Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday lambasted the US and Britain for launching military strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, continuing his harsh anti-Western rhetoric since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
“All that has been done is a disproportionate use of force,” Erdogan said after Friday prayers in Istanbul, referring to the strikes in Yemen. “At the moment, they are trying to turn the Red Sea into a sea of blood and Yemen, with the Houthis and by using all of its force, says it is and will give the necessary response in the region to the United States, Britain.”
The US and Britain overnight launched dozens of air strikes across Yemen in retaliation against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who control much of the country including the capital, for attacks on Red Sea shipping. Houthi forces have carried out several attacks on ships heading to Israel to support the Palestinians since the eruption of the war in Gaza triggered by the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel.
The rebel movement — whose slogan is “death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory to Islam” — has also claimed responsibility for attempted drone and missile strikes targeting Israel itself.
As a result of the Red Sea attacks, a number of major shipping lines have announced they would forgo the vital trade route and instead opt for a longer, pricier journey around Africa.
Turkey, a NATO member, has previously condemned Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and supported UN-led talks between the Houthi rebels and Yemen’s internationally recognized government.
Nonetheless, Erdogan said Turkey heard from various channels that the Houthis were conducting a “very successful defense, response” against the US and Britain, adding that Iran was looking at “how it can protect itself against all that is happening.”
Erdogan’s comments were the latest in a string of remarks against Western countries, who he has lambasted for supporting Israel in its defensive war against Hamas following the Palestinian terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel communities.
“Those who try to skip over the deaths of all those innocent people by using the excuse of Hamas have nothing left to say to humanity,” he said last month, referring to Western powers, which he called “blind and deaf.”
In a separate development on Friday, the Turkish leader said his country was providing documents to support South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) charging Israel with committing genocide in Gaza.
“I believe Israel will be convicted there. We believe in the justice of the International Court of Justice,” Erdogan told reporters, adding that Turkey would continue to provide documents, mostly visuals, on Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
Israeli officials have strongly condemned the ICJ proceedings, noting that the Jewish state is targeting terrorists who use civilians as human shields in its military campaign.
Erdogan has been one of Israel’s harshest critics since the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7, repeatedly attacking the Jewish state. Last month, he accused Israel of operating “Nazi” concentration camps and compared his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu with Adolf Hitler.
Weeks earlier, Erdogan said that Netanyahu was a “butcher” who would be tried as a “war criminal” over Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza. He has also called Israel a “terror state.”
Turkey hosts senior Hamas officials and, together with Iran and Qatar, has provided a large portion of the Palestinian terror group’s budget.
Several Western and Arab states designate Hamas, an offshoot of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, as a terror group.
However, Erdogan has defended Hamas terrorists as “resistance fighters” against what he described as an Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
Israel withdrew all its troops and civilian settlers from Gaza in 2005.
Turkey has ridden a wave of antisemitism since the Oct. 7 atrocities. Among the legislative proposals currently being debated by the Turkish parliament is a ban on individuals from holding joint Turkish and Israeli citizenship and another on the sale of land in Northern Cyprus — illegally occupied by Turkey since 1974 — to “Jews and Israelis.”
Brown University Investigating Threats of Violence Sent to Hillel Officials
Two officials of Brown-RISD Hillel, a Jewish life center serving both Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, were sent “violent threats” early Sunday morning, according to a report by The Brown Daily Herald.
After being alerted of threats, which were sent via email, the university’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) conducted a search of Brown-RISD Hillel and determined there is “no evidence of any one-site threat.” DPS vice president Rodney Chatman told The Brown Daily Herald that “local, state, and federal authorities” are investigating the incident.
“This comes at an especially difficult time of distress on our campuses,” Brown University president Christina H. Paxson said in a statement addressing the incident. “Our students, faculty, and staff continue to grapple with the deaths of Israelis, Palestinians, and others in the wake of the October 7 attacks, as well as a despicable act of violence against a member of the Brown community here in the United States last November, and increases in reports of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate.”
In Sunday’s statement President Paxson said that “robust” security measures will be implemented to protect Brown-RISD Hillel, as well as the officials who were threatened, from harm.
The incident is not the first antisemitic act of hatred since Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7.
In December, the university’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity opened an investigation into an incident in which someone slipped a threatening note underneath the door of an off-campus apartment rented by Jewish students.
“Those who live for death will die by their own hand,” said the note, which, according to the Brown Daily Herald, matches lyrics from a song by an early 1980s punk band. The paper added that the note was found by an electrician, who brought it inside.
