Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Palestine, Tancredo, NPT, Turkey, Pipes

1) Legal basis of Palestinian claims:

“Re-claiming Palestine: The Legal Basis for Rights of Return and Restitution”
Summary of Lecture by Susan Akram, Souad Dajani, and Bret Thiele
For the Record No. 230 / 2 August 2005

Palestinians constitute one of the largest and longest standing unresolved situations of displacement. About one in three refugees in the world is Palestinian and more than two-thirds of Palestinians are refugees. Less than 1 percent of Palestinian refugees, said Susan Akram, associate professor of law at Boston University, has been able to return to their places of origin according to conservative estimates. Even fewer have received restitution for their material or social losses, concurred sociologist and development consultant Souad Dajani, author of two recent studies on Palestinian refugee rights.

Palestinians' Right of Return and right to housing and property restitution are "integrally related to each other, yet quite distinct as a legal matter," said Akram during a Palestine Center symposium on 18 July 2005 entitled "Re-claiming Palestine: Palestinian Losses, Exile, and Diaspora." Akram addressed the legal aspects of these issues as part of a panel with Dajani and Bret Thiele, coordinator of the Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)'s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Litigation Program. The symposium focused on Dajani's studies, "The Untold Story: The Cost of Israel's Occupation to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip" (Washington, DC: The Palestine Center, February 2005) and "Ruling Palestine: A History of the Legally Sanctioned Jewish-Israeli Seizure of Land and Housing in Palestine" (Geneva: Center on Housing Rights and Evictions, May 2005).

Akram said that the legal basis for a refugee's Right of Return is established in three main bodies of law: the law of nationality and state succession, human rights law, and humanitarian law. In all three, explained Akram, the Right of Return is both "a rule of customary international law and codified in international treaties." Pointing to numerous treaties that Israel has ratified, which bind it to recognize and implement this right, Akram argued that Israel is the state entity responsible for creating the refugees and is thus held responsible for the implementation of Palestinians' Right of Return.

Under the laws of nationality and state succession, newly-created states are obligated to grant all persons found within the territory the nationality of the new state, and are forbidden from arbitrarily denationalizing or expelling persons found therein on the basis of race, religion or ethnic origin. Residents expelled during conflict are also entitled to return to their places of habitual residence under these laws, explained Akram. She said that Israel is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and is a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), each of which prohibit denationalization, expulsion, and the denial of the Right of Return on the basis of race, religion, or ethnic origin.

Akram said that Israel maintains that it is not responsible for creating the refugee problem and that it is, therefore, free from any obligation. She explained that Israel argues that Palestinians' Right of Return would threaten its "Jewish character" and that it would be committing "political suicide" if Palestinians were allowed to return to their homes. In addition to denying responsibility for creating the refugee problem or causing Palestinians to leave, Israel maintains that the Right of Return is an individual right that is not available in mass refugee situations. However, in the last 40 years, the Right of Return has been "firmly embedded" as a core obligation of nation-states. "State practice includes the incorporation of Right of Return in peace agreements, such as in Indochina, Cambodia, Mozambique, and Rwanda," Akram said, noting that in the 1990s, an estimated 12 million refugees were repatriated around the world. The Palestinian Right of Return is further codified by numerous U.N. resolutions that refer to it as unconditional, inalienable and imprescriptible, Akram said.

Turning to the issue of restitution, Akram said the basic rule is that the state responsible for the illegal expropriation must reverse the effect of that violation through full property restitution. She drew on the general law of state responsibility to based legal recourse for housing and property restitution. Akram pointed to Bosnia, where more than 50 percent of all property claims have resulted in the restitution of the homes and lands to their owners after the conflict ended. "Most remarkable in the Bosnia case is that restitution has been the goal of the reconstruction process and not a penny has been paid in compensation as an alternative to restitution," Akram said.

While millions of refugees throughout the world have returned to their original homes, Bret Thiele argued
that based on the research of COHRE, Israel continues to violate Palestinian refugee rights to their land, housing, and property restitution. He noted that approximately six million Palestinian refugees are prevented by Israel from returning to their homes and recovering their land and property in what is now Israel.

