[Note by Tom Gross]
I attach a media analysis of the Istanbul synagogue bombings that so far have left 25 people dead (and 300 injured). The analysis is based on 44 reports from 22 countries on 16 – 18 November 2003. There is a summary first for those who don't have time to read this in full.
"A NEW WAVE OF ANTI-SEMITISM... SWEEPING THE GLOBE"
The editorials are broadly divided into four different types of views:
1. The attacks stem from "a "new wave of anti-Semitism... sweeping the globe."
2. U.S. and Israeli policies have helped "create and facilitate terrorism."
3. Radical Moslem (conspiracy theorist) writers say the attacks were a "Zionist plot" along the lines of 9/11 (and one Egyptian paper, Al-Wafd, even suggests that Turkish Jews carried out the attacks themselves.)
4. Turkey's "successful synthesis of Islam and secularism" makes it an al-Qaida target.
AL-QAIDA'S GHOST HAUNTS THE RUINS OF ALL THESE ATTACKS
In the French right-of-center paper Le Figaro (11/17) Michel Schifres writes: "It would be wishful thinking not to link together the anti-Semitic attacks in Turkey and the destruction of a Jewish school in a Paris suburb.... There is no doubt any longer that the battle against Zionism has become an alibi for anti-Semites. Criticism of Israel's policy is often linked to hate against the Jews... A case in point is the Eurobarometer poll that showed Israel to be one of the most dangerous nations threatening world peace... Such a position feeds France's anti-Semitism."
In the left-of-center French paper Liberation (11/17) Gerard Dupuy says: "In 2003 a person can be killed only because he or she is Jewish. This can happen in Casablanca, Djerba and Istanbul... Al-Qaida's ghost haunts the ruins of all these attacks... because Bin Laden's organization has called for the murder of Jews everywhere. In doing this it has radicalized ancient anti-Semitic terrorism... To pretend to 'explain these crimes without excusing them' by way of the Palestinian context is an error in analysis and a moral mistake. It is an error because these crimes are triggered by a deep desire to annihilate which uses the Palestinian cause only as a pretext... The motivation for the crimes in Istanbul and in a Paris suburb is most probably similar. The government's response must be unforgiving."
The Turkish Daily News says Al-Qaida seeks to 'topple moderate, pro-Western Muslim regimes' like Turkey – Ankara poses the "greatest obstacle" to al-Qaida's creation of more "Taliban-type administrations" because it proves "a country with an overwhelming majority of Muslims can establish a viable democratic system."
In Germany, Wolfgang Guenter Lerch wrote in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/17): "The criminal attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul were mainly directed against Israel, but the Turkish government was also a target... The allegations of Israel's Foreign Minister Shalom are hardly acceptable that Europe must also be blamed for the attacks. They are tantamount to giving Israel a carte blanche and prevent any kind of criticism of Israel. Aren't the four former leaders of Israel's domestic intelligence service to blame for the bombings? They fear that Israel will be rushing into disaster if it continues as before. It was not Europe that gave Ariel Sharon his reputation but he himself is to blame... Even secular Turks are dismayed when the see what is happening in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories."
In Italy, Livio Caputo wrote in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (11/17): that it is a "War Against The West."
In Austria, Gudrun Harrer wrote in liberal Der Standard (11/17): "It is not a coincidence that Jews who were forced to flee from Catholic Spain and Portugal found refuge in Turkey. We should bear this in mind when claiming that Anti-Judaism is inherent in the Islamic religion."
Austria's centrist Die Presse urged Europe to "throw the nagging differences over the war in Iraq overboard" and make "serious, joint efforts to eradicate... terror."
In the Czech Republic, the center-right Lidove Noviny wrote (11/18) "Saturday's attack in Turkey was committed on European territory and it is does not matter that it was on the outskirts."
Several Muslim writers claim that the U.S. or Israel responsible for the Istanbul bombs.
India's independent Moslem paper the Urdu Times alleged the U.S. was punishing Turkey's "unforgivable" refusal to provide troops in Iraq.
Pakistan's leading Jang labeled the attacks in Istanbul and Riyadh "an attempt... to create internal chaos and strife paving the way for foreign aggression."
In Pakistan, Lahore-based independent Urdu-language Din editorialized (11/17): "It is a fact that Israel's Jewish and Zionist leadership takes the credit for having introduced the modern day world to terrorism. The international Zionist organization 'Zionist International Jewry' terms terrorism as inevitable for the creation of Greater Israel."
"A ZIONIST PLOT"
Egypt's pro-opposition Al-Wafd added the blast is "a Zionist plot."
Gamal Badawi also writes in Al Wafd (11/18): "The Jewish synagogue in Istanbul suffered terrorist attacks before in 1986 and in 1994. This means this synagogue is targeted by terrorist elements... which seek to blame Moslems, since they are on top of the global terrorist list which the U.S. and Israel propagate... The man who made this allegation [accusing Moslems] is an unknown figure... Why do we not say that the attack was plotted in order to improve Israel's image in the EU after the recent poll that showed it as the primary threat to global peace? Why do we exclude Turkish Jews as perpetrators?"
Al Wafd Editor-in-Chief Abbass el Tarabili maintained (11/16): "Islam recognizes the right of other to worship... thus we, as Moslems, reject the Istanbul attacks... Truly, Israel does not respect mosques... and Zionist soldiers stepped with their shoes inside them, but we refuse Moslems committing such acts... We do not rule out that these operations were a Zionist plot in order to draw the world's sympathy to the Jews."
On the other hand, Ibrahim Nafie, the Editor-in-chief of Egypt's Pro-government Al Ahram does call the attack an "appalling crime [that] threatens [us] all."
Other Arab papers condemn the attacks.
