ABDÜLHAMİT BİLİCİ

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ABDÜLHAMİT BİLİCİ
January 17, 2014, Friday

Attempting to discredit Gülen by linking him to Israel

In our country, if you want to defame or discredit someone or a group, the easiest way is to accuse that person or group of working on behalf of foreign powers, especially Israel.

Indeed, everyone in our country including rightists, leftists, religious or secularists lends full support to the Palestinian cause and nurtures antipathy against Israel and the US.

There was a survey recently conducted by a university about foreign policy perceptions in Turkey. According to this survey, 42 percent of the people interviewed perceived the US as the biggest threat to Turkey while 37 percent said the top threat was Israel. Therefore, the quickest way to launch a psychological warfare operation against someone or a group is to portray them as collaborating with the US and Israel. This is best label you can affix onto someone in order to isolate and demonize them within religious and conservative groups.

The shadowy “deep state” networks are known to aptly employ this method to create artificial animosities through political engineering. It is really very easy to hurl allegations at people and create suspicions in people's minds with false or manipulated news stories and columns. To forge documents as evidence or support for such perceptions is another commonly employed method. Among psychological warfare tactics, this is called “black propaganda”: devising false accusations about a certain person or group and disseminating them among all sorts of communication networks. Unlike white propaganda, black propaganda employs fabricated news, slanders, distortion, intrigues and similar tools. The black propaganda aims to create the perception of the existence of nonexistent incidents or facts.

A typical example is the "anti-reactionaryism action plan" prepared in cosmic rooms with the intention of destroying the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Gülen community in 2009, which was initially denied and passed off as a "piece of paper," but which led to the trial and sentencing of those who prepared it.

'Black propaganda activities'

Article 4 of the "black propaganda activities" section of this plan reads: "Houses will be raided upon reports of an offense and it will be ensured that objects belonging to the entities which Gülenists will be linked to [such as Judaism, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mossad, the cult of Sun Myung Moon and Ayatollah Khomeini] as well as weapons and ammunition are found during the searches." One of the tactics mentioned in the same document was spreading the rumor that "Gülenists are collaborating with the US." Another suggestion was to accuse the Gülen community of being hostile to Alevis, Kurds and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and of distorting the originality of Islam.

Last week, I had penned an article titled "ABD elçisi neden kovulmadı?” (Why wasn't the US ambassador expelled?) in an effort to dissect fabricated news stories which had simultaneously appeared as the headline story of four newspapers in an effort to create the impression that the recent graft investigation into the government was a US conspiracy implemented by its local collaborators.

Another defamatory tag used with the intention of distracting the general public's attention away from a graft and bribery investigation which became public on Dec.17 was “pro-Israel,” spitted out to describe the Hizmet movement as noted in the 2009 plan. The most suitable argument used for this purpose was the brief criticism voiced by Fethullah Gülen, who is known to urge his followers to act in a positive manner at all times, about the method by which Mavi Marmara, a flotilla bound for Gaza in an effort to pierce the Israeli blockage, was sent, leading to the Israeli attack that left eight Turks and one Turkish-American dead.

Those who seek to attack the Hizmet movement -- which has continually been attacked by anti-democratic deep state networks in Turkey -- and discredit it in the eyes of religious groups in the country frequently refer to, in addition to secret plans and fabricated news stories, the small criticism Gülen had voiced about the way the Mavi Marmara tragedy was handled.

The brief opinion Gülen had voiced during a lengthy interview, which was planned long before the incident, and which later appeared in The Wall Street Journal, could not be grasped by some while others chose to persistently distort it. This is perfectly natural in an open society. No one has to hold the same views. But it is quite interesting in many respects that this incident, which occurred on May 31, 2010, is now being frequently brought onto the agenda in connection with the graft investigation -- which led to the resignation of four Cabinet ministers.

First, the AK Party has never pursued an anti-Israeli policy. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Israel in 2005 and didn't hesitate to receive rewards from the Jewish lobby. Bilateral relations had been very smooth and Ankara could act as a mediator between Israel and Palestine as well as Syria until the Gaza attack and the Mavi Marmara tragedy. At that time, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu would praise Turkey's good ties with every regional actor including Israel and boast that Turkey was the "only country who could talk to everyone in the region."

Second, even though he criticized the method, in a condolences message Gülen's perspective about the incident was quite clear: "I wish God's mercy on our people who set sail with the intention of putting an end to the human tragedy in Gaza and who were martyred in the unfortunate attack they suffered, and I convey my condolences to their families, our nation and humanity.”

His criticism about the method employed in the Mavi Marmara campaign is perfectly understandable given the fact that Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, the founder of the Nur movement of which the Hizmet movement is part, always urged his followers to adopt constructive/positive action, even against the regime that sought to destroy him, and that the Hizmet movement disapproves all sorts of street demonstrations and acts of violence. Not everyone has to adopt this method, but everyone has to respect it in a democratic context.

Third, many people who criticized Gülen's Mavi Marmara criticism joined or lent support to various events organized by the Hizmet movement in the last three years and praised the movement's activities. Did they realize that the Hizmet movement was "collaborating with Israel" after the graft investigation was launched? Or do they have other motives in voicing these allegations?

Fourth, after the Mavi Marmara attack, diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel were never severed completely; secret and open talks were even held to solve the crisis. Before the official apology from Israel in March of 2013, the number of Israeli tourists to Turkey had increased by 117 percent and exports to Israel had climbed by 44 percent compared to the previous year. There are 67 flights every week between the two countries and most of these flights belong to the state-owned Turkish Airlines (THY). Therefore, no one can argue that after the attack, the ruling AK Party burned its bridges with Israel completely, but the Hizmet criticized the government for doing so.

Fifth, with the intervention of US President Barack Obama, Israel made an apology but in return, Erdoğan agreed that the families of those who died onboard the Mavi Marmara would not seek legal action against Israel. This is what the "exclusion of liability" provision refers to in the statement made by the parties. Thus, an agreement will be made under which Turkey would waive its rights to legal action and the families of the victims would waive their rights to legal remedies from Israel and Israeli soldiers. But the families are against this. For instance, the father of victim Furkan Doğan says they will not waive their rights. The Islamist human rights Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUMDER) agrees with Doğan: "It is claimed that the agreement for judicial immunity in return for compensations to be inked between Israel and Turkey will be passed by Parliament in the form of an international convention, thereby ensuring that the perpetrators are given judicial impunity under Article 90 of the Constitution. This contradicts universal legal norms, the Constitution and the penal code."

It is very unlikely for the government to pass such a bill while it is defying the US, Israel and the entire world in the run up to elections. But as long as Ankara drags its foot on "normalization,” which is supposed to come in the wake of the apology which Obama had made possible using his personal clout, this will harm bilateral ties between Washington and Ankara. In short, this problem continues to be a real nuisance for Turkey both within and outside.

Even passing off the claim voiced by some AK Party deputies and journalist Abdurrahman Dilipak, who decided not to board the vessel at the last minute, that "the list of passengers aboard Mavi Marmara, known only to the government, was eventually obtained by Israeli soldiers,” the current picture not only weakens Turkey's position in the international arena, but also indicates that the voiced concerns were well justified.

Despite this, some people continue to suggest that the only problem was the criticism Gülen had voiced three years ago, and this is really disgusting. Those who don't agree with opinion leader Gülen and who believe the current state of affairs is really bright are free to cut off all ties with Israel and send the Turkish navy to Gaza instead of slandering devout Muslims!

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