"If Israel were willing to return confiscated land to Palestinian refugees, this could be a comparatively simple process because most of the land remains under the public control of the Israeli government and has not been transferred to private hands," Thiele said. He argued that restitution of Palestinian claims would be less complicated than in other places where COHRE has been active, such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Mozambique, and South Africa, based on the fact that in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, "large portions of land confiscated since 1948 remain empty and almost all Palestinian refugee families retain their original land and property titles which prove ownership rights," he said.

Addressing why the Right of Return has not been implemented for Palestinians, Thiele noted that despite the
basis for Palestinian rights in international law, Israel has enacted its own laws enabling the expropriation of Palestinian land and property. He noted that the 1.2 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship constitute more than 20 percent of Israel's population yet they own less than 3 percent of the land.

Thiele said that a series of these Israeli laws, which are described in detail by Dajani in the May 2005 study
published by COHRE, have been used to "lay legal claim" to the lands and property of "absentee" Palestinians, which he defined as "the Israeli government's euphemism for forcibly displaced Palestinian refugees." He argued that "Israeli law has been fundamental to the expropriation of Palestinian land and property since the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948," by allowing for massive confiscation of Palestinian land and its transfer to Israeli control.

In particular, the CORHE study outlines Israel's use of the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law to bar so-called "internal refugees" from returning to their family homes and villages by defining and prosecuting them as infiltrators if caught. Internally displaced Palestinians are those who were declared absent by Israel from their villages at the time of Israel's creation but remained within Palestine. Dajani's study also reveals that Israel enacted land and property laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to facilitate its control of 4,700 sq. kilometers of land. The study draws attention to the fact that Israel's current construction of the Wall around the West Bank will reduce it by an additional 15 percent.

Although property losses incurred by Palestinians in 1948 and in 1967 are methodically documented in both
of Dajani's studies, she said that what is important is "not so much the data you collect, but rather the principle you start from, the principle of international law." Dajani argued that the starting point for assessing the cost of occupation to Palestinians in the territories Israel occupied in 1967 is the belief that the "whole occupation is illegal" and that Israel is "obliged to withdraw fully from the occupied territories."
Although the study Dajani published through the Palestine Center focuses on restitution and compensation, Dajani stressed that the study does not suggest that the Right of Return "is a matter to bargain over." She maintained that "restitution is not a substitute for return."

Research for "The Untold Story" proved challenging. Dajani found existing records to be incomplete and most data inaccessible. Methods used to measure losses were not comparable throughout the Occupied Territories and were taken at various periods. She said that data collected by international donors was compiled to measure the need for economic aid, not to determine compensation. While detailed records collected by the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), which relate to the land left behind in Israel by Palestinian refugees in 1948, are housed at the U.N. archives in New York, there are no such records for those made refugees during 1967, explained Dajani. She described the Palestine Center publication as a "useful tool" to use in measuring restitution for the loss of land and livelihood, damaged infrastructure, destruction of homes, lost opportunities, and human suffering incurred over 38 years of occupation.

Through her research, Dajani found that Israel gives legal preference to Jews by enacting laws that "enshrine Jewish privilege and entitlement while legally sanctioning discrimination against Palestinians." She explained that some laws enacted by Israel are designed to "sever the links between the indigenous Palestinian people and the land," while other laws create links between Jews and the land in order to "replace the now-legalized broken bond" of Palestinians toward the land. Dajani said that with U.S. support, Israel has "tossed binding and applicable international laws to the wind as far as the Palestinians are concerned." However, she blamed Palestinian negotiators for "moving away from asserting international law as the basis for a just resolution to the conflict."

Backed by the United States, Dajani said that Israel has refused to address Palestinian rights of return and restitution from a legal basis and approaches the issue as a political matter instead. She argued that Israel expects the international community to assume the financial burden of settling refugee claims and insists that Jews be compensated for property left behind in Arab countries. "The value of Palestinian refugee property from 1948 alone is estimated to be twenty-two times the value of Jewish property in Arab countries," Dajani noted.

Despite almost universal condemnation by the international community, Thiele added that Israel continues
to carry out "discriminatory land, housing and property policies, and practices which make a sustainable and just peace a practical impossibility." He argued that a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians will only be possible when ordinary Israelis "acknowledge and accept responsibility" for past wrongs, embrace the process of reconciliation and overcome their fear of their historic neighbor. He added, "What little remains of the Palestinian homeland is disappearing in front of our eyes. It is as if Israel is deliberately erasing it from the map."