In Tunisia, editor Raouf Khalsi commented in the independent French-language Le Temps (11/16): "... The fact that it resolved to provoke a massacre in two synagogues in Istanbul, one of which is called Neve Shalom (meaning peace), perpetrated also on the Hebrew religious day of Sabbath, is exactly what doesn't serve the cause of Islam."
Canada's leading Globe & Mail editorialized (11/18): "There is only one thing to do about the new anti-Semitism: confront it head on. The last time this brand of hatred was unleashed on the world, it ended in the death of six million. After that, the world vowed Never Again. To be true to that vow, we have to fight anti-Semitism at every corner."
Editorials from countries such as China, Brazil and Argentina are also included.
-- Tom Gross
ISTANBUL BOMBINGS: AL-QAIDA AGAIN DECLARES "WAR ON THE FREE WORLD"
World media reaction to Istanbul bombings
(Prepared by a media analysis organization)
November 18, 2003
NOTE: This analysis was based on 44 reports from 22 countries over 16 – 18 November 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are listed by date.
All nations should unite to 'launch a long-term war on terrorism' – Euro dailies stressed the threat from "self-appointed religious warriors...interested in nothing but global war." Austria's centrist Die Presse urged Europe to "throw the nagging differences over the war in Iraq overboard" and make "serious, joint efforts to eradicate... terror." Saudi, Turkish and Lebanese writers also opposed any "concessions to terrorism." Beirut's moderate Daily Star condemned al-Qaida's "strategy of bloodletting" and demanded Muslims "not be shy about deploring such acts."
The attack confirms al-Qaida's seeks the 'murder of Jews everywhere' – French papers warned that al-Qaida's "crimes are triggered by a deep desire to annihilate which uses the Palestinian cause only as a pretext." Canada's leading Globe and Mail cautioned that "once a European phenomenon, anti-Semitism has taken root in the Arab and larger Islamic world." Israel's pluralist Yediot Aharonot predicted more attacks against Jewish targets, because "extremist Islam" sees Jews as the "engine" of the "train of Western imperialism."
The U.S. has created a 'more suitable atmosphere for terrorists to operate in'– Critics of the U.S. rejected the "murder of innocents" in Istanbul but blamed U.S. "hegemony and unilateralism" for stimulating "religious radicals" around the world. Egypt's pro-government Al Ahram demanded the U.S. and Israel end their "occupation of Arab territories" as a first step in the "collective battle against terrorism." Tunisia's independent Le Temps more bluntly said "the West, Europe and the U.S... created this bed of terrorism."
Conspiracy theorists say the attack only serves 'Israel and the enemies of Arabs' – Several Muslim writers held the U.S. or Israel responsible for the Istanbul tragedy. India's independent Urdu Times alleged the U.S. was punishing Turkey's "unforgivable" refusal to provide troops in Iraq, while Pakistan's leading Jang labeled the attacks in Istanbul and Riyadh "an attempt... to create internal chaos and strife paving the way for foreign aggression." Egypt's pro-opposition Al-Wafd added the blast might be "a "Zionist plot."
Al-Qaida seeks to 'topple moderate, pro-Western Muslim regimes' like Turkey – As the "only country where Islam and democracy go hand in hand," Turkey is experiencing the war of "insane Islam against sane Islam." Ankara poses the "greatest obstacle" to al-Qaida's creation of more "Taliban-type administrations" because, said the elite Turkish Daily News, it proves "a country with an overwhelming majority of Muslims can establish a viable democratic system."
BRITAIN: "THE ATTACK ON ISTANBUL JEWS IS AN ATTACK ON HOPE ITSELF"
Fiachra Gibbons commented in the left-of-center Guardian (11/17): "The Jews of Turkey, and the survival of their precious and unique culture, are one of the few enduring examples of tolerance through the ages that humanity has left to cling to... So when six die, as they did on Saturday morning when their blood mingled with that of their Muslim neighbours blown to bits by a suicide bomber outside the Neve Shalom synagogue, the heart should miss a beat and the world weep. For we are mourning the loss of souls who had learned to span a supposedly unbridgeable gulf that is being daily widened by George Bush and our own dear, deluded leader. The 17,000 or so remaining Jews of Istanbul are living proof that Jews and Muslims can coexist in harmony... Turkey is also, of course, Israel's almost lone ally in the Muslim world. Both countries have disputed borders with Arab neighbours, both rely heavily on US aid, both have poor human rights records, and both have powerful generals pulling strings or setting agendas behind the scenes. Despite all this, Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom's immediate identification of Jews with Israel when he visited the bombed synagogues yesterday is not something most Istanbul Jews will be thankful for... Of all the trials that have befallen them over the last 500 years, none has brought more threat than the existence of Israel... Yesterday Israel blamed hatred whipped up in Turkey against it for the attacks and pressed for stronger security measures. It is from such mixed blessings as protectors who may unwittingly provoke attack that the famously acid Ladino wits of Istanbul have coined their epigrams. One pungent favourite of the tea houses seems particularly apt now: 'Aharva kulo ke no pedo' – It's the backside that didn't make the stink that always gets hit."
FRANCE: "AN UNACCEPTABLE ALIBI"
Michel Schifres opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/17): "It would be wishful thinking not to link together the anti-Semitic attacks in Turkey and the destruction of a Jewish school in a Paris suburb... There is no doubt any longer that the battle against Zionism has become an alibi for anti-Semites. Criticism of Israel's policy is often linked to hate against the Jews... A case in point is the Eurobarometer poll that showed Israel to be one of the most dangerous nations threatening world peace... Such a position feeds France's anti-Semitism."
