brexit to Visions of a UN Exit? By Claudia Rosett

Britain’s vote last week to leave the European Union — the Brexit — was a vote for freedom, a revolt against an unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels. Amid the excitement, Fox News briefly reported the story as even bigger than it was, with a TV screen banner proclaiming not that the UK was leaving the EU, but “UK VOTES TO LEAVE UN.”

Yes, some things are too good to be true, and this was one.

As parody, it would have been genius. As a piece of news reporting, the Fox mixup of the EU and UN inspired plenty of derision — a bit of comic relief, gleefully seized upon by the stricken members of a pro-EU global elite and commentariat. They cannot fathom why a majority of British voters would choose to reclaim from the commissars of the EU the full freedom to control Britain’s own borders, bananas and vacuum cleaners. In that context, Fox’s botching of a news banner helps feed the narrative that the Brexit vote was some boorish mistake cooked up by a know-nothing mob.

Except that’s false, in ways far more profound than the mistake in the Fox chyron. For an eloquent defense of Brexit, see Roger Kimball’s “Focused on Disaster Narrative, Media Ignores Obvious Benefits of Brexit.” To this I’d add that even in Fox’s erroneous UN-exit caption there was, along with the comedy, some grist for serious thought.

I’m not defending Fox’s proofreaders. Accuracy matters, even on TV. But it’s not completely daft that a copywriter in a hurry would read “EU” and write “UN.” There are some pernicious similarities between the two. Both belong to the clan of multilateral institutions set up with the mission of promoting peace and prosperity, post-World War II. Both have proved better at promoting themselves and their own backroom deals. They are clubs of governments, breeding big, intrusive and unelected bureaucracies; largely self-serving, unaccountable and in various ways damaging to and divorced from the real interests of the populations they claim to serve. As Ambassador John Bolton writes in a piece on “How America Should Answer the Brexit Vote,” peace in Europe since 1945 is a product not of the EU, but of the U.S.-led military alliance of NATO.

Both the EU and the UN have a distinct tilt toward central planning, with all the warped incentives, waste and disregard for free choice that this entails. In the EU, this takes the form of regulation. At the UN, it is packaged as an endless array of UN-orchestrated development goals, capacity-building programs and bureaucratically directed spending of other people’s money, much of it funneled through despotic governments whose oppressive misrule is the main reason for the poverty and perils the UN proposes to alleviate.

We’ve all read plenty in recent times about the troubles within the EU. Let’s take a moment to reprise just a few of the problems with the UN. A good place to start would be a June 17th article by a former Swedish diplomat and UN whistleblower, Anders Kompass, who recently resigned from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In this article, headlined “The ethical failure — Why I resigned from the UN,” Kompass writes:

Cholera in Haiti, corruption in Kosovo, murder in Rwanda, cover-up of war crimes in Darfur: on too many occasions the UN is failing to uphold the principles set out in its Charter, rules and regulations. Sadly, we seem to be witnessing more and more UN staff less concerned with abiding by ethical standards of the international civil service than with doing whatever is most convenient — or least likely to cause problems — for themselves or for member states.

Kompass ran afoul of his UN bosses in 2014, when he reported to French authorities that French UN peacekeepers were sexually abusing children in the Central African Republic. The UN accused Kompass of sharing confidential information, suspended him from his job and asked him to resign. Many months later, he was exonerated, but he writes that the UN has done nothing to address the “systemic issues of internal accountability” raised by his case. CONTINUE AT SITE

Attack at Istanbul Airport Kills at Least 36 Bombers hit Turkey’s busiest airport leaving more than 100 wounded By Emre Peker and Ayla Albayrak

ISTANBUL—Suicide bombers struck Turkey’s busiest airport Tuesday, killing at least 36 people and injuring scores more on the eve of a major holiday, the deadliest in a string of attacks in Istanbul this year.
Three bomb blasts shook the arrivals area of the international terminal at Istanbul Atatürk Airport around 9:22 p.m., Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said. At least 147 people were wounded.

One assailant set off a bomb after being shot by police near a checkpoint just inside the terminal, a Turkish official said. Two other attackers blew themselves up outside—one near the entrance and one in a parking lot across the street, the official said.

No group had claimed responsibility hours after the attack. However, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said initial findings of an investigation suggested Islamic State carried out the assault. U.S. and other Western officials said the attack bore the hallmarks of the extremist organization, but added it was too early to assign blame.