2) Zogby on Tancredo:

Tancredo: "Stupid, Brazen, and Uncivilized"
By James J. Zogby
t r u t h o u t Perspective
Tuesday 02 August 2005

By even suggesting that Mecca could be bombed in retaliation for a terrorist attack, Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) has made the world a more dangerous place. He is not alone, of course. Ironically, the Congressman has plenty of company among those who, either because of the evil they do or the stupid things they say, have endangered us all.

Now, before I am attacked for establishing a moral equivalence between terrorist bombers and unthinking macho politicos, let me be clear: I know the difference. The sick malevolence that led to 9/11 (US), 7/7 (UK), and 7/23 (Egypt) is dramatically and immediately more evil than the lies that led the US and UK into Iraq or the hate-filled incitement practiced by religious extremists of all stripes. Right thinking innocents can reject and counter the latter, while we are all potential victims of the former.

At the same time, however, it would be wrong to ignore the ways the "evil doers" and the "stupid sayers" feed off each other. They both prey on fear and anger and contribute to exacerbating the fear and anger that exists on both sides of the ever widening divide. Both the "doers" and "sayers" operate with absolute certainty and a sense of moral superiority. And both commit their deeds and utter their threats not only convinced of their righteousness, but impervious to the damage they do.

Look at Tancredo's comments.

During a radio interview, the Congressman was asked what the US's response should be if our cities were targets of a terrorist attack.

He replied, "Well, what if you said something like, 'If this happens in the United States, and we determine it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their Holy Sites.'" "You're talking about bombing Mecca," clarified the host.

"Yeah," Tancredo affirmed.

I had the opportunity to debate Tancredo on CNN last week and was struck not only by his insistence that his remarks made America safer - presumably because he felt "terrorists" now knew we meant business - but also by his inability to understand the damage that his remarks had done to our country.

He is, after all, a Congressman, and his words matter. When I reminded him that his words had reverberated all over the world, he seemed pleased. When I observed that the State Department had issued a strong rebuke (The State Department spokesperson said: "Such remarks ... are insulting and offensive to us all. Speaking on behalf of the United States Government, let me say that we respect Islam as a religion, we respect its holy sites ..."), he insulted and dismissed the State Department. And when I noted that there was no logic, no proportionality, and no moral justification for threatening to bomb the holiest city of over one billion Muslims, he rejected this as "political correctness."

Like demagogues everywhere, Tancredo is performing. He is in search of a constituency and will spare no effort to find one. He is, after all, running for President (having made more visits to New Hampshire and Iowa than any other 2008 aspirant), and like other right-wing nativist zealots before him, he is playing to an angry and fearful base that wants a "strong and decisive leader" to defend "us" against "them."

Having done enough radio talk-shows on this issue and after reviewing a few of the e-mails I received after our CNN encounter, I know that there is a small hard-core constituency out there that wants that kind of champion.

What I also know from the vast majority of the e-mails I received and from the public criticism Tancredo has received from other elected officials and the press, is that should he run for high office, he will fail, as have other demagogues before him.

Where, then, is the danger? Certainly no one responsible for US policy would take Tancredo seriously. But his words, coming as they do from a Congressman, reverberate throughout the Arab and Muslim world and only serve to fuel fear and anger at America. Far from serving as the deterrent he intended, Tancredo's threats will only play into the hands of extremists and encourage anti-American violence.

That is why I write. To make it clear that Tancredo's brand of "America" is not at all American. His comments are the bluster of a weak and unthinking buffoon.

Ironically, Tancredo said it best a week earlier when he condemned a similar threat from a Chinese general. In response to Major General Zhu Chenghu's threat to use nuclear weapons against the US should China be threatened, Tancredo responded, "For a senior government official to exhibit such tremendous stupidity by making such a brazen threat is hardly characteristic of a modern nation ..."

"Stupid, brazen, and uncivilized." That may be the smartest thing the Congressman ever said.