"A MORAL MISTAKE"
Gerard Dupuy noted in left-of-center Liberation (11/17): "In 2003 a person can be killed only because he or she is Jewish. This can happen in Casablanca, Djerba and Istanbul... Al-Qaida's ghost haunts the ruins of all these attacks... because Bin Laden's organization has called for the murder of Jews everywhere. In doing this it has radicalized ancient anti-Semitic terrorism... To pretend to 'explain these crimes without excusing them' by way of the Palestinian context is an error in analysis and a moral mistake. It is an error because these crimes are triggered by a deep desire to annihilate which uses the Palestinian cause only as a pretext. The cause for such crimes must be searched within Islamic society. It is a mistake because it tends to insidiously make the victims of such crimes responsible for their own deaths... The motivation for the crimes in Istanbul and in a Paris suburb is most probably similar. The government's response must be unforgiving."
GERMANY: "RETURN OF TERROR TO ISTANBUL"
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich concluded (11/17): "The return of terrorism hits Turkey all the more because the criminals have struck not in distant Kurdistan but in the center of the European heart of the country. All of a sudden it has become clear that Turkey has a perfect enemy image for Islamic extremists. Despite the most recent deterioration in relations with its Arab neighbors during the Iraq war, Turkey is still considered America-friendly enough and Ankara is the only Muslim country that has traditional close political and military relations with Israel... The majority of people killed are Muslims. But this has not touched the synagogue attackers from Saturday... and the killers who detonated a bomb in Riyadh a week ago. This terror will not meet with serious support in Turkey. Cheers at pictures accompanying the shooting down of helicopters in Iraq or praise for suicide attackers for radical Palestinians are unconceivable. The prevailing feeling is mourning."
"BOMBS ON ISTANBUL"
Dietrich Alexander judged in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/17): "Istanbul has turned into another theater of the ideology war between Osama bin Laden's heirs and those who do not want to surrender without fighting. Fanatics consider Turkey, but also Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan to be betrayer countries, and their rulers heretics. Ankara is heading for Europe, has close links with Israel, and can look back to hundreds of centuries of co-existence between Jews and Muslims... And those who like Israel's Foreign Minister Shalom makes 'growing anti-Israelism' responsible for the attacks in Istanbul, do not only blame the wrong people but also underestimate the seriousness of the situation, given the self-appointed religious warriors who are interested in nothing but global war."
"CRIME IN ISTANBUL"
Wolfgang Guenter Lerch wrote in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/17): "The criminal attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul were mainly directed against Israel, but the Turkish government was also a target... For the terrorists, who are likely to come for Al Qaida's surrounding, Turkey is also a 'western country,' a NATO member, and a preferred strategic partner of the Americans. The fact that the Turks occasionally reject Washington's requests cannot exonerate them in the eyes of the terrorists. In addition, since the days of reformer Kemal Atatuerk, quite a few Muslims consider the Turks as 'apostates' of Islam. This is total nonsense but corresponds to the uniform picture military fundamentalists have of the world. The Erdogan government in particular stems from this Islamic movement and is an interesting inner-Islamic experiment of opening [the country]... The allegations of Israel's Foreign Minister Shalom are hardly acceptable that Europe must also be blamed for the attacks. They are tantamount to giving Israel a carte blanche and prevent any kind of criticism of Israel. Aren't the four former leaders of Israel's domestic intelligence service to blame for the bombings? They fear that Israel will be rushing into disaster if it continues as before. It was not Europe that gave Ariel Sharon his reputation but he himself is to blame. The religious mania of the Islamic terrorists cannot be healed but it can develop much better in an atmosphere of conflicts that are one-sidedly interpreted by the West. Even secular Turks are dismayed when the see what is happening in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories. Even after Saddam Hussein's elimination, the United States does not 'broker' in a really honest way as it promised."
"CAUTION MUST PREVAIL"
Centrist Heilbronner Stimme argued (11/17): "Caution must prevail when trying to find the reasons [for the attack]. The Iraq war is not the only factor that caused the attack nor is it 'anti-Israelism' in Europe, as Israel's Foreign Minister quickly said. Only one thing is clear: Al Qaida has declared war on the free world. Any indulgence is out of place. Not in the West either where people do not really want to recognize what kind of violent potential is raised in Islamic ghettos. And the real Muslims should recognize that they are also increasingly becoming victims, too. They should be more consistent in condemning violence."
ITALY: "SHARON AND ABU ALA WILL MEET IN A FEW DAYS"
An editorial in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore read (11/18): "United more than ever in the pain for the latest terrorism victims (the Italians in Nasiriya and the Jews in the Turkish synagogues), Israel and Italy rediscover the profound reasons of their old friendship. They are committed to working together to oppose the great wave of anti-Semitism in the world without making any concessions to security. But they are also hoping for a resumption of the road map with the imminent meeting between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Ala... PM Ariel Sharon testified in his talks with Senate President Marcello Pera, Pier Ferdinando Casini, President of the Chamber of Deputies, and with the Italian Jewish community, Israel's will to combat with every means, including the defense wall against the terrorists, what is called the 'great wave of anti-Semitism in the world."
"THE WAR AGAINST THE WEST"
Livio Caputo wrote in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (11/17): "There is a lesson [to be learned] in the tragic events of recent days, that many do not want to understand: we are not facing a terrorist campaign against the presence of a foreign military force in Iraq, or against the Bush Administration's foreign policy: we are facing an all out war without borders against the entire West, that the Islamic fundamentalists identify with evil... Now we hope to exit the Iraqi trap and to diminish the intensity of the battle by speeding up the transfer of power in Baghdad to a provisional government and by increasing the UN role in the transition process... But to believe that these two moves will contain terrorism is wrong: for the fundamentalists, the prospect of an Iraqi government with some democratic credential is still more negative than the prospect of a continuing military ally administration... Finally, it is also wrong to think that we would not have been in this situation had the Americans not invaded Iraq. Perhaps we would not have furnished terrorism with such an easy target, but the war which began on September 11 would have moved to another front, perhaps with an intensification of attacks against Islamic countries like Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey that the fanatics consider the accomplices of the West."