Since last summer, Turkey has faced threats from Islamic State and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, an outlawed militia that has attacked Turkish security forces and civilian targets, including Istanbul’s second busiest airport, Sabiha Gokcen.

Focused on Disaster Narrative, Media Ignores Obvious Benefits of Brexit By Roger Kimball

In almost every situation, Horace’s advice was as pragmatic as it was wise. Item: “Aequam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem.” Remember, when faced with difficult things, to preserve a calm mind.

I thought about that sage advice when I was at a drinks party last night in London. The mood was grim. The wine, chatter, and conviviality flowed (another bit of Horatian advice, nunc est bibendum, was liberally followed), but behind, and not very far behind, the bonhomie loomed an ominous-looking shadow, as if war had just been declared but the troops had yet to mobilize.

There was near-unanimous agreement among the revelers that last week’s referendum on Britain leaving the European Union represented an economic catastrophe of incalculable proportions.

There was also a more-or-less unspoken assumption that it represented a gigantic act of political stupidity and, finally, a sort of moral stain. It was assumed the EU, whatever its faults, was “for” human rights, the environment, fairness to Muslims, etc., in ways that the angry, nativist population who voted for Brexit couldn’t possibly understand.

There was, in short, a current of near panic coruscating about the room, though the intelligent and well-spoken party-goers were too polite to indulge in anything like histrionics. Somewhat muted vituperation, especially against the Brexiteer-in-chief Boris Johnson, there was aplenty. But mostly the assembled multitude was like those doctors Hilaire Belloc described in his poem about little Henry King, whose chief defect was chewing little bits of string:

Physicians of the utmost fame were called at once, but when they came they said (as they took their fees), “There is no cure of this disease. Henry will very soon be dead.”

I think the doom-and-gloom is vastly overstated. As the Remainders’ Bête Blond, Boris Johnson himself observed:

At home and abroad, the negative consequences [of the Brexit vote] are being wildly overdone, and the upside is being ignored.

Indeed. As I have stressed in this column over the last few days, the referendum to leave the EU was not a vote to leave Europe. The UK is part of Europe, by spirit and history as well as by geography. The vote was partly a vote against the officious, interfering EU bureaucrats and their vast thicket of prosperity-sapping regulation.

Mostly, however, it was an affirmative vote — a vote for British sovereignty, British freedom.

A balanced alternative view of the consequences of Brexit was set forth more than two years ago by the great James Bennett, the man who popularized the term Anglosphere and who has done as much as anyone to outline its political, economic, and existential advantages.

In an essay called “After the Brexit,” which appeared in The New Criterion in January 2014, Bennett compared America’s cooperation with Canada on the manufacture of cars — where vehicles are shipped back and forth across the border several times in the process of assembly — to one possible post-Brexit arrangement between the UK and Europe:

[M]uch of the cross-border trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union could continue with relatively simple arrangements comparable to North American arrangements.

As negotiations proceed towards the invocation of Article 50, the formal request to withdraw from the EU, a series of such arrangements could be agreed upon:

Britain’s trade with the Continent could continue at something near its current levels.

Abbas’s Satisfied Customers Why European leaders cheer accusations of Jews poisoning Palestinian wells.Caroline Glick

“Our only prospect for impacting this diseased, racist environment is to appeal to the conscience of those Europeans who still have one. Beyond that, the time has come to write them off.”

One of the more remarkable aspects of the blood libel sounded by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in his address before the European Parliament in Brussels last week is the claim that he ad-libbed the part about rabbis poisoning Palestinian wells.

After refusing to meet President Reuven Rivlin who was also in Brussels last week, Abbas ascended the podium in Brussels and began his custom of demonizing Jewish and Israel. Clearing his throat, the man whose incitement is most responsible for the fact that the Palestinians are the most anti-Semitic people in the world, began his speech by saying, “We are against incitement.”

Then, as is his wont, Abbas proceeded to incite mass murder of Jews by accusing rabbis of ordering the poisoning of Palestinian wells.

In his words, “Just a week ago, a week, a group of rabbis in Israel announced, in a clear announcement, demanding their government, to poison, to poison, the water of the Palestinians.”

“Is this not incitement? Is this not clear incitement, to the mass murder of the Palestinian people?” It’s not quite clear what it was that he was ad-libbing but a reasonable bet is that he was embellishing what was already in his planned speech. In the days preceding his speech, the Abbas-controlled PLO media put out stories claiming that a non-existent rabbi, who heads a non-existent rabbinical council issued an opinion that Jews in Judea and Samaria should poison Palestinian wells.

