Millennial Intelligencer

Why Turkey Should Be Removed From NATO

Read the companion piece to this one: Kicking Turkey Out Of NATO Would Be A Massive Mistake

Whatever strategic value that Turkey may have to the United States and the rest of NATO can be considered as good as null and void in light of a series of events that have taken place over the last five years.

During this time period, the world has seen Turkey, under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, slowly morph from a beacon of democracy in the Middle East to a rogue state.

Ever since Syria descended into civil war in 2011, Erdogan has made it very clear that he wishes to see anti-government forces oust longtime Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

He has made Turkey into a sponsor of these rebel groups.

On multiple occasions, it has been demonstrated that these groups are willing to make deals with and, at times, openly ally with jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, both which have vowed to destroy America and attacked American civilians on American soil.

By logic, it is then safe to state that Erdogan has contributed at least indirectly that Turkey has played a role in the rise of ISIS.

The rise of ISIS and other jihadi groups in Syria has exacerbated and increased the stakes of the conflict there, to the point where a proxy war now rages between the US, Britain, France, Turkey, and the Arab monarchies on one side; and with Russia, Iran, and Iraq on the other.

It has also contributed a major role in the refugee crisis that is currently plaguing Europe and Syria’s neighbors.

Photo Credit: Charles Dunst/ RISE NEWS

Photo Credit: Charles Dunst/ RISE NEWS

So, how has Turkey taken advantage of this crisis, which it is partially responsible for? Let’s start with the proxy war first.

Turkey has engaged in multiple hostile acts against its opponents in this proxy cold war that could have turned it into a hot war.

First, in the most well-known such incident, it shot down a Russian plane conducting missions over Syria after it reportedly crossed over Turkish territory for seventeen seconds.

Second, it has threatened to invade Syria in order to protect ethnic Turkmen and over clashes between Turkish forces and Syrian Kurdish militias.

Turkey has also allegedly sent troops into Iraq without the permission of its government as the Syrian crisis spills over into it.

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Regarding the refugee crisis, Turkey has indicated its willingness to use it as an excuse to push other agendas.

It has made much more trivial issues ranging from travel visas to domestic terrorism laws into potential spoilers in negotiations on the control of migration flows into Europe.

This, without doubt, will be seen by those who view the migration crisis as a national security risk, as blackmail that states, “Do what we say or there will be terrorist attacks.”

In addition to the Turkish role in the developments of the Syrian and migration crises, Turkey has also shown open contempt for democracy and human rights, principles which are promoted (at least in word) by NATO.

Read More: 10 Days In Turkey: An American Student Comes Face To Face With The Islamic Crisis Of Modernity

On its own soil, people are arrested on a regular basis for “insulting the president.”

Protests and dissenting newspapers are subjected to violent crackdowns.

President Erdogan has been accused of inciting violence against pro-Kurdish (a minority ethnic group that resides in the southwest of the country, as well as in parts of Syria, Iraq, and Iran) political parties.

As of 2013, Turkey has imprisoned more journalists than any other country.

And finally, Erdogan has succeeded in forcing the ouster of the Prime Minister, former political ally Ahmet Davutoglu, as part of his attempts to increase the powers of the President, whose role has traditionally been ceremonial.

Erdogan’s attempts to curb democracy are not limited to his home country.

He has played a role in the disruption of democratic order in other countries as well.

Photo Credit: Charles Dunst/ RISE NEWS

Photo Credit: Charles Dunst/ RISE NEWS

For example, he has contributed to the curbing of free speech in Germany by demanding that a satirical poem about him written by German comedian Jan Böhmermann be banned under a law that forbids the insulting of foreign heads of state, despite the fact that Erdogan was not even on German soil at the time the poem was broadcast on a local television station.

A German court has partially complied, ruling that 18 of the 24 line in the poem are unacceptable and cannot be read in public, on pain of imprisonment or a fine.

In addition, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has been caught attempting to coerce Turkish organizations in the Netherlands to report on insults against Erdogan on Dutch soil.

And then, there is Erdogan’s security detail, which seems to have the mentality that it is above the laws of other countries, as demonstrated by a series of violent incidents with civilians, journalists, other security details, and even law enforcement when visiting countries such as the United States, Belgium, and Ecuador.

Turkey, under the leadership of Recep Erdogan, has demonstrated through its recent actions the following:

  • It isn’t willing to take the war on terrorism seriously.
  • It is willing to get into bed with the enemies of its NATO allies.
  • It is willing to cause unnecessary conflicts that could drag in NATO allies in order to achieve its individual foreign policy goals.
  • It is willing to put politics over the national security of its NATO allies.
  • It isn’t willing to promote democracy
  • It is willing to curb democracy, both at home and abroad.
  • It is willing to cause disorder on the soil of its NATO allies to prove a point.

Are these the characteristics of an ally, much less a NATO ally? These sound more like the characteristics of a rogue state. Until Turkey cleans up its act, it must be treated as such, and certain actions, including an exclusion from NATO, are welcome.

Read the companion piece to this one: Kicking Turkey Out Of NATO Would Be A Massive Mistake

Do you with agree with this view? Give us your take in the comments below. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Charles Dunst/ RISE NEWS

Fighterjocks From Portland Are In Finland Right Now, Spooking The Russians

Some American flyboys are in Finland this month, in an effort to remind Russian President Vladimir Putin where his country’s borders really are.

The 123rd Fighter Squadron, based out of Portland, Oregon, is participating in exercises in Finland over the course of this month.

The F-15Cs of the 123rd will be assisting in improving the readiness of the Finnish Air Force, who has seen an increase in its necessity due to an increase in Russian airspace violations of sovereign airspace.