AUSTRIA: "DOUBLE TARGET"
Gudrun Harrer wrote in liberal Der Standard (11/17): "It is not a coincidence that Jews who were forced to flee from Catholic Spain and Portugal found refuge in Turkey. We should bear this in mind when claiming that Anti-Judaism is inherent in the Islamic religion – in fact, it never had the dogmatic status in Islam that it had in Christianity. However, it is also true that things have changed in modern Islam. Istanbul is still looking for the perpetrators of the attacks. But no matter what the group is called, and whether there will be evidence of connections with al-Qaeda: without a doubt, this act of terror smacks of the al-Qaeda orbit. The fact that two attacks were carried out simultaneously also follows a well-known pattern, and leaves open the question if maybe more attacks were planned. We only know one thing: there will be a next time, and every time is going to be like the first."
"THE PRESENCE OF EVIL"
Thomas Vieregge observed in centrist Die Presse (11/17): "It seems that the edges of terror are moving dangerously close to Europe. Whoever was lulled into a false sense of security after attacks on exotic holiday destinations such as Bali or Kenya, or the tourism areas of Tunisia and Morocco, must have woken up with quite a start after the double attack in Istanbul: there are no safe havens anymore. Istanbul is the bridgehead between the Levantine and Europe, the seam between East and West. The truism that terror does not know any geographic, ethnic or religious borders has once again been confirmed. Evil is present everywhere, all the time – that's what makes it so perfidious... For this reason, it is high time to throw the nagging differences over the war in Iraq overboard, to stop paying lip service, and to make serious, joint efforts to eradicate the germ cells of terror once and for all."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "AL-QAEDA AT THE DOOR"
Petr Pesek wrote in center-right Lidove noviny (11/18): "Although repetition of the attacks of September 11, 2001 cannot be ruled out, the more likely tool of terrorists will be the way they attacked in Iraqi Nasiriya, Saudi Riyad, and Turkish Istanbul in the past few days... Thus let the recent UN report warning how people connected to al-Qaeda continue in their financial activities in Europe, or the vain Israeli warning against the planned attack on the synagogues in Istanbul be a warning. Saturday's attack in Turkey was committed on European territory and it is does not matter that it was on the outskirts."
ROMANIA: "THE ISTANBUL TERRORIST ATTACKS"
Mihaela Ganet stated in financial-oriented Curentul (11/17): "The tough tone of international reaction was expressed by the American President, George Bush, who condemned in the 'harshest terms' the terrorist attacks in Istanbul, the capital of a country in which the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities have developed together for centuries. The European Union, whose citizens were recently characterized as being anti-Semitic... described the car-bomb attacks as an 'unacceptable expression of intolerance and rejection that must be eradicated'."
SPAIN: "TERROR IN ISTANBUL"
Conservative ABC said (11/16): "Turkey is a country that has been lashed by terror for a long time. The same synagogue Neve Shalom suffered a Palestinian attack in 1986... but terrorist groups of all kinds have operated in the country. Despite this, Ankara has not always been understood. With an Islamic government, Turkey has not questioned either its alliances or its commitment against terrorism, and it is a key country in the fight for stability in the region. This fact must be taken into account."
TURKEY: "TWIN TOWERS: ISTANBUL"
Sedat Ergin observed in mass-appeal Hurriyet (11/18): "The Istanbul bombings are a terrorist act carried out after at least one or two months of planning. This is an organized act carried out by various groups. There is a striking lesson that comes from this terrorist attack: Turkey should evaluate and analyze the intelligence reports about domestic and foreign-based fundamentalist terror organizations more seriously than before... It might well be against the intention of the terrorists, yet the results of this terrorist attack will bring Turkey, the US and Israel more into the same line. Turkey will increase coordination with the US to fight against terrorism, and all three will be closer to each other in their foreign policy considerations... Those who lost their lives after the 9/11 attacks and those who died in the attacks against the two synagogues in Istanbul share the same fate. Islamic fundamentalist terror is globalized, and the Twin Towers have now been turned into two synagogues. Istanbul is now New York."
"INTERNATIONAL REPERCUSSIONS OF THE ISTANBUL TERRORIST ATTACKS"
Sami Kohen wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (11/18): "There are many questions that spring to mind about last weekend's terrorist attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul. Often such questions can never be answered. This time, however, we hope that the perpetrators will soon be captured and punished. Turkey has now for the first time been the victim of a large-scale attack of global terrorism... There were supposedly two main aims of these attacks: First, to 'punish' and take revenge on the Jews and Israel. Second, to intimidate Turkey and force Ankara to change its foreign policy. Radical Islamist terrorist groups see our country as a collaborator with the Western world. Why? Because Turkey is secular and cooperates with the U.S. and Israel. But couldn't these terrorists have seen beforehand that such attacks would lead to nothing but indignation and anger? In truth, one shouldn't search for reasonable explanations since such acts are always the outcome of miscalculations on the part of terrorists. The 'masterminds' behind such attacks aren't always rational. If we look at the repercussions of these attacks in the international arena, we see that the perpetrators' plans have already failed. Countries worldwide have expressed their support to Turkey in its fight against terrorism. Our successful synthesis of Islam and secularism is once again greatly appreciated by the international community. The attacks have in fact reinforced Turkey's determination to combat terrorism... In addition, we've already shown in years past that terrorism would never deter us from our goals. How can someone think that Turkey would change its foreign policy due to such attacks? In other words, terrorist groups miscalculated the results of their actions. Turkey will never alter its foreign policy. The best message for Turkey to send to the perpetrators of these abhorrent attacks is as follows: 'We will stay on course. We'll never submit to terrorism."
