In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
youthvoice “Verily, the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets.” (Hadith)
Volume II, Issue 5 February 2009 http://munayouth.org
The Message of the Prophet’s Seerah
Yes We Can
The Message Is for All Mankind
Obama became the 44th president of the United States of America. He broke the racial barrier as the first African American commander in chief. He motivated the young generation to partake in politics and has become an icon around the world. Hope and change was the centerpiece of his campaign and now, the mouthpiece of Washington. His road to the White House is a story that has inspired millions of Americans to have faith in the American dream. -Continued on page 5
By Ashraf Ali Al-Shams
By Syed Abul Ala’ Maududi (Condensed)
On January 20, 2009, Barack Hussein
Looking at the Prophet’s (pbuh) mission, we see that he (pbuh) ad-
dresses man in his capacity as a human being, setting aside all distinctions of color, race, language or country. He (pbuh) propounds tenets for the welfare of all mankind. Whoever has faith in these tenets is a Muslim and enters the fold of the universal brotherhood of Islam. Black or white, Easterm or Western, Arab or the non-Arab, wherever a human being may be living, whatever the country, nation or race in which he is born; irrespective of the tongue he speaks or the color of his skin, the call of the Prophet (pbuh) is addressed to everyone. -Continued on page 2
Probe Questions Fate of Refugees in Thailand From Dan Rivers, CNN
BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Be-
draggled, hungry and dazed, the refugees arrived on the shores of Thailand after fleeing one of the most repressive governments in the world -- the hard-line military regime in Myanmar, also known as Burma. But a CNN investigation has uncovered evidence that for hundreds of Rohingya refugees -- members of a Muslim minority group -- abuse and abandon
ment at sea were what awaited them in Thailand, at the hands of Thai authorities. Extraordinary photos obtained by CNN from someone directly involved in the Thai operation show refugees on their rickety boats being towed out to sea, cut loose and abandoned. One photo shows the Thai army towing a boatload of some 190 refugees far out to sea.
-Conitnued on page 7
What’s Inside Theme of the Month: Seerah Pages 2-3 Agenda for February Page 4 Opinion Articles Pages 5-6 Current Events: A Look at the World Pages 7-8
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The Message of the Prophet’s Seerah By Syed Abul Ala’ Maududi (Condensed)
-Continued from page 1 Taboos, inequality, racial or class distinctions, linguistic, territorial or geographic bias-nothing that divides man from man has any place in the society of Islam.
Widest Conception of the Oneness of God
The foremost of these principles [which the Prophet (puh) preached] is the belief in the Oneness of God, not just in the sense that God exists, nor merely that there is only One God, but in the sense that the Creator, Master, and All-Wise Sovereign of this universe is Allah alone. There is no comparable authority in the whole universe which is sovereign and has the right to command or forbid; or has the power to make certain things lawful and others unlawful by decree. These powers are vested in no one, save Allah. It is the sole prerogative of the Creator and master to allow certain things in this world at Will and to prohibit certain things at Will. Islam preaches that the belief in Allah signifies the acknowledgement of all these Powers of God. The belief in Allah is tantamount to the affirmation that we owe allegiance to no one except Him and that no power on earth has the right to enact a law that is inimical to His Commandments. The belief in God carries the meaning that only Allah has the power to make or unmake our destiny; that He has absolute power in regard to life or death. He can take away our life whenever He pleases and He can keep us alive as long as it pleases Him. When he chooses to end our life, no power on earth can save us from death; when He chooses to give us life, no power on earth can put us to death. The whole universe which stretches from the earth to the heavens operates
under orders from Allah. It, therefore, behooves man, who subsists in this universe, to devote his life to carrying out the Will of God. The Islamic concept of God affirms that the only valid way of life for man is to abide by the Will of Allah, for man is the creature and Allah is his Creator. As a creature, it is wrong on the part of the man to be independent of his Creator. It is also betrayal for him to offer worship to any other than the Creator. Either of these acts is opposed to reality. Whoever defies reality comes to grief. The reality stands inviolate.