Dr. James Zogby is the President of the Arab American Institute. His column will appear weekly in t r u t h o u
t
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/080205N.shtml


3) Monbiot right on, as usual:

The treaty wreckers

In just a few months, Bush and Blair have destroyed global restraint on the development of nuclear weapons

George Monbiot
Tuesday August 2, 2005
Guardian

Saturday is the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The nuclear powers are commemorating it in their own special way: by seeking to ensure that the experiment is repeated.

As Robin Cook showed in his column last week, the British government appears to have decided to replace our Trident nuclear weapons, without consulting parliament or informing the public. It could be worse than he thinks. He pointed out that the atomic weapons establishment at Aldermaston has been re-equipped to build a new generation of bombs. But when this news was first leaked in 2002 a spokesman for the plant insisted the equipment was being installed not to replace Trident but to build either mini-nukes or warheads that could be used on cruise missiles.

If this is true it means the government is replacing Trident and developing a new category of boil-in-the-bag weapons. As if to ensure we got the point, Geoff Hoon, then the defence secretary, announced before the leak that Britain would be prepared to use small nukes in a pre-emptive strike against a non-nuclear state. This put us in the hallowed company of North Korea.

The Times, helpful as ever, explains why Trident should be replaced. "A decision to leave the club of nuclear powers," it says, "would diminish Britain's international standing and influence." This is true, and it accounts for why almost everyone wants the bomb. Two weeks ago, on concluding their new nuclear treaty, George Bush and the Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh announced that "international institutions must fully reflect changes in the global scenario that have taken place since 1945. The president reiterated his view that international institutions are going to have to adapt to reflect India's central and growing role." This translates as follows: "Now that India has the bomb it should join the UN security council."

It is because nuclear weapons confer power and status on the states that possess them that the non-proliferation treaty, of which the UK was a founding signatory, determines two things: that the non-nuclear powers should not acquire nuclear weapons, and that the nuclear powers should "pursue negotiations in good faith on ... general and complete disarmament". Blair has unilaterally decided to rip it up.

But in helping to wreck the treaty we are only keeping up with our friends across the water. In May the US government launched a systematic assault on the agreement. The summit in New York was supposed to strengthen it, but the US, led by John Bolton - the undersecretary for arms control (someone had a good laugh over that one) - refused even to allow the other nations to draw up an agenda for discussion. The talks collapsed, and the treaty may now be all but dead. Needless to say, Bolton has been promoted: to the post of US ambassador to the UN. Yesterday Bush pushed his nomination through by means of a "recess appointment": an undemocratic power that allows him to override Congress when its members are on holiday.

Bush wanted to destroy the treaty because it couldn't be reconciled with his new plans. Last month the Senate approved an initial $4m for research into a "robust nuclear earth penetrator" (RNEP). This is a bomb with a yield about 10 times that of the Hiroshima device, designed to blow up underground bunkers that might contain weapons of mass destruction. (You've spotted the contradiction.) Congress rejected funding for it in November, but Bush twisted enough arms this year to get it restarted. You see what a wonderful world he inhabits when you discover that the RNEP idea was conceived in 1991 as a means of dealing with Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons. Saddam is pacing his cell, but the Bushites, like the Japanese soldiers lost in Malaysia, march on. To pursue his war against the phantom of the phantom of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, Bush has destroyed the treaty that prevents the use of real ones.

It gets worse. Last year Congress allocated funding for something called the "reliable replacement warhead". The government's story is that the existing warheads might be deteriorating. When they show signs of ageing they can be dismantled and rebuilt to a "safer and more reliable" design. It's a pretty feeble excuse for building a new generation of nukes, but it worked. The development of the new bombs probably means the US will also breach the comprehensive test ban treaty - so we can kiss goodbye to another means of preventing proliferation.

But the biggest disaster was Bush's meeting with Manmohan Singh a fortnight ago. India is one of three states that possess nuclear weapons and refuse to sign the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). The treaty says India should be denied access to civil nuclear materials. But on July 18 Bush announced that "as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology, India should acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states". He would "work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India" and "seek agreement from Congress to adjust US laws and policies". Four months before the meeting the US lifted its south Asian arms embargo, selling Pakistan a fleet of F-16 aircraft, capable of a carrying a wide range of missiles, and India an anti-missile system. As a business plan, it's hard to fault.

