“Schlaglicht Israel” offers an insight into internal Israeli debates and reflects selected, political events that affect daily life in Israel. It appears every two weeks and summarizes articles that appeared in the Israeli daily press.
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Main topics covered in this Publication:
- Failed military Coup against Erdogan
- The Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade
- Netanyahu’s Offer of Reconciliation towards the Arab Population
- Selection of Articles
1. Failed military Coup against Erdogan
A coup in the night
(…) The pictures from Istanbul showed horrendous butchering of those carrying the coup over the Bosporus and elsewhere. One soldier’s throat was cut like a sheep left to bleed to death. Worse, Turkish media reported that some of the privates who were detained told interrogators that they thought this was a military exercise, and not a military coup. They only understood when people started to climb on the tanks in anger and protest. (…) People from the same Turkish family killed one another. The coup could be over, but the scar of last night will remain permanent. And some of us will deem to stand courageous looking in the eye of the worst of what a human being could become. Yet, in the absence of a opposition which could turn the direction of the country to a constructive tone – all individual contextualization will go away by the wind. What is left behind is an embarrassing scandal on so many levels at the cost of 190 lives (…). With the rescue of the Chief of General Staff and government taking full control, 2,839 military personnel got arrested for plotting this mischievous night.
Tulin Daloglu, JED, 17.07.16
And the winner is … Erdogan
Friday´s failed military coup in Turkey was (…) an errand undertaken by fools. (…) The digital age has seen its fair share of successful uprisings. This one in Turkey will not be remembered among them. Perhaps it was because those leading the coup thought waging it in the media would be a winning strategy, as if controlling the media was the same as controlling the country. This is similar to how 30 years ago some generals believed winning simulated battles on a table was enough to win a war. (…) the conspirators failed to properly get their message across and failed to encourage the masses opposing Erdogan to rally behind them. (…) one has to wonder who, or what, was the driving force behind the coup. (…) The lack of a clear message worked in favor of Erdogan. (…) Erdogan will walk away from this coup a far stronger leader, and being a borderline megalomaniac his strongman tactics will most likely be underscored. (…) This particular event will allow Israel to enjoy the stability Erdogan can maintain in Turkey. It will be more of the same, and perhaps even a little more than that.
Dan Margalit, IHY, 17.07.16
Erdogan´s true revolution
Contrary to popular belief, the revolution in Turkey is not a failure and is not over and done with, but rather continuing in full force, every day, breaking new records on its path to change the face of Turkey at its foundation and burn the bridges that connect it to the past to the ground. No, this is not about the failed performance we witnessed over a week ago (…). The revolution transpiring in Turkey these days is a different kind of revolution, a revolution orchestrated by Erdogan, who has learned to take advantage of the opportunity he has happened upon to deal a devastating and possibly fatal blow to those who oppose him on his path to realizing the goals he has aspired to for years: reconnecting Turkey to its Muslim and Ottoman roots and erasing the legacy of the founder of the Turkish republic, Kemal Ataturk, and more importantly, his secular ideology. (…) One after another, he takes over the strongholds of power and influence in the country, beginning with the media, moving on to the academia and the education and legal systems, and ending with the police and the military. Tens of thousands of those who oppose him (…) have been removed from their posts. Thousands of others have been arrested. (…) In recent years, it seemed he had lost his touch, and more and more Turks were growing tired of Erdogan. That is, until the miracle on the Bosporus happened for him. Although no one would now dare open their mouths to say it, many Turks fear that the more Erdogan fortifies his regime, the more he will weaken the Turkish country and undermine its foundations. But only time will tell if the revolution Erdogan is starting in Turkey will be irreversible, as those who oppose him fear.
Prof. Eyal Zisser, IHY, 25.07.16
Erdogan’s false flag operation
(…) there is good and growing reason to suspect that President Recep Erdogan staged the so-called coup in order to legitimize a broad-scale assault on his domestic political opponents (…) the real danger to democracy in Turkey lies in Erdogan’s long-standing desire to establish a totalitarian Islamist regime. Turkish democracy is threatened by Erdogan’s current offensive to rid the military, judiciary, academia and media of any and all political opponents. (…) Erdogan has engaged in one of the boldest and most brutal, gargantuan political grabs in modern history; a sweeping attempt to crush the remnants of liberalism and democratic debate in Turkey. (…) The implications of this for Israel and the West are stark (…). Non-democratic states are not eligible for NATO membership; yet Turkey plays an oversize role in NATO. (…) Moreover, the recent Turkish-Israeli accord was meant in large measure to facilitate Israel’s greater integration in NATO affairs (…). The Turkish-Israeli accord also was meant to get a grip on Hamas. (…) I find it hard to see the newly emboldened Imperial Erdogan indeed playing this restraining role versus Hamas now.