True Charter of Freedom
This is the “ Charter of Freedom” which only the true religion has conferred upon mankind. The creature of Allah should be the slave of Allah alone and owe service to none else, nay, not even as a servant of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). This charter freed man from offering worship to all others, save One God; and it terminated the divinity of man over man once and for all. Simultaneously, the greatest blessing conferred by this mandate upon mankind is the Supremacy of the Law, the Law which no monarch, dictator, democratic parliament or assembly of believers in Islam is empowered to tamper with for the purpose of altering it. This law bestows on man permanent values of Good and Evil, and no one has the power to transmute these values with a view to changing Good into Evil or vice versa.
Another component of the message which the Holy Prophet (pbuh) preached to the servants of God was: “You are all answerable to God. You have been given unchartered freedom to act as you deem fit and to forage whatever pasture you like without being answerable to anyone. Rather you shall be held accountable before your Creator for each act, each word, in fact, for the whole course of your life wherein you have been given limited autonomy. You will be raised after death and presented in the court of your Lord for reckoning.” By the kindly favor of the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) guidance, man has not only obtained an immutable law embodying permanent moral values, but also an unshakable foundation on which to build individual and national moral character. Man, therefore, does not require the agency of a government, a police force or a court of law to deter him from crimes and keep him on the right path.
Morality in Everyday Life
The call bears yet another important message for us, which is that morality is meant for practical application in all spheres of life. He (pbuh) exhorted the businessmen to fear God and practice honesty in their dealings and transactions. He (pbuh) taught the policemen and the soldiers the lesson of piety and restraint. He (pbuh) denied that true fellowship with God consisted in being a hermit. On the contrary, true saintliness consisted in participating in the affairs of the world as a ruler, magistrate, army commander, police inspector, businessman, industrialist. In this way, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) retrieved morality and spirituality from the restrictions of monasticism and brought them into all spheres of practical life.
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The Prophet in My Life By Mahmud Ahmed Asif
In The 100: A Ranking of
the Most Influential Persons in History, by Michael H. Hart, the man who is ranked as most influential in all of history is none other than our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Though many people view the Prophet (SAW) as a mere religious leader, he has had a much bigger impact in society. As I learned of the ways of the Prophet (SAW) through Hadith and the Qur’an, I learned that his role in
society isn’t limited to a religious one; he impacted society in such a way that has changed the very way we continue life on this earth. Aside from influencing society in general, the Prophet (SAW) has personally had a great influenced me. From the Prophet (SAW)’s honesty, brilliance, patience, etiquette and conduct, I have learned to live life in a new manner. When the Prophet walked down the streets of Makkah, people saw that he was capable of achieving whatever he dreamed. The reason his adversaries saw him as a threat was because everyone in the town began to accept his message of Islam. In the meantime, his adversaries who made a business from people visiting the idols in Makkah were losing lots of business and profit. One of the lessons I learned from the Prophet (SAW) is that I should have patience and I should treat others with lots of respect. There was an
incident when the Prophet (SAW) and Anas bin Malik were heading home one day wearing only a cloak with an unfinished hem. You can imagine his cloak to be a large rectangle of cloth draped around the shoulders and slung around the neck. When he was about to reach the door of his house, a desert dweller yanked on the edge of the cloak from behind. Yanking on the cloak put the Prophet SAW in a position to be choked. The dweller then said, “Ya Muhammad! Give me some of what you have of Allah’s wealth.” If we were in the shoes of Prophet Muhammad and someone pulled on our cloak and then demanded money in the worst manner, we would become furious and possibly shout at the desert dweller. Even worse, we might hit the desert dweller. But that is not what the Prophet did. “Anas bin Malik said, “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) turned his face to the desert-dweller and smiled. Then he gave instructions for the desert-dweller to be given some charity” [Sahih al-Bukhari (5362)]. The Prophet (SAW) kept his cool, simply put the past behind him and aided the disrespectful desert dweller. This Hadith has shown me to keep my cool and also be steadfast. In another incident, The Prophet (peace be upon him) once advised someone repeatedly by saying: “Do not get angry.” He also said: The strong person is the one who can control himself when he is angry” [Bukhari]. By implementing these two lessons in my life, I have begun to restrain my anger and be more patient when interacting with others. The Prophet (SAW) influenced me to be more respectful and calm with my mother. Sometimes our mothers tend to do things that are
