Archive | July 23rd, 2016

MUNICH: A Confused, Incoherent Attack With Possible Mossad Fingerprints

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Munich-attack2

The shopping mall shooting spree in Munich seems like the most confused, incoherent attack to date. The narrative has been confused too. And there are key, tell-tale details we should pay attention to.

For hours the news stations were saying the police were hunting 3 to 4 attackers; then at the end we were told it was only one guy – an 18 year-old Iranian/German teenager, who shot himself in the head.

Some news outlets, led by CNN, decided to report he had yelled “Allahu Akbar”, while others reported he was wearing Neo-Nazi style boots and targeting foreigners.

The hours of reports of “3 or 4 gunmen” being hunted by police and anti-terror forces is suggestive of what happened (but was covered up) in Orlando, where there was a whole team of FBI patsies, but only one of them went through with an attack.

There were early reports that the gunman in the shooting spree may have been targeting foreigners or immigrants. This attack, as was being noted, occurred on the date of the 5 year anniversary of the mass shooting in Norway in which Anders Breivik – a Far Right, Neo-Nazi with Masonic connections – massacred dozens of Norwegian teenagers (out of violent hatred for Norway’s multi-culturalism and immigration).

The alleged Munich shooter has now been identified as Iranian-German – which means he definitely wasn’t related to ISIS: yet much of the media, particularly in the US, continued to cover the story as though it was an ISIS attack. Iranians don’t become ISIS sympathisers – they’re enemies. Yet I was listening to the radio, and they continued talking for hours about ‘ISIS’ and ‘The Muslim Problem’, as if they were just too disappointed with the real story that was being reported from Munich.

I guarantee you that even now there are lots of people on social media and on websites trying to make out this was an ISIS attack or something to do with the migrants.

In terms of the ill-fitting ISIS/Iranian meme, something like that happened before, specifically in the Sydney Siege, where Iranian Mon Haroon Monis was supposed to have carried out the cafe hostage attack for ISIS and brandishing the ISIS black-flag. That distinctly odd character too was incoherent, made no sense and had no motive, bearing all the hallmarks of an intelligence agency stooge with mental problems. In that case, the planning was so bad that they didn’t even realise Iranians and ‘ISIS’ are a total mismatch.

The case of this Munich shooter appears to have the same problems.

The most bizarre part of the story is the footage recorded on a rooftop, in which the alleged killer is engaged in a shouting match with onlookers.

Someone on Reddit has translated all of the video from German to English. Read what the shooter was saying – it is incoherent, even bizarre, and sounds to me like someone who’s mind has been messed around with (re, MK-Ultra, Manchurian Candidate type ops; look up the Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, for example).

He shouts “Ich bin Deutscher” (“I am German”) on the video as bystanders shouted at him from a nearby rooftop. In a very odd scene, he is shown arguing with bystanders, shouting things like “fucking Turks!” and “Fucking foreigners!”

The purported gunman talks about also medical treatment; translated by someone from German as having said “Was in psychological treatment…I didn’t do anything, shut up”. He also talks about having been bullied.

This could suggest someone simply with psychological problems, possibly from bullying (he also seems to reference having failed his exams and being on welfare); a kid who might’ve simply snapped and gone on a rampage, like a number of kids have been known to do (especially in America). This indeed seems to be the explanation Munich police are now putting out there.

On the other hand, again, it could also suggest a patsy who has been manipulated, brainwashed or subject to intense ‘control’ methods.

Watching that footage – and particularly noting the blurred, confused motivation (again, read the transcript) – he seems almost like someone who’s been so badly ‘programmed’ that he actually doesn’t know what he’s doing or why.

It could seem literally like he doesn’t know whether this is supposed to be an Islamist attack, a Far Right attack, or just Random Angry Teenager With a Gun: as if his ‘handlers’ were so shoddy or so unsure themselves what the narrative was supposed to be that they ended up imparting that same confused motive to him too.

What we can probably dismiss is the “Allahu Akbar” story. The ‘Allahu Akbar’ claim seems to be reported by some ‘eyewitness’ every time there’s an attack: it was the same claim made in the case of the Paris attacks, even though a particularly reputable eyewitness at the Bataclan had reported there had been no such words spoken. In this instance, the claim originated with CNN and not German sources.

So what was this?

It is entirely unclear. We’ll probably be told more in the next few days; though whether what we’re told is the truth is another matter.

While I generally try to avoid the Blame Israel game, there is a case certainly to be made this might’ve been aMossad operation, and here’s why.

The last major ‘terror attack’ in Munich was the infamous massacre during the 1972 Munich Olympics. But that ‘Black September’ attack – allegedly by Palestinian terrorists against Israeli athletes – is held by many to have been a false-flag op carried out by Mossad.

This attack yesterday may have been both a false-flag terror attack to increase/continue instability and psy-op tension,but also a highly symbolic operation: in Munich again, and just shortly before the current Olympic Games begin.

What else? I noticed that both The Daily Mail and CNN reported that the mall where yesterday’s shootings occurred is, rather disingenuously, adjacent to the site of the 1972 Munich Olympics. The symbolism is a little too rich for my liking.

This possibility of this having been a Mossad psy-op is also touched on in this observation, via Jay’s Analysis: specifically that – by bizarre coincidence the same eyewitness happened to be on-site to film both the Nice truck attack and yesterday’s Munich attack on his phone. Tremendous ability to be in the right places at the right times.

The fellow in question, it seems, happens to also be married to a Mossad operative. If it was a Mossad op, the Munich police and German security forces wouldn’t necessarily have been aware of it. Also, if – as the authorities now say, there was only one suspect – then it is possible the other gunmen witnesses described were his handlers or possible Mossad agents.

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On the other hand, this may have just been a disturbed, angry kid who decided to go on a shooting spree with a pistol – someone with genuine psychological problems.

It isn’t clear either why the media – based on multiple eyewitness reports – were saying for hours that there were multiple shooters.
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But what is also worth noting some of the very careful language coming out of Munich: specifically that the authorities are reported to “believe” the 18 year old boy was the lone shooter and that they “believe” he took his own life. That actually isn’t certain – they say they ‘found him dead’ later on (after the city had been locked down for hours and people had been told to stay in their homes and an apparent hours-long search was conducted for multiple shooters).

It is *assumed* that he took his own life: but the media is mostly choosing to overlook the very cautious and deliberate language from Munich authorities, which leaves plenty of room for other interpretations – and which makes me wonder if they’re trying to leave subtle clues in their statements as to what was really going on.

If this was a false-flag op (and one that clearly didn’t go as it was supposed to), the likelihood is that German/Munich police, authorities and anti-terror personnel probably knew nothing about it and were reacting to it without any inside knowledge – which would account for the confused narratives and the ambiguity in official statements.

It is apparent, at any rate, that this boy had nothing to do with ‘ISIS’ or any Islamist terrorism, and that he cannot be linked either to the refugee crisis or the issues of migration or open borders. Though Far Right groups like Pegida and others will no doubt try to use this to weaken Angela Merkel’s position even further.