Here then is how it works. If you acquire the bomb and threaten to use it you will qualify for American exceptionalism by proxy. Could there be a greater incentive for proliferation?

The implications have not been lost on other states. "India is looking after its own national interests," a spokesman for the Iranian government complained on Wednesday. "We cannot criticise them for this. But what the Americans are doing is a double standard. On the one hand they are depriving an NPT member from having peaceful technology, but at the same time they are cooperating with India, which is not a member of the NPT." North Korea (and this is the only good news around at the moment) is currently in its second week of talks with the US. While the Bush administration is doing the right thing by engaging with Pyongyang, the lesson is pretty clear. You could sketch it out as a Venn diagram. If you have oil and aren't developing a bomb (Iraq) you get invaded. If you have oil and are developing a bomb (Iran) you get threatened with invasion, but it probably won't happen. If you don't have oil, but have the bomb, the US representative will fly to your country and open negotiations.

The world of George Bush's imagination comes into being by government decree. As a result of his tail-chasing paranoia, assisted by Tony Blair's cowardice and Manmohan Singh's opportunism, the global restraint on the development of nuclear weapons has, in effect, been destroyed in a few months. The world could now be more vulnerable to the consequences of proliferation than it has been for 35 years. Thanks to Bush and Blair, we might not go out with a whimper after all.

7 www.monbiot.com


4) This article is from Daniel Pipes' email list. Erdogan has done everything -- absolutely everything -- that the US or the EU has wanted during his tenure. In fact, Erdogan has been a better friend of the US than non-Islamist Ecevit was before him. The fact that these clowns write against Erdogan simply shows how bigoted they really are:

Fried in TurkeyIs democracy on the outs?
by Michael Rubin
National Review Online
August 2, 2005
http://www.meforum.org/article/737

On June 8, 2005, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited President Bush in the White House. Among the topics the two discussed were freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. Speaking from the Oval Office, Bush declared Turkey's democracy to be "an important example for the people of the broader Middle East."

Turkey remains an important ally of the United States despite recent bilateral tensions over the Iraq war and its aftermath. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have valued Turkey not only as a strategic military partner in the Cold War but also, in recent decades, as a democratic outpost in a region of dictatorships. The central tenet of Turkey's democratic evolution has been an emphasis upon the rule of law.
Since his Justice and Development party (better known by its Turkish acronym, the AKP), swept to power in November 2002, Erdoğan has traveled the globe, burnishing his image as a statesman. In frequent media appearances, he has sought to ensure both the United States and European Union that the AKP respects Turkish democracy and has no desire to erode the secular agenda upon which the Turkish republic was built. He has said he has abandoned the excesses of the now-banned Islamist Welfare party to which he belonged while mayor of Istanbul (1994-1998).

The fact that Erdoğan feels he needs to reassure Turks and foreigners alike stems from the ideological dichotomy between AKP parliamentarians and the Turkish public. While many AKP members are Islamist, most Turks are not. As in any country, citizens of Turkey range from secular to traditional in their religious practice. Many religious Turks enjoy the freedom to practice their faith, even as they embrace separation of mosque and state.

Erdoğan's outreach also reflects the reality that his electoral mandate is less solid than statistics reflect. The AKP's consolidation of parliamentary control reflected not the Turkish public's endorsement for the AKP's religious philosophy, but rather a general disdain for the inability of feuding establishment parties to root out corruption. The AKP catapulted its reputation for honesty into electoral power. The failure of many establishment parties to surpass the ten-percent threshold needed to take seats in parliament amplified the AKP's 34-percent vote into two thirds of the parliamentary seats.

During his first three and a half years in power, Erdoğan has pursued an ambitious agenda of economic stabilization, social change, and an overhaul of foreign policy. While welcoming investment from the United States and Europe, he has emphasized economic and political outreach to the Arab world.

In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Saudi businessmen have shifted billions out of more
tightly regulated U.S. bank accounts into Turkey. Prior to entering Turkish politics, AKP Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül worked eight years at the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The AKP has apparently used the influx of green money to underwrite some economic reforms. On July 14, 2005, the Turkish daily Milliyet reported that Arab states established approximately 200 companies in Turkey since 2003. The Dubai Islamic Bank opened a one-billion-dollar line of credit for investments in Turkey. In the first six months of 2004 alone, the share of Middle East-based companies in the Turkish economy increased 50 percent.