A similar incident occurred last November at a Brown-RISD Hillel. Additionally, in 2020, a swastika was graffitied in Brown’s Hegeman Hall. In 2017, another was found in a gender-neutral bathroom at RISD. It was drawn using human feces, according to the Brown Daily Herald.
Last week, President Paxson rejected the demands of anti-Zionist students who were participating in a hunger strike in an effort to force the Brown Corporation to vote on a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israel and make other concessions.
The university has twice ordered the arrests of extremist anti-Zionists student protesters, who have held unauthorized demonstrations in administration buildings, sometimes occupying them for hours after being asked to leave. Over 40 were arrested in December while onlookers shouted “Shame on Brown, Shame on Brown!”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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‘Free Palestine:’ Texas Church Shooter Suspected of Having Pro-Hamas Ideology
A woman who stormed a church in Houston, Texas, on Sunday with an AR-15 rifle and shot one person before being killed by police was apparently a Hamas supporter, according to details on the incident reported by CNN.
On Monday, the outlet reported that “Free Palestine” was written on the shooter’s rifle.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the shooter has since been identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36. The woman has an extensive criminal history which includes arrests for marijuana possession, assault, theft, and forgery.
On Sunday afternoon, Moreno walked into the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas — an institution famous for being the church of charismatic Christian preacher Joel Osteen — with a child and a gun. Wearing a trench coat and a knapsack, she threatened to have explosives, according to multiple reports. Most of the worshipers in attendance were Hispanic and attending a Spanish language service.
Moreno shot one man, leaving him critically injured, and was shot and killed by Houston Police. A child was also shot during the incident, but police are still unsure of whether they or Moreno are responsible for doing it.
“I want to commend those officers. She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said during a press conference later in the day.
An investigation of Moreno’s motives is ongoing.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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London Theater Facing Legal Action After Comedy Show Turns Into ‘Antisemitic Rally’
A London theater is facing legal action after an Israeli man was hounded out of a comedy show on Saturday night by a comedian performing a one-man show that turned into what some audience members compared to an “antisemitic rally.”
A spokesperson for the UK’s Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said the group was in touch with the Israeli man and other members of the audience who fled from the theater.
“What the Jewish audience members have recounted is atrocious, and we are working with them and our lawyers to ensure that those who instigated and enabled it are held to account,” the CAA spokesperson told London’s Evening Standard news outlet. “These allegations are of deeply disturbing discriminatory abuse against Jews. Comedians are rightly given broad latitude, but hounding Jews out of theaters is reminiscent of humanity’s darkest days, and must have no place in central London in 2024.”
The comedian, Paul Currie, had been performing a one-man show entitled “Shtoom” at London’s Soho Theater. Towards the end of his performance, he retrieved a Ukrainian and Palestinian flag and invited members to stand and applaud.
After the round of applause was over, Currie pointed to a man in the second row of the theater and quizzed him over why he had not stood up.
The unnamed man, an Israeli, replied, “I enjoyed your show until you brought out the Palestinian flag.” An infuriated Currie began screaming, “Leave my show now! Get out of my f—-ing show!” in response.
As the man and his partner rose to leave, accompanied by a handful of other shocked audience members, the assembled crowd began chanting “Get out” and “Free Palestine.”
In a written complaint to the theater over his treatment, the man wrote: ” Shaken and feeling threatened by the growing antagonism, we exited and tried to complain/ get some support from the front-of-house team at the theatre, who were not very sympathetic but did give us an email address to make a complaint. By this time, the show had ended and the audience started exiting, a number of whom were glaring at us aggressively and in a very threatening way. We all left the scene.”
He added: “Our friends later received a message from someone they knew who had also been at the show, saying that after we left, the situation became even more inflamed. What had been intended to be an evening of comedy turned out to be what felt like an antisemitic rally.”
The theater eventually apologized, issuing a statement expressing regret an “an incident that took place at our venue at the end of a performance of Paul Currie: Shtoom on Saturday 10 February, which has caused upset and hurt to members of audience attending and others.” It added: “We take this very seriously and are looking into the detail of what happened as thoroughly, as sensitively, and as quickly as we can. It is important to us that Soho theatre is a welcoming and inclusive place for all.”
Currie has remained largely silent since the incident, save for a post on Instagram which quoted Mexican poet Cesar A. Cruz saying: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” He then added: “If you were at my show last night… you’ll know.”
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