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Palestinians Lose Hope That Turkey Will Help to Solve Gaza’s Power Crisis

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Sputnik 

Ankara has pledged to help the Gaza Strip to tackle its decade-long electricity crisis as part of a deal to normalize ties with Israel that were severed six years ago, but Palestinians told Sputnik that they doubt that Turkish authorities will deliver on the promise.

Mustapha Al-Agha who lives in Gaza said that locals have lost their hope in Turkey after Ankara decided not to pressure Israel to lift the blockade which has been in place since 2007. Turkey’s “help is limited to humanitarian aid,” he said. “All promises given to the Gaza Strip have turned out to be a ‘downer pill’ meant to receive support for the agreement between Turkey and Israel.”

Itaf Mukhanna, a mother of seven, maintained that lifting the blockade was a priority, urging Arab nations to do something about it.

“Situation here is unbearable. Youth unemployment has worsened. Electricity, water and gas have become an everyday dream that each local is trying to fulfil,” she said.

On June 28, Turkey and Israel announced that they would restore diplomatic ties. Ankara has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to and build a power plant in Gaza as part of this deal. Two weeks later a Turkish delegation visited the region to discuss ways to resolve the crisis with Israeli and Hamas officials.

The delegation is expected to prepare a report that will be directed to Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak, the cabinet and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The government will then work on a roadmap to implement measures outlined in the report.

Last week Turkey delivered 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid meant for Gaza. The cargo was offloaded in the Israeli port city of Ashdod.

The Gaza Strip’s electricity crisis is acute. The region has a single power plant that has operated at less than 50 percent capacity since 2006 when Israel bombed the facility.

Gaza needs at least 450 megawatts per day, but it receives no more than 185 megawatts in the summer and 200 megawatts during the winter, Tare Lubbad, communications director at a Gazan electric company, told Sputnik.

“The energy crisis in the Gaza Strip has become worse since one of [four] generators at the power plant has not been working due to the lack of fuel,” he said.

The plant needs at least 500 tons of fuel per day to operate at its current full capacity, but the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has imposed a tax on fuel purchased in Israel.

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Suspected mastermind in Turkey coup served as military attaché to I$raHell

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A main suspect in the failed coup against the Turkish government formerly served as a military attaché to Israel, reports say.

General Akin Öztürk, also the former commander of Turkey’s air force, was arrested on Saturday along with at least five other generals in connection to the failed coup.

From 1998 to 2000, Öztürk served in Turkey’s Tel Aviv embassy and later went on to serve as the air force commander until he stepped down last year. He then retained his seat on Turkey’s Supreme Military Council.

Turkey has announced that Öztürk and his alleged partners will be tried over treason charges.

According to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, those behind the coup will not face the death penalty as it is against the country’s constitution, but constitutional changes are being considered to block future coups.

Prior to the coup, Öztürk was a celebrated military figure, honored by medals from his own country and NATO.

The coup attempt started on Friday evening when tanks took up positions on two bridges over the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, blocking traffic.

On Saturday, Turkey announced that the failed attempt to seize control of the country by a faction of the armed forces is now over, with 2,839 soldiers, including high-ranking officers being arrested.

Yildirim also said that 161 people had been killed and 1,440 wounded in clashes in the night he called a “black stain on Turkish democracy.”

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Holocaust Discourse and the Moral High Ground

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By Barbara McKenzie 

The Jewish Holocaust occupies a unique position in modern Western society, in that questioning the facts of the Holocaust is suppressed and vilified on a global scale as no other topic of human history. Why is research into the Holocaust so problematic? Why is it that serious research by scientists, historians and other academics is rejected out of hand as immoral? Why is the suppression of research into ANY aspect of history acceptable?

At present there are 14 countries that criminalise ‘Holocaust denial’, i.e. publicly questioning, or disseminating research that questions, any aspect of the approved Holocaust narrative: Canada plus 13 European countries including Germany, Austria and France. In many of these countries legislation was passed decades after the end of WWII, in France only in 1990. As recently as 2015 a German court convicted 87 year old Ursula Haverbeck of ‘Holocaust denial’ and sentenced her to 10 months prison. Other revisionists who have served jail sentences include the German publisher Ernst Zündel and the British historian David Irving, who was arrested, sentenced and imprisoned in Austria in 2005.   Academic Robert Faurisson was convicted in France of holocaust denial in 2006 and given a three month suspended sentence. In Germany convictions are rising steadily: in 2000 there were more than 2,666 violations of the Holocaust denial law STGB 130, as compared with 437 in 1987.

Even where Holocaust revision is legal, those who are involved in it or support it in any way are liable to be vilified, persecuted and generally treated as lepers. British academics like Irving and Nicholas Kollerstrom saw their careers destroyed, and every effort is made to deny revisionists any sort of platform; it goes without saying that they are subjected to vindictive trolling on social media. Some, like Faurisson and Zündel, have been physically assaulted on more than one occasion. After pro-Palestine activist Paul Eisen wrote an article ‘The Holocaust Wars’ in which he suggested there were questions to answer about the Holocaust, he experienced an extraordinary campaign of vilification and ostracism, especially from the pro-Palestine movement he had given so much to. That he was Jewish himself was no defence against the charge of antisemitism. As Eisen himself says, ‘I had metamorphosed into that lowest of animal life forms, the maggot at the bottom of the food chain – a Holocaust denier’.

Paul Eisen saw an unexpected rise in his profile during the 2015 campaign for election of the leader of the UK Labour Party. It was discovered that Jeremy Corbyn had had some links with Eisen in the past, including appearing on the same platform as him. The media, who had hardly been supportive of Corbyn’s candidature, had a field day accusing Corbyn of associating with a Holocaust denier. Jeremy Corbyn’s response to accusations of an association with Eisen was unequivocal : ‘had I known he was a Holocaust denier I would have had nothing to do with him […]. Obviously Holocaust denial is vile and wrong’. (From 2.47 mins in the following)

There are two principle assumptions relating to the Holocaust, both implicit in Corbyn’s denial of Paul Eisen:

  1. It is an an indisputable fact that Adolf Hitler planned to exterminate the Jews of Europe, that he did so by gassing them with cyanide in specially constructed gas chambers, and that he was thus responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews
  2. People who question any of these premises, do so ONLY because they are neo-Nazis and white supremacists, who wish to conceal the crimes of the Nazis while at the same time sharing their ideology. They are ‘Holocaust deniers’, and all Holocaust deniers are of necessity antisemitic.

The immutability of these two premises leads to another, that anyone who questions any aspect of the Holocaust or who supports the right of others to question the Holocaust, is at best morally compromised, and probably downright evil, deserving responses ranging from suspicion, condemnation, vilification, isolation, hate mail, through to arrest and imprisonment, sometimes for many years. Those who accept unreservedly the two premises are automatically morally superior to anyone who smells a rat.

In 2012 Piers Morgan interviewed the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and asked him about his attitude to the Holocaust. I say ‘asked’, but Morgan puts his own position very clearly.