embarrassing or deny us permission to do certain activities even when we know she is correct. When this occurs, we usually become very angry and we sometimes hurt our own mother with our tone and words. The Prophet told us to respect our mothers. He taught me that mothers are indeed very important. A Hadith that exemplified this idea relates that a man came to the Prophet (SAW) and said, “O Messen ger of God! Who among the people is
the most worthy of my good compan ionship ?” The Prophet SAW replied, “Your mother.” The man said, “Then who?” The Prophet said, “Then your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet replied, “Then your mother.” The man asked once again, “Then who?” The Prophet finally answered, “Then your father.” [Bukhari, Muslim]. By reading this Hadith, I learned that the Prophet tremendously emphasized the idea that your mother should receive lots of respects after Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAW) by stating your mother not once, not twice, but thrice. The Prophet has influenced me in many ways such through his teachings which tell me to restrain my anger, have patience, and respect my mother. The Prophet was truly an influential man and I absolutely agree with Michael H. Hart that the Prophet (SAW) is the most influential man in history.
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The February Agenda Theme: Risalat
• • • • • • • • • • • •
Introduction Dars al Quran: Al Ahzab (33: 45-46) Personal Portfolio Presentation & Analysis Organizational Portfolio Presentation & Analysis Ehthesab Miscellaneous Du’a
Introduction Recitation of Qur’an w/ meaning: Al Baqarah (2:151) Personal Portfolio Presentation Academic Action Plan & Review Presentation of hadith: Life of young Prophet Muhammad (SAW) *Use “Sealed Nectar” for reference • Miscellaneous • Du’a • • • •
Introduction Recitation of Qur’an w/ meaning: Al-’Imran (3:164) Personal Portfolio Presentation Presentation of Islamic Literature: First two stages in Makkah *Use “Sealed Nectar” for reference • Miscellaneous • Du’a • • • •
Introduction Recitation of Qur’an w/ meaning: An Nisa’ (4:65) Review Academic Action Plan Presentation of topic: Last two stages in Makkah *Use “Sealed Nectar” for reference • Miscellaneous • Du’a
The Youth Voice is published by Muslim Ummah of North America
National President: Dr. Sayeed Chowdhury
Editor: Abdullah al Ma’mun
MUNA Youth Director: Arman Chowdhury Designer and Assistant Editor: Rakibul Mazumder
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Yes We Can
By Ashraf Ali Al-Shams
-Continued from page 1 he presidential election of 2008 was a historic moment as Democrats and Republicans went face-to-face to convince the public that their party was the more capable of leading the nation in America’s time of calamity. The race between Senator John McCain and former Senator Barack Obama promoted an ugly political battleground with mud slinging across party lines and divisive tactics that left America broken and scattered. However, election night brought relief and unity to millions of Americans as the polls closed and television networks Obama delivered his victory speech. His
The public waited for Obama’s entrance into the White House as the United States was on the brink of a breakdown. On inauguration day, millions of Americans and viewers from around visions and radios as they waited for change to come before them. Muslims, non-Muslims, whites, blacks, and colored citizens all came together to form a beautiful array of race and culture upon the steps of Capitol Hill. People gathered to witness history with an air overflowing with spiritual unity. President Obama took the oath of of fice accompanied by a thunderous applause. He took the stage to deliver his inaugural address. His stern words of
the Muslim world by giving his first interview as President to al-Arabiya, a news network based in Dubai. Obama also showed his commitment to the promotion of diplomacy and peace in the Muslim world by deploying envoys to the Middle East and Pakistani regions. Now it is the time for MuslimAmericans to step forward and lend a hand to this administration. By volunteering in community activities, partici pating in charities, and working to develop our neighborhoods and ourselves, we can help reach a new standard of peace and equality for both Muslims and non-Muslims. Obama should in spire us Muslims to believe that we
tone was cautionary but his words spoke of hope, change, and the beginning of a new era in politics. He declared his victory as our victory, connecting with the audience and really transcending across all spectrums both present and abroad. The next day, Obama and his staff began the transition to power by appointing his cabinet members. The Bush administration worked to establish a formal transition team and eased the process of integration. As the country shifted gears in politics, the outlook began to look grim for the country. The stock market dipped in value and quarterly earnings were at an all time low.