Finland is not a member of NATO, but has been a participant in the Partnership for Peace program, as well as assisting in ISAF operations in Afghanistan, and participating in NATO exercises, as demonstrated below.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has solidified North American and European security interests to a degree that may even exceed that of the height of the Cold War.

This in turn has lead to an interest among some to extend the NATO security umbrella.

This has led most recently to Montenegro’s invitation to the alliance, and some suggestions that Sweden and Finland consider alliance membership.

Both Sweden and Finland have historically followed a policy of neutrality, but this has not been entirely adhered to.

Sweden has had intelligence sharing agreements with NATO states since 1954, as well as relying on NATO capabilities in the event of war against the Soviet Union, and in more recent times against simulated Russian airstrikes.

Both countries participate in NATO exercises, and operations, as well as having strong relations with both Denmark and Norway; both founding members of the Atlantic Alliance.

However, the two countries are not equally open to formally joining the alliance.

The Swedish public has rapidly shifted in favor of NATO membership, with 41% in favor, 39% opposed, and 20% undecided as of late 2015.  While Finnish support for NATO membership is at a historical high, only 27% support membership.

This is why the American deployment of aircraft into non ally Finland is such a strong signal.

 The Americans may be showing a preview of the kind of commitment they would offer if Finland joined NATO.

By creating stronger military and diplomatic ties with Finland through interactions between the 123rd with Finnish units, and other NATO-Finland interactions, the case for affiliation becomes more concrete.

That does not make the Portland based unit’s sale easy.

Greater affiliation with the EU and NATO has historically lead to an increase in likelihood for Russian counter actions, ala the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, and the two year old ongoing fiasco in Ukraine.

It is essentially out of the question that Finland join without Sweden, or vice versa. In addition to the two countries having strong historical ties, as well as sharing a highly convenient border to ferry troops and material over in the event of Russian intervention into Finland, while Sweden joining with Finland might trigger a response against neutral Finland, in order to guarantee buffer space against the perceived NATO threat.

The Oregon Air National Guard is thus pulling double duty in appealing to both the remaining non aligned Scandinavian countries, as well as improving Finland’s unilateral readiness.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: cryogenic666/Flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

The Far Right In Germany Is Starting To Rise Again And It Should Worry Us All

Germany and the far right of the political spectrum do not historically mix.

So why is it that a party of the far right (granted, one not nearly as radical or hate-filled as the Nazi Party was) is picking up steam in the largest and most powerful European Union country?

In recent weeks, the Alternative for Germany (AFD) has achieved regional representation in eight German states. There are 16 German states in total.

AFD is a far right populist party in a similar vein as the National Front in France and UKIP in the United Kingdom.

The ragtag party has managed to bite at the heels of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), and appears to be gaining popularity across the country.

This is largely due to the anti immigration platform of the party in response to Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s policies on resettling refugees, primarily from Syria.

AFD has a unique opportunity for swift gains due to its novel position on the political spectrum.

A pro right wing backlash has been felt across the West, be it the Tea Party or Euroskeptics, but AFD has been making attempts at separating itself from the most extreme elements of German political life.

On the party’s official site, AFD disowns the support of NPD, a far right party infamous for its ties strong association with Nazis in both a fashion sense and in antisemitism.

According to the Q&A section of the party’s website, the AFD breaks with the ranks of other far right parties by being in support of continued German participation in both the EU and NATO, though with caveats to both of these organizations that favor a more independent foreign policy.

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A German man walking with a beer. Photo Credit: Alexander Mueller/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

AFD also voices disapproval of TTIP (a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and Europe), subsidies for energy research, while favoring “re-nationalizing” of the banking sector, and promoting marriage between men and women as “politically desirable”.

All of these positions seem to indicate that AFD is interested in focusing inward, and is not particularly hostile to longstanding German policy.

Despite this resemblance closer to the American Republican Party than particularly sinister right wing parties like PEGIDA, the party has been moved more so to the extreme by the Party’s president Frauke Petry, who has brought anti-immigration rhetoric and closer ties to the Kremlin to the forefront of its public perception.

This will likely only continue due to the departure of the party’s moderating influence, Bernd Lucke, cofounder of AFD, left the party in 2015 when ousted from the party presidency by Petry.

Lucke founded another Euroskeptic party Alliance for Progress and Renewal (ALFA), and complained that  AFD had grown far too xenophobic.

RISE NEWS  is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Cover Photo Credit: Martin Fisch/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

James Blunt Prevented World War III Once, But He Probably Won’t Next Time

It is understandable that following the conclusion of the Cold War, the consideration of nuclear conflict subsided to some degree among policy makers and the general public.

However, while the overall number of nuclear weapons has decreased, the number of actors and potential actors with nuclear weapons is quite larger than at the height of the Cold War.

This overall leaves us with a greater likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons, though not all of the potential scenarios are apocalyptic affairs, which can only increase their likelihood.

The most obvious interstate nuclear scenario is an exchange between India and Pakistan, as the two have fought several wars and skirmishes.

Pakistan in particular has expressed interest in theater nuclear weapons in the event of Indian forces seizing Pakistani territory, as per “Cold Start”.

This is problematic, as India has stated it will use nuclear weapons “in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere.”

Anywhere would presumably include 50-80 Kms inside Pakistan, leaving millions dead in the first 24 hours of a nuclear war in South Asia.

Read More: Why Pakistan Might Actually Nuke Itself

Despite these staggering numbers, India and Pakistan only have about 120 weapons each.

The truly frightening numbers come from Russia and the United States, who each have more weapons ready to fire than all the other nuclear powers have in total.