"THE SEPTEMBER 11 OF TURKEY"
Semih Idiz commented in mass-appeal Aksam (11/17): "This is not the first time that Turkey has become a target for terrorism. However, the magnitude of the recent terrorist attack represents a new chapter. One possible explanation of the attacks against synagogues in Istanbul is that it demonstrates proof of coordination between local Islamic terror and global Islamic terror. This seems most likely, because a terrorist attack on such a scale would not be possible without logistical coordination within Turkey... The situation poses a crucial test for moderate Muslims around the world. They better think about standing in solidarity – without any 'buts' or excuses – against Islamic terror. Turkey should also carefully analyze where the country is headed, and shape its strategies to address the search for a better future in the Islamic world... The tragedy in Istanbul is the September 11 of Turkey. It remains to be seen whether it will also lead to an awakening."
"THE U.S. IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WAVE OF TERROR"
Cuneyt Ulsever argued in mass-appeal Hurriyet (11/17): "Despite its initial intention to fight against and eliminate terrorism, the situation in post-war Iraq presents a different picture. The US has not eliminated international terrorism, but rather has provided a more suitable atmosphere for terrorists to operate in. Thanks to the US, Al-Qaeda members are no longer confined to the Afghan mountains, but are now able to operate comfortably in the streets of Baghdad. The US failed to exert any control over Kurdish groups, and has thereby alienated Turkey on the Iraq issue. Turkey also paved the way for the Kurds to gain more influence on the US by failing to pass the parliamentary motion that would authorized Turkish involvement in the war... The US is now working on a plan to hand over authority to the Iraqis. Yet the organized terror has already found its place in a chaotic Iraq, and the recent attacks in Istanbul only serve to demonstrate this fact once again."
"RADICALS TARGET THE MODERATE AK PARTY"
The English-language, moderate elite Turkish Daily News declared (11/17): "The AK Party is a major obstacle for those who really have an Islamic agenda to create Taliban-type administrations in the world... Turkey was on the al-Qaeda hit list for a long time. Osama Bin Laden and his men considered it a leading collaborator of the United States in the fight against international terrorism... Turkey actively helped the United States... So sooner or later Osama Bin Laden would order something... on Saturday they unleashed a bloodbath in Istanbul against a so-called Jewish target but in effect they killed more Muslims than Jews. The dead and the wounded were all our brothers and sisters... thus the attack was against all of us... But we also should not view the attack in Istanbul on Saturday only as a criminal act against a country that was on the hit list of a major terrorist organization. The political implications of this attack go well beyond that. The West led by the United States see Turkey as the only country where Islam and democracy go hand in hand. They see that a country with an overwhelming majority of Muslims can establish a viable democratic system... They want to use this model in the Middle East to introduce more democracy in the area. The recent speech of President George W. Bush urging the creation of a more democratic environment in the Middle East fits into this picture. Meanwhile Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda preach Islamic fundamentalism and radicalism and see Turkey as the greatest obstacle for them to create many more Taliban-type administrations... Thus they attack Turkey... That is why we feel the U.S. administration as well as our European counterparts should start doing more to help bolster our democracy."
"TERROR IN ISTANBUL"
Yilmaz Oztuna wrote in nationalist, Istanbul-based Turkiye (11/17): "Terror struck Istanbul last weekend. Who did it, and why? This will be widely discussed, but to no avail. Al Qaeda seems to be the most likely group in terms of this type of attack. The message to Turkey and the world is as follows: 'If you continue to cooperate with the US, you will suffer such misfortunes. You should adopt a clear stance against Israel and cease being interested in Iraq.' If this is really the message, in Turkey it will actually have the opposite effect. As we can't make concessions to terrorism, we will only align our policy with Washington's that more. In addition, this anti-Semitic attack – something unfamiliar and alien to Turkey – will also cause a greater rapprochement in our relations with Israel. Whether the attack was carried out by a radical Islamic group or not, Turkey will continue its current foreign policy. In other words, the US is our strategic ally, and our European Union membership bid will continue. The goal of ruining Turkey's peace and stability and weakening our economy cannot be ignored either. Turkish-Israeli relations, which are already good, will grow closer. The aim is to shock and confuse us. Meanwhile, the message to Europe that its turn might be next shouldn't be missed."
ISRAEL: "WHO SAID IT WAS BIN LADEN?"
Ron Ben-Yishai maintained in business-oriented Globes (11/16): "Saturday's atrocious bombings against the two Istanbul synagogues could well have been a secret Syrian response to the recent Israel Air Force strike at Syria... If the attacks were carried out under Hizbullah's auspices, directly or by emissaries, Turkey and the U.S. should consider further measures, including economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria, and perhaps even a military operation against Syria and Hizbullah."
"ANYONE WHO MESSES WITH TURKEY"
Ben Caspit wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (11/16): "All roads lead to al-Qaida, believe Israeli intelligence officials in the wake of an initial investigation into the identity of the perpetrators of the terror attack yesterday in Istanbul... Senior [Israeli] security officials said Saturday that they believed that if an international terror organization indeed was behind the terror attacks, this constituted a strategic error on its part. 'Turkey is a regional super-power that has made a name for itself in its refusal to bow to terrorism and in particularly strong responses to it,' said one source. 'You can ask the Syrians, who got into the trouble with Turkey and felt the price on their own flesh. Now that the Turks have tasted the taste of terror attacks, that won't contribute to world terrorism.'"
"PREPARE, AND FAST"
Alex Fishman held in popular, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/16): "The deadly terror attacks in Istanbul are part of a phenomenon which is only going to get worse. Extremist Islam has decided to derail what it calls 'the train of Western imperialism.' For them, the Jews are its engine, the spearhead of that imperialism. Therefore attacks against Jews, Jewish institutions and Jewish symbols throughout the world are likely to spread. The attack in Istanbul was perpetrated by al-Qaida in spirit if not in deed. The double attack was also intended to undermine the Turkish regime. It is part of a series of attempts by al-Qaida and its offshoots to topple moderate, pro-Western Muslim regimes. The goal is to delegitimize the moderates, sow fear and put extremist Islam in power by the end of the process... The developing reality obligates the government of Israel to make quick decisions and invest resources and concern to developing awareness within the Jewish communities... Israel cannot be the only player on this field. It must build cooperation between governments, intelligence agencies, foreign ministries and police to stop this malignant plague."
"THE FOLLY OF INSANE ISLAM"
Former ambassador to Turkey and former Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Liel remarked in popular, pluralist Maariv (11/16): "The terror attack on the two central synagogues in Istanbul is first and foremost a terror attack that was committed by insane Islam against sane Islam. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been Turkey's prime minister for a year, is an Islamist and even a former fundamentalist. But he turned his back on the unyielding radical Islam and embraced pro-Western and modern moderate Islam, and in practice became its supporter. Erdogan, a devout Muslim in his private life, decided that in Turkey's public life democracy needs to lead, and not Islam, and by so doing presented a huge challenge to all of the Khomeinists, in all their shapes and forms. The perpetrators of the terror attacks, in their insanity and stupidity, Saturday pushed Turkey completely to the side of the West and created for themselves a bitter enemy that is destined to make things very difficult for them in the future."
EGYPT: "THE APPALLING ISTANBUL CRIME: ONCE AGAIN THE DANGER IS THREATENING ALL"
Pro-government Al Ahram Editor-in-chief Ibrahim Nafie commented (11/18): "The appalling attacks in Istanbul are crimes by all means committed by a black terrorism that threatens all of our lives. Such operations have no connection with the legitimate resistance operations against occupying forces – which do not target civilians at all. Terrorist groups only exploit the issues of Palestine and Iraq – which involve justice and aggression against Arabs – to make excuses to public opinion for their appalling crimes and defame Arab regimes. However, ending the Israeli occupation of Arab territories... and the American occupation of Iraq will be the first steps in our collective battle against terrorism."
Gamal Badawi held in pro-opposition Al Wafd (11/18): "The Jewish synagogue in Istanbul suffered terrorist attacks before in 1986 and in 1994. This means this synagogue is targeted by terrorist elements... which seek to blame Moslems, since they are on top of the global terrorist list which the U.S. and Israel propagate... The man who made this allegation [accusing Moslems] is an unknown figure... Why do we not say that the attack was plotted in order to improve Israel's image in the EU after the recent poll that showed it as the primary threat to global peace? Why do we exclude Turkish Jews as perpetrators?"
Small-circulation pro-government Al Gomhouriya Editor-in-Chief Samir Ragab stated (11/16): "We undoubtedly oppose any aggression on civilians regardless of their religion, nationality or affiliation. The victims of the Istanbul attacks yesterday have paid the price of the mistakes of others who had no conscience, morals or religion... What led to all this chaos and ignited the fire of terrorism?... We hope Americans realize how their unjust aggression [on Iraq] led to an unprecedented collapse and brushed aside all the honest advice given to them before the attack... Similarly, what do Israelis expect from their mean conduct against Palestinians? Violence and counter-violence have been an American-Israeli product because of their total ignorance of the nature of nations."
Pro-opposition Al Wafd Editor-in-Chief Abbass el Tarabili maintained (11/16): "Islam recognizes the right of other to worship... thus we, as Moslems, reject the Istanbul attacks... Truly, Israel does not respect mosques... and Zionist soldiers stepped with their shoes inside them, but we refuse Moslems committing such acts... We do not rule out that these operations were a Zionist plot in order to draw the world's sympathy to the Jews."
SAUDI ARABIA: "BACK TO THE TRUTHFUL CALL"
Dammam's moderate Al-Yaum opined (11/18): "Following the terrorist operation that took place in Al-Muhaya in Riyadh, another terrorist act occurred in Istanbul. In view of that, the current individual efforts to fight terrorism should be converted into an international, collective one; all countries should participate in developing and finalizing a real plan of action, since terrorism will spare no one. What happened in the Kingdom, Turkey and the U.S.A. could happen in any country in the world. Consequently, the Kingdom's calls to establish an international plan must be taken seriously in light of the spreading phenomenon of terrorism and its increasing danger, which is threatening all human communities."
"WHO BENEFITS FROM THE HOSTILITY TOWARDS ISLAM"
Jeddah's moderate Okaz editorialized (11/18): "Nobody really knows what al-Qa'eda wants. But all signs are that the organization has become Islam's worst enemy... For the sake of the Muslim world, and for Islam to regain its original reputation as a religion of peace and love, all Muslims must combine their efforts to eradicate this group of criminal outlaws."
"UNFORTUNATE ATTACKS COULD SPARK ISRAELI BACKLASH"
Ahmed Rabhi observed in London-based influential, pan-Arab Arabic-language Asharq al-Awsat (11/17): "The killing of Jews in the Turkish synagogues was part of a plot that serves only Israel and the enemies of Arabs and Muslims throughout the world... The Istanbul terrorist operation represented a gift to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. From now on, the Israeli propaganda machine will use all its strength in turning international attention away from the atrocities committed by the Israeli Army against the Palestinians and earn international sympathy for the Jewish and Zionist cause... The blowing up of religious sites, no matter what the reason, is condemned because it leads to loss of innocent lives... But we should guard against any Israeli backlash against Islam and Muslims, rather than against terrorism and the terrorists that are responsible for the Istanbul massacre."
"NO WAY TO DENY"
Abha's moderate Al-Watan emphasized (11/16): "Today, only a few days after the explosion at al-Muhaya residential compound the latest destructive act that carries the fingerprints of Al-Qa'eda [in Istanbul], there are still Al-Qa'eda sympathizers denying the group's responsibility. This fits with their pattern after September 11, when they watched innocent people become the victims of Al-Qa'eda... time will prove Al-Qa'eda's responsibility."
LEBANON: "TERRORISTS HAVE NO RIGHT TO SPEAK FOR ARABS, MUSLIMS"
The moderate English-language Daily Star opined (11/17): "Saturday's bombings at two synagogues in Istanbul drew some condemnation in the Arab and Islamic worlds, but far more is needed to dispel the dangerous notion that ours is a civilization that wants its will to be expressed by violence. One should, to say the least, have an exceedingly pressing reason before setting out to kill innocent Jews at prayer and anyone else who happens to walk by. That reason does not exist in this instance, and by acting in the manner they have, the assailants in question have rendered a grotesque disservice to Arabs and Muslims – who should not be shy about deploring such acts, especially when the perpetrators claim to be acting in their name. It is not just media outlets and governments that need to speak out against terrorism... civil society... should voice outrage at having their reputations smeared by a strategy of bloodletting that serves no purpose other than to make this part of the world even more unstable... No one has the right to decide for all Arabs and Muslims that their interface with the rest of the world is to be one of senseless carnage. The Arab and Islamic worlds have had more than their share of problems in terms of communicating their grievances. Apart from being morally reprehensible, terrorism of the Istanbul variety also makes such communication even more difficult. Like conventional military action, guerrilla warfare and other forms of low-intensity political violence are sometimes appropriate when all other options have been exhausted. This is not one of those cases... The alternative is to let a small minority of extremists dictate to the regular citizens who constitute the majority that their livelihoods will be undermined, their reputations fouled, and their children endangered."
TUNISIA: "A CIVILIZATIONAL CLASH"
Editor Raouf Khalsi commented in independent French-language Le Temps (11/16): "Since its foundation in 1985 by Salih Mirzabeyoglu, the 'IBDA-C,' the extremist group of the Islamic Front of Fighters of the Big East, perpetrated attacks against bars, discotheques and churches in Istanbul... The fact that it resolved to provoke a massacre in two synagogues in Istanbul, one of which is called Neve Shalom (meaning peace), perpetrated also on the Hebrew religious day of Sabbath, is exactly what doesn't serve the cause of Islam... Indeed, the worst oppression in the face of which Muslims must take action is this specter of obscurantism that the great orators and fanatics agitate, the new ideologues of the wrong exegesis and pseudo interpretations of the Koran... It is not non-Muslims who are targeted and this tendency is liable to make Christians and Hebrews understand that this drift, with its manifold ramifications, is disseminating throughout certain sensitive regions around the world, and hurting more the religion in the name of which they are speaking... Now, this tragedy does not concern only non-Muslims. It is easy, in fact, to imagine the systematic reaction of Sharon. Indeed, it is one of the most difficult fights that humanity has ever engaged in unison against any form of religious drift... Because it is not a religious fight, but rather a clash of civilizations... without forgetting, of course, the share of responsibility of the West, Europe and the US: it is them who created this bed of terrorism... and this Bush cannot deny."
UAE: "RECKLESS TERROR ACHIEVES NOTHING"
The English-language pro-government Gulf News declared (11/17): "Once again the hand of terror has lashed out with the fatally flawed expectation that violence will serve in furthering political causes. No matter by whom it is done, or under what banner, the murder of innocents must be deplored in the strongest terms. As has been done by world and religious leaders worldwide, among them French President Jacques Chirac and Pope John Paul II. In the immediate aftermath of this horror directed at two synagogues in Istanbul, however, it is important to reflect on a statement by Amr Moussa, the Arab League's Secretary-General. While taking a stand that attacks against civilians was unacceptable, Moussa made it clear to Israel that it was inciting terrorism through its contempt for international resolutions. Only saner voices within Israel, that can somehow make themselves heard over the blind policies of the warmongers, can nudge the Jewish state towards positions that will enable moderates on all sides to even make a dent in the problem. This latest carnage, in which the hand of Al Qaida is not ruled out, only serves to remind governments in the region that far more proactive measures and greater exchange of intelligence are imperative against the forces of international terrorism."
CHINA: "WHY THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY TERROR ATTACKS RECENTLY"
Deng Li, Yin Zheng and Li Wei contended in official China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (11/17): "The fact that terrorists have expanded their targets to places people couldn't have imagined before the attacks proves that some new characteristics have appeared in terror organizations. The new round of terror attacks has made people realize that the U.S. anti-terror fight in the Gulf region has produced certain negative effects... Al-Qaeda has adopted certain new policies... A third generation of Al-Qaeda's leadership has emerged... The Iraq war conducted by the U.S. to a certain extent stimulated religious radicals in many countries. They may plot terror activities and join terror organizations. The participation of these new terrorists... shows that terror activities have expanded... The main difficulty that the U.S. has encountered in the Middle East lies in its methodology... If in the first place the U.S. did not oust Saddam's regime but reformed and made use of the regime, their lives might not be as difficult as it is today... Due to the mistakes that the U.S. has made, the situation has become irreversible. The rampant expansion of terrorism in the Gulf area and its confrontation with the anti-terror alliance may last for a long time."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "WATCH OUT FOR THE RETURN OF TERRORIST GROUPS"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (11/18): "An email sent out yesterday by the self-claimed 'al Qaeda' threatened more terrorist attacks around the world, specifically car bombs in Britain, Italy, Australia and Japan. Last week, 'al Qaeda' also threatened a large-scale attack against the U.S. within the month. Though people may doubt the email threat, terrorist bombings around the world have increased, as has the scale of the attacks. We should not underestimate the capabilities of international terrorist groups... Now more and more people realize that one of the major reasons for the prevalence of international terrorism stems from international counter-terrorism struggles... U.S. hegemony and unilateralism will not only hurt the international counter-terrorism effort, but will also fundamentally jeopardize the U.S.' long-term security and strategic interests."
JAPAN: "WORLD COMMUNITY SHOULD JOIN HANDS TO COUNTER TERRORISM"
Liberal Mainichi observed (11/18): "A terrorist group, believed to be linked with the Al Qaeda terrorist group, has claimed responsibility for bombings at two synagogues in Istanbul and the Italian military police headquarters in Nasiriyah. Al Qaeda terrorists are also believed to have been responsible for the recent Riyadh bombing. Acts of terrorism have been intensifying in and around Iraq with US troops and international organizations becoming a bulls eye for terrorists. The 'Al Qaeda-linked' group has called Japan a close US ally and threatened to strike Tokyo if Japan sends SDF troops to Iraq. It will only play into the hands of terrorists if Japan reacts nervously to such threats of terrorism. The GOJ should handle these threats in a cool-headed manner and take sufficient precautionary anti-terror measures. Members of the world community should join hands to launch a long-term war on terrorism, including the eradication of international supporters who continue to finance the terrorists. The UN should also play a central role in combating terrorism."
INDIA: "U.S. TURNS TO TURKEY"
Independent Urdu-language Urdu Times declared (11/17): "The Zionist-influenced world media reported the explosion in Istanbul (Turkey, a Muslim country) on their set pattern: it was done by 'Islamic' terrorists. However, if the refusal of Turkey (and other Muslims countries as well) from sending troops to serve American occupation of Iraq is taken into consideration, one can easily identify the reason and the forces behind such incidents. Turkey's refusal to provide its troops as asked by the U.S. was unforgivable for which it had to be punished. Saudi Arabia has already been made to taste violence and other Muslim countries will also be targeted one by one, with no exception for the ones swearing with loyalty to the US."
PAKISTAN: "SUICIDAL ATTACKS IN TURKEY: ISLAMIC WORLD MUST TAKE COGNIZANCE"
An editorial in leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang read (11/17): "Doubts that the U.S. is going to target more Islamic countries are increasing. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have refused to send their troops to Iraq after which bomb blasts have started taking place in these two countries. The Riyadh bomb blasts have been credited to the account of Al-Qaeda, which has declined owning them and has put the blame at the U.S. doorstep. The Muslim countries should ponder why these suicidal attacks are only being carried out in their countries. Isn't it an attempt to bring Islam and Muslims into disrepute? This seems to be an attempt to create internal chaos and strife paving the way for foreign aggression and invasion."
"TURKEY: FIRST SUICIDE ATTACK"
Lahore-based independent Urdu-language Din editorialized (11/17): "This is the first suicide attack in Turkey, no such incident has been reported from the country earlier. The international media Sherlock Holmeses and think tanks must analyze when armed militancy was started, by which country, and by the followers of which religion? The answer to this is an open secret. It is a fact that Israel's Jewish and Zionist leadership takes the credit for having introduced the modern day world to terrorism. The international Zionist organization 'Zionist International Jewry' terms terrorism as inevitable for the creation of Greater Israel... It is ironic that the country that started the war against terrorism continues to have several Jewish terrorist outfits in many of its states... Can anyone deny the fact that the Jewish Defense League was established in the U.S.? Its founder Meir Kahne was so prejudiced that he worked to eliminate anyone who opposed Israel... It is the influence of these Zionist terrorist outfits that American authorities feel no hesitation in supporting every condemnable Israeli act. If the international community and the global superpower want to stop the tide of suicide attacks, they must rein in Israel and take measures to stop Israeli atrocities against Palestinians, and to withdraw troops from Palestinian soil."
CANADA: "AN UGLY NEW ROUND OF ANTI-SEMITISM"
Canada's leading Globe & Mail editorialized (11/18): "The suicide bomb attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul on the weekend are only the latest evidence of a new wave of anti-Semitism that is sweeping the globe... In the suburbs of Paris, arsonists burn a Jewish school to the ground. In a town near Berlin, vandals paint swastikas on the tombstones of a Jewish cemetery... In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad tells a conference of Islamic nations that "Jews rule the world by proxy." The audience applauds... That this ancient and poisonous form of hatred should be welling up again, just 60 years after the Holocaust, is a grim and shocking development... Once a European phenomenon, anti-Semitism has taken root in the Arab and larger Islamic world. Polls after Sept. 11 showed that many Arabs believe that the Israeli security services, not al-Qaeda terrorists, carried out the attacks... The sad result of all this is that Jews around the world feel besieged, worried and insecure... There is only one thing to do about the new anti-Semitism: confront it head on. The last time this brand of hatred was unleashed on the world, it ended in the death of six million. After that, the world vowed Never Again. To be true to that vow, we have to fight anti-Semitism at every corner."
ARGENTINA: "A SAFE WORLD?"
Paula Lugones contended in leading Clarin (11/17): "The previous weeks have been disastrous for President Bush. A more organized Iraqi resistance attacks his men in Iraq and people are already speaking about another Vietnam. The few countries that dared join him in his warlike adventure – such as Spain and Italy, for example – endured violent attacks and there's growing pressure for their soldiers to return home... In this context, Al Qaida's reappearance with the blasts in Istanbul and its claim of the attacks against the Italian headquarters in Iraq underscore the gross calculation mistakes of the U.S. and force it to an immediate review in their strategy. Where is Bush's promise of a 'safe world' resulting from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq? As far as never before."
BRAZIL: "STILL AL QAEDA"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo stated (11/18): "Everything indicates that the double attack against synagogues in Istanbul was carried out by Al Qaeda... The attack has some characteristics that have become a trademark of the organization, such as the type of target – Jewish interests without any concern with Muslim lives... The action was compatible with a supposed reorganization of Al Qaeda... Unfortunately, victories over Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq have been insufficient... It is an unequal conflict in which terrorism has the advantage of operating in a cowardly fashion, in the shadows, without the need to explain anything to anyone. The problem of terrorism is complex and must be faced in its several nuances. Fighting without respite against criminal organizations is one of them. But the world will only be able to say that it won the threat when the political questions that originate or facilitate terrorism have been resolved."