wisdom took inspiration from the likes of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy. Taken by surprise, the Muslim world watched as he spoke of his intention to form alliances and forge new relations. Leaders all over the world have wel comed this new direction in foreign policy positively, marking a drastic change from the previous administration. Soon, the festivities ended and President Obama quickly began his work, issuing executive orders to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center as well as freezing payroll for White House staff. He kept his promise to open the lines of communication with
too can break racial and xenophobic barriers in order to promote a more sensible and keen, worldly mindset while promoting Islamic ideals. This is the time for Muslims to come together and help push forth sensible laws, spread our opinions to the masses, and make our voices heard. We all have a common goal of spreading peace and Islam to the four corners of the globe. With this incoming administration, we are one-step closer to better cooperation, a newfound mutual respect, and stronger interfaith, insha’ allah. May Allah (SWT) give us the strength and guidance we need to move forward. Ameen.
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I was in fifth grade when it happened,
at a public school in a pleasant Queens neighborhood. A female teacher rushed into my room, called my teacher over in a panicky motion, and whispered something that made my teacher gasp. It was interesting to watch, but barely. It was probably another delinquent who vandalized the boys’ bathroom. What followed, however, was a bit more exciting: our teacher, in a troubled voice, told us to pack our things and head down to the auditorium. The whole school had started gathering downstairs. Even parents were there, taking their children home. School was ending early. This was definitely bigger than vandalism, based on the bits of conversation I heard concerning danger, and safety, and news. It didn’t seem like we were in any danger, though; all seemed peaceful during the short walk home in the beautiful summer weather. No matter what was going on, I was home early, safe and sound. I played some catch with my friends in front of my apartment building. Throwing the tennis ball back and forth, I thought to myself: everyone was mistaken. There was really nothing wrong. After a thorough game of catch, I started wandering around on the sidewalk. Everything was fine until an older, Hispaniclooking kid yelled at me, “Why’d you blow up the Twin Towers, you f------ Hindu!” As always, I ignored the rude comments, but this one was different. The kid blamed me for blowing something up, and I had no clue what the Twin Towers were. Puzzled and tired, I went home to my apartment. As I sat on the couch, I grabbed the remote control and turned on the news, finally revealing the answers to all my questions. Planes had crashed into two very tall buildings in Manhattan. Now I was home in Jackson Heights, getting blamed for it by some angry kid. It didn’t make any sense. As I grew older, it did start making
By Rakibul Mazumder
sense. Images on television showed an Arabian man, dressed very similar to people I prayed with at the Mosque. He was a Muslim, and he was the man behind the 9/11 attacks. As a Muslim boy, this affected me greatly, and would do so for a long time. Kids went from calling me a Hindu to calling me Osama bin Laden. When my friends and I played basketball at the park, the other team would scream, “It’s us versus the terrorists!” Since 9/11, it has become a personal duty of mine to separate myself from the radical Islamists. Keeping silent when others made racist remarks against me did not prove useful. Rather, it worsened the situation. By not defending my position, my true identity was disappearing, and a new one was being forced upon me by the world. I was not like Osama Bin Laden or any other Muslim terrorist who committed mass murders based on severe misinterpretations of the Qur’an. I read and followed Islamic teachings the way they were supposed to be read and followed. So I started to speak. When a classmate told me, “Hey, tell your family to stop blowing things up,” I replied with a smile, “Yeah, those freakin’ Islamic extremists, man. They’re so whack.” When my classmate chuckled, I realized that my reply had succeeded, however modestly, in distancing myself from those extremists. 9/11 definitely woke me up. It showed me how incapable most Muslims were at educating others about their situation. Since that awful day, friends, co-workers, and strangers have asked Muslims why it ever occurred, how they were any different from Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts. Unfortunately, many are dumbstruck upon being asked these questions. They lack knowledge, not only concerning current events, but also concerning their own religion. It is this handicap that leaves the Muslim population helplessly open to racism and ridicule. I was no exception. Recently,