Historically, it is this alarming number of Weapons of Mass Destruction that is attributed as having prevented the outbreak of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

This fear of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) carries over to the present day, making an intentional strategic nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia unthinkable.

However, both the words “intentional” and “strategic” are highly weaselly and dangerous.

Near misses between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia have occurred alarmingly frequently.

The Cuban Missile Crisis is often considered both the high point and last point of likely intentional strategic nuclear exchange between the Cold War competitors, but it was far from the last near miss.

Accidental nuclear launches have been, and continue to be a major concern. An escalation of a conventional conflict could also conceivably result in nuclear war.

Such a scenario nearly occurred during the Kosovo War, and was narrowly averted by singer James Blunt [seriously], and is increasingly conceivable were “little green men” to appear in the Baltic States.

James Blunt, our hero. Photo Credit:  Eric Wüstenhagen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

James Blunt, our hero. Photo Credit: Eric Wüstenhagen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Were NATO to defeat the Russians in a conventional contest over the Baltic States, which is admittedly not a given outcome, the Russians might respond with what has been deemed as a “deescalatory” nuclear strike, which would use either long or short range nuclear weapons to target military targets anywhere from Europe to the continental United States, in order to bring the opposing force to the negotiating table.

Likely targets would include the NATO nuclear weapon states: the US, United Kingdom, and France as well as NATO allies who “share” US nuclear weapons: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey.

Notably, the use of nuclear weapons of any variety was tightened in Russia’s 2010 doctrinal document, but the risk of an escalation of a conventional conflict, or a tactical strike remains.

In addition to interstate conflict, non state actors are also a troubling consideration in regards to nuclear weapons.

Pakistan and India have traditionally been identified as potential sources for nuclear weapons or material to be stolen from, but great progress has been made on this front.

A less obvious, and thus more insidious, potential source for nuclear weapons is South Africa.

Armed men broke into the Pelindaba in 2007, only narrowly being scared off after stealing a cellphone.

It is unclear exactly what the objective of this raid was, but it was clearly planned well enough to account for disabling alarms and electric fences.

This leads some to believe that the objective was to steal enriched uranium.

Regardless of the specific threat, the prospect of nuclear conflict remains, and is arguably more likely than ever before.

Awareness of specific issues related to nuclear conflict, and how to contain that potential, should then be a priority of a public interested in avoiding the utilization and normalization of these weapons.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Photo Credit:Steve Snodgrass/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Can This Young South African Change The Way The World Looks At Farming?

By: Lungani Gumede

UMLAZI TOWNSHIP, SOUTH AFRICA: Growing up in a rural village has many advantages and some of society’s favorite stories involve a dusty footed hero making it big in the city.

One of the biggest advantages of living in a rural setting is being thrust into the natural environment early on in ones life.

The surrounding forests, fields and rivers are a playground for children and, like other children, Dumisani Msweli quickly became infatuated with this environment.

He used to live with his grandmother in rural Umbumbulu, thirty minutes away from where Kwa-Zulu Natal’s coast meets the Indian Ocean.

However, Dumisani moved to be with his mother and stepfather in Umlazi township, the third largest township in South Africa, just outside of Durban.

Umlazi was one of them.

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A view of Umlazi. Photo Credit: Lungani Gumede

With a population of close to 405,000 in an area that is 47.46km squared (8,500 people per square kilometre) the township is compacted and land that is supposed to fit one family, has had to accommodate four or five houses on one plot.

So any arable land would have been converted into space for dwellings.

However, Dumisani always felt love for plants and trees and never forgot his passion.

After high school, Dumisani went to University and graduated with a degree in Nutrition, but that was not his passion.

“One of my mentors advised me to follow my passion,” Dumisani said in an interview with RISE NEWS

Which is what he did by going back to school. He received a National Diploma in Horticulture from the Durban University of Technology.

Dumisani then says he “saw a need and an opportunity in the township,” a need for work, cheap products and a cleaner environment.

This is how Ibala Organics was born.

Ibala means “backyard” or “garden” in isiZulu and Dumisani quickly realized that other amabala or “openspace” that belonged to the people in the community were the key to creating a sustainable, consistently fruitful business for the township of Umlazi.

Dumisani’s idea was to rent and buy land from inside the community, such as gardens, backyards and schoolyards and plant tropical and subtropical fruits and then sell those fruits to supermarkets and fruit processors.

By shortening and localizing his supply chain, Dumisani says there will be no need for expensive refrigeration or transportation.

The initiative will sell its fruits (pun intended) to fruit processors and supermarkets, which means that the gardens will need to provide its wares regularly and on time and the more “amabala” they have, the better.

Ibala already has a square kilometre of household backyard space that it has acquired and processed and a further 1.5 kilometre squared space from schoolyards that are being cultivated for the planting of vegetables in April.

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Space is at a premium in Umlazi. Photo Credit: Lungani Gumede

However, Dumisani says he is always on the lookout and constantly negotiating for more spaces.

Ibala Organics aims to provide communities with a very valuable second income, without actually having to toil the land.

Dumisani hires people from the community to work with him and is adamant that he wants to give opportunities to people who just left school with the right qualifications, over eight million people are unemployed in South Africa and university-leaving degree-bearing young people are not being hired.

Besides the good that Ibala Organics will do for the economies of the communities it operates in, Dumisani says “it is our vision to plant the value of tree’s in people’s lives.”

Dumisani wants to ensure that the people who will be participating in Ibala Organics gain a love for the plants and trees that he will be planting.

Getting buy-in from the community was not a problem for Dumisani, because he started close to home – on his own street.

Once he had proven his model to those close to home, it was easier to get support from neighboring communities.

