Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit to Germany on Friday was shrouded in tension over his constant attacks upon the State of Israel along with renewed interest in the German press concerning the activities of Turkish lobby groups in the country.
There was little fanfare around Erdogan’s visit, which consisted of two private meetings with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, while a planned trip to a soccer friendly between Germany and Turkey was canceled.
“There was a fear that there’d be anti-Israel chants,” Aydin Yasar, a Turkey specialist at the German think tank SWP, told Reuters. “It’s unlikely Scholz would want to watch it with him. At other times it would have been a nice gesture.”
Despite the fact that both Scholz and Steinmeier have vocally backed Israel’s right to defend itself in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, neither man elected to confront Erdogan over his support for Hamas. A terse statement from Steinmeier’s office posted on X/Twitter after his dinner with Erdogan noted that “due to the latest statements from Turkey on the Middle East conflict, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier made clear Germany’s position,” which “highlighted Israel’s right to exist as well as its right to defend itself.” Meanwhile, Scholz on Tuesday described Erdogan’s characterization of Hamas as a liberation movement and not a terrorist organization as “absurd,” insisting that Israel is “a country that is bound to human rights and international law and acts accordingly.”
Separately, a spokesperson for Scholz declined to speculate, when asked by the Reuters news agency, on how Germany would proceed with Erdogan‘s request to buy 40 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes — a move that would need Scholz’s support since Germany is part of the consortium that builds them. The broader discussions taking place during Erdogan’s first visit to Germany since 2020 aim to forge a degree of consensus on trade, migration, and defense issues, despite the gap between the two countries on both the war in Gaza and Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Erdogan’s presence has underscored the influence of pro-government lobby groups among the three million German residents with roots in Turkey.
The Union of International Democrats (UID) — a Cologne-based organization — has been closely scrutinized by the German authorities since the summer, amid wider concerns that the MTK, Turkey’s security service, has stepped up its propaganda activities among Germany’s Turkish communities.
Last week, the UID quietly canceled a forthcoming public meeting in December that would have featured Abdurrahman Uzun, a Turkish YouTube influencer known for his antisemitic rants. “Do you know why I am an enemy of Israel and the Jews, do you know that? God made me an enemy of the Jews, this Israel and these Zionists in the Quran,” Uzun said in a video posted five days after the Hamas onslaught. “God declared me an enemy of this tribe, this Zionist tribe, in the Quran.”
In an interview with the broadcaster ARD this week, Tugrul Selmanoglu, a senior UID official, suggested that Erdogan could lead a “union” of Islamic countries in a war against Israel.
Observing that “there are no leaders, there is no caliph, there is no diplomatic institution that can lead that,” Selmanoglu added, “0f course that would be one [person] that comes to everyone’s mind.” Asked if he meant Erdogan, he replied, “if you say so” with a laugh.
“The UID is ultimately also a propaganda center that is clearly committed to mobilizing AKP voters and represents Erdogan’s political interests here in Germany,” Burak Copur, a Germany-based political analyst, told the tagesschau news outlet. He observed as well that the group was “being monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution because its goals are not compatible with Germany’s free, democratic basic order.”
More than 2,000 incidents targeting Jews in Germany have been recorded since Oct. 7, according to data from the Federal Criminal Police Office released last week. The explosion of violence and harassment has highlighted the prevalence of antisemitic attitudes among Germany’s Muslim communities, who have staged angry demonstrations in support of Hamas in several cities during the last month.
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Protester Sets Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate in Atlanta
i24 News – A protester was in critical condition on Friday after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. authorities said. A security guard who tried to intervene was also wounded.
A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a news conference. He added that investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.
JUST IN: A pro-Palestine protester is in critical condition after they set themselves on fire in “political protest” outside of the Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta.
The protester was reportedly draped in a Palestine flag.
The protester has severe burns and unfortunately, a… pic.twitter.com/B8nUQAj2nU
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) December 1, 2023
“We do not see any threat here,” he said. “We believe it was an act of extreme political protest that occurred.” Everyone inside the consulate building was said to be safe.
Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the southeastern U.S., said: “We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building. It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way.”
“The sanctity of life is our highest value. Our prayers are with the security officer who was injured while trying to prevent this tragic act. We are grateful to the city of Atlanta’s law enforcement and first responders for all they do to ensure safety.”
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Released Israeli Hostages Call for Captives to Be Freed
Israeli hostages released in the past week by Hamas in Gaza called on Saturday for the immediate release of fellow captives left behind, a day after a temporary truce that had allowed scores to come home broke down.
Tens of thousands gathered at a rally in Tel Aviv outside Israel‘s defense headquarters, where they cheered Yelena Trupanov, 50, standing on a stage just two days after being freed.
“I came to thank you because without you I wouldn’t be here. Now we must bring back my (son) Sasha, and everyone. Now.”
Similar pleas from other released hostages were shown on video.
A seven-day truce, during which Hamas had released more than 100 hostages, collapsed on Friday after Hamas breached the ceasefire.
Israel said on Saturday it had recalled a Mossad intelligence agency team from Qatar, host of indirect negotiations with Hamas, accusing the Palestinian faction of reneging on a deal that would have freed all children and women held hostage.
More than 240 people – Israelis and foreign nationals – were abducted to Gaza on Oct 7. by Hamas terrorists who burst through the border with Israel and killed 1,200 people.
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IDF Foils Stabbing Attack Near Nablus in West Bank, Eliminates Terrorist
i24 News – The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported thwarting a stabbing attack on Saturday afternoon against reserve Battalion 7037 at the X junction near Nablus in the West Bank.
According to the IDF spokesperson, the event unfolded when the forces at the roadblock became suspicious of an individual approaching the barricade.
During the questioning process, the suspect suddenly drew a knife and advanced towards the IDF personnel.
ניסיון פיגוע דקירה אירע לפני זמן קצר לעבר כוח צה”ל במילואים מגדוד 7037 שפעל בחסם בצומת האיקס סמוך לעיר שכם שבמרחב חטיבת שומרון.
הכוח חשד במחבל שהגיע לחסם והחל לתחקר אותו, המחבל שלף סכין והחל להתקדם לעבר הכוח.
הלוחמים חתרו למגע והגיבו בירי לעבר המחבל שחוסל. אין נפגעים לכוחותינו. pic.twitter.com/mEaJs58hpE
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) December 2, 2023
The soldiers, faced with the threat, engaged in contact procedures and ultimately responded by opening fire on the assailant. The spokesperson confirmed that the attacker was neutralized due to the IDF’s action.
It was also noted that there were no casualties among the IDF forces involved in the incident. According to the spokesperson, the situation at the X junction has stabilized, and IDF continues to maintain vigilance in the area to prevent further attacks.
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