Isolated country? Previous Israeli administrations have recognised the crucial importance of maintaining Western support
Turkey straddles two worlds, Europe and Asia, but its relationship with the West has always been troubled. Once dubbed the sick man of Europe, the member of NATO has sought membership of the European Union, but always been denied.

Today, roles have been reversed. Turkey is booming, with economic growth at 8.5 per cent while its nearest European neighbours are going broke.
This economic success has earned the country international respect. Turkey is now acting as a trusted broker with its turbulent neighbours in the Caucasus, Iran, Iraq, Israel, and Syria.
Is Turkey a weathervane reflecting the global shift of power? And can the new Ottomans strike a balance between the country’s modern, secular aspirations and its deep-rooted Islamic identity?
The Cafe travels to Istanbul, a secular city in an increasingly religious country that is trying to break free from its past.
Joining our conversation in The Cafe in Istanbul are guests: Nursuna Memecan, a senior member of parliament representing Turkey’s ruling party, the AKP; Mehmet Karli, a lecturer at Galatasaray University and a human rights activist; Andrew Finkel, a journalist & author of Turkey what everyone needs to know; Gokce Piskin, a rising star in the CHP, the main opposition party in Turkey, and chairwoman of its youth wing; Merve Kavakci Islam, a professor at Georgetown University and a former member of the Turkish parliament who was prevented from taking up her seat due to her wearing of the headscarf; and Abdulhamit Bilici, the head of Cihan News Agency, a columnist at Zaman; and author of Why Turkey
Discussions about the influence of social media often remind those on the impact of TV in the 1980s: Everyone has an opinion, some have statistics, and a few others are trying to understand the psychological and sociological mechanisms that lie beneath.
The incredible connectivity amongst people that is provided by social media, combined with the speed at which information is exchanged and its potential global reach, have significantly empowered people. One way to have an estimate of this empowerment is to look at how users managed to “hijack” some social media platforms from their initial use. Twitter and Facebook users provide a spontaneous snapshot of their individual states of minds but, unintentionally, they also turn them into an incredible tool for collective estimates of behavioral dynamics (see, for example, a recent study on happiness) and crowdsourcing. Facebook — despite its highly criticized IPO — is on its way to reaching the billion-user landmark and has already changed the way more than 10 percent of the people on this planet interact with each other as revealed by a rich body of research in social sciences. Some people, including the founders of Twitter and Facebook, might have anticipated for all of this to happen. But did they expect the role social media play not only in igniting revolutions but also in modifying how regime change is achieved?
Think about what history will now remember as the Arab Spring. This recent wave of revolutions has yielded some successful and significant regime changes including, so far, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. One year after, established social movements’ theories fall short in explaining how both the Tunisian and the Egyptian revolutions occurred. One reason is the influence of cyber-activism via social media platforms that classical approaches tocollective movements do not take into account. Indeed, these two successful popular uprisings are marked by the absence of a clearly identified leader, a political party or figure, an association, or an organizing capacity.
Instead of a leader that would have inspired people and driven them to start — and achieve — a revolution, Facebook was the main channel that facilitated and accelerated the Tunisian revolution as repeatedly reported in the news and by many observers. Twitter, too, played a crucial role during the Egyptian revolution. Hence, it is very likely that without these social networking platforms, these revolutions would certainly have evolved more slowly, if at alland would have never reached the global opinion.The Obama administration, for its part, stood by its dictator until the bitter end. On January 27, 2011, the second day of protests in Tahrir Sqaure, Vice President Joe Biden had the gall to defend Mubarak on a PBS newscast. Asked if he would characterize Mubarak as a dictator, Biden responded: “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with — with Israel… I would not refer to him as a dictator.” On February 11, 2011, Mubarak resigned.
America did not know how to reconcile its conflicting goals but it did know how to play hardball. Behind the scenes the U.S. leveraged its $1.5 billion annual aid package with the generals who essentially forced Mubarak out of office. One could argue that the U.S. made the final decision to extirpate the dictator and simply shifted power back into the hands of military chieftains.
Now, many fear the revolution was in vain because, although it got rid of a personality, it never uprooted the underlying operating principles and police state machinery which caused the ruin of Egyptian society in the first place.
In the wake of the Arab Spring America now sits in need of a new strategic paradigm. At the very least, in this post-Cold War era, the United States should consider reducing aid to inherently undemocratic regimes that consistently violate the values we incessantly like to espouseThe inability, or perhaps unwillingness, of the Israeli government and courts to agree on a definition of the status of the land is no coincidence. Israeli politicians, judges and citizens alike are well aware, whether they like it or not, that the land of the West Bank that some of Israel’s citizens and political establishment would like to lay claim to comes with a sacrificial lamb: democracy. If one deems the land not to be occupied then there is no justification for denying those residing in the land a vote, unless of course the governing power chooses not to define itself according to democratic principles. If Israel was to definitively decide the land is not occupied and give all the residents of the West Bank the right to vote, it would dramatically alter the Jewish nature of the state, as the majority of its citizens would be, in the not too distant future, non-Jewish. It is this basic conundrum that ‘mainstreamed’ the two-state discourse in Israeli civil society during the 1990s: the understanding that if Israel wished to be a Jewish and democratic state it could not do so without the creation of an independent state of Palestine on the West Bank.
But it seems that this conundrum does not bother Justice Levy. And neither does it seem to bother him that not one Palestinian was consulted in the process. The self-interest argument that Israel’s survivability depends on the creation of a Palestinian state does not take into consideration that, regardless of whether the majority of Israelis believe it to be in Israel’s best long-term interest, there is a Palestinian right to self-determination in an independent state of Palestine. The Levy committee appears to be interested in neither Israeli self interests nor Palestinian rights. It is interested in land. Should the Attorney General of Israel choose to accept the findings of the Levy report the settlers will have won in the short-term. It will pave the way for mass legalization of settlements in the greater land of Israel. But the long-term sacrifice will be great. For Israel will pay for the land with not just democracy according to a demographic reality, but the Jewish ideals of democracy and justice on which the state of Israel was built, that recognize and respect the rights of all human beings. And that sacrifice will be made by Jews around the world, not just those in the state.



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