I have been trying to follow the news, trying to understand how Islamic terrorists justified their actions, and how their ideology differed from mine. At the same time, I began studying my faith more closely; Islamic literature provided me the answers to my questions, as well as my friends’. 9/11 woke up the whole world along with me. Islam was pushed to the forefront in the minds of Americans. Which made sense. Terrorists killed almost 3,000 innocent citizens in the name of Islam and there are perhaps a few million Muslims residing in the United States. Fear incited racism in some, but curiosity in others. In this way, the tragedy has benefited Muslims. I have become a source of interest among my peers. Occasionally, my friends ask me questions regarding my beliefs and the actions of Islamic extremists, and with my newfound knowledge, I am happy to provide satisfying answers to most of them. Some questions, however, still stump me. 9/11 has also benefitted me personally. Through my religious research, I have grown fonder of my faith, more proud of my identity, and more hateful of those who pervert such a beautiful thing. In an effort to keep up with the world around me, I have also become more aware of events around the world that affect me socially, politically, intellectually and spiritually. No matter how much the 9/11 attacks have affected me as a Muslim, I cannot ignore how they have affected me as an American. Having been born in Queens and living here all my life, I’ve grown to love America for its countless liberties, its vast opportunities, and its tolerant culture. On September 11, 2001 my identity was attacked, but so was my country. As a Muslim American, I am proud of the special status that I hold, but I also understand the responsibilities and burdens that come with being both a devout Muslim and a mindful American in today’s world.
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Probe Questions Fate of Refugees in Thailand -Continued from page 1 For days, accusations have been carried in several regional papers that the Thai army has been systematically towing boat-loads of Rohingya refugees far out to sea and setting them adrift. The army denied it, and the Thai government has launched an inquiry.
CNN’s investigation -- based on accounts from tourists, sources in Thailand and a Rohingya refugee who said he was on a boat towed back out to sea -- helps to piece together a picture of survival thwarted by an organized effort not just to repel arriving refugees, but to hold them prisoner on shore, drag them in flimsy boats far out to sea and then abandon them. Three tourists recently voiced concern to CNN over what they had seen -- and in some cases photographed -- near Thailand’s tourist areas. One tourist provided CNN with photos last week of refugees detained by Thai authorities on a beach near a tourist site, with the refugees prone on the sunbleached sand while guards stood nearby. “Whenever someone raised their head or moved, they [guards] would
From Dan Rivers, CNN
strike them with a whip,” said Australian tourist Andrew Catton. A CNN crew traveled to a remote stretch of the Thai coast four hours north of the tourist island of Phuket to investigate the growing reports that the Thai military was secretly detaining Rohingya refugees before towing them out to sea and setting them adrift. In an isolated beach area, debris including sandals and campfire remnants indicated that large numbers of people had been there but were nowhere to be seen. The crew then traveled to a nearby island, where residents reported that refugees who had escaped were living in the jungle. In one hamlet, villagers had captured a Rohingya man they believed had been living in the jungle for days. The refugee, who identified himself as Iqbal Hussain, told CNN he was on one of six boats in a makeshift refugee fleet that arrived in Thailand in December. He said all six boats with their refugee cargo were towed back out to sea in January, and five of the six boats sank. His boat made it back to shore, and he hid in the jungle for days until nearby villagers captured him. In broken English and using sign language and drawings, he described what happened to the other men on the boats: “All men dead,” he said, putting the number of dead at several hundred. The Rohingya, a persecuted minority in Myanmar, have been fleeing their country in rickety boats for years, in search of a better life.
