NGO Monitor: Six Reasons to Reject HRW’s Latest Gaza Attack on Israel
On April 3, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a 47-page report and a press release, complaining that Israel blocks its employees and those of other NGOs from entering Gaza ostensibly “to document violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) and to advocate for their remediation.” In this context, HRW references the International Criminal Court (ICC) preliminary inquiry into the 2014 Gaza War, and alleges that Israel’s restrictions “rais[e] questions not just about the capability of the Israeli authorities to investigate potential violations of the laws of war but also their willingness to do so.”Human Rights Watch gives Israel ultimatum over Gaza war crime probe
1. HRW’s main contention is both absurd and illogical. Israel’s ability to conduct its own investigations is not contingent on the activities of NGOs that lack both military and forensic expertise. If anything, NGO interference with these processes contaminate evidence and disqualify witnesses, making real investigations much more difficult.
Indeed, NGO Monitor has documented repeatedly how inquiries by NGOs into armed conflict, and in particular those conducted by HRW, are characterized by methodological problems, factual errors, and legal distortions.
HRW’s lack of capacity to investigate armed conflict is particularly acute in areas tightly controlled by terror groups as Gaza is by Hamas. Therefore, the only violations and evidence that HRW can “investigate” in Gaza are those that Hamas allows. In other words, HRW will be unable to do any credible research on co-locating of Hamas weaponry in civilian areas, plans for targeting Israeli civilians, Palestinian casualties from misfired rockets or secondary explosions, failure of Hamas to wear distinctive emblems, Hamas military operations and strategy, tunnel construction, and theft of humanitarian aid. Without this information, HRW allegations accusing Israel of “war crimes” amount to gross distortion if not outright fraud.
2. Nearly three years after the fact, the ability of NGOs to “bring relevant information to light” about the 2014 Gaza war is negligible at best. In its baseless claim that Israeli officials are “unwilling or unable” to investigate violations of the laws of war, HRW ignores the hundreds of investigations that have been completed or are in process by the Military Advocate General, does not provide any comparative criteria as to what constitutes sufficient investigations, and blatantly disregards the findings of three independent military investigations by actual experts (here, here, and here) dismissing HRW’s claims.
3. The real purpose is clear: this publication is the latest HRW attempt to denigrate Israel’s investigatory process and judicial system in order to bolster the NGO’s long-standing lawfare campaign, aimed at pushing the ICC to indict Israeli officials. The latest effort shows the absurd lengths to which HRW will go in pursuit of this ideological goal.
Human Rights Watch demanded on Monday that Israel allow its investigators into Gaza if it wants the International Criminal Court "to take seriously" Israel's own war crimes investigations.
The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda started a preliminary examination of 2014 Gaza war crimes allegations in January 2015.
HRW accuses Israel in a 47-page report of preventing its researchers for accessing Gaza. It has also accused Egypt of preventing HRW visits to the coastal territory since 2008.
Israel has not yet issued a response to the report but has said it investigates allegations made against its own soldiers and has long accused HRW of unfair bias against Israel.
Recently, Israel has taken a more aggressive stance toward some human rights NGOs, barring some activists from entering Israel, and accusing them of involvement in the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign and general efforts to delegitimize Israel.
10 killed in explosion on Saint Petersburg subway
Some 10 people were killed Monday in an explosion on the subway in Saint Petersburg, Russian authorities said.Israeli Aviation Security Expert in Response to Report of New ISIS Laptop Bombs Able to Evade Detection by Airport Scanners: ‘Human Element More Important Than Technology’
President Vladimir Putin, who was visiting the city on an unrelated trip Monday, said investigators were looking into whether the explosion was a terror attack or if there might have been some other cause.
He offered his condolences to the families of those killed.
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee, which said “several” people were killed and injured, said an unidentified explosive device went off on a train that was traveling between two stations.
Andrei Kibitov, spokesman for the St. Petersburg governor, told Russian television 10 people were killed and 50 injured in the subway explosion.
In response to a report that US intelligence services fear that ISIS and other terrorist organizations have developed non-detectable bombs — inside electronic devices — which can be carried on to planes, an aviation security expert told Israel’s Channel 2 on Sunday that Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport has been prepared for such a possibility for decades.PMW: Palestinian Media Watch to FIFA: Penalize Palestinian Football Association for terror glorification
Indeed, said Pini Schiff – former head of security at Ben Gurion – attempts to insert various types of explosive devices in innocent-looking instruments is nothing new.