As the IsraellyCool website pointed out, by Abbas’s telling, it wasn’t just one non-existent rabbi, who heads a non-existent rabbinical council that told Jews in general to poison wells. In Abbas’s ad-libbed version, the entire non-existent council, led by the non-existent rabbi ordered the government to poison Palestinian water.

At any rate, whether Abbas winged the blood libel or just embellished a less powerful one, far from being a mitigating factor for judging the significance of his statement, the claim that he was speaking on the fly makes it all the worse.

Abbas simply couldn’t help himself.

It’s as if the BBC wishes the world was falling apart: Charles Moore

“Is there any country in the world – apart from Britain – where the British Broadcasting Corporation would greet the return of parliamentary democracy with terror and dismay? ”

Funny how Project Fear has been even more strongly pushed by the BBC (and Channel 4 News) after Remain has lost. The poor public are encouraged to believe fantasies, such as that all Poles must now go home or that we shall need visas to visit France. Such tales cannot be authoritatively refuted because poor Messrs Cameron and Osborne dare not admit that most of what they told us the week before is rubbish, and the Leave campaign is not the government of the country.

Into this vacuum rush the doom-sayers. Yesterday the BBC put at the top of some bulletins the exclusive (“the BBC has learnt”) that HSBC will move 1,000 workers to Paris if Britain leaves the single market. The following things were not properly explained – that HSBC was contemplating this, not actually doing it; that we might not leave the single market anyway and certainly won’t for more than two years; that 1,000 workers is only just over two per cent of HSBC’s British workforce; and that most of those sent to Paris would probably be French people currently in London.

Is there any country in the world – apart from Britain – where the British Broadcasting Corporation would greet the return of parliamentary democracy with terror and dismay?

Despite the above, there is one person who should be deported at once. During the campaign, Ken Livingstone said that if Britain were to vote to leave the EU, he would leave Britain. When I last looked, he was still around. He should be put on a plane with a one-way ticket to Venezuela or Iran.

After the vote, the implosion of the political class : Tim Black

The referendum exposed the chasm between politicians and people.

Until the EU referendum, the estrangement of Britain’s political class from vast swathes of the public had, for politicians and pundits alike, been the source of little more than low-level anxiety. Yes, that something is wrong had often been acknowledged. But no sooner had that acknowledgement taken place than the problem had been neatly packaged up as something it’s not, be it voter apathy or public disengagement or some other piece of policymaking jargonese.

But the referendum result has shattered the political class’s coping mechanisms. It can no longer pretend that voters aren’t sufficiently interested in politics, that, at some level, it’s our fault. Too many people turned out to vote for that to wash. No, the political class is now finally having to face up to its own reality as a ruling clique, infused with a paternalistic disdain for those it can no longer claim it represents. And faced by its own image, it is now imploding, sucking in, in one last desperate back-stab for salvation, party leaders, campaign managers and anyone else at whose feet blame can be laid.

And no wonder. Commentators have been talking about the disparity between the voting patterns in London and Scotland, which both overwhelmingly voted to remain, and the rest of the UK, which voted overwhelmingly to leave. But the real disparity is between the electorate and parliament. While 52 per cent of the British electorate supported leaving the EU, nearly 80 per cent of MPs supported staying in. That means that those putatively representing people, those claiming to voice their constituencies’ interests, are no longer doing that.

The mood of the political class, and those in the media who breathe in the same atmosphere, inhaling the same entitled, right-thinking fumes, was initially just shock, bewilderment, a palpable sense of ‘how on Earth could they do this?’. ‘This morning, I woke up in a country I do not recognise’, wrote one pundit. ‘After Thursday’, wrote another, ‘I feel like a foreigner in my own country  – that there’s this whole massive swathe of people out there who don’t think like me at all and probably don’t like me.’

Few actual politicians would risk admitting their distance and isolation in quite such stark, career-destroying terms. But the sentiment is there alright, in the passive-aggressive disappointment of Europhile Tories, and, more palpably, in the panicked resignation letters of Labour’s shadow ministers. So Steve Reed, shadow minister for local government, wrote: ‘A majority of Labour supporters in large parts of the north and midlands voted to leave the EU because their connection with our party has broken. We are losing touch with them…’ Anna Turley, shadow minister for civil society, echoed Reed, telling Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that ‘it has been increasingly clear to me for some time that the leadership is not in touch with the hopes, the fears and the aspirations of my local constituents’. Quite.

The Palestinian Authority’s Crackdown On Journalists by Khaled Abu Toameh

According to his account, Abu Zeid was also subjected to shabah-style torture, where a detainee’s hands and feet are tied in painful positions while his head is covered with a bag. He said that one of the interrogators threw him to the floor and kicked him in sensitive parts of his lower body.

The interrogators also threatened to arrest Abu Zeid’s wife, a female colleague and his lawyer. That would have been the closest he would have gotten to the lawyer: in the 37 days of detention, Abu Zeid claimed that he was prevented from meeting with his lawyer or any representative of a human rights organization.

The report noted that the year 2015 witnessed a “deterioration” in human rights in the territories and described the situation there as “catastrophic on all levels — political, security and human rights.” The report pointed out that Palestinians, including journalists, were being arrested by the Palestinian Authority (PA) because of their work and postings on social media.

Ironically, this campaign by the PA against journalists, which has failed to draw the attention of the international community and mainstream media in the West, is designed to prevent the world from understanding that the PA is a dictatorship. So far, the plan is working.

On May 16, Palestinian Authority security officers raided the home of Palestinian journalist Tareq Abu Zeid in the West Bank city of Nablus. After ransacking the house, the officers confiscated a computer and mobile phone before taking Abu Zeid into custody.

Abu Zeid, 40, who works for the Al-Aqsa TV channel, which is affiliated with Hamas, was held in detention for 37 days at the notorious Palestinian Authority-controlled Jneid Prison in Nablus.

On June 22, a Palestinian court in Nablus ordered the release of the journalist on a 5,000 Jordanian dinar (about $8,000) bail. The same court had ordered Abu Zeid remanded into custody three times during his detention. The court had turned down seven petitions demanding the release of the journalist during his incarceration.

No charges have been filed against Abu Zeid, who is originally from the West Bank city of Jenin. It is also highly unlikely that he will ever stand trial.

Palestinian security sources said he was suspected of “publishing news that harms the public interest and fomenting strife” among Palestinians. Although the sources did not provide further details, it is believed that Abu Zeid was accused of publishing stories that reflected negatively on the Palestinian Authority and its leaders. In other words, the journalist failed to serve as a mouthpiece for the Palestinian Authority and its leaders.

Abu Zeid is not the first Palestinian journalist to be targeted by the PA. Such arrests have become commonplace under the Palestinian Authority. But now it seems that the Palestinian Authority has moved from the phase of intimidation to torture.

Turkey: A Thuggish Ramadan by Burak Bekdil

Observant Muslims stubbornly refuse to understand that while the Koran commands them to abstain from alcohol, it does not command them to attack those Muslims (and non-Muslims) who do not do so.

It has become the observant Muslims’ self-granted authority collectively to forbid evil and command good, rather than just individually to avoid evil and choose good.

Zaytung, a popular online humor magazine (a kind of Turkish “The Onion”) ran a story:

“Government officials in this eastern city are mulling the possibility of airdropping food, beverages and cigarettes onto busy streets, hoping that this may break some fasters’ resistance to hunger, thirst and tobacco needs. The city has been in shock as, already one week into the holy month of Ramadan, no one has been publicly beaten up for eating, drinking or smoking.”

Zaytung’s mocking was not without a reason. “If one tried to eat in a restaurant [in some parts of Turkey] during Ramadan, one may be insulted or even physically harmed. Indeed, each year there is an incident of an unobservant college student being beaten up or even murdered in the southeast for not fasting during Ramadan,” observed Soner Cagaptay in a 2008 article in the Washington Institute.

In 2010, as art lovers drank sangria out of plastic cups and contemplated iconoclastic pieces of art, a group of locals in central Istanbul attacked them with pepper gas and frozen oranges. For an hour, they smashed windows and injured dozens, including visiting foreigners. The attackers justified themselves, saying that drinking alcohol, especially outdoors, violated Islamic rules. Then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now president, said, “Such incidents occur everywhere in the world.”

Nearly six years after that incident, a mob of men carrying sticks and bottles attacked a group of Radiohead fans at a record store owned by a South Korean man. The fans had been holding a listening party of the band’s music, again in central Istanbul. Video footage of the incident shows an angry man storming into the store, shouting curses and threats and most of the people hastily leaving. A waiting mob then reportedly attacked the group and the door of the record store was smashed, although fortunately there were no serious injuries reported from the assault.