“You’d believe me if I said I was from
Minnesota, right?” asks Charlie Sanders, noting his appearance, at the top of his new solo show. “But if I told you I was raised Muslim, you’d think I was kidding.” Amazingly, many of his closest friends have never heard these anecdotes about his high-school years spent whirling with Sufi dervishes, his parents’ drug-addled hippie friends and the truly bizarre circumstances of his father’s funeral. Sanders doesn’t say why he sat on this story for so long—that would be a different one-man show—but the effect is apparent; in the telling, he is
less a monologuist than a burst dam. From those opening lines, the piece moves at breakneck speed to a stunning crescendo. Sanders draws in the audience by recalling, with hilarious acuity, the confusion of his teenage peers in the early ’90s. Spike Lee had just made Malcolm X; when some of the African-Americans at Sanders’s school found out he was Muslim, they accused him of posing, of trying to coopt something “black.” Then he recited a prayer in perfect Arabic, and they lionized him. Throughout the evening, Sanders is the anchor among such wildly varying and often opposing emotions coming from
In Thailand, many instead have found deprivation and the possibility of desertion far off shore, according to the CNN investigation. The source who provided CNN with photos of refugees in a boat being towed out to sea stressed that the Thai army had given the refugees food and water, but he also confirmed that the boats had been pulled for more than two days into international waters before they were set adrift. His account directly contradicts briefings by senior Thai army sources who denied any such operation was undertaken. A source in the Thai military, after extensive questioning, did confirm to CNN that the Thai army was operating a dump-at-sea policy. But the source defended it, insisting that eachboatload of refugees was always given sufficient supplies of food and water. That source claimed local villagers had become afraid of the hundreds of Rohingya arriving each month, and that they were accusing the refugees of stealing their property and threatening them. CNN asked the government for comment and was told that an investigation was being launched and that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has plans to call an emergency meeting once the country’s foreign minister returns from Cambodia. Panitan Wattanayagorn, a government spokesman, gave no timeline for the foreign minister’s return or the emergency meeting. He did say the government is taking the matter very seriously.
By Jane Borden, Time Out New York the tale’s other characters. He’s the relatable, clear-eyed everyman—which also makes him a keen narrator. The comic wins laughs through composition, by focusing on rhythm and structure rather than by
forcing jokes onto the action. In his first storytelling foray, Sanders proves himself a natural with a gift for creating immediacy and a flair for the cinematic.