He pointed to the December 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight 203 by Libyan agents, who managed to smuggle 450 grams of explosives on to the plane inside an electrical appliance. All 243 passengers and 16 crew members — as well as 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland, hit by debris — were killed.
Since then, he said, all luggage and equipment have had to undergo careful screening before being allowed to board. However, he said — responding to Saturday’s CNN report that new laptop bombs might be able to evade airport security — “The human element is almost more important than the technology. Even the best technology is not effective if the employee using it is not equipped to recognize the difference between explosives and non-harmful materials.”
Schiff said that there are two options when faced with this type of terrorist threat: One is not to let any electronic devices on planes; the other is to subject them to a much more pedantic examination, to see, for example, “whether an appliance actually works or has been hollowed out.”
Palestinian Media Watch has submitted an official complaint to the Disciplinary Committee of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) calling to penalize the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) and its president, Jibril Rajoub, for violating FIFA's Statutes. PMW wrote:Palestinians: The Diploma for Terror
"The Disciplinary Committee is requested to open proceedings against the PFA and Mr. Rajoub, and, where found necessary, implement disciplinary action without delay, including:
- For breaching Article 4 of the FIFA Statute - suspension or expulsion.
- For breaching Article 53 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code - a match suspension for no less than twelve months and a minimum fine of CHF 20,000.
- For breaching Article 58 of the FIFA Disciplinary code - a match suspension for at least five matches and a minimum fine of CHF 30,000.
- For breaching Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes penalties are not prescribed, but in accordance with Article 11 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, it is reasonable to assume that the penalty would be a ban on taking part in any football-related activity for an extended period of time.
On April 17, the Palestinians will again mark "Palestinian Prisoners' Day" by holding as series of rallies in solidarity with prisoners who carried out terror attacks against Israel. This event is marked every year by Palestinians to honor the "heroes" who made "huge sacrifices" on behalf of the Palestinians.Why is Europe so troubled by Israel?
These "sacrifices" include the maiming and murder of Jews. The annual event in the West Bank is sponsored and funded by Abbas's Fatah, in turn funded by Europe and the West, in the context of glorifying terrorists and encouraging Palestinian youths to follow their presumably heroic example.
A Palestinian teenager who wishes to become a "general" under Abbas need not apply to any sort of academy. The shortest route to achieve rank is by carrying out a terror attack against Israel and doing time in Israeli prison. The longer the time spent in prison, the higher the military rank. Ten years will earn them the rank of Colonel. More than that will earn them General. The path to winning a job with a Palestinian Authority ministry also passes through Israeli prisons. Former prisoners are treated as the "good boys of the revolution" and granted the plum jobs. Meanwhile, those Palestinians who actually choose to become educated once again lose out.
It would be no surprise, then, if al-Maghari finds himself awarded the rank of General in Abbas's Fatah-controlled security forces.
And so it continues: the unashamed glorification of murderers; terrorists paraded as role models and paragons of virtue to yet another generation of Palestinians. Under these conditions of unremitting incitement, no Palestinian can talk about peace with Israel.
When President Abbas visits the White House, it will be interesting to see if his "peace" stance includes a discussion of the Diploma for Terror.
We already know what that crowd has in mind for Israel and we know how Arabs live in peace and security in Syria and Iraq and Yemen.The World’s Most UN-Fair Organization
That is precisely what would be coming to the Jewish State if ever a two-state solution were ever to materialize from the dreams of the Mufti of Jerusalem, through Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas. Their schemes have always been to drive the Jews into the sea and whatever tricks they don’t know, they’ve learned from Europe.
The Europeans have always known what to do with the Jews – and from miles away, they’re at it again.
They think they can still give orders – go left, go right, and before you know it you’re in a cattle car, and I am sorry to bring this up.
I know many people, including Israelis, don’t like Holocaust references, but no discussion about Europe can happen without that reference, certainly as it relates to the Jewish people. Plus the fact that in the clock of history, the Holocaust happened last night, a moment ago.
So now that we have Israel, precisely what business is it of Europe what Israel does?
Hands-off would be the polite thing to do if you’re a European with any touch of memory and any sense of decency.
Besides, don’t they have enough troubles of their own over there from one rape capital to another?