The drought that has hit South Africa has not severely impacted on Ibala’s crop of tropical and subtropical fruit, such as Mangoes,paw paw, avocado, banana, granadilla, citrus fruit and litchi and in April they hope to add vegetables to the offering.

DumisaniMsweli

Dumisani Msweli. Photo Credit: Lungani Gumede

Ibala Organics will soon be completely operational and the gardens of Umlazi will be home to trees and plants with heavy-hanging branches bearing fruit and vegetables.

Perhaps Ibala Organics and Dumisani will create a wave across the 400,000 people strong township that encourages local products and unity in the community.

A hand-in-hand initiative for the people, by the people.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Know of a story that needs to be told? Send us an email to editor@risenews.net

Cover Photo Credit: Red Bull/ Screengrab

Japan Needs To Have A Lot More Sex Or The Country Could Collapse Into The Sea

The Japanese population is rapidly declining.

The population has lost almost one million people over the past five years.

This decline has been long predicted by demographers but the world’s third largest economy has been unable to find a solution.

The situation is dire and hard to overstate.

If Japan can’t start having many more babies then the country will face great challenges later on in the century. These challenges could undermine the very core of the country’s social order.

Japan has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, 1.41 children per woman in 2012.

As a result, the number of people 65 and over has increased from 12.1% in 1990 to 26% in 2014.

Furthermore, estimates put Japan’s retirement age population at 40% of the total national population by 2060.

This would likely put a tremendous burden on Japan’s social safety net, state pensions alone being ¥792,100 per year ($6,960.76). This accounts for nearly 33% of Japan’s national budget in 2015 and it will only continue to balloon as the years roll on.

Having to cope with close to half of your population being in need of geriatric care is not a problem exclusive to Japan.

There is a lot of pressure on young people in Japan to have more children. But will they listen? Photo Credit: J3SSL33/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

There is a lot of pressure on young people in Japan to have more children. But will they listen? Photo Credit: J3SSL33/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

China recently revoked and replaced its One Child Policy, with the Two Child Policy.

In part this is to combat China’s low fertility rates, 1.66 births per woman, and in part to counter act the imbalance between the number of men and women, a 30 million person disparity.

Other low fertility countries include, but are not limited to: Singapore (0.81), South Korea (1.18), Germany (1.44), Russia (1.61), The United States (1.87), and the United Kingdom (1.89). All of these nations have fertility rates incapable of sustaining their current populations without immigration helping to offset the disparity.

Elderly populations then are not only a threat to the economic growth of Japan, but to advanced economies in general.

It would then seem that in order to combat global population decline, and with a greater number of developing nations creating advanced economies, nations may need to compete for immigrants in order to sustain their populations.

This may be particularly difficult for Japan, due to the relative difficulty in learning its national language, and a culture that is not as used to welcoming immigrants as many of its potential competitors.

Of course the other way for Japan to get back to an equilibrium in terms of old and young is to have young people have more children- lots more children. The government has tried many different methods, including offering to pay parents to have kids, but it has had little impact.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Freedom II Andres/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

10 Days In Turkey: An American Student Comes Face To Face With The Islamic Crisis Of Modernity

When you spend time in a place with a culture wholly different from yours, it tends to stick in your mind, either with a positive or negative connotation.

The food, the people, the experience as whole all leave a mark in your mind.

My trip to Turkey, specifically the city of Istanbul and the region of Cappadocia left me with mixed views on the nation.

My personal experience was nothing but positive.

However, overlooking the injustice of a government that is trampling on free speech, concentrating autocratic power in an ever shifting executive and perpetrating a brutal war on the Kurds is impossible.

In any event, we in the West have to better understand what Turkey is and where it is going.

Turkey is by no means an average American’s tourist destination, as it is still ostracized as part of the oft-maligned “Muslim world.”

Unlike the oft-problematic Iran or a friendly Israel, Turkey, on paper at a least, is a secular nation.

Despite President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent Islamization, the nation does still retain a secular vibe to it.

Sharia law is, to the dismay of American über conservatives and anti-Islam activists, not implemented, although the population is 98% Muslim.

The overwhelming number of women do not wear headscarves. A small number of women, often concentrated in more conservative neighborhoods, wear burqas.

Business is booming, in Beyoğlu, the party district complete with free-flowing alcohol, an unusual quality for a nation with such a high concentration of Muslims.

Despite Turkey’s largely secular nature, it retains unmistakably Muslim qualities, which have become amplified under Erdogan. If you expect to go to Turkey and feel as if you are in a European city such as Paris or Prague, you will be in for a surprise.

In Istanbul, the call to prayer rings loud and clear five times a day, although the overwhelming majority of Istanbulites are not rushing off the street to get into a Mosque to pray.

Istanbul is a Muslim city in the same way that Paris is Christian city-largely by cultural hegemony, although in Christianity, the visual cues are far more subtle. Well, for an American, at least.

The clearest way to describe Istanbul is a city encapsulated by its nearly seamless mixing of the ancient and the modern.

The Grand Bazaar, an ancient space for local merchants, is now flooded with locals peddling knockoff soccer jerseys, sneakers, handbags — most of western, Milanese and Parisian origin.

A modern, European tram flows throughout the city, stopping less than five minutes from the ancient sites of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

This integration of old and new is demonstrated in the generational differences of many families. It is extremely common to see a hijab-clad mother or grandmother walking with a free-haired daughter or grandchild, despite being of the age when a hijab is required.

This phenomena goes against irrational U.S. conceptualization of Islam as oppressive or stifling towards women.

In Turkey, well, in Istanbul at least, it appears, generally, to truly be the woman’s choice how she expresses her relationship to Islam.