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Gaza War Created Rift Between Israel and Turkey By Sabrina Tavernise & Ethan Bronner, The New York Times
ISTANBUL — The four daily flights
to Tel Aviv are still running. The defense contract signed in December has not been scrapped. But since Israel’s war in Gaza, relations with Turkey, Israel’s closest Muslim ally, have become strained. Israel’s Arab allies stood behind it in the war, but Turkey, a NATO member whose mediating efforts last year brought Israel into indirect talks with Syria, protested every step of the way in a month of angry remarks capped when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stalked off the stage during a debate in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 29. In the week since, both sides have taken pains to mend fences, with officials in Israel and Turkey making conciliatory statements. “Turkey and Israel attribute a special importance to their bilateral relations,” Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Cemil Cicek, said this week. “We want to protect our relations with this country.” But both sides acknowledge that some damage has been done, and while the full implications for the relationship are still unknown, many political analysts say they sense a shift. “It’s not a business-as-usual relationship anymore,” said Cengiz Candar, a columnist for Radikal, a Turkish daily. “It’s a very uneasy sort of cohabitation in this region now.” Turkey is unique in the Middle East for its robust relations with Israel. It was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel as a state, and it has built up more than $3 billion in annual trade with Israel, far more than for any other Middle Eastern country. Mr. Erdogan encouraged the relationship, visiting Israel in 2005 with a group of Turkish businessmen and becoming the first Turkish prime minister to visit the office of Turkey’s chief rabbi after a synagogue was bombed in 2003. But when it comes to Hamas, which controls Gaza, they disagree. Israel views it as a terrorist group and focuses on its doctrinal commitment to destroy the Zionist state. Mr. Erdogan sees other aspects: Hamas began as a grass-roots Islamic movement, and like his own Justice and Development
party, also Islamic-inspired, was democratically elected against overwhelming odds. “They identified with some parts of the Hamas story,” said Femi Koru, a columnist for Today’s Zaman, a Turkish newspaper. “They were also outcasts who were not allowed to join national politics.” Turkish officials argue that Mr. Erdogan’s stance against the war was simply healthy criticism — words of warning from a close friend who sincerely believed that Israel had gone too far. “Turkey has lost its patience with the status quo in the Mideast,” said a senior Turkish official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “Gaza is the bankruptcy of the military solution.” The official added, “Israel is there to stay, and Palestinians are there to stay, and they need to be talking right now.”
Israel, for its part, feels that Mr. Erdogan is no longer a disinterested party in the peace process, and though the two countries will remain allies, the trust is no longer as strong. “He has burned all the bridges with Jerusalem,” said one senior Israeli official, who spoke anonymously because of the delicacy of the issue. “He won’t be seen as an honest broker anymore.” While Israel said it went to war to end rocket fire by Hamas, Mr. Erdogan said he saw the war through the prism of democracy. “The world has not respected the will of the Palestinian people,” he said in an interview with Newsweek on Jan. 31. “On the one hand, we defend democracy and we try our best to keep democracy in the Middle East, but on the other we do not respect the outcome.” He also rejects Hamas’s use of violence. “I’m not saying Hamas is a good organization and makes no mistakes,” he said. Mr. Erdogan’s stance has won him praise in Arab societies, which op-
posed Israel’s military campaign and chafe at their leaders’ support of it. “In one stroke, he became the moral patron saint of the Arab world,” said Mr. Candar, the columnist. But some Turkish columnists criticized Mr. Erdogan for what they said was an implicit hypocrisy — raising the issue of the Israeli killings of Palestinians while failing to mention his own country’s abuses in the mostly Kurdish southeast during years of war there. “One would naturally ask Erdogan, who stands up against violence imposed on people in Gaza, what he thinks about Kurds being killed in his own country,” wrote Ahmet Altan in the liberal Turkish daily Taraf. The fallout has affected Israeli tourism to Turkey, which is down in recent weeks, according to Avi Mendelbaum of Unital, a Tel Aviv travel agency. He said that his agency alone could fill a plane of 180 tourists going to Turkey a year ago, but that this year five agencies have joined to fill the same flight. The economic crisis is partly responsible, he said, but other destinations have not been hit as badly. But Israelis make up less than 2 percent of Turkey’s tourism industry, and it would be far more serious if there were repercussions in the United States, where Jewish groups have helped Turkey block a resolution that condemns the genocide of a more than a million Ottoman Empire Armenians from being discussed in Congress. Abraham H. Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that Mr. Erdogan’s criticism was “like a shock to the system,” but added that the league had not changed its opposition to the genocide bill in Congress. “It’s not a question of punishment,” he said. “There’s too much at stake in the relationship.” As for charges that anti-Semitism is flaring in Turkey, Mr. Foxman said it was no worse than in any other country. Though Turkey’s role as a mediator in the Middle East might suffer, the broader relationship will not, analysts said. A $141 million contract for surveillance equipment signed on Dec. 25 has not been canceled, said the Israel company that signed it.
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Published on Feb 12, 2009