No pardons for Turkey

No American should be giving thanks these days; nor should any collusive government or media outlet be pardoned.

US President Barack Obama (photo credit: REUTERS)
US President Barack Obama
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The annual White House tradition of sparing the life of a turkey on Thanksgiving – in the form of a “presidential pardon” – may seem peculiar to people who did not grow up in the United States.
It is a gesture that provides a few minutes of comic relief to Americans of all stripes, regardless of political affiliation. This year, US President Barack Obama elicited laughter when he quipped about giving amnesty to two turkeys named Mac and Cheese.
This was a veiled reference to his controversial move last week to wave his wand and legalize five million undocumented immigrants.
Still, while journalists may have been chuckling, members of Congress, appalled at the president’s repeated abuse of his executive powers, were not amused.
As an expat American Israeli, for whom the issue of illegal aliens in the US is as abstract as celebrating Thanksgiving is distant, I have a different bone to pick (no pun intended) with Obama right now. But it involves Turkey the country, not the bird.
On Thursday, while families across America were cooking yams and cranberry sauce, Israel’s Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced that it had uncovered an extensive Hamas network in Judea and Samaria, and had thwarted a plan to carry out a series of coordinated terrorist operations against Israelis. These operations were to include abductions of Israelis at home and abroad; car-bombings; roadside shootings; and a mass attack on Teddy Stadium, Jerusalem’s 34,000-seat soccer arena.
For this blessing of prevention, all Israelis owe a prayer of thanksgiving.
The spate of (so-called) recent “lone wolf” terrorism, involving the slaughter and serious injury of many innocent civilians, has been intolerable enough. The idea that organized attacks on population centers were also in the works, though predictable, was cause for a collective shudder.
The arrest of more than 30 Hamas operatives during the month of September enabled interrogators to glean crucial information about these imminent attacks, including a plot to assassinate Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman by firing an anti-tank rocket at his car. One key piece of evidence that emerged is that Turkey has become a major base for Hamas operations.
The leading figure behind the Turkish organization is Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas honcho who was deported from the West Bank in 2010. Arouri has become in Turkey what Khaled Mashaal is in Qatar – a remote-control commander, trainer and dispatcher of terrorists in Israel.
As in the case of Qatar’s patronage of Mashaal, Arouri would not be able to run a Hamas command post in Turkey without the open or tacit approval of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his puppet, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Though Turkey is a member of NATO and aspires to join the European Union, Erdogan has been taking the country in a distinctive Islamist, anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic direction. This has not prevented the Obama administration from continuing to treat him as an ally, however, going so far as to force Israel to apologize for the events of the Turkish- sponsored “Free Gaza” flotilla in 2010 (when armed activists attacking Israeli commandos were killed).
Nor did Obama do more than offer mild criticism of Erdogan’s accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge this summer, or even call him to task for his public rebukes of US behavior in Syria.
But the clincher came on Thursday.
While Obama was “pardoning” a couple of turkeys in the Rose Garden, Erdogan was letting loose on the West during an address to the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul.
“[F]oreigners love oil, gold, diamonds, and the cheap labor force of the Islamic world,” he said. “They like the conflicts, fights and quarrels of the Middle East. Believe me, they don’t like us. They look like friends, but they want us dead; they like seeing our children die...
“The only condition to overcome the crisis in the Islamic world is unity, solidarity and alliance ... If we act together, we will end the loneliness of Palestine, which has continued for nearly one century ... It is possible to end the bloodshed in Iraq and killing of Syrian children if we unite.”
He then went on to respond to the astonishment he aroused earlier this month when he declared that America was discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, not by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
“Just because I repeated a fact based on scientific research, I have been targeted by the Western media, as well as by the foreigners within [Turkey], who suffer from an ego complex,” he said.
“They have been very disturbed by the fact that we have reminded them of some historical facts, the history of civilization, science, politics and war. They don’t want us to question anything.”
Aside from being evil, Erdogan is a fool. It is precisely leaders like Obama, with the help of the Western media, who don’t want to “question anything” about militant Muslims such as those heading Turkey.
For this dangerous and purposeful oversight, no American should be giving thanks these days; nor should any collusive government or media outlet be pardoned.
The writer is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’