David M. Weinberg, JPO, 21.07.16
The perfect coup
Like the textbook putschist, the Turkish leader called out his troops(…), shut down social media, arrested tens of thousands of his enemies (…) and imposed emergency rule. He did this all in the name of saving Turkish democracy (…). He overthrew a democratic regime and is on his way to replacing it with a personal autocracy. (…) Erdogan is assembling all the ingredients for a future revolution (…) by firing 60,000 army officers and policemen (…) Stir in journalists, teachers and college administrators who have been purged to provide an intellectual and propaganda corps. Then spice it with civil servants who know the inner workings of the government. (…) Turkey Erdogan envisages is one where loyalty to the leader is paramount (…). You won’t be able to teach at a high school or a university without demonstrating fealty to the president. (…) Only politically loyal businesses will have access to government contracts and those who aren’t may risk being taken over or destroyed. Turkey isn’t about to become a totalitarian state, but it’s likely to resemble Putin’s Russia where thought and speech are constrained, and the best and the brightest are fleeing. Russia at least has oil. Turkey has no natural resources sufficient to keep it afloat. It has to get by on the capacity of its businesspeople and human capital. Like China, Turkey made the leap from an agricultural economy to an industrial one, but if it is going to keep growing it has to finesse the next leap to a knowledge economy where innovation founded on free expression and meritocracy is what drives business. In Erdogan’s Turkey, the foundation is no longer there.
David Rosenberg, HAA, 27.07.16
Hamas and Erdogan’s funny definition of democracy(…)
Unlike those who waited to see the outcome of the failed military takeover before applauding the autocrat in Ankara, however, Hamas was genuinely relieved. After all, the Islamist Palestinian group has no greater friend than Erdogan. (…) Erdogan can and does identify with Hamas’ objectives and methods, especially those pertaining to Turkey. When Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council member Mushir al-Masri made a speech after the coup was nipped in the bud and announced, “We are ready to sacrifice our blood for the Turkish people, and… for Istanbul,” Erdogan was reassured. It is American values to which he has an aversion, not those of his co-warriors against “infidels.” It’s a funny definition of democracy, but one that Erdogan and his champions call their own.
Ruthie Blum, JPO, 24.07.16
Fethullah Gulen — A view from Israel
(…) Israel has recently patched things up with Turkey, more or less. But one relationship was permanently damaged and the Mavi Marmara played a major part in its unraveling. This is the relationship of Prime Minister, now President, Erdogan and Gulen. (…) Gulen condemned the initiative, arguing for Israel’s sovereignty and urging that support for Gaza ought to be channeled through the state authority. (…) He also recognizes Israel, enough to have distanced himself from Erdogan’s position on Gaza and the flotilla. (…) This contributed greatly to the deterioration of the relationship of the two Muslim leaders. (…) Israel owes a debt of gratitude to a principled Muslim voice that recognized its sovereignty, at severe cost. (…) Gulen draws on Muslim spiritual teachings and is considered by his followers in line with the Sufi tradition. (…) On the practical side, one must do all one can to defend one’s rights. But in terms of attitude it is a call to patience, despite whatever they do to you. The patience involves patient suffering. One must observe the law, and not cause further polarization, or engage in violence. (…) There has been an outcry concerning violation of human rights in Turkey and concern over torture and rape. There’s been concern about using the coup for political purposes. We can easily recognize, (…) that the space from which Gulen is ousted may well be taken up by forces we would not wish to see in his place.