Throughout Europe they’re hiding behind closed doors in fear of Radical Islam. Let them start their own two state solutions and tell Israel how it goes.
The United Nations as an organization is charged with upholding dignity and security for all the nations of the world, big and small. Yet, is it acting with equal vigilance in enforcing these noble principles when it comes to Israel? The answer is a resounding no! One could make a strong case that the UN has a separate anti-Israel agenda from its overall mission, effectively making it the largest anti-Israel organization in the world (unofficially, of course).UN vote on Israeli settlements has changed little
However, now that Donald Trump is president and Nikki Haley is the US ambassador who sits on the Security Council, we are about to see Israel getting the support at the UN that it rightfully deserves. For example, a UN committee — ESCWA (Economic Social Commission of Western Asia) — recently released a report accusing Israel of practicing “apartheid.” After vigorous protest from the Trump administration and others, it has since been pulled from their website.
Moreover, Trump has indicated that the US may consider taking punitive action against the UN and some of its internal agencies — in the form of reducing or eliminating financial support — due to it’s anti-Israel activities. There have even been discussions about the US withdrawing from the Human Rights Council.
We are in the early stages of a long overdue new era. It’s about time someone “Trumpets” support for Israel.
Three months after a landmark UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements, the measure has changed little on the ground and some analysts question whether it ever will.Egypt’s Sissi said set to present Trump with Mideast peace plan
Security Council Resolution 2334, passed in December, did little to halt settlement building, with a raft of new projects announced by Israeli officials in the weeks that followed.
At the same time, it is among the measures US President Donald Trump’s administration has cited in its argument that Israel is being unfairly targeted at the UN.
Some diplomats see the resolution as increasingly irrelevant, even counterproductive.
“It was a flash in the pan,” one said.
It was passed in former president Barack Obama’s final days in office after the United States opted not to veto it, giving the green light for the first Security Council resolution condemning settlements since 1979.
Trump had called for it to be vetoed.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II will reportedly present US President Donald Trump with a framework to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal during their visits to the White House this week.Former Egyptian Ambassador: Trump Should Undo Obama’s Sponsorship Of Muslim Brotherhood
Based on a two-state solution, the framework aims to establish a basis for fresh peace talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, according to Israel Radio citing a Gulf media outlet on Monday.
According to the report, the initiative would start with a series of gestures, including a long-delayed release of Palestinian prisoners and a complete stop to all Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.
The Dubai-based al-Khaleej Times said Trump would respond to the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative during his meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas tentatively scheduled for later this month in Washington.
It said the Trump administration aims to host an international peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in September.
President Abdel Fatah Sisi’s visit to the United States later this month will be an opportunity to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood’s standing in Washington, a former Egyptian ambassador to the US said.Azerbaijan’s deputy PM flown to Israel for heart treatment
Abdel Raouf al-Ridi told Egyptian paper Alshorouk that “Egyptian-American relations are entering a new phase, and the degree of their success relies on Egyptian efforts.”
“Presidents Trump and Sisi can break the ice created during the Obama administration,” he said. “Without doing injustice to Obama, he adopted the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
He added that during Obama’s presidency, “the Muslim Brotherhood shifted their international center of gravity from London to Washington. In recent years the Muslim Brotherhood penetrated American institutions and think tanks, and disseminated their ideology as an alternative to extremism.”
The deputy prime minister of Azerbaijan was treated in Israel for a heart problem last week after doctors in Baku determined his condition was life-threatening.Jerusalem police to beef up security ahead of Passover
The Rambam Medical Center in Haifa announced on Monday that Abid Sharifov, who has served as deputy prime minister of Azerbaijan since 1995, arrived at a hospital in Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku last week after complaining of feeling weak.
After running tests, Azerbaijani doctors determined that Sharifov was suffering from a slow heart rate as a result of a problem with his heart’s electrical conduction system, which helps enable the heart’s contraction and blood flow.
As a result of the danger posed to his life, Sharifov was flown to Rambam Medical Center in Israel for treatment, where the hospital’s cardiology unit fitted him with a pacemaker and defibrillator to help manage his heart rate.
Sharifov was also treated by doctors at Rambam Medical Center for a clogged artery that was detected during the surgery.
A senior police officer said Sunday that security will be bolstered in Jerusalem ahead of the upcoming Passover festival as a precaution against possible terror attacks.Two clerics arrested connected to Old City stabbing
Speaking a day after a terrorist stabbed three people in Jerusalem’s Old City, Commander Doron Turgeman — who oversees security in the area — said terror groups seek to attack Israelis around the Jewish holidays.