Erdoğan's political success has waned, though. Despite assurances that he respects Turkey's separation of mosque and state, the AKP has introduced a number of bills which would have blurred the distinction between religion and state, or boosted the power of religious segments of society. Erdoğan's social agenda has floundered. The Turkish judiciary has warned against or stuck down attempts to equate religious qualifications with those of secular curriculums in university admissions. Mustafa Bumin, chief judge of the constitutional court, warned on April 25, 2005, that the AKP's proposal to lift the headscarf ban at universities and state institutions would violate the constitution.

In recent months, with its popularity starting to wane amid foreign-policy setbacks on the European front and signs that inflation may soon resume, the AKP has signaled increasing frustration with the democratic process. In May, for example, AKP member and Parliamentary Speaker Bülent Arinç warned that the AKP might abolish the constitutional court if its judges continued to hamper AKP legislation with questions of constitutionality. While Arinç was criticized for his bluster, Erdoğan has taken a quieter tact: He has pushed a bill to lower the mandatory retirement age of judges, in effecting purging the judiciary of 4,000 of its older, independent technocrats in order to replace them with younger followers of his own party.

Judges have reacted with alarm. On June 6, 2005, Milliyet reported a statement by elected members of the supreme court of judges that "the new changes and arrangements made in the Judges and Public Prosecutor's Law…is aiming to influence the judicial power."

Rule of law is at the heart of democracy. Turkish civil society is beginning to voice concern about Erdoğan's political arrogance and his disdain for both free press and judicial independence. Over the past several months, Erdoğan has launched a series of lawsuits against Turkish political cartoonists who criticized him and his party. Last month, the head of the Lawyer's Association criticized Erdoğan's government for intervening in the judicial system to satisfy Islamists. On July 3, 2005, Hürriyet and Milliyet, both establishment papers, criticized government interference in the judiciary.

At times, Erdoğan's abuse of the judiciary appears to be the result of a dangerous combination of vendetta and impatience with the compromises inherent in democracy. His conflict with the Süzer Group provides one important example. While mayor of Istanbul, Erdoğan clashed with Mustafa Süzer, a Turkish businessman whose holdings include the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Istanbul, Turkish franchise rights to both Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the Kent Bank.

As mayor, Erdoğan chafed at Süzer's unabashed pro-Americanism. While president of the Foreign Trade Association, Süzer increased U.S.-Turkish trade 350 percent. When Erdoğan demanded Süzer tear down the Süzer Tower which Erdoğan said was four stories too high, Süzer refused. The grudge has continued. In November 2004, Erdoğan rescinded participation in a financial conference when he learned that the meeting would take place in the Süzer Tower.

Erdoğan has used his powers to advance the vendetta at the expense of the rule of law. During the 2001 financial crisis in Turkey, the left-leaning government of Democratic Left-party Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit seized several banks, including the Kent Bank, in effect freezing the assets of the Süzer Group and several other conglomerates. When Erdoğan assumed power, he sought to exploit the situation. After appointing a member of his party to head the Saving Deposit Insurance Fund (Tasarruf Mevduati Sigorta Fonu, TMSF) which regulates banking matters in Turkey, he had the TMSF sell Kent Bank to a political ally. The Turkish supreme court, though, ruled in December 2003, both that the government's seizure of Kent Bank and its subsequent sale was illegal. The judiciary subsequently ordered Erdoğan's government to unfreeze Süzer's assets and return the bank. More than a year and a half later, Erdoğan's government refuses to comply with the court order.

Süzer is one example of many. In recent months, the Turkish press has reported that former President Süleyman Demirel, upset with both the direction which the AKP seeks to take Turkey and the relative impotence of the opposition, has begun to build a political coalition to rival the AKP. In response, the AKP's government has moved to seize the assets of Demirel's brother. Asked to comment on the government's legal proceedings, Süleyman Demirel was blunt: "This is illegal, a kind of occupation of our companies," he told the Tercüman Gazete on June 28, 2005.

In a democracy, politics subordinates itself to the rule of law. While sitting with Bush at the White House, Erdoğan told the assembled press, "Turkey is open to any new investment as a county now of stability and security." Increasingly, though, his actions do not justify his rhetoric. The best path to stability and security is through the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.


5) I've been on Daniel Pipes' email list for the past month or so, and it never stops entertaining. Does this fellow have an ego or what? Those whom he refers to as "extremists" are simply those who, unlike him, oppose rounding up all Muslims in America and throwing away the key...:

Television in Time of War
by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
August 2, 2005
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/2825
[NY Sun title: "Wartime Television"]

Twice in the past two weeks, I found myself disinvited from television shows when I objected to appearing with representatives of radical Islam or the far-left. In both cases, once each with CNN and MSNBC, I agreed to precede or follow these persons, but I refused to debate them, resulting in my exclusion.

I have two reasons for not going on American television with people who hate the United States. (Non-American television – and Al-Jazeera in particular – is a different story.)

The lesser reason is personal: Appearing with Islamist motormouths and leftist attack-dogs is unpleasant. It often means refuting ad hominem calumnies and having to strike back. Besides the indignity involved, such vituperation can have unfortunate consequences. For example, my 2002 television debate with a far-leftist ended up distorted, at my expense, by an admirer of his in the pages of Newsweek magazine; fortunately, a full transcript of the show is available.

The more important reason for selective debate concerns extremism. For example, I have argued that television programmers should "close their doors" to one person because his fringe views preclude a constructive discussion (he lauded Chinese mass-murderer Mao Tse-tung for achievements that "can hardly be overstated"). After advocating this course of action, how can I then be party to this person's appearing on television?

Television offers a unique medium for getting one's ideas out to large numbers of people, especially when presented in a lively debate format, so I regret not appearing on screen. I find myself in a dilemma, wishing to accept television invitations but sometimes unable to do so.

This dilemma results from the flawed reasoning of television executives in democracies. My conversations with insiders reveal that they include extremists for three main reasons. First, because good viewer ratings are generated by impassioned, articulate, and known panelists with sharply clashing viewpoints. With this, I have no problem.

Second, today's broadcasts strive toward impartiality. For instance, a memo distributed to Canadian Broadcast Corporation staff cautions against using the words "terrorist" and "terrorism," because these "can leave journalists taking sides in a conflict." The conceit that members of the press have no stake in the outcome of war is terribly wrong; just imagine how television talk shows would be after these same terrorists took over. (They did not flourish under the Taliban, to put it mildly.)

Third – and quite contradictorily – when pressed about the appropriateness of broadcasting the enemy's view, producers assert they are doing a public service by exposing these. Is freedom of speech, they ask, not premised on the open marketplace of ideas? And does that not imply having faith that an informed citizenry will discern the sensible from the wrong-headed?

Yes and no. Freedom of speech means speaking one's mind, without fear of going to jail. It does not imply the privilege to address a television audience.

Further, while unfettered free political speech is critical to debate taxation rates, school curricula, abortion, or for whom to vote, it makes no sense to promulgate the enemy viewpoint when a country is at war. Even though the great majority of viewers, listeners, and readers will be repulsed by the views of extremists, no less surely will a small minority find these attractive and compelling. We saw, for example, how the prominent exposition of Osama bin Laden's ideas in 2001 inspired suicide bombers, including several of the London terrorists. If bin Laden and his ilk can convince just a tenth of 1% of Israeli Arabs, one thousand new suicide bombers have been formed.

Is this wise public policy?

The distinguished historian Conor Cruise O'Brien thinks not. When he served as the Irish minister of posts and telecommunications in 1976, he imposed a ban on interviews with Irish Republican Army terrorists and Sinn Fein members, arguing that it was necessary to prevent them from spreading their message. For the same reason, the Russian foreign ministry expressed its "strong indignation" after America's ABC television last week interviewed Chechen terrorist leader Shamil Basayev.

The ideal solution lies not in creating censors' bureaus to pass judgment on television content but for media executives to accept their responsibilities in time of war. On their own initiative, they should exclude the enemy's apologists and advocates. Lively debate does not require such people; patriots with sharply differing views can also make sparks fly.

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