On Monday, NATO ally Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Washington. The severe step is meant to punish the U.S. for opening an embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.
Also Monday, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador to Turkey. It had already withdrawn its ambassador from Tel Aviv.
In a speech at Chatham House on Monday, Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a “terror state,” and accused Israel of carrying out a “genocide.”
Indicating his view that the U.S. is also responsible for the so-called “genocide,” Erdogan said, “I condemn this humanitarian drama, this genocide, from whichever side it comes, Israel or America.”
Turning his attention to Washington, Erdogan accused the U.S. of violating international law by recognizing Israel’s capital and moving its embassy to Jerusalem. He insisted that following the embassy move, the U.S. can no longer mediate the Palestinian conflict with Israel.
As Erdogan was condemning Israel and the U.S. in London, protesters in Ankara were burning Israeli and American flags at a mass rally. One speaker at the rally referred to the American people as “dogs.” The rally was organized by Turkey’s Islamist IHH group. IHH, which is aligned with Hamas and al Qaeda, has close relations with the Erdogan regime.
This April marks the fourth year of the ongoing war in Ukraine between the Ukrainian military and Russian backed separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine, also known as the Donbas region. Prior to the beginning of the war in eastern Ukraine in April 2014, Russia annexed Crimea.
Russia’s aggression into Ukraine came in direct violation of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Under the memorandum, in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons, Russia reaffirmed its “obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine” and promised that none of its weapons would ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
Now, the question of further Russian or Russian-backed military operations in Ukraine has surfaced. In March, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asserted that Russia has been strengthening its military presence on the border of Ukraine. According to Poroshenko:
“For more than one year, we have been repelling Russia’s military aggression on the front line… In his latest report General Zabrodsky reported in detail on the strengthening of the military presence of the Russian Federation along our border and continued stay of Russia’s regular troops in the occupied territories”.
There was a depressing familiarity both to Hamas’s suicide protest operation along Gaza’s border with Israel this week and to Israel’s response to it.
Hamas’s jihadist regime in Gaza doesn’t have a lot of cards to play in its continuous war against the Jewish state. But, as we have been seeing since Hamas launched its campaign against the border six weeks ago, it does have one card, and no matter how often it plays that card, Israel can’t seem to figure out how to beat it.
Hamas’s card is Western hostility to Israel. The Western media, along with the EU and most European governments, hate Israel. Leftist governments in other Western countries – Canada under Justin Trudeau, the US under Barack Obama, are similarly disposed.
Acting on the sure knowledge that the Western media, the EU and the international Left will always side with Israel’s enemies against it, Hamas’s high card is its ability to stage assaults on Israel that provide Israel’s haters in the West with a pretense for condemning it.
For more than a decade Hamas has deployed Western Israel-haters alongside Palestinian civilians as suicide protesters used for anti-Israel photo-ops. In 2003, Rachel Corrie, the Israel-hating activist from Washington state, walked in front of a giant IDF bulldozer building the border wall separating Gaza from Egypt’s Sinai. The driver couldn’t see her, ran her over, and Hamas and its Western partners created a blood libel of Corrie’s martyrdom.
The history of human rights, albeit fragmented, is a long and often honourable expression of religious and civic endeavour. The scriptures of most religions refer to the ways in which we should treat our fellow man, from the Bible in antiquity to the broadly liberal Baha’i scriptures written in Persian and Arabic in the late nineteenth century. Religious precepts have served to protect human beings from arbitrary mistreatment in Hinduism, Buddhism, and other faiths.
Modern human rights declarations and legislation developed in a secular context, above all as an expression of democratic values, and informed by Judaeo-Christian ethics. The earliest formulations of secular human rights legislation are to be found in the 1789 French Declaration on the Rights of Man and the Citizen and the 1791 US Constitution, the first 10 amendments of which form the Bill of Rights.
It was not until after the Second World War, however, that an even wider formulation of human rights came into being. Like the French and American declarations, these fresh formulas had much to do with the notion of individual rights: rights that were lodged in the political and legislative strategies of modern democratic states. Prior to that, rights tended to be located in communities, with individuals being subject to the laws and pressures of the tribe – as in the limitation of rights for Jews and Christians within Muslim societies, or for Jews in Europe, notably in ghettoes. This new construction of rights — through religious or ethnic identity — has, for some decades now, found expression in democratic states in “multiculturalism”.
The Swiss academic Elham Manea has identified this new denial of individual human rights as “essentialist multiculturalism”, in her book Women and Shari’a Law. This “Essentialist Multiculturalism” is defined by the notion that individuals must be understood through their culture, not as independent citizens.