Morgan states that ‘it is an indisputable fact’ that over 6 million Jews were annihilated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. ‘Do you dispute that 6 million Jews died or no.’ Although Ahmadinejad tries to voice his suspicions about the narrative, aroused principally because so much effort goes into suppressing research, Morgan is unmovable: the Holocaust is a fact: either you believe in it or not (subtext: and if you don’t it’s because you choose to, because you are a bad person).

The biologist Richard Dawkins sees Holocaust debate in precisely the same terms as Piers Morgan:

DawkinsHolcaustFact

So according to Richard Dawkins, too, the Holocaust’ is an immutable fact, and those who question it are intellectually on a par with people who think the earth is flat, and morally on a par with racists. Again, the Holocaust is presented as just one fact, a single package – you either believe in it or you don’t.

What is particularly interesting about Dawkins’ position is that he is one of the leaders of the New Atheist movement, ostensibly dedicated to pointing out all that’s wrong with religion. One might have thought he would be sensitive to the features of the Holocaust narrative and the protectors of its memory that are evocative of the most intolerant religions, for example Catholicism in medieval times. Criminalising Holocaust denial is like burning Bruno Giordano at the stake for claiming that the earth goes round the sun.

A number of writers have in fact analysed the parallels between the Holocaust and religion, most notably the Israeli writers Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Shraga Elam, Gilad Atzmon, and Yoshua Shalev. Their arguments have been summarised as follows: Most Jews today are either atheists or shun the religion of Judaism. Therefore, the Jewish people had to adopt belief in the ‘Holocaust’ as their new religion. They have spread this religion all over the world. ‘Holocaust’ museums are the new houses of worship and are present in most major cities. The new religion has its commandments, its decrees, its prophets, its high priests, its circle of saints, its rituals and its pilgrimages. It knows neither mercy, nor forgiveness, nor clemency but only the duty of vengeance. The Holocaust religion is coherent enough to define the new ‘antichrists’ (the Deniers) and it is powerful enough to persecute them (Holocaust denial laws).

The ‘Ten Commandments’ of this ‘Holocaust Religion’ have been enunciated as follows:

  1. Remember what Amalek (the Non-Jews) has done to thee.
  2. Thou shalt never compare THE HOLOCAUST with any other Genocide.
  3. Thou shalt never compare the Nazi crimes with those of Israel.
  4. Thou shalt never doubt the number of 6 million Jewish victims.
  5. Thou shalt never doubt that the majority of them died in gas chambers.
  6. Thou shalt not doubt the central role of SATAN Hitler in the extermination of the Jews.
  7. Thou shalt never doubt the right of Israel to exist as the Jewish state.
  8. Thou shalt not criticize the leading Jewish organizations and the Israeli government.
  9. Thou must never criticize Jewish organizations and the Zionist leadership for abandoning the European Jewry in the Nazi era
  10. Thou shalt take these commandments literally and never shew mercy to them that doubt!

So what if you question this Holocaust religion? There is an almost universal assumption that if you don’t believe in the Holocaust it is not because you have an inquiring mind, it’s because you are innately evil. The belief underlying the draconian legislation relating to Holocaust denial would seem to be that the Holocaust is only questioned by neonazis, whose ‘denial’ is motivated by hate and so they should be locked up before they contaminate anyone else.

I have to confess that when I recently learned of the existence of Ursula Haverbeck and her prison sentence for ‘Holocaust denial’, in a European country in the 21st century, for carrying out, as I saw it, serious research into history, I was shocked to the core. I mentioned this to various acquaintances here in Wellington, who were equally horrified, not at the imprisonment of Ursula Haverbeck, but at the thought that I appeared to be questioning the Holocaust narrative. I was quickly made to understand that if I thought there was something worrying, something odd about this punitive response to historical research, it indicated a moral flaw in my makeup.

Soon after I had a twitter exchange with one Daniel Finkelstein, peer of the British realm, ex-editor of The Times. I came across his savage indictment of a prolific tweeter, who had defended David Irving, the notorious ‘Holocaust denier’. When I commented that the said person ‘opposes land theft (in Palestine), ethnic cleansing and child abuse – what’s not to like? Finkelstein, twitter handle ‘Dannythefink’, responded by asking me what I thought of the Holocaust. The exchange continued as follows:

Daniel Finkelstein

It comes as no surprise that Daniel Finkelstein, who is in total support of dispossession, ethnic cleansing and cruelty in Palestine, assumes morally superiority to me, since I have spoken in defense of a man who has spoken in defense of a man who does research into a field of history. And of course I have refused to commit myself to the undeniability of the Holocaust package …

One can assume that all these experts on the Holocaust, who know enough to be confident of the immutable truth of the Holocaust narrative, whether it be Piers Morgan, Dawkins, or Daniel Finkelstein, would also know another immutable truth about the Holocaust, that the Director of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss was tortured for three days and three nights, and that his testicles were smashed beyond repair,as happened to 137 out of 139 Germans ‘interrogated’ before the Nuremberg trials. One can assume that this makes no difference to their perception of the Holocaust narrative, and they will remain confident of their moral superiority to those of us who are distressed and alarmed by the knowledge that German witness statements at Nuremberg were obtained under the most brutal torture. (From Höss’s confession was derived the figure of 4 million deaths at Auschwitz; the figure was later revised down to 1 million.)

‘Holocaust denial’ is generally conflated with antisemitism, ‘Jew hate’ or racism, and so automatically deserving of vilification. However, even if revisionism is considered to be intrinsically antisemitic, protectors of the Holocaust narrative like to bolster their case by pointing to more general indicators of racism in the culprit.

To the uninitiated the best-known Holocaust revisionist is probably the British historian David Irving, who was convicted of Holocaust denial in an Austrian court and sentenced to three years in prison. Irving was interviewed by Tim Sebastian on the BBC’s Hardtalk in 2000. The programme’s style is intended to be aggressive, but when I watched the programme in 2000, knowing nothing about either Irving or Holocaust denial, I was repelled by Sebastian’s overt hostility to Irving, and I believe that any other impartial person would be too. (Sebastian underlined his antagonism by refraining from shaking Irving’s hand at the end of the interview.)

Sebastian suggests that to deny the gas chambers is hurtful and tasteless (Holocaust denial is immoral per se). But like many others he feels the need to shore up this assumption by showing that there is other evidence that David Irving is a racist, and though he has few examples to work with he is  relentless on this point. Irving’s suggestion that he is no more racist than millions of other people is brushed aside with the rather strange claim from the interviewer that there is no evidence for this whatsoever (so only Holocaust deniers are racist). Furthermore, it would appear that honest but naive David Irving confessed in an interview with theIndependent that he once called someone a ‘nigger’, something he immediately regretted and remained bitterly ashamed of. As someone put it in the comments below the YouTube video, David Irving is probably the most honest person on the planet.

Another protector of the Holocaust narrative is Max Blumenthal, an American Jew who has a profile as a supporter of the rights of Palestinians. Blumenthal has attracted criticism from some pro-Palestine activists, who see him as an ‘antizionist’ Zionist (AZZ), or gatekeeper, due to his attacks on other activists such as Alison Weir and Gilad Atzmon, his opposition to criticism of Jewish power, his prioritising of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, and his peddling of the NATO narrative on Syria; Gilad Atzmon sees him as racist, agressive and supremacist. In 2008 Blumenthal attended a meeting by David Irving when he was touring the States, and created this video:

The video is interesting for several reason. Blumenthal has interspersed his footage with clips from old German propaganda films promoting Germans superiority – of course if you question the Holocaust you must be a Nazi and white supremacist. Like Piers Morgan he presents the question of the Holocaust in bald holistic terms, with no allowance for individual aspects, or degrees of doubt. ‘Are you a Holocaust denier’, he asks, pretty much as one might ask ‘are you a paedophile?’

And as Holocaust denial is such a heinous crime, Blumenthal is justified in first finding out the location of the meeting (given freely to him by David Irving), and then outing Irving to the Vicar of the church hosting the meeting as a ‘Holocaust denier’. The smugness, the self-satisfaction of Blumenthal are palpable; he clearly sees himself as a hero, where others might just see a manipulative sneak. In any case we are left in no doubt that Max Blumenthal, the anti-German racist, the Palestine activist who along with Israel promotes the destruction of Syria, is morally superior to the ‘Holocaust denier’ David Irving, regardless of the latter’s transparent integrity.

The claim that ‘Holocaust denial’ is innately antisemitic was blown out of the water when Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, took into his head to declare that the Holocaust was the brainchild of the Palestinian grand mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Husseini (so not Hitler afterall), that Hitler only wanted to expel the Jews, not exterminate them (thereby breaking Commandment 6, see above). There was anger and ridicule in Israel and amongst Jews abroad and Netanyahu was forced to climb down. Although Netanyahu was in general accused of ‘playing into the hands of Holocaust deniers’, he was actually guilty of Holocaust denial as it is defined, ie questioning an aspect of the Holocaust discourse – any German who made Netanyahu’s claim would be arrested. If one accepts the ruling that says ‘Holocaust denial’ is antisemitic, Netanyahu must be antisemitic. Which is clearly nonsense – Netanyahu’s racism does not lie in antisemitism, but in an overweening belief in Jewish exceptionalism.

Conclusion

It could be that those protecting the approved version of the Holocaust with such intolerance, aggression, and hate are absolutely right, that 6 million Jews died, in gas chambers, according to a plan drawn up by Adolf Hitler. I wouldn’t know – I haven’t done the research necessary for me to form an opinion.

However it is manifestly clear that those who question or deny the Holocaust are not united by a common neo-Nazi philosophy, of a type that on the one hand insists that Hitler was not guilty of the crimes attributed to him and on the other claims ‘Hitler was right’ to commit these crimes. Mainstream Holocaust revisionists are academics, philosophers, German patriots or Palestine activists. They do not necessarily support the far-right – many of them probably vote for left of centre parties. Some of them are notable for their immense compassion, such as Paul Eisen, who has always been a strong advocate of justice for Palestine. All of them have shown great courage and integrity, and are prepared to look for the truth and to speak it as they see it.

Regardless of the facts of the matter, criminalisation of responsible research into the Holocaust, and the vilification and isolation of those who carry it out, or even those who simply support their right to do so, is an outrageous denial of academic endeavour and historiography as a discipline. Anyone who supports such criminalisation, vilification and isolation is NOT morally superior but in fact morally and intellectually compromised. Furthermore, any honourable person with a modicum of intelligence and a modicum of courage will fight for the right of all people to carry out research into any branch of history, without treating one particular aspect as sacred and therefore exempt from scrutiny.

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How EU is Pressuring Serbia to Abandon Relationship With Russia

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Image result for eu flag

Sputnik 

European Parliament rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister signaled Thursday that the EU remains committed to enlargement in the Western Balkans. However, Eurocrats regard the Russo-Serbian relationship as a stumbling block in Belgrade’s way to EU accession.

European Parliament rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister warned Belgrade Thursday that Serbia’s intention to maintain close relations with Russia would not be tolerated by Brussels in the long run.

“The European Parliament sent a signal to Serbia through its [January] resolution that a dual approach to Russia could not be tolerated in the long run,” McAllister said at the press conference in Belgrade dubbed “The European Union’s Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy and the Western Balkans,” as quoted by Balkan Insight.

McAllister also urged Belgrade to reduce its “dependency” on Russian oil and gas, claiming that Brussels wants to see Serbia abiding by the EU energy market rules.

Ahead of the conference McAllister clarified his position in an interview with Europe Western Balkans media outlet.

“The Serbia-Russia relations have often been debated. Serbia has traditionally strong economic, social and cultural ties with Russia,” he admitted.

However, he claimed that since Russia “unilaterally changes European borders” and tries to “expand its influence” over its neighbors, Belgrade “needs to make strong efforts in aligning its foreign and security policy to that of the EU, including the policy on Russia,” referring to the EU sanctions regime imposed on Moscow.

Much in the same vein Nathalie Tocci, adviser to EU Foreign Policy and Security Chief Federica Mogherini, described Serbia’s prospects for EU membership in her interview with Tanjug.rs:

“In the accession process, a country is expected to meet all accession criteria and align itself with common European rules through negotiations, which implies both foreign policy and security. In that regard, I see the relationship with Russia as the biggest challenge for Serbia — as it gets closer to EU membership, Serbia will be expected to also get closer to the EU in terms of its position regarding Russia, but that is something that cannot happen overnight,” she said as quoted by the media outlet.Nevertheless, the Serbian government does not want to abandon its ties with Moscow, insisting that it intends to maintain fruitful diplomatic relations with both Russia and the West.

“I… wish to underline that in the process of decision-making Serbia had a continued consistent stance that at this very stage of the accession process it could not uphold all EU decisions. In some cases Serbia did not align with the EU positions, respecting its national interest concerning the issue of preserving its territorial integrity and the need to maintain traditionally good relations with other partners as well, first and foremost with Russia and China,” Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told the press conference on Thursday.

He stressed that Serbia has proven to be a “reliable and true” partner of the EU and bemoaned the fact that despite Belgrade’s strategic foreign policy orientation toward full EU membership, the process “has not had particularly live dynamics so far because in the last two years we opened only two negotiating chapters.”

At the conference Dacic underscored that the time has come to reexamine what was done to Serbia back in 1999, and threw into question Kosovo’s self-proclaimed sovereignty. He recalled that US Assistant Secretary of State told him that the US has been investing in Kosovo’s independence for 20 years.

“Then I think the mistakes must be sought not only in our system,” he stressed, as cited by B92.net.

He emphasized that neither Russia nor China recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Later, commenting on the EU officials’ remarks Dacic told Serbian daily newspaper Novosti, as cited by Balkan Insight: “It could not be expected from Serbia to introduce sanctions on its friends.”

In his interview with Sputnik former Serbian diplomat Zoran Milivojevic noted that Serbia has its own national interests and the right to protect them.

“There are no reasons [for Serbia] to reconsider its relation with other nations, especially with United Nations Security Council permanent members and traditional friends of Serbia, Russia or China,” Milivojevic told Sputnik.

The diplomat stressed that it is inappropriate for Brussels to set such conditions on the very early phases of Serbia-EU negotiations, referring to the fact that Belgrade and the EU are yet to discuss the 31st chapter of EU accession related to Serbia’s foreign policy. Only when the chapter is opened the issue of the Russo-Serbian should be brought into the spotlight, he stressed.

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Palestinian journalist ordered to administrative detention

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Campaign launched for syndicate leader’s release

adib-alatrash

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – July 18, 2016

The Israeli Ofer military court issued a thee-month administrative detention order against Palestinian journalist Adib al-Atrash on Sunday, 17 July, as the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate launched an international effort to free syndicate leader Omar Nazzal, also held under administrative detention without charge or trial.

Al-Atrash, who recently graduated from Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus, was arrested by Israeli occupation forces on Monday, 20 June from his family’s home in Al-Khalil. Al-Atrash and Nazzal are two of over twenty Palestinian journalists detained and imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.

Nazzal was arrested by Israeli occupation forces on 23 April 2016, as he attempted to cross at the Karameh crossing from Palestine’s West Bank to Jordan, to travel to the European Federation of Journalists’ annual general meeting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nazzal, a member of the PJS’ general secretariat, was representing the syndicate at the conference; he was also ordered to four months’ administrative detention without charge or trial.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate is working with the International Federation of Journalists and international syndicates of journalists to campaign for freedom for Nazzal and his imprisoned colleagues. The IFJ has called for the release of Nazzal and other imprisoned Palestinian journalists, including former hunger striker and administrative detainee Mohammed al-Qeeq.

Al-Atrash and Nazzal are among nearly 750 Palestinians held under administrative detention without charge or trial, out of a total of 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Administrative detention orders, issued for periods of one to six months on the basis of secret evidence, are indefinitely renewable.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Human RightsComments Off on Palestinian journalist ordered to administrative detention

Naziyahu Corruption Scandal Envelops Wealthy U.S. Haredi Family

NOVANEWS
By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam

… I reported yesterday on an investigation that has caught up Netanyahu, his son, Yair, possibly his wife, Sara, and his former chief of staff Ari Harow. …

Today, a Channel 2 news report snares a new player in the scandal, Shlomo Rechnitz. There’s a baseball saying: you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. As this criminal probe expands, I’ll try to keep the players clearly identified and offer some background.

robert reichnitz & netanyahu

Robert Rechnitz with pal, Bibi Netanyahu

Rechnitz comes from a wealthy, extended ultra-Orthodox family based in California.  The scion of the family and Shlomo’s uncle, is Robert Rechnitz, a real estate investor who founded the Bomel Companies and an Israeli subsidiary, Bomel Israel. He has been vice chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition and founded a Congressional lobbying group on behalf of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system (or should I say, “racket system?) the Iron Dome Tribute.  He even developed a branding slogan: “the Humane Defensive Weapon.” I always thought the words “humane” and “weapon” were oxymorons. But not in the topsy-turvy world that is pro-Israel advocacy.

I learned all this not from Wikipedia or Rechnitz’s corporate biography, but from the corporate PR firm Rechnitz hired to polish his image, the Friedlander Group.  Unfortunately, he didn’t hire them to monitor the reputation of his children and close family members. Because now two of them are in very hot water.

His nephew, Shlomo owns the largest nursing home conglomerate in California: Brius Healthcare Services (brius is the Yiddish version of the word for “health”). The State of California has investigated his firm numerous times for violations of health regulations. He was the subject of a class-action suit. His Pasadena nursing care facility was accused of recruiting felons as patients. Several employees faced criminal charges from that escapade. He complained once to the Sacramento Bee that the charges against him made him out to be “the Charles Manson of the nursing home business.” I’m guessing no one from Friedlander was available to accompany him to this interview. That image really sticks in your mind.

Not to mention the time he announced that his employees, for whom he’d purchased 18,000 Powerball tickets, had won the Powerball jackpot. The NY Times even featured him in a major story. Well, it turns out it wasn’t true. It was all a hoax, supposedly perpetrated by the son of one of the “winning” employees.

Rechnitz is also reported to have bought the anti-Haredi blog, Failed Messiah, written for years by Shmaryahu Rosenberg. Rechnitz and many of his associates had been skewered in its posts for years.  Though conditions of the sale were not made public, they apparently bar Rosenberg from creating a new blog; or at least one covering the same subject as his old one. That online property promptly disappeared from the internet.  Clearly, the Haredi community had withstood the slings and arrows of outrageous (mis)fortune from Rosenberg’s pen for too long. The tycoon stepped in to end the attacks.  Lately, a new iteration of the blog, Lost Messiah, was launched by readers of the old blog who wished to maintain the service it had done to the Orthodox community and the Jewish world.

Rechnitz appears to be playing a lead role in the Scandal of the Day as a major donor to Netanyahu and the Likud. His uncle, Robert, was the western chair of American Friends of the Likud, which would mean he both donated and raised massive sums from Orthodox Jews on behalf of the Israel far-right. As such, the elder Rechnitz would’ve worked closely with Ari Harow, the man in the spotlight of the current scandal. That’s how Shlomo would’ve come to the attention of the Israeli police investigating the money-laundering operation.

I haven’t dug deeply into the background of Victor Deutsch, Harow’s former business partner. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he too is Orthodox and perhaps a close friend of the Rechnitz family. If this guess turns out to be true, Deutsch would have excellent motive to benefit Harow and the Likud by the sort of fraudulent business transaction they’re accused of arranging, in selling the latter’s company for $3-million in largely unaccounted-for funds.

Jonah Reichnitz

Jona Rechnitz: show him the money!

Another Rechnitz facing the glare of bad PR is Jona, Robert’s son and cousin to Shlomo. Jona attended Yeshiva University and was photographed during his student days visiting the Cave of the Patriarch, a venerated settler holy site where Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinian worshippers.

Jona began his career in real estate working for Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel. Leviev, who began his own career as a blood diamond merchant to the stars, also maintains vast real estate holdings in the U.S., Britain and Israel. His company has also built Israeli settlements. Jona helped manage the Leviev real estate portfolio in New York until they had a falling out. After that, Rechnitz formed his own company, JSR Capital.

Jona and another wealthy Hasidic Jew have been swept up in the bribery and corruption scandal which has rocked the De Blasio administration in New York City. They did favors for the corrupt head of the city prison officers union, Norman Seabrook, and offered gifts and benefits to senior police officers in the precinct where they lived.  Among the crooked deals was a $60,000 payment to Seabrook (paid in a $1,000 Ferragamo hand bag) in return for the union boss’ steering $20-million to a Rechnitz associate’s investment fund. Seabrook was miffed as he’d been told he could net $150,000 from the arrangement.

Among other favors were all-expenses paid gambling junkets to Las Vegas on a private jet.  Another part of the entertainment provided was a prostitute dressed as a flight attendant whose “services” included far more than providing drinks and snacks.

Presumably, Rechnitz did this so he could gain favorable service response and attention from local police personnel in Brooklyn Orthodox neighborhoods. But he had even bigger ambitions, which led him and his associate to make six-figure donations to various DeBlasio political fundraising vehicles once he’d won the Democratic mayoral primary.

Jona lobbied the City Council and succeeded in gaining a $655,000 “discretionary” allocation to underwrite a “cultural sensitivity” police training seminar hosted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which was Rechnitz’ pet project.  Presumably, part of the curriculum was learning sensitivity to the special interests of the Haredi community.  You certainly won’t find any sensitivity to the Muslim community in this program.

All of this paints a portrait of a wealthy Haredi family parlaying money into political clout on a local, national and international scale. Unlike other American families in which wealth is wielded within discrete nuclear families, in the Haredi world extended families (clans) unite to pursue objectives that benefit both their families personally and their extended Orthodox communities. It’s certainly cleaner and less deadly than the old Italian mob. But as the Netanyahu investigation shows, it’s no less venal and corrupt.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Naziyahu Corruption Scandal Envelops Wealthy U.S. Haredi Family

Ukrainian Regime Turns Into ‘Mass Grave’ for Journalists 

NOVANEWS

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Journalist Pavel Sheremet © Sputnik/Ramil Sitdikov
Sputnik

MOSCOW — Ukrainian political system is turning into “mass grave” for journalists and journalism in general, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday, commenting on the killing of journalist Pavel Sheremet in a car bomb attack in Kiev.

Earlier in the day, a car bomb claimed Sheremet’s life in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. The Ukrainian general prosecutor confirmed Sheremet’s death, classifying it as murder.

“A vehicle with Pavel Sheremet was blown up in Kiev. [He was] a professional journalist, who was not afraid of telling the authorities what he thinks about them — to different authorities and at different periods of time. And he was respected for this. Ukraine (not the country, but the system) is turning into mass grave for journalists and journalism,” Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page.

President Petro Poroshenko ordered investigators to ensure the perpetrators of the attack are brought to justice.

Sheremet is a well-known journalist who worked in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. He had worked in Kiev for the last five years for the Ukrayinska Pravda news portal and Radio Vesti broadcaster.

In April 2015, Ukrainian opposition journalist Oles Buzina was shot dead in Kiev by two masked gunmen near his home. The incident occurred less than a day after former lawmaker and government critic Oleh Kalashnikov was murdered at his residence in the Ukrainian capital. Another Ukrainian journalist, Donetsk-born Serhiy Sukhobok, was also killed the same month near his house in Kiev.

Reporters Without Borders has repeatedly urged the Ukrainian authorities to investigate the killing of journalists.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Ukrainian Regime Turns Into ‘Mass Grave’ for Journalists 

British journalist arrested in Israel

Marianne Azizi

Marianne Azizi writes:

I write many stories and articles about people being arrested in Israel. Last night I became part of my own story.

After spending the day filming an Israeli father, Ariel,  who was looking for his son – taken by the mother without notice a month ago – I also became a target of the police.

I had been filming Ariel searching for his son in a settlement called Nili, where it was alleged his son had been taken. Ariel saw his former wife’s car and started house-to-house calls showing a photo of his son. I was filming him, for his own protection.

After he enquired at one house, and received a curt “no” response, he immediately knew this was the place where his son was.

I am accustomed to the police being called in domestic affairs, and this was no exception. As the father was being questioned by security officials, my instincts told me this could escalate. At 1.30pm Ariel was told he was being invited for interrogation. I recorded him and logged the time, at which point I decided to leave the place and go for some food and drink, having had no breakfast.

This might be the law, but be prepared, they can do anything they want to you. (Lawyer to Marianne Azizi)

Arriving at the exit gate, my car was cut off by the security officials’ truck, and I was told I couldn’t leave the settlement and needed to return for questioning. When I said I had taken videos all over the world and had not encountered problems, the security officer’s response was: “Well, this is your first time.”

Returning to the street, I was met by a police officer who told me to wait – the agression and tension was building. I made a few quick calls to lawyers I know who told me they could not confiscate my filming equipment as I was a journalist and should be allowed to do my job. But one lawyer said: “This might be the law, but be prepared, they can do anything they want to you.”

After another 30 minutes a senior police officer came and told me to hand over my phone, and he told my colleague to hand over his phone as well as his filming equipment. I refused. I was told if i didn’t, i would be arrested immediately (which means 24 hours in custody as it was Friday, the eve of the Sabbath).

I reluctantly handed over my phone. We were put into a police car and ordered not to talk to each other on the way to the station – which was situated at the checkpoint near the settlement of Modi’in. By this time it was 2.15pm.

I am aware of the law, which says a person can be held only for three hours, then either released or arrested. I told them I was a foreign national and a journalist, but was completely ignored. Nobody explained the process or even answered my questions. We were given a few glasses of water, and told to sit.

“I’ve been detained for over two hours, what do I do? They have my phone…”

Two young Israeli army soldiers sat in the same room. It was a small room, with a desk, four chairs and a TV on the wall. The officer was typing constantly. Our passports were taken, as were our phones, camera equipment and computer. I could see our property on a small filing cabinet opposite my chair. After two hours I stood up to stretch and was told to sit down. I was escorted by a soldier to go to the toilet. My colleague was starting to feel anxious (he’s also a European citizen).

I felt I needed to call my lawyer but was refused. As the time passed, I nudged my colleague and told him to go to the toilet. The soldier went with him, and I grabbed my phone and sent a text to my lawyer: “I’ve been detained for over two hours, what do I do? They have my phone…”

I put the phone back on the filing cabinet. My lawyer called, I answered and said out loud: “Hey, I can’t hold a phone, and I’m in Modi’in Illit, don’t know what’s going to happen…”

At 5.15pm I said I wanted to leave as my three hours had passed. I spoke a little Hebrew and English. They laughed in Hebrew, but one cop said she knows the law. A few minutes later one officer said: “You are under arrest.”

The police officer saw me and closed the phone, shouting to me to get back to my chair. I said it’s probably my lawyer, because if I don’t check in regularly they worry. I whispered to my colleague that after three hours, if I wasn’t out we would hope the cavalry would arrive.

At 5.15pm I said I wanted to leave as my three hours had passed. I spoke a little Hebrew and English. They laughed in Hebrew, but one cop said she knows the law. A few minutes later one officer said: “You are under arrest.” That was all he said. I asked repeatedly why I had been arrested – eventually he said I was under arrest for criminal acts. I again asked for my phone call, but was told it would be when the investigation started.

By this time I hoped my text would bring some help. Time passed. At around 7.15pm Varda Steinberg, an Israeli lawyer, arrived. She gave me advice, and told me that we would be released following investigation, and to make sure we would leave with our equipment, and if not to request it the next evening in court. I was then asked how anyone knew where I was but the tone had changed, and I didn’t feel like a criminal. We were tired, very hungry and thirsty for a hot drink. Someone came in with some biscuits and apples.

Finally, I was taken for questioning, some seven and a half hours after being held in the street. I was told it was about trespassing. The chief investigator told me that to knock on the door of a house which had a gate was against the law as you had to enter a person’s land to access the door. My response was that if I filmed it, why was I guilty, and that Ariel should be charged with trespassing on every house he visited? Why was it that the only house was the one where his son was?

He was an efficient officer and actually the first to answer my questions, and also be civil. He took my telephone, which was full to bursting, and checked videos by attaching a cable to his computer. Sadly, my SD card wasn’t in the phone. He saw there was nothing but still didn’t agree to return the phone.

What stood out for me the most was how little I was told. Being a foreign national meant nothing. I had no explanations, no courtesy and no communication.

My colleague was then questioned. His expensive camera equipment had been damaged, and he was told to sue the police for damages – a matter that will take a long time with possibly no result.

By now, i was free to walk around the small compound, and even given a small black coffee.

Finally, at last, we were taken by the police back to my car – as it would have been far too dangerous to walk in the area, and being the Sabbath it would have been impossible to get a taxi. On the way to the car an officer asked: “Why did you come all this way to make trouble?” My response was: “To film a father is making trouble?

Sadly, Ariel did not fare as well as me. He was handcuffed and put in a small holding cell, ready to face formal proceedings after Saturday evening when the Sabbath ends in the Russian compound in Jerusalem. Fortunately for me, I was able to retrieve some of the videos which provides all the evidence to help absolve him from the charges.

So, in the end the video was protection, and I have had a first hand experience of police investigations and arrests. It’s not fun, and perhaps if I had not taken the risk to text against all protocols I might have ended up in the same place as Ariel.

What stood out for me the most was how little I was told. Being a foreign national meant nothing. I had no explanations, no courtesy and no communication.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UKComments Off on British journalist arrested in Israel

Turkey’s EU Path Entering a Dead-end Street

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

Following the failed coup in Turkey, the European Union keeps advancing into the Hamletian dilemma – should Turkey be part of the Union, or not – and realises more and more that there is far more than one answer to this question. The problems are on several levels and a large portion of them are within the European Union itself. Turkey’s road to the Union is quite long and does not go in sync with the Union itself, whose foundations were laid with the idea of uniting the continent after the devastating wars of the early 20-th century and protecting the peace. This is also the motive that has been driving European unification and integration forward. Turkey’s European way is a part of the Ataturk civilisation swerve towards the Western liberal-democratic model. From the very start, however, there has been great mistrust of Turkey.

Turkey made its first request to join the European Community back in 1959 and filed for membership in the EU 1987. Negotiations started in 2005, but are difficult, slow, and with growing doubts on both sides about their ultimate goal. Turkey of the time when the application was filed back in ’87 is a very different from the Turkey, which began negotiating in 2005, and still more different from the Turkey, which opened the 16th chapter in a row less than a month ago (on June 30). In this time, the country made a U-turn towards undermining the secular orientation of the country and return towards the authoritarian model of governance, which leaves a tangible religious aftertaste. The European Union, too, has not remained static. It has evolved from a loose economic community into a Union with several circles, each with a different gravitational pull.

The Union’s system of values has survived several shocks as well with the choice of an illiberal model in some of the new member states and with the growing euroscepticism, which in some countries degraded to the nationalism of the pre-war years of the beginning of the 20th century. The migrant crisis further stimulated attacks against European values and spawned the largest inter-Union tension since the Union’s creation. It even managed to surpass the euro area crisis in magnitude. All this explosive cocktail requires a rethinking of the European Union itself and of one of its most important and successful policies so far – enlargement. Up until the latest accession to the European Union in 2013 (Croatia), enlargement had great transforming power and served as a magnet for countries, which believed the Union has no alternative and neither does its system of values. It looked like countries were joining it exactly because of its values.

Currently, however, it is just the most problematic and geopolitically complicated countries that are left in the enlargement cellar, some of which no longer perceive the Union as the unquestionable authority that it was for the first large wave towards South-Eastern Europe back in 2004 and 2007. Some of those, who survived the bloody disintegration of former Yugoslavia, on the other hand, do not trust the EU’s capability of remaining the peace project that it was in the beginning, due to its failures in preventing or stopping the war and also its inability to solve the problems’ stemming from the war’s legacy. Of all these countries it is undoubtedly Turkey that is the most complicated one, for it is economically fully emancipated, has huge geopolitical influence, and its diaspora in the EU is numerous and powerful. This makes the EU’s previous approach towards candidate states totally helpless in generating a transformation and a solid direction.

Moreover, the EU has found itself in a situation of attempting to convince itself that it has not turned from an authority and role model into a sick man, depending on Turkish will. The Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn (Austria, EPP) attempted to dispel this feeling on Monday during the emergency hearing in the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, dedicated to the coup attempt in Turkey. “Turkey needs Europe at least as much as we have interest in having good relations with Turkey. There really is a balance there. There shouldn’t be an impression that we depend on Turkey in any way”, he told MEPs in Brussels. Ankara’s behaviour, however, further enhances the feeling that Turkey’s integration in the EU is impossible anywhere in the foreseeable future. A good indicator for that are the latest meetings on opening “harmless” chapters in addition to the events in Turkey after July 16th.

Turkey wants to participate in the reform of the EU

The EU committed to working towards unfreezing Turkey’s integration process, after the country agreed to aid the Union in containing the huge flow of refugees, passing through Turkey. This is how the relatively more frequent opening of chapters began. There was one chapter opened in December and the next opening was on June 30th – the 16th chapter in a row – number 33 “Financial and budgetary provisions”. During their more frequent contacts over the last nine months, full credit for which is due to the migrant crisis, rifts of tectonic magnitude appeared between the EU and Turkey. The EU is fully aware that it is dealing with a government, which has a different view on democracy and rule of law, but kept playing along with what it started by beginning negotiations in 2005. Over the last year the EU has been attempting to pass Turkey the message that the opening of chapters is part of the democratic process and not a reward for geopolitical cooperation, to a negative effect.

Instead of taking criticisms to heart and committing to their implementation, the Turkish side criticises the EU for its own shortcomings. On June 30th, European Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik asked for the EU to sweep its own backyard, for there are far-right movements blossoming in it, as well as Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and racism. “These are the main threats against European civilisation”, he said at a press conference after the opening of Chapter 33. In his words, mainstream political parties should increase their power and not let themselves be weakened by extremist movements.“European integration, without finding solutions to its own problems, cannot give hope to its citizens and the countries around it. So, it’s imperative that the EU takes certain reforms”, added Turkey’s EU minister and made it quite clear that the country wishes to participate in the formation of the Union’s future.

“Europe needs a fresh start with a fresh vision. Such a start will have to include Turkey”, Ömer Çelik was adamant. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in turn demanded again that the EU ceases to support the Kurdish PKK party, likening them to Islamic State. “Unfortunately, we see a double standard towards Turkey”, he said and criticised those politicians, who provide a platform for the PKK.“If you allow PKK to set up a tent, it means allowing Daesh to set up a tent in the middle of Brussels. Terrorism is terrorism”, summarised Minister Çelik. Called to defend the EU from criticism were Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn (Austria, EPP). The minister, to whom this was the last day at work representing the rotating presidency of the Council, attempted to strike back by explaining that fundamental rights and freedoms should never fall prey to the fight against terrorism.

“Let’s not delude ourselves – this is a fight for the European values and that includes freedom of expression and the rule of law”, stated the Dutch minister. The Commissioner added that this also means responding within the boundaries of rule of law and standing for freedom of expression. Criticism against Turkey was also pointed at the refusal of Turkish authorities to change their repressive anti-terrorism law – one of the conditions for securing a lifting of the visa regime. Turkish reaction, however, was sharp. According to Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, when we talk about terrorism double standards are to be avoided regarding the freedom of expression. The minister did not fail to mention France, which introduced a state of emergency because of the series of attacks there. Changing the anti-terrorism law would only encourage terrorists, he added. This was, however, back at the end of June, before introducing a state of emergency in Turkey, coupled with a suspension of the European Charter on Human Rights.

The death penalty is a red line

In the first hours following the failed attempt the EU demonstrated a rare instance of unity in its cautiousness regarding events in Turkey, which have a strong geopolitical hue. The subject took over the last meeting of the Union’s foreign ministers before the summer break on July 18 and even managed to overshadow the debut of Boris Johnson at the European scene as a foreign minister. The ministers came out with brief conclusions, in which they strongly condemned the coup attempt, but also urged Turkish authorities to restraint. The 28 further underlined the necessity for respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. A special focus was placed on the death penalty, following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appeal for its reinstatement. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini (Italy, Socialists and Democrats) warned that reinstating the death penalty means an end to membership negotiations.

During the discussion of what is going on in Turkey in the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, many MEPs also called for the EU defining the death penalty as a red line, whose crossing would mean an unequivocal ceasing of enlargement negotiations. Debate in the committee illustrated how much has Turkey changed and thus fears in the EU as well. Committee Chairman Elmar Brok (EPP, Germany) expressed his bewilderment at the speed which Turkish authorities answered the coup attempt with and his concern at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan getting closer with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. “But when we see that a meeting with President Putin has been planned, then I hope that it’s not going to be a festival of autocrats”. Commissioner Hahn stated that there is nothing to discuss – reinstating the death penalty is an exclusion from the list of possible EU membership candidates.

All MEPs, who spoke, regardless of nationality or affiliation with a particular political power, were cautious. Othmar Karas (EPP, Austria) stated that the dialogue with Turkey should not be discontinued, for negotiations are a means for pressuring Erdoğan. He proposed that the EU monitors events in Turkey separately from the negotiation process in cooperation with the Council of Europe’s mission. European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey Kati Piri (Socialists and Democrats) pointed out that in the span of three years Turkey has been causing concern by trimming freedoms and shutting up critics. “I very much hope that recent events will not be used as justification to further Putinise Turkey”. She also urged that Turkish representatives be invited as soon as possible to the foreign affairs committee to clear up the situation.

Mark Demesmaeker from the group of European Conservatives and Reformists (Belgium) asked why does Europe negotiate at all with a state of this type and how are we to interpret the fact that Russia and Turkey are getting so close. Ivo Vajgl (ALDE, Slovenia) made a long speech in which he turned things towards the European Union itself. He reminded that Turkey has another choice, not just EU membership, especially in a situation where Putin comes up as a timely ally. He feels there is a clear danger that, should the EU continue to marginalise its neighbouring states, it will ultimately lose them. “It was too long that we’ve been closing our eyes for the fact that destabilisation of Turkey was on the agenda. It should have happened immediately after the war in Iraq, involvement of the Kurdish element and after the war in Syria. We didn’t care, we didn’t realise that it is our interest not to destabilise Turkey, to help Turkey even though it sounds absurd”, explained the Slovenian MEP.

He pointed out that Turkey was for too long been exposed to “our internal European battles about do we want a Muslim country in EU or not, is it admissible, is it OK”. Negotiations have been postponed for absurd reasons. Turkey was humiliated, continued the Liberal MEP from Slovenia. He did not neglect to mention as a mistake of the EU the membership of Cyprus as well, where problems with Greece were transferred to European soil. Mario Borghesio of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group (Italy) believes that the coup has revealed the true face of Turkish democracy. “We have to open our eyes now”, he urged and also took up the Russia issue. Slovenian MEP of the EPP group Alojz Peterle warned that because of events in Turkey, Europe should expect a new category of refugees. “Again we have hard and soft power confronting again”, he concluded.

Some MEPs advocated directly for cessation of negotiations, while others demanded that it is clearly explained to Turkey that it is receiving aid from the EU only and exclusively for its democratisation. Yet third ones openly stated that Turkey is not wanted in Europe as a member, but it is welcome as a partner. The enlargement negotiations commissioner attempted to calm the discussion down by explaining that Turkey is in all ways very important. In his opinion, warm-up of relations with Russia is not supposed to cause alarm, for both countries are key players in the region and could play a leading role in Syria.

All of this, however, happened on Monday, when there could still be any doubts about the true nature of purges in Turkey. There is hardly any of those left. The EU is once again faced with the dilemma of what to do with dictators. Should it participate in their dethronement, consequences are catastrophic and the Union is unable to bear the responsibility for them. Should it work with them, it runs contrary to its own system of values. Until recently, although the dilemma was the same, it was easier, because dictatorship was turning more and more into a thing of the past, but now it is a future trend not only outside the EU, but within it as well. The long line of embarrassing questions in the relationship between the EU and Turkey are now demanding an answer. The EU has kept silent since Monday (while this article was being translated from Bulgarian EU came up with a statement condemning the purge in Turkey), watching over 60 thousand people being fired, arrested, or investigated in connection with the coup.

The problem is that even if the EU should cease the negotiation process with Turkey immediately as of today, this would hardly stop Erdoğan. The Union currently possesses neither sticks nor carrots to drive Turkey back into the process. Moreover, it is not clear whom it is to speak with. On one side is the government claiming that the EU continues to be a goal to the country, but on the other side President Erdoğan is demonstrating the exact opposite. What is happening in Turkey could pose a serious risk to EU security and reopen the doors to refugees. Any hasty reaction by the Union could also bring about internal tension in the countries where Turkey has a serious diaspora. Turkey also has a strong influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose stabilisation and return to the European path the Eu took to heart two years ago. In other words, the EU currently has no useful move, except sitting back and watching events unfold in Turkey.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in TurkeyComments Off on Turkey’s EU Path Entering a Dead-end Street


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