“Holidays and festivals over the years have caused higher tensions and sensitivity and are a preferred period for attacks,” Turgeman told Army Radio. “Ahead of the festival there will be wider deployment based on assessments of the situation. We are here in order to enable the holiday to go ahead as usual.”
The weeklong Passover festival begins on April 10. Tens of thousands of people are expected to visit Jerusalem’s Old City during the holiday.
Two clerics at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount were arrested as part of an investigation into the attack in Jerusalem's Old City on Saturday.IsraellyCool: Israel Singles Out Arab Men For Special Treatment
Two civilians and one policeman were slightly injured in the attack.
The two suspects, da’is (charitable workers for Islamic organizations) at the mosque, are named Sami Abed Fatiha and Hasnin Zahnir. Their remand was extended by four days, and a gag order was imposed on every detail of the investigation, apart from the arrest of the two.
During the incident, the attacker, 17-year-old Ahmad Jazal from the Nablus area in the West Bank, was shot dead by the Border Police officer that he had stabbed.
Apartheid! Discrimination!MEMRI: Lebanese Columnist Warns: Any Hizbullah Aggression Against Israel Will Be Disastrous For Lebanon More Than Anyone Else
A free program has begun to help the more than 44 percent of Arab men who have the highest smoking rate in Israel, and as a result the shortest life expectancy, to quit.
The Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, with funding from the Israel Cancer Association and the Health Ministry, has initiated SMS Quit. Arab men are sent interactive cellphone messages in Arabic on a regular basis that encourage them to kick the habit and abstain from tobacco use, especially in times of crisis.
Faculty member Dr. Hagai Levine said just 7 percent of Arab women smoke, while their male counterparts are almost seven times as likely to light up cigarettes, nargileh and other products. He noted that smoking- cessation programs are included in the national basket of health services, but many smokers nevertheless try to kick the habit on their own.
In an article titled "Does Hizbullah Threaten Israel or Us" in the English-language Saudi daily Arab News, Lebanese columnist Diana Moukalled commented on the recent escalation in Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah's threats against Israel, including his threat to target Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona. She assessed that this escalation in Nasrallah's rhetoric is an attempt to make up for Hizbullah's military losses in Syria and to garner popular support in light of the decline in Hizbullah's and Iran's global standing. She also noted that his threat to target the reactor is irresponsible because thousands of Palestinian and Israeli civilians live near it. Noting that Iran often uses Lebanon as an arena for its "adventures," she warned that the current political climate might prompt Iran and Hizbullah to renew their aggression against Israel – which would be catastrophic for Lebanon, even more so than in previous confrontations.Palestinian Authority textbooks teach pupils to be expendable ‘martyrs’
The following are excerpts from her article:
"Israel has reacted to recent statements by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah with a mixture of mockery and cynicism, as he said Hezbollah was ready to bomb the Dimona nuclear reactor or ammonia tanks. Israeli websites reported military discussions indicating that Israel believes Hezbollah is facing a dilemma over aid and funds due to the fighting in Syria.
"In the past, Israel dealt more seriously and carefully with Hezbollah threats and movements, but this has seemingly changed. I am in no way praising Israel, an occupying racist state, or minimizing its danger as an aggressor. Rather, this is an attempt to understand the whirlwind of rhetoric recently launched by Nasrallah, which affects Lebanese, Palestinians and others living mere kilometers from the Dimona reactor.
The latest Palestinian Authority elementary school textbooks are even more radical than previous editions, according to a report just issued by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education.New law would deduct ‘martyr’ payments from Palestinian tax revenues
The report was based on examination of elementary- school grades one through four and high-school grades 11 and 12 of the 2016-2017 PA’s educational curriculum.
The new textbooks showed deterioration in messages of tolerance and peace compared to previous editions.
They teach pupils to become expendable martyrs and reject negotiations, while demonizing and denying the existence of the State of Israel, according to the findings.