Alon Goshen-Gottstein, TOI, 26.07.16
Trouble in Turkey
(…) Last week’s coup was so badly planned and executed that it beggars belief. (…) Ignoring completely international pleas that the plot not be utilized by the regime for a widespread crackdown and imposition of open dictatorship, Erdogan is doing just that. He is, in fact, decapitating the Turkish intellectual elite, while blaming the event on the US and Fethullah Gulen, who denies the accusation and who immediately denounced the coup. (…) One wonders if the Turkish prisons have enough room for all the detainees. (…) It will be a long time before the military, once the strongest in the Middle East after Israel, can be reconstructed; the economic situation, already difficult, will become much worse. (…) And finally, the Kurds will be able to take advantage of the situation to step up their anti-regime activities. (…) What does that mean for Israel? (…) Any reliance it might have placed on Turkish promises to rein in Hamas in Gaza cannot now be relied upon. The damage done to Israeli relations with the Kurds will look even more like a questionable risk. However, that said, Israel cannot afford to be the party seen as terminating the deal. (…)
Norman Bailey, GLO, 21.07.16
2. The Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade
On the eve of this year’s Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, (…) a joyful celebration that otherwise marks one year since the brutal stabbing murder of 16-year-old Shira Banki by a fanatical, homophobic ultra-Orthodox Jew (…), Mayor Nir Barkat has apparently joined the inciters. (…) Reaction was quick to follow. Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On blasted Barkat for “degrading Banki’s memory,” and accused the mayor of cynically coddling his ultra-Orthodox constituency to gain political points. (…) Some rabbis continue to incite their followers against the LGBT community, blithely ignoring the lethal effect this had on Shira Banki. (…) Apparently the mayor’s decision to opt out did not cleanse the municipality from the taint of abomination. Haredi leader Rabbi Meir Mazuz blamed last October’s terrorist slayings of Eitam and Na’ama Henkin on the gay pride parade in Jerusalem. (…) Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar believes the public is “disgusted” by homosexuality. (…)This homophobia among rabbis who are leading opinion-makers and public servants has to stop immediately. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 20.07.16
Words can kill
In recent days, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has been under a blistering attack by various political and social groups. (…) While the public discourse in Israel has undergone an encouraging transformation in recent years, Orthodox rabbis and public figures, in the name of Judaism, have allowed themselves to speak out against the LGBT community and support discrimination against it. (…) The parades in cities outside of Tel Aviv (…) serve not only as human rights demonstrations, but also opportunities for rectifying past wrongs. We, the members of the LGBT community, were usually raised in straight families where we had little opportunity to meet others like ourselves. We have been fueled with negative stereotypes about the community (…). We have been working our way out of the closet, often alone and afraid, with a sense that there is something wrong about us — something flawed. Indeed, the parades have enabled the members of the gay community to rectify their situation. (…) Despite the great progress achieved in various fields, homophobia in the Jewish discourse remains legitimate. (…) Today is the first anniversary of Shira Banki’s despicable murder, (…) which (…) has reminded us of the imminent danger that the ongoing incitement poses to us all. As long as Orthodox Judaism continues to advocate prejudice against the gay community, its extremists will continue to use violence against the LGBT community.
Noa Satat, IHY, 19.07.16
Circles of hope
(…) When Shira Banki, a 16-year-old girl who came to show her support at the Pride parade, was murdered (…), it was clear to us at the Yerushalmit Movement that this time we can’t just go on with our lives, that we had to do something. (…) We started calling on people to come outside, sit together in a “public Shiva,” (…). And they did, thousands of them. (…) They intentionally came or coincidentally passed by and decided to stay. (…) We come to the square every Thursday(…). It’s still not completely clear what took place there in the square. A public therapy session? A public mechanism to relieve stress and pressure? It’s uncertain. The only thing that is clear is that we made contact there with a large need of people to talk. To get to know each other. (…) Jerusalem has a long history of zealotry and hatred. It also has the ability to become a place of meeting. And hope. This is our choice, and it’s only dependent on us.
Tehila Friedman, JED, 21.07.16
Silence is not an option for this LGBT voice
(…) there is a reason that one of the most eye-opening slogans to come out of the gay rights movement is the “Silence = Death” one. Because it does. (…) We use our energies just to fight to stay alive rather than using all of our energies to focus on our relationship with Hashem and our Jewish way of life. That is why so many of the LGBT frum Jews leave — they choose life, and exist elsewhere, because the fight is too draining, too painful. (…) People choose to sin, to eat treif, to violate Shabbat, to commit crimes, to harm others, etc. Trust me, no one chooses to be gay. (…) The Talmud teaches us that whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. This is an often cited verse when it comes to violating Shabbat, in order to save a life. What people most often forget is the first part of that verse. “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world.” And so silence is not an option. (…) what saddens me most, is when our oppressors are from within our own communities. Those rabbis and community members who hope we would drown in a sea of hatred and homophobia; those who would be willing to destroy another’s soul by providing no place for us in the only world we know; making us feel as if there is no place in life for us. (…)
Shlomit Metz-Poolat, TOI, 23.07.16
The danger of liberal homophobia
(…) save me from my friends, because I can save myself from my enemies. Or, preserve me from liberal homophobia, which has a pretty face, but basically consists of hierarchy, discrimination and exclusion. Conservative homophobia, which calls gay people perverts or sick and saddles them with causing earthquakes, avian flu and other troubles, is easy to identify and therefore easier to protect against. Bennett did speak disapprovingly of Levinstein’s remarks, but he and his party are at the forefront of blocking legislation to accord equal rights to LGBT people. (…) Liberal homophobia, which consents to express some condemnation, might come for a photo-op to the parade, but will not work to fully de-legitimize homophobia or extend full, unconditional equality for the LGBT community. (…) Despite the appearance of equality, the great visibility of the LGBT community especially in the center of the country, (…) homophobia is still here. It is still here in both of its forms, the conservative form and the liberal brand of homophobia, which may have a nicer face, but is nevertheless still homophobia.