Outside of Istanbul, these qualities tend to be less common, as the culture retains more conservative, old fashion qualities.

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Walking in the “Old City”, Istanbul. Photo Credit: Charles Dunst/ RISE NEWS

In our first day in Istanbul, we embarked on a “Culinary Walking Tour” led by a middle-aged woman of German birth and Turkish heritage.

While the food was truly incredible, it was her social commentary which carved out space in my mind.

When we first met her on the shores of Beşiktaş, she asked where we were from. She responded in an unexpected way to our admission of our Americanness.

“Oh, you’re American? I haven’t met many of you recently, you’re all so scared of us. Why?”

Leading us through a neighborhood in Beşiktaş dedicated to the sale of industrial prod- ucts, we stopped in a back-alley courtyard, which she declared was our first stop of the day.

Before sitting down, we passed a multitude of seemingly-stray dogs. She explained that the city of Istanbul picks up the dogs in order tag, vaccinate, and neuter them.

The dogs are then released back into the city, and are usually fed and cared for by the people in the neighborhood they occupy.

As a result, she explained, “they’re very friendly.”

She also explained that the city didn’t extend the same services to the multitude of stray cats dotting the landscape.

As we sat down, she explained the concept of a “tea guy.”

There is, in most every neighborhood, a man who’s sole profession is to deliver tea to the shop owners.

“Money never exchanges hands when I get my tea,” she said, while rifling through a pile of multicolor plastic tokens smaller than a dime. “I buy 200 of these a month, and every time I finish a cup of tea, I leave one in the dish.”

Almost immediately after she finishes her tea, her “tea guy” comes and takes the glass, with the token in it.

Despite its modernity, Istanbul retains a personal quality which seemed almost inconceivable when compared to the general impersonality of New York City.

Getting up to proceed to our next stop, she explains, “His tea is the best. It’s clear and not bitter. The tea at the next place isn’t nearly as good.”

Kadakoy Ferry, Istanbul

Kadakoy Ferry, Istanbul

“Kadakoy Port, Istanbul”

Kadakoy Port, Istanbul

Later in the day, after a multitude of stops and a 25-minute boat ride, we sat down for af- ternoon coffee in Karakoy, a neighborhood on the Asian side of the city.

Our guide explained that after living in Brooklyn for some time, she was dissatisfied with taste of our American “filter coffee,” as well as its surrounding culture. Turkish coffee and its attached culture, she argues, is inherently better, as long as you know how to partake in it.

“Sip it slowly, starting with the foam. If there’s no foam, its not a good Turkish coffee,” she said.

The grounds of a Turkish coffee concentrate at the bottom of the shot-glass-sized mug.

“We never drink the mud [grounds].”

Only after the Turkish waiter, clearly an acquaintance of hers, had left, did she lean in and whisper, “Sometimes, I like to drink the mud.”

“Coffee Shop, Kadakoy, Istanbul”

Coffee Shop, Kadakoy, Istanbul

Not only due to Turks decry the taste of American coffee, some detest the culture which surrounds it.

She explained that in Turkish culture, coffee is to be consumed in a calm state — not as a wake-up remedy.

“We don’t use it to wake up. For us, it’s the opposite,” she explained. Pointing to a older couple in the corner, she explained, “I’m sure they’ve been here for hours. Sometimes, I come here and sit for 2-3 hours.”

Thus is the oasis of calm in the chaos of the 14 million person city.

Pickle Shop, Kadakoy, Istanbul

Pickle Shop, Kadakoy, Istanbul

Turkey, despite its position as a world power, lags behind Europe and the U.S. in its acceptance of LGBTQ rights.

Unlike many other countries with similarly large Muslim populations, homosexuality is not a prosecutable offense.

Although not technically illegal, LGBTQ peoples are not privy to special protections under law.

Thinking about it, I probably shouldn’t say Turkey lags behind the U.S. — considering LGBTQ peoples don’t have these same protections in many of our states.

Our tour leader explained that, “in Turkey, men kiss men and women kiss women (as a form of greeting.”

Lowering her voice, with no malice or judgement, she nearly whispered, “those from the other shore, would never show it in public.”

Based on the context of the of the conservation it was clear “from the other shore” was referring to those with same-sex attraction.

Despite its claims of secularity, Turkey is still a country with a 98% percent Muslim popu- lation.

Other religions exist and are free to practice, although certainly as a minority status. Since the founding of Israel in 1948, the number of Jews in the country has drastically declined.

The Jews left in Turkey live almost exclusively in Istanbul, and largely in a specific neighborhood.

Growing up as a reform Jew in New York City, I’ve never really experienced the isolation this community must feel. In an attempt to connect with and understand this community, we embarked on a “Jewish Heritage Tour.”

Galata Quarter, Istanbul

Galata Quarter, Istanbul

Climbing up the hilled cobble streets of the Galata Quarter, we made our first stop at the Ashkenazi synagogue.

The street view is truly a thing to be seen. The synagogue, the site of multiple terrorist attacks, is protected with massive, daunting blast-proof doors. Walking inside, we were invited to join in the final moments of the morning prayer service.

The synagogue itself is quaint. The women of the congregation are dressed conservatively in a way highly reminiscent of a Muslim hijab.

“All of the synagogues in Turkey are orthodox,” our tour guide explains. As a result, the service is segregated — women upstairs, men downstairs.

Despite the differences, there was truly something so incredibly comforting about muttering the mourner’s kaddish with the older, non-english speaking members of the congregation.

On the way to our next stop, we passed another synagogue, which looks more like a prison than a place of worship. It’s black metal doors were adorned with relatively small Jewish stars.