A new bill submitted to the Knesset last month would see Israel deduct NIS 1 billion from the tax revenues it collects for the Palestinians and hands over to them, the equivalent amount that Ramallah pays to terrorists and their familiesAbbas: UK stalling on visa for incoming PLO ambassador
The legislation proposed by Yesh Atid lawmaker Elazar Stern says that in 2016, the Palestinian Authority paid out some NIS 1.1 billion ($303 million) in stipends and other benefits to the families of so-called “martyrs” who lost their lives during attacks against Israelis and Palestinian prisoners serving time in Israeli jails for security-related offenses.
The bill was submitted to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on March 20, but it will not come up for discussion until after the start of the next Knesset session in mid-May.
Stern called the stipends “an incentive to murder Jews,” and said Israel must put an end to the PA policy.
“The funds transferred to terrorists are not just part of the larger issue of incitement but they encourage Arabs to carry out terror attacks,” Stern told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily. “It’s a real incentive to murder Jews, and we must stop this insanity immediately.”
The United Kingdom is holding off from granting the incoming PLO Ambassador to London Maen Erekat a diplomatic visa, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a pan-Arab newspaper in an interview published on Monday.Explosion in Gaza injures 3 at reported Hamas military site
“The British are trying to move backwards and set forth limits and obstacles, but we are saying that we want them…to treat the new ambassador as they did the [current] ambassador,” Abbas told Al-Quds Arabi in a wide-ranging interview.
The UK upgraded the status of the PLO representative office in London to a diplomatic mission in 2011, which granted Palestinian officials in the the UK the status of foreign diplomats.
The current PLO Ambassador Manuel Hassassian holds a diplomatic visa.
Abbas added that if the UK does not grant the incoming PLO ambassador a diplomatic visa, the Palestinian leadership will not hesitate to respond.
Three men were injured by an explosion near the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Monday, the Hamas-run health ministry said, in what appeared to be an accident at a terror training camp.Israel foils attempt to allegedly smuggle scuba gear to Hamas frogmen
Hamas-affiliated media in the Strip said the explosion occurred in a site belonging to the terror group’s military wing, but gave no further details.
Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidre said in a statement that “three men sustained varied levels of injuries resulting from an accident near Tel a-Sultan, west of Rafah.”
Hamas, which is openly committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, is engaged in training its fighters, builds rockets and digs tunnels in preparation for another round of conflict with Israel.
Israeli officials thwarted an attempt to smuggle wet suits into the Gaza Strip, apparently bound for Hamas’s naval commando unit, the Defense Ministry said Monday, days after an Israeli official warned the terror group was increasingly exploring the possibility of seaborne attacks on Israel.Hamas said to arrest group of ‘Israeli agents’ in Gaza
The ministry’s Crossing Authority, working with the Shin Bet security service, found some 30 professional-grade scuba suits hidden in a shipment of sporting wear that was heading for the coastal enclave through the Kerem Shalom Crossing.
The wet suits came from abroad to an importer in the Palestinian Authority, who forwarded them along to Gaza, “without the required coordination,” the ministry said in a statement.
In an effort to keep scuba gear out of the hands of Hamas, wet suits cannot be imported into the Gaza Strip without a special permit.
“The shipment was confiscated, and an investigation was opened into locating those involved in the smuggling,” the Defense Ministry said.
Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip have arrested a group of suspects accused of being Israeli agents, media close to Hamas’s military reported on Monday.Egypt court backs islands’ transfer to Saudi Arabia
“Hamas internal security forces are currently undertaking a large campaign to pursue Israeli agents, during which a group has been arrested and others are being pursued,” the Palestinian news site al-Majd, which is linked to Hamas’s Izz-a-Din al-Qassam Brigades military wing, wrote.
The arrests came after Hamas declared Sunday that it would crack down on “collaborators” with Israel over the recent assassination of one of its terror chiefs, Mazen Fuqha, which it blames on Israel.
“The gates of repentance are open before [Israeli] agents, and to repeat anyone who hands themselves in will be under protection and will receive a lenient punishment,” a Hamas security source told al-Majd.
An Egyptian court Sunday issued a new ruling in support of a government accord to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, a deal that has sparked protests, lawyers said.Analysts See Grave Threat of Iran-Backed Heavily Armed Militant Groups Emerging in Bahrain
In the latest in a series of contradictory judicial rulings on the case, the urgent matters court in Cairo followed a verdict by Egypt’s highest administrative court that went against the islands’ transfer.
Saudi Arabia has been a main financial backer of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi since the former army chief toppled his Islamist predecessor in 2013.
The deal to hand over the islands, signed during an April 2016 visit by Saudi King Salman during which Riyadh showered Egypt with aid, provoked accusations that Cairo had “sold” the strategic islands.
Cairo said the two islands — Tiran and Sanafir — were Saudi territory to start with, but had been leased to Egypt in the 1950s.
The men who built the secret bomb factory had been clever — suspiciously so, Bahraini investigators thought, for a gang known mostly for lobbing molotov cocktails at police. The underground complex had been hewed, foot by foot, beneath the floor of a suburban villa, with no visible traces at street level and only a single entrance, hidden behind a kitchen cabinet.Australian baby executed by Islamic State terrorists in chilling act of revenge after his father tried to flee the conflict zone and come home
But the real surprises lay inside. In one room, police found $20,000 lathes and hydraulic presses for making armor-piercing projectiles capable of slicing through a tank. Another held box upon box of the military explosive C-4, all of foreign origin, in quantities that could sink a battleship.
“Most of these items have never been seen in Bahrain,” the country’s investigators said in a confidential technical assessment provided to U.S. and European officials this past fall that offered new detail on the arsenals seized in the villa and in similar raids that have occurred sporadically over nearly three years. In sheer firepower, the report said, the caches were both a “game-changer” and — matched against lightly armed police — “overkill.”
The report, a copy of which was shown to The Washington Post, partly explains the growing unease among some Western intelligence officials over tiny Bahrain, a stalwart U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf and home to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Six years after the start of a peaceful Shiite protest movement against the country’s Sunni-led government, U.S. and European analysts now see an increasingly grave threat emerging on the margins of the uprising: heavily armed militant cells supplied and funded, officials say, by Iran.
A baby has been executed by Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East after its Australian jihadi father tried to flee the war zone and come home.Erdogan Turks in Europe should defy 'grandchildren of Nazism'
The Australian infant, whose gender has not been confirmed, is believed to have been killed in revenge after the child's father contacted authorities in an attempt to escape the conflict in Syria and Iraq, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Authorities would not confirm the baby's age or how the child was killed.
Attorney-General George Brandis said the Government condemned 'any parent who takes their family to the conflict zone'.
'The government has consistently said going to the conflict zone puts yourself and others in danger,' he said.
President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday called on Turkish voters in Europe to defy the "grandchildren of Nazism" and back a referendum this month on changing the constitution, comments likely to cause further ire in Europe.I Criticised Hamas and My Life in Turkey Became a Nightmare
Erdogan has repeatedly lashed out at European countries, including Germany, in campaigning for the referendum, accusing them of "Nazi-like" tactics for banning his ministers from speaking to rallies of Turkish voters abroad.
Germany has been incensed by the references to its wartime past. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the references must stop.
Erdogan also said he would take the issue of whether Turkey should restore the death penalty to referendum if necessary. Turkey abandoned capital punishment more than a decade ago as part of its bid to join the European Union. Restoring capital punishment - which crowds have called for following the July 15 failed coup - would all but end Turkey's bid to join the EU, officials from the bloc have said.
The campaign annoyed my editors and boss, but I kept writing provided that I would not write on "explosive" subjects. What were they? Well, you know. After a few attempts I stopped writing about the Arab-Israeli dispute. I did, however, continue to write on that subject for two other platforms: Daniel Pipes's Middle East Forum and Nina Rosenwald's Gatestone Institute.
New rules meant that my column could no longer contain the words Jew, Israel, and Hamas.
But things went from bad to worse in Turkey. My editors, understandably, were under pressure not to publish even a few lines of jokes or criticism in a column devoted to a non-Arab-Israeli dispute subject. I got the message. The increasingly difficult rules meant that my column could not contain any of the words "Jew, Israel, Israeli, Hamas, Hamas and terror and Palestine."
It worked. At least until December 2016, when my editors alerted me to a "very serious crisis that had terribly upset the big boss."
What could it be, since my last column was about the assassination of the Russian envoy to Ankara by an Islamist police officer?
Once again I was on the front page of a pro-Erdogan newspaper, Aksam. How dare I compare a government plan to introduce "youth branches" that would be affiliated to 45,000 mosques to the Hitler Youth?
Enough, the big boss said. Fine, I said. That was the end of a relationship that dated back to 1987.
Sad? Sad. Nevertheless, I felt lucky. In Erdogan's Turkey, I could have been prosecuted on charges of terrorism for writing that article.