by Michael Wilner
The United States on Tuesday said it “strongly condemns” comments from Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan blaming Israel for the military coup and ensuing crisis gripping Egypt.
“We strongly condemn the statements that were made by Prime Minister Erdogan today. Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated, and wrong,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing.
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf on reiterated the comments and said the Turkish leader’s comments harmed the diplomatic process going forward.
Erdogan told provincial leaders of his AK Party on Tuesday that his government had evidence Israel had a hand in events that led to the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, from Egypt’s presidency.
In the wake of the violence in Egypt last week— which led to the deaths of thousands of demonstrating civilians and the wounding of thousands more— Turkey called the incident a “massacre” at the hands of the Egyptian military.
Erdogan’s rant was not worthy of a response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Tuesday.
“This is a statement well worth not commenting on,” Palmor said. Another Israeli officials said he had a one word response for Erdogan: “Nonsense.”
The Turkish premier, who has a history of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic remarks, blamed Israel on Tuesday for the events that brought about Morsi’s ouster.
“Who is behind [the ouster]? There is Israel,” Erdoğan said at a meeting of his AK Party in Ankara. “We have [a] document in our hands.”
The document, it emerged, was a video of a discussion held at Tel Aviv University on the Arab Spring in June 2011 between Tzipi Livni, then the head of the opposition and today the Justice Minister, and French Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy.
Levy, during the symposium, said, “If the Muslim Brotherhood arrives in Egypt, I will not say democracy wants it, so let democracy progress. [........]”
Levi said Hamas’ takeover of Gaza “was [a] putsch, a coup; a democratic coup, but a coup. Hitler in 1933 was a coup; a democratic coup, but a coup.”
Asked by the moderator, former New York Times Jerusalem correspondent Ethan Bronner, whether he would urge Egypt’s military to intervene against the Muslim Brotherhood if they would win a legitimate election, Levy said: “I will urge the prevention of them coming to power, but by all sort of means.”
Citing this discussion, Erdogan said, ‘The Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections, because democracy is not the ballot box.’ This is what they said at that time.”
Erdogan’s comments come just a few weeks after he blamed unrest in his own country on an “interest rate lobby,” widely believed to be a metaphor for western Jewish businessmen. [.......]
Even Turkey’s Hurrityet Daily News seems to be tiring somewhat of Erdogan’s anti-Israel rants and conspiracy theories. The lead to an article on Erdogan’s comments Tuesday that appeared on the paper’s website began with the words, “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan went back on the warpath August 20, accusing one of Ankara’s most prominent bogeymen, Israel, of complicity in overthrowing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.”
Erdogan’s comment Tuesday came some five months after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – at the behest of US President Barack Obama – phoned the Turkish prime minister and apologized for operational errors that may have led to loss of life on the Mavi Marmara ship that tired to break the naval blockade of Gaza in 2010.
While that apology was supposed to have paved the way for an Israeli-Turkish reconciliation, talks for compensation payments quickly bogged down as the Turks added that they now wanted an Israeli admission that the compensation payments was the result of a wrongful act. Expectations that the apology would lead relatively quickly to the exchange of ambassadors failed to materialize.
What the apology did do, one Israeli official said Tuesday, was remove US pressure on Israel to reconcile with Turkey, since in the eyes of the US, Netanyahu did what he needed to do.
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by Leo Rennert
It’s the lead story on the Sunday front page of the New York Times — a lengthy piece on how frantic, behind-the-scenes efforts by U.S. and European diplomats supposedly came close to building a path toward ending the bloody conflict in Egypt between the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and the military-backed interim government.
In the end, as we all know, external prodding failed. But in allotting blame for why diplomacy didn’t succeed, the Times gratuitously points an accusing finger at Israel and AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, for allegedly siding with the Egyptian military and undermining U.S. diplomacy (“How a U.S. Push to Defuse Egypt Ended in Failure – Barrage of Diplomacy — Despite 17 Calls from Hagel, Cairo Chose Confrontation” by David Kirkpatrick, Peter Baker and Michael Gordon).
Yet length doesn’t guarantee accurate reporting. In fact, the Times dispatch is built on a deeply flawed premise that outside pressures somehow might have been able to bring Egypt’s agony to an end, especially if President Obama had shown more backbone and cut off $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid to Cairo. [........] Suspension of U.S. military aid would be more than offset by more generous military aid from Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Arab oil states.
But in pursuit of external meddlers aligned against Washington diplomacy, the Times prefers to build a case against Israel and AIPAC. Here’s how Kirkpatrick, Baker, and Gordon put it:
“The Israelis, whose military had close ties to General Sisi from his former post as head of military intelligence, were supporting the (military) takeover as well. Western diplomats say that General Sisi and his circle appeared to be in heavy communication with Israeli colleagues, and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.
“Israeli officials deny having reassured Egypt about the aid, but acknowledge having lobbied Washington to protect it.
“When Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, proposed an amendment halting military aid to Egypt, the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee sent a letter to senators on July 31 opposing it, saying it ‘could increase instability in Egypt and undermine important U.S. interests and negatively impact our Israel ally.’ Statements from influential lawmakers echoed the letter, and the Senate defeated the measure, 86 to 13, later that day.”
There’s more here than a whiff of Jewish conspiracy theories that fueled medieval anti-Semitism. Notice that AIPAC is tagged as an “influential” pressure group presumably capable of swaying the U.S. Senate. AIPAC cracks the whip, purportedly, and 83 senators jump to Israel’s tune. It apparently doesn’t occur to the Times that 83 U.S. senators are capable of voting based on their own agendas and beliefs — without a need of “influential” external lobbying to make up their own minds.
As for Israel’s supposed role in taking sides against the Muslim Brotherhood, the authors of the article never bother to identify their sources. Never mind that Israeli officials from Prime Minister Netanyahu on down are on record as having decided that Israel will avoid involvement in Egypt’s conflict. So why rely on dubious, unattributed sources like “the Israelis” and “Western diplomats ” and “the diplomats believed,” and General Sisi “appeared to be” etc.? Could it be that on-the-record
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