Aeyal Gross, HAA, 24.07.16
Something new and dangerous is going down in Israel: Hope
(…) extremists and bigots – many of them well-paid civil servants – mounted an obscene campaign of intimidation and demonization against potential participants in the city’s planned March for Pride and Tolerance. Opponents of the march hoped that the campaign (…) would deter participants from the route and perhaps keep the event from taking place at all. The result? For every marcher in 2015, in this year’s march there were six. LGBTQ and straight, atheist and Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian. Youth movements and, yes, rabbis. Nearly 30,000 people marched for dangerous goals: Equality, full recognition as human beings, full recognition of the diversity and the power and the glory of love. (…) on the streets of our most hatred-torn city, (…) love won. An Israel to be proud of. A life cult. (…) The march, and the pride and tolerance for which it stands, scare these men of the cloth to death – perhaps because many of them are part of the one in ten. (…) Across the board, the most threatening wedge issues, like LGBTQ rights, widespread poverty and inadequate health and elder and child care, are those which cut across the divides about which we obsess, and which keep us from doing anything worthwhile about anything else. (…) Across the country, Arab and Jewish towns are finding ways to skirt the deaf-ear central government, and (…) solve ecological issues which they, operating individually, had been unable to address. (…) Arabs and Jews playing music together in venues around Jerusalem and across Israel. (…) ordinary people of all sorts, are finding ways to skirt and stand up to institutions like the Rabbinate and the government agencies who, rather than serving them, plague them and ruin their lives. (…)
Bradley Burston, HAA, 26.07.16
3. Netanyahu’s Offer of Reconciliation towards the Arab Population
Netanyahu’s actions to advance Israeli Arabs are what count
(…) The Israeli government and its leader miss no opportunity to incite against the Arab community and its representatives in the Knesset. (…) Does Netanyahu, who says he “wants to take a step forward” in relations between the state and its Arab citizens and calls on them to “take part in Israeli society,” indeed mean what he says (…)? Or is it a masquerade for the purpose of image-building (…)? Netanyahu and his government (…) know that most of Israel’s Arab citizens will not give up their citizenship and that they seek full involvement in Israeli society. To achieve this, the government has many tasks ahead, including involvement of Arabs in the work force, advancing educational institutions (…) and fighting crime in Arab communities. But alongside these important tasks, the prime minister and the country’s political leaders must acknowledge the narrative of Israel’s Arab citizens and stop working to erase their identity. (…) Netanyahu, as usual, chose to speak in a lengthy video, rather than at an event at which representatives of the Arab community or Arab journalists could test him with questions. Nevertheless, it is to be hoped that his statements are not empty slogans. (…) Netanyahu would do well to implement a policy of true equality, on both the practical and symbolic levels, while seeking a true peace agreement with the Palestinians, which will reduce tension and allow true coexistence between Arabs and Jews in Israel. Otherwise the speech, with its positive messages, will not go into the annals of Israel’s history, but will end up gathering dust.
Editorial, HAA, 27.07.16
(…) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a surprise video-taped message to the country’s 20 percent Arab minority. (…) The on-camera message was also an apology. (…) The prime minister’s apology was long overdue. His comments on Election Day were unfortunate. (…) the video comes after incidents that emphasize the gulf that separates Jewish and Arab Israelis. (…) Words alone will not be enough to remedy the tensions that exist between Arab and Jewish Israelis. Admittedly, Arab citizens are not a part of Netanyahu’s constituency. (…) Integration of Israel’s Arabs is (…) a cardinal national interest for any government (…). Feelings of alienation and real or perceived discrimination foster destructive phenomena such as crime and high levels of high school dropouts. In contrast, providing the Arab minority with cause for hope and belief that integration is a real option can help unleash human potential that otherwise would remain untapped. (…)Even Arab Israelis’ self-defined identity does not rule out Israeliness. Only a minority of Israel’s Arabs identifies as Palestinian. The Arab community is not one cohesive, homogeneous entity, but highly diverse and multifaceted. The government needs a more nuanced and productive approach that encourages integration for those interested. (…) Many Arab citizens want to be a part of Israel’s thriving economy and dynamic society. Netanyahu’s government can help or hinder the process of integration. The video is not enough. It is time for action.
Editorial, JPO, 28.07.16
Mr. Prime Minister, words are not enough
(…) I’d like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts from those of us at the New Israel Fund and thousands of American Jewish supporters of a progressive, democratic, and equal Israel. You expressed your view that Palestinian citizens of Israel must be seen as valued and equal citizens in Israeli society. We agree. These are values that we expect to hear from Israel’s leaders. But given your record on these issues, your laudable words were somewhat surprising. (…) You have been prime minister of Israel for seven consecutive years now. In that time, we have seen democratic freedoms erode. We’ve seen Israeli society become more divided and more polarized. (…) change is always possible. (…). But your words will be meaningless unless they are part of a sincere change in direction on your part and on the part of your government. (…) We will all be looking to see what you do next. As you yourself said: it is not enough to talk about equality, it is action that matters.(…) Around the world, people are watching your video with skepticism, but also with hope that this, perhaps, at last augers a change for the better. I hope you take action to prove that you are a man of your word.
Daniel Sokatch, TOI, 27.07.16
4. Selection of Articles
From now on, it is not permitted to paint a nude woman
(…) The history of art is filled with paintings and sculptures of male nudity, and even more of female nudity. (…) Shaked has one of the most important positions in Israel’s government and men are subordinate to her. Is it possible that the meaning of Yam Amrani’s painting is deceptive – the nudity is the same nudity, but the roles and status have been turned upside down? Could the interpretation of nudity in this case be woman power, as a twist on the history of art? (…) The only connection the painting has to Shaked is that it’s of a woman’s body, to which a face similar to Shaked’s was stuck on. So Kamir’s position must be seen for what it is: From now on, it is not permitted to paint a woman in the nude. (…) It takes a lot to be a good artist, but most of all it’s vital to have freedom of imagination and thought, and freedom to carry out what the imagination and thought lead to. If until now the students had a department head to consult with, now his status has been fatally compromised and an eight-member ethics panel will be placed above him to tell students what work of art is allowed and what isn’t. With the prohibitive effect of a panel consisting among others of administration officials – the president, a businessman and the college attorney – one can assume what art we’ll get here and what remains of the department head’s authority. (…) The most appropriate thing to do is waive the “academic ethics council,” remove the cover from the painting and decide that this is one mistake we won’t make again.
Amos Schocken, HAA, 21.07.16
The suffering of ‘our boy’ Elor Azaria
(…) At the age of 18, Israeli women and men become adults in every significant way, with one caveat: Once they join the ranks of the IDF, their aging is reversed, and they become children once more. Armed children (…). This process only encompasses IDF soldiers. A Palestinian 14-year-old who threw stones at an Israeli vehicle is seen as having the same moral responsibility as an adult. You can arrest him, interrogate him, and even jail him for months—sometimes years. An Israeli soldier (…) on the other hand? He’s just a boy. (…) If he fell into captivity while carrying arms and wearing a uniform, he’s still just a kidnapped boy, not a captive soldier. If he shot a Palestinian, he’s automatically defined as a victim. (…) If his commanders don’t back him up, as is the case with Elor Azaria, then they’re the bad guys. (…) These bad guys are abusing our innocent boy. (…) The system (…) signaled the idea that killing Palestinians is justified to the soldier, and so it, and only it, is responsible. (…) Like Azaria’s right-wing protectors, they believe the Israeli soldier cannot be held morally responsible. He’s confused, even brainwashed. (…)An Israeli soldier is not punishable. Morally, he’s a boy. “Our boy.” This is a dangerous perception. If we believe that 18-year-old soldiers aren’t morally responsible, than we must not give them guns
Aviad Kleinberg, JED, 27.07.16
HAA = Haaretz
JED = JediothAhronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published: August 2016
Dr. Werner Puschra, Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel