39 thoughts on “Turkey’s Erdogan, Paul Auster Debate Relative Press Freedom in Israel, Turkey – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. “Israel needs to be examined in its own right and not in comparison to any other country.”

    In other words – by double standards.

    1. Just because you string words together doesn’t mean they make any sense, as in this case. For those who don’t actually read or understand what I wrote as in yr case, non sequiturs rule. What I wrote had nothing to do with double standards. Did you see me excusing Turkey’s human rights violations? No you didn’t. But I despise the relativism of the hasbarists who argue: sure Israel isn’tperfect, but look how much worse the other guy is. On closer examination, Israel isn’t that much better off than the other guy. And Israel wants to be accepted into the ranks of the European west, whose standards of democracy it doesn’t remotely match.

  2. Anyone who describes Israel as a “secular country” indicates complete ignorance of “actually existing Israel.”

        1. Like I said, Israel is a secular country.
          Its laws are political structure are not in any way derived from religious roots.

          Political bodies with religious affiliations exist in the US and other countries as well.

      1. Personal status law in Israel, as is well known, is dependent on religious affiliation. That makes it not a secular country.

        1. first it’s absolutely not true.
          Personal status law is dependent on the English law, with correlation to the Jewish heritage – what ever that means and stands for.
          But in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and any even the proposed PA constitution all laws derive from Sharia.

          1. Pls don’t speak about subjects which you know nothing more than what you read fr Islamophobis sources & websites. Arab nations are no more influenced in their legal systems by sharia than Israel is by Halacha. And stop reading sources that are convenient to yr propagandistic vantage pt & examine how law is practiced & applied in everyday life. We’ve been over this subject before here (of the making of much hasbara there is no end to quote Ecclesiastes). Arab readers who actually know how law is applied have rebutted these claims. So stay on topic & don’t bore us with hasbara that’s already been debated here before.

          2. Oh please, you don’t know anything. Jewish marriages aren’t valid unless performed by rabbis, which leads to all sorts of problems when a rabbi decides that someone claiming to be Jewish isn’t Jewish enough. Muslim marriages are performed according to Sharia, and Israel has a thriving system of sharia courts. And if you don’t think marriages in Israel are restricted by religion, check with the Cypriot tourist bureau.

            And I wonder how Maronite Christians politically dominated Lebanon for so long if all laws derived from Sharia.

            Please do some research before commenting.

          3. Look what a simple google reveals:


            to the surprise of absolutely nobody with the slightest knowledge of Middle Eastern history, Lebanese law is based on the French Civil Code.

            You and Izik (and Auster, for that matter) are not helping the cause of Israel by revealing the utter ignorance of its online supporters.

          4. @ Richard, it is strange you are willing to accept the word of your Arab readers that Sharia – though part of Arab state constitution’s – has no effect on daily life, yet you are not willing to accept the equivalence from your Israeli readers.
            Isn’t it a double standard ?

          5. I didn’t say it had “no” effect on daily life. I said it was probably about as integral to law in those nations as halacha is to Israeli law. That is, it plays a role, but not a critical one.

  3. Albertstein’s song Chad gadya was featured in amos gitai’s free zone a movie available to anyone who can stand his movies.
    The Turks, especially erdogan are over the top hypocrites kudos to auster for pissing him off

    1. Wow, the entire nation of Turkey are “over the top hypocrites?” I did not know that. Thank you for educating us.

      1. Ian,

        Clearly you are still in need of a remedial education since I didn’t say that the entire nation of Turkey consisted of hypocrites. I was thinking specifically of Erdogan, his ruling party and the useful idiots who rush to his defense. I hope this well help pass your o-levels.

          1. You have accused me in the past of being behind the times–wasn’t “useful idiots” a term that Lenin proffered? Damnit anyway–back to the colorful metaphor drawing board…

      1. Bibi is a lying and untrustworthy prima donna. I will spot you on him being a hypocrite. If you want to add a cavorter with criminals–I am still not crying. I am not sure how him being 100 times anything Erdogan is will subvert what Auster did, or even if that is strictly speaking true. Erdogan is souring many Europeans on Turkey.

        On another note, thank you for posting the rules on reporting to the censor. It is interesting that stories that routinely appear in the Israeli press–where the Mossad is located, details about the various sayerets and their missions, Malmab, have all passed through the censor–what stories are they stopping? It seems like you and the guy from The Times (“of London,” as we say) print whatever they throw out.

  4. I respect Mr. Auster’s ability to criticize anyone he wishes. In fact, even if I disagree with it, I will still defend his freedom of speech with my life. However, he doesn’t have to even go to Israel. What does he think it is happening now with the BDS meetings at UPenn? Or the constant pressure by any academic or even blog writer if they criticize Israel? See what happened with CAPs on the Israel-firsters discussion? Is the only measure of freedom of speech whether you go to jail? Being harassed, fired, boycotted don’t count?

  5. Only in theory. It is a putative democracy rather rapidly morphing into a theocracy at least in terms of the greatest, most energized and unified participants in the country’s activities and direction. In our own country, the USA, seems to me, given the worship of Mammon as our truest sincere religious manifestation, we, too, might find it a stretch to call ourselves much of a democracy beyond a number of ostentatious displays, like voting, and that’s becoming curtailed; plutocratic oligarchy might be more like it. Koch, Adelson, Coors, Scaife et al über alles.

  6. Richard, you have often used the term “liberal Zionist”, but to use a nasty and historical designation, the facts on the ground might well suggest that such a term is, or has become, an oxymoron.

  7. Mister Auster could explain why Israel is on the place number 92 (Israel (Israeli territory)) and 133 (Israel (extraterritorial)) on Press Freedom Index produced by Reporters Without Borders. In the same category as Congo. Reporters Without Borders have huge amount of news of the limited free press in Israel and in the area under its rule. These numerous news tell how domestic and foreign reporters are killed, put in prisons, blocked etc in Israel.

    When the amount of reporters in prison in Turkey and in Israel is compared, we must remember that Israel’s population is 10 times smaller. Without doubt Israel has in prisons more than 10 reporters, which means that proportionally Israel has in prisons many more than those >100 claimed by Auster in Turkey.

    In that “secular” country named Israel, Jews, the dominant religion’s worshipers, can express almost everything they want if the military, court and/or the owners of the media allow it to be said. Non-Jews there have not that luxury and Auster must have heard of the “problems” in Israel’s “free speech”. Surely the Anglo-americans have one of the worst general knowledge of the world (and of their own country), but if one of the American Jewish top intellectuals calls Israel a secular state and praises its free speech, that is the record of total ignorance (=stupidity) or he is expressing deliberately pure propaganda. Well in that “ignorance” category Auster is not “alone”. Let us remember that of young Americans 75 percent could not point out Iran or Israel on a map. Inside the United States, “half or fewer of young men and women 18-24 can identify the states of New York or Ohio on a map.

    1. @SimoHurtta
      “These numerous news tell how domestic and foreign reporters are killed, put in prisons, blocked etc in Israel.”

      Are you suggesting that foreign reporters are killed in Israel in order to prevent their reporting or are even being killed because they are reporters .If so can you give examples.

  8. Stop spreading nareshkeit, richard

    Ilana Hammerman has not been interrogated for “bringing Palestinian mothers and children into Israel to breathe fresh air at the beach and go to the zoo”. She has been interrogated for breaking the law by illegally bringing in foreigners without proper permits. The policy requiring Palestinians to receive permits for entering Israel is the result of hundreds of terrorist attacks committed by Palestinians. I can only imagine how American authority would have dealt with hamernman if she attempted to smuggle illegal visitors into the USA. Most probably she would end up with a stiff prison term

    Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah are not being evicted from their HOMES. They are illegal squatters that invaded and took over Jewish property. The jewish owners have documents to prove it and there position was confirmed by court. Even if you think the court is wrong basic fairness would require you to at least mention the fact that ownership of the homes is controversial.

    Your claim that Israeli police knows the identity of those threatening peace now members and yet covers up for them is pure crap unless you can come up with something substantive to back up your claim.

    Finally, calling mohamad bakry’s film a documentary is an insult to the public’s intelligence. The only thing documented in the film is bakrys monumental ability to invent lies and make up tales of atrocity that never occurred. This can easily be checked by looking up the information.

    I am amazed at the sloppy way you deal with facts. Don’t you realize that you’re hurting your reliability? If you can’t be counted upon to report truth even when facts can be easily ascertained how can anybody relay on you when you quote secret mysterious sources as you often do?

    1. Palestinians, even ones who are dying & require emergency medical care can’t get permits to enter Israel. So to argue this is merely a matter of someone who didn’t bother to get a permit is itself narischkeit of a choice variety. She is engaging in civil disobedience in the honored tradition of Henry David Thoreau because even unarmed, harmless Palestinian women and babies can’t enter Israel under any account. Or are you arguing that dying Palestinian cancer patients & Palestinian babies are terror threats? Or are you arguing that because Palestinians have engaged in terror attacks that Palestinians, even non-lethal ones, should be punished as well by being denied entry?

      BTW, many American individuals and churches have harbored illegal immigrants and not even been questioned by the police, let alone interrogated as Hammerman has. Your knowledge of America is deficient in that regard.

      As for Sheikh Jarrah, you’re spouting propaganda on behalf of Elad & the Judaization squad in E. Jerusalem. East Jerusalem Palestinians are being evicted from homes they lived in for decades. They are not squatters nor did they take over Jewish property. There are no Jewish ‘owners,’ & documents proffered are fakes, frauds and forgeries as proven by Israeli courts.

      The way things work around here is when you want to make a claim, you offer specific credible evidence (read the comment rules to understand what that means & what sources are considered credible). If you don’t, you may not last long.

      The Israeli police arrested Dror Oved. They know his role in price tags against Peace Now. He has not been charged & in Israel his name can’t even be reported.

      As for yr view of Jenin, Jenin, the day when you become a film critic whose taste and critical judgements can be trusted will be a cold day in Hell.

      As for “realiability,” there’s only one person unreliable here & it ain’t me.

      1. [comment deleted–I specifically told you in your last comment to read my comment rules before replying so as to learn what was a credible source and what wasn’t. Dore Gold and Mitch Bard are not reliable sources nor any websites associated with them. If you want to use sources use sources that are consider non-propagandist, fair & balanced.]

      2. “As for yr view of Jenin, Jenin, the day when you become a film critic whose taste and critical judgements can be trusted will be a cold day in Hell.”

        It has nothing to do with being a film critique. Jenin Jenin is full of lies. In a libel case against Bakri, the supreme court deemed the movie as “full with lies”. David Zangen, an Israeli MD who served in operation Defensive Shield, had the following to say about the movie:

        “harmless Palestinian women and babies can’t enter Israel under any account.”

        Wrong again. Stop spreading misinformation. Palestinians enter Israel regularly for medical treatment. Here’s just a few examples, but you don’t need to look far, just do a simple Google search.

        Why do you lie?

        1. I don’t care what the Israeli Supreme Court said about this film. The justices are neither experts on the Israeli-Arab conflict or film critics. Not to mention though you’ve placed the words in quotes, I’m not convinced that the Supreme Court used those words precisely & would like you to link to the ruling. Further, the Court ruled the Israel Film Board was wrong in banning the film and forced it to lift the ban as an encroachment on free speech.

          Second, an Israeli MD quoted on the MFA website is not a credible source.

          Third, very few Palestinians receive medical treatment in Israel who need it. The security services often extort Palestinians into becoming collaborators by granting or withholding treatment to them or their loved ones in return for spying. I challenge you to find the number of Palestinians who receive such permits and find the number who applied for them overall (including those denied).

          I’m uninterested in anecdotal heartwarming stories about an individual Palestinian baby saved by a miraculous Israel medical procedure. The way the process works is that the Peres Ctr. & other hasbara outfits get approval for a small number of such Palestinians to receive medical treatment. Those people are held up as example of Israel’s munificence. But they don’t hold up the thousands who they refuse entry to & who die of their illnesses.

          You have broken a major comment rule by accusing me of lying. If you break another comment rule it will be your last comment. Read the comment rules carefully before you publish another comment.

  9. Dear Richard

    I am a first time visitor to your site/blog. All I can say it is refreshing to see discussions on current affairs without bias and nationalistic propaganda being aired. Well done on a very worthwhile cause.

    On the issue of Auster and PM Erdogan, your bang on the nail, firstly Erdogan has by popular vote has an opportunity to address a number of historic issues for Turkey, reconciliation between the state and its Kurdish citizens, recognition of the Armenian genocide is long overdue, further increase personal freedoms of all its citizens. He has won successive elections, constitutionally this is his final spell as PM, as no PM can serve more than 3 terms, he has his sights on the Presidency from 2014..with a popular mandate behind him, ke can make historical changes to the make up Turkish society, unfortunately he is missing the chance and playing the old age nationilistic card..so criticism from Auster on this front is bang on.

    Where Auster is wrong was to move to expand from his original stand (solidarity with writers and journalists) to one of make a political statement that Israel is better than Turkey in terms of secular and democratic freedoms..his personal opinion, but when done in front of the world press, he losses the moral high ground and credibility of argument.

    As a Turk, my personal view is that the common Israeli and the common Turk are more worried about everyday issues such as how to pay their next rent/mortgage, kids education etc..they are only minimially aware, but then you get the idiotic right wingers on both side playing the jongoistic card to distract from their own mismanagement of their conutry’s affirs..this in turn creates negative stereotypes of each nation. The truth of the matter is that the Israelis/Jes and the Turks have a long history of peace an cooperation with each other, unfortunately, the likes of PM Erdogan, Auster, Nethanyahu and Liebermann are putting in so much negativity instead of working on the solid foundations that exist..the damage may become beyond repair in the future.

    Keep up the good fight. Best wishes

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