In front of these doors, instead of parking spaces, were 7-8 metal poles, apparently to pre- vent car bombs. Our tour guide explains, “There were two attacks here. There was a shooting which killed about 20 people. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for that. The other one killed some people with a car bomb. Nobody claimed responsibility, but it’s assumed to have been the Palestinians.”

Jewish Photo 2

In front of a synagogue in Istanbul.

Next on the tour, we were taken to the Ahrida Synagogue.

This congregation is bewildering in a few ways.

It was founded by Jews who came from what is now-Macedonia, and the spoken language was Ladino, a combination of Hebrew and Spanish. The street view, while not as daunting as the previous synagogue, is similarly protective.

Three would-be parking spaces are blocked by metal rails. Once inside the gates, the experience gets more surreal.

The bimah (the space form which the Rabbi leads the service) is centered in the middle of the building, and the seats face it in a Rose Bowl-like manner. Along with its odd positioning, the bimah is a replication of Noah’s Ark.

When leading the service, the Rabbi climbs the ark, preaching from its highest most point. A truly baffling imagery for our westernized version of Judaism, isn’t it?

Another unique feature of the synagogue is its dual domes, which are only visible from the interior.

“The Ottomans didn’t persecute the Jews, but they made a law that Muslims were the only group who could have exterior mosques,” our guide explained. “But, this congregation wanted a dome, so they built it under a flat roof.”

As we left the synagogue, I noticed that the older Jewish man who had let us in had stopped to have a conversation with a younger woman in a hijab. They spoke for a minute or two, hugged, and went on their way.

Ahrida Synagogue, Istanbul

Ahrida Synagogue, Istanbul

Finally, we stopped at the Zulfaris Synagogue, which has been converted to a museum.

Like the Ashkenazi synagogue, this museum is equipped with massive blast proof doors. Imme- diately, we were greeted by a white-haired man offering our group little chocolates.

Despite speaking no English, he excitedly showed us around the small former-synagogue, pointing out his favorite art pieces. On our way out, he handed up numerous papers and pamphlets, smiling cheek to cheek.

Zulfaris Synagogue/Jewish Museum of Turkey, Istanbul

Zulfaris Synagogue/Jewish Museum of Turkey, Istanbul

The next day, Christmas Day, included a trip to Topkapi palace, a marvelous relic of the Ottoman Empire.

Despite being Friday, the Muslim day of worship, the place was teeming with school groups and families.

Further juxtaposing the old with the new, we continued our day with lunch at a straight-out-of Soho looking French brasserie as well as a trip to the Istanbul Modern.

Like the MoMa, the Istanbul Modern was full of well dressed college-age people as well as groups of grades schoolers. There were very view things about this museum which felt Muslim or Turkish.

The lone exception was a video that featured a woman unwrapping hijab after hijab off of her head. The model’s eyes were covered throughout the video, as she was seemingly un- able to remove the multitude of headscarves.

In the evening, we walked around Istikal street, a modern shopping area near the infa- mous, often protest-filled Taksim Square.

Oddly enough, the shopping street is swaddled with a few European consulates, as well as the Church of St. Anthony of Padua.

Despite being Christmas Day, we entered the courtyard of the truly magnificent church.

As we walked in, we noticed that there was something odd about the nativity scene. Among Jesus and Mary laid tarnished life vests and children’s clothing — specifically a tiny pink Barbie t-shirt.

Below the scene a yellow, laminated piece of paper was posted, reading, “Yeni yurtlara ula(s)ma umuduyla sularimizda bo(g)ulan si(g)inmacilarin aziz ansina.”

Below that, in English, it read, “In loving memory of the refugees who died in our seas while trying to reach new homes.”

Church of St. Anthony of Padua, Istanbul

A nativity scene at the Church of St. Anthony of Padua.

The next day included touring the Suleymaniye mosque as well as the Chora Church. Both are equally gorgeous, as relics of the Ottoman and Byzantine empires, respectively. The tour concluded by driving up to a view point from which an arial view of the city is accessible.

Driving through Eyüp, our tour guide explained that, “this is one of the most conservative neighborhoods of Istanbul.”

Hanging Flag, Istanbul

Hanging Flag

Almost every woman was in a hijab, and many were in burqas. Unsurprisingly, we passed a massive, 3-story hanging flag featuring socially conservative President Erdogan, along with the Turkish flag.

Erdogan

Poster of President Erdogan

The Turkish people are fiercely nationalistic. We forget, Turkey is a relatively new nation, and they truly do have a lot to be proud of. Nearly every apartment building has Turkish flags of all sizes hanging out of personal windows. Big shopping streets are adorned with vertical, massive, nearly street-sweeping flags.

Turkish Flag Photo 2

Later in the day, we ventured to the Grand Bazaar, where I was sure to purchase two soccer jerseys, costing 10 liras (about $3 dollars) each. A friend of mine who spent the term studying abroad in London convinced me that I needed to find the roof of the Grand Bazaar.

After a few minutes googling and rifling through travel books, we were able to find an odd, not-so-safe stairway up to the roof which TripAdvisor declares “unsafe and structurally unstable.”

Standing on top of the Bazaar is truly magical. You look to your left, and see the sunset-soaked silhouettes of local boys playing on the roof.

You look straight and you see a view of Istanbul which reaches all the way to the water. And to your right, you see a huge Turkish flag.

Bazaar Roof

View from on top of the Grand Bazaar Roof.

Local Kids Playing, Grand Bazaar Roof, Istanbul

Local Kids Playing, Grand Bazaar Roof, Istanbul

The next morning, we woke up early, hustling to the Hagia Sophia, at Sultanahmet. Only two tram stops from our hotel, we were there for its 9 AM opening time. Spending about an hour, I marveled at the former Church/Mosque so often discussed in my 7th grade social studies class.
Simply put, the Hagia Sophia is an extremely odd place of worship. When you look up, you see two large circular Arabic inscriptions, reading “Allah” and “Muhammad,” respectively. In between the two, on the roof, is a Vatican-style painting of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus.
Interior of the Hagia Sophia.

Interior of the Hagia Sophia.

Later in the day, we embarked on the second leg of our trip — Cappadocia. A 1-hour flight from Istanbul, Cappadocia does not exhibit the same integration of modern and ancient as Istanbul.

The small towns in this region are older, quieter, poorer, and generally less modern. Living in homes typically crafted from ancient stone, the residents of this region tend to work in farming, tourism, or the service industry, which is largely based on tourism.

People flock to Istanbul for the city life, while visitors storm Cappadocia for its natural exploits.

Cappadocia is a region known for its geology, hot air ballon rides, and archeology. The flight to Cappadocia is about an hour from Istanbul. However, flying domestically in Turkey is drastically different from flying domestically in the U.S., or flying between European Union countries.

When you arrive at the airport, you are met with security at the entrance. All of your luggage, checked and carry-on, goes through an X-ray machine, while you walk through a metal detector. It is only after that security checkpoint that you check in for your flight.

After the check-in, you go through yet another level of security, this time a little more intense, as shoes come off and laptops come out of the bag. At the discretion of the TSA-equivalent agent, certain people, often military-aged men, are instructed to produce and turn on their computers.

Once on the plane, it’s nearly identical to an American flight. However, during takeoff and touchdown, cell phones, even on airplane mode, are strictly prohibited. All of these security measures, unsurprisingly, are due to the threat of radical Islamist terrorism — a threat, which for Turks, is always present. It is this threat which is the largest deterrent for European and American tourists.

Cappadocia

Cappadocia

Landing in Cappadocia went without a hitch.

The region, as a whole, was a solid 20 degrees colder. The region is also comprised of spread out, basic towns. Going from Istanbul to Cappadocia is like going from New York City to Alaska.

When driving through Cappadocia, everything looks grey. Due to corruption issues and a lack of economic development, there are a multitude of half-built, abandoned buildings. Other buildings are falling part but still occupied. Most still have Turkish flags hanging proudly.

Another view of Cappadocia.

Another view of Cappadocia.

The next morning, we were able to tour the region and its geological and archeological features.
Marked by cone-shaped rock formations, the region is mystifying. Everywhere you look, there are “cave homes” built in the side of mountains. These homes bellowed to the Chris- tians during their times of persecution.
Along with these homes, are hidden Churches, complete with remarkably preserved paintings of Jesus, the virgin Mary, and other scenes from scripture.
At some Churches, those found by the Muslim Ottomans, the faces of these figures are slashed through and no longer recognizable. The rest of their bodies, however, remains intact. The views in the region are incredible, and like nothing else on Earth.
Testifying to its other- worldly quality is the fact that George Lucas originally intended to shoot utilize Cappadocia as a location for Star Wars (he ended up shooting it in Tunisia).
Rock Formations, Cappadocia

Rock Formations, Cappadocia

We were awoken at 5:00 AM the next morning. We huddled into a van, and drove about 20 minutes. Getting out of the van, we were offered snacks and coffee, all the while nervously checking the weather conditions of the region.

After about 45 minutes, we were quickly ushered back into the van, and driven to a field about 25 minutes away. We waited, as we watched the sunrise-swept sky fill with a horde of misshapen silhouettes.

After 10 minutes, we were in the air, in a hot air balloon, looking down on Cappadocia. Never in my life, have I ever experienced anything so terrifying and breathtaking.

Hot Air Balloon, Cappadocia

Hot Air Balloon, Cappadocia

I’m a tall guy, so the railing of the balloon went only about halfway up my chest. Ignoring the freezing cold temperatures and my seemingly repressed fear of heights, I gawked at the changing views.

I saw a balloon silhouette-marked sun- rise. I looked down on the ancient towns of Cappadocia. I gazed upon the contemporary towns of the region. Our balloon pilot took us down into a valley, only to bring us back up for the stunning views. After the 45 minute flight, we rushed back to our hotel in order to make our flight back to Istanbul.

View from Hot Air Balloon, Cappadocia

View from Hot Air Balloon, Cappadocia

Unfortunately, due to the unpredictable weather of Cappadocia, we were delayed at an amenity-free airport for about 7 hours.

Eventually, our flight got us to Istanbul, despite the windy and rainy conditions. We spent the next day, our last day, back in Kadakoy, the shopping area on the Asia side.

After a few hours purchasing food products and trinkets, we passed back to our hotel. Heading back to our hotel for the final time, we traveled past a police station.

As we walked by 3-4 riot vehicles pulled out of the driveway. These menacing vehicles were equipped with a large battering ram looking instrument and some type of gun (either water, gas, or bullet-based) on the roof. Despite Turkey’s democratic state, these vehicles were a reminder of the threats Turkey faces, as well as the somewhat repressive nature of the government.

During our 10-day trip to Turkey, I believe there were two or three bombings in Istanbul. The Freedom Falcons of Kurdistan (TAK) set off a bomb at Sabiha Gokcen airport, killing one. Despite this bombing and those like it, the city does not shut down, as business continues as usual.

Truly, I’m not sure Istanbul, a city of nearly 20 million people could shut down.

In mid-January, about two weeks after I returned to the US, I was appalled and shocked to read of the deadly bombing at Sultanahmet which killed 10 people.

For those who are unaware, Sultanahmet is the neighborhood which both the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia call home. Despite being a tourist neighborhood, it is also the heart of Istanbul’s old city. This was a district which we frequented often throughout our trip. This was a district we frequented four times through this trip, and one where I felt incredibly safe.

Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet, Istanbul two weeks before a ISIS suicide bomber killed 10 German tourists there in a bombing.

Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet, Istanbul two weeks before a ISIS suicide bomber killed 10 German tourists there in a bombing.

As a Jew, I have no spiritual connection to the Muslim faith. Some would argue I should have an antagonistic relationship with the religion.

However, there was something truly magical and bewildering about the hearing the call to prayer at Sultanahmet. It was our first day, and I was jet-lagged beyond belief. When we stopped at Sultanahmet right at sundown, we looked behind us and saw the Hagia Sophia.

We looked forward and saw the Blue Mosque. The call to prayer played from both locations, almost in a dueling nature. They were not in sync, but rather one echoed the other. This moment was one of a serenity. This neighborhood was somewhat of a home base on this trip, and a place where we could feel safe and grounded.

The citizens of Istanbul, specifically of this neighborhood, had unfairly been robbed of their sense of serenity and peace.

And so was I.

All photos taken by Charles Dunst/ RISE NEWS.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Is The Sun Setting On The Egyptian-American Alliance?

Since the Camp David Accords of 1979, Egypt has been the second largest recipient of US foreign aid contributions, and became one of the first Major Non NATO Allies (MNNA) of the United States in 1989.

However, events including but not limited to: the Arab Spring, increasing economic and military cooperation with Russia, and two years of withheld aid to Egypt, have caused some to question the relationship between Cairo and Washington.

Following the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, things changed dramatically in the country.

Following the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, things changed dramatically in the country.

Instability was the on rise and several incidents finally culminated on September 11th 2012, when a large group of men illegally entered and vandalized the American Embassy in Cairo.

Two days later, President Obama claimed that he did not consider Egypt an ally.

Relations between the two countries reached their lowest since 1973 when the United States suspended some of its aid to Egypt in 2013.

This was due to the removal of President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood led government in a military coup that was sanctioned by now President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the Paris Climate Conference in late 2015. Photo Credit: UNclimatechange/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The withheld aid, the biggest ticket item being the final few parts of a delivery of 20 F-16s, was eventually released in 2015. However, military deliveries to Egypt merely slowed in the two years of frosty relations, and included MIM-72C Chaparral Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs), and M-88 Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARVs), according to SIPRI data sets. Other non military aid also continued.

Despite the relative brevity of this souring of relations between Egypt and the United States, Moscow has made moves to capitalize. Several agreements between Egypt and Russia regarding development of an industrial zone in the Suez, coordination of financial sectors, and tourism were agreed upon on February 3.

In 2015, Russian and Egyptian naval units conducted their first joint training exercises, and joint exercises between the Russian VDV and their Egyptian counterparts are expected to occur later this year. It is not clear whether Egypt’s 46 shiny new KA-52s will be taking part in any of these exercises.

Despite these data points that may alarm casual US planners, a few exercises and weapon sales do not make a trend.

Despite these data points that may alarm casual US planners, a few exercises and weapon sales do not make a trend.

The 1973 Yom Kippur War marked the end of Soviet influence in the Middle East, and the United States has been solidifying its influence in the region since the Carter Administration.

Certain geopolitical realities have developed, and become ingrained in the region that make breaking the alliance between Egypt and the United States difficult.

The first is the Egypt-Israel Peace forged in the Camp David Accords in 1978.

The Suez canal as it looked in 1980, a year after the signing of the Camp David Accords. The canal is an important economic driver for Egypt and was at the center of a recently signed agreement between Egypt and Russia. Photo Credit: NeilHotson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Suez canal as it looked in 1980, a year after the signing of the Camp David Accords. The canal is an important economic driver for Egypt and was at the center of a recently signed agreement between Egypt and Russia. Photo Credit: NeilHotson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Relations between the two countries are fairly strong, to the point that Israel okayed a large scale Egyptian army deployment to the Sinai peninsula, which requires the approval of the Israeli government as per the Camp David Accords.

As Egypt and Israel are the two largest recipients of American aid, they are predisposed to cooperate with each other and the Americans.

Another strike against the doomsayers, is the existing world order is not conducive to abandoning the West and embracing the Russians as an alternative, unless forced to do so.

If the Soviet Union at the height of its power in the 1970s and 1980s could not dislodge American influence, then the best an economically strained Russia can hope for is to be the proverbial “me too” for Cairo.

This is particularly true since it is not in the interests of the United States to be at odds with one of the most strategically and economically critical nations on Earth.

Maintaining open access to the Suez Canal is Egypt’s trump card over any American planners who might wish to divert their interest from Egypt for one reason or another.

As such, it seems unlikely that the already repairing rift between Washington and Egypt will spiral out of control.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Prince Roy/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Why Young People Should Care About PTSD (It Doesn’t Just Impact Soldiers)

By Stephen Goth

Posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental illness that can develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, terrorism or other threats on a person’s life.

Symptoms can include disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyperarousal. 

These symptoms tend to disturb the everyday actions in a person’s life. Whether it be relationships, friendships, performance at school, performance in a job, or even something as simple as sleeping, nothing feels the same when you’re actively living with PTSD.

Many times, people who develop PTSD are at a young age, and are unaware of the traumatic damage their brain is enduring. PTSD can form from something as simple as a single event i.e. divorce, or even the collection of various traumatic occurrences, such as bullying.

According to Matthew Tull, a Posttraumatic stress disorder expert, many people with PTSD experience memory-related difficulties.

They may have difficulty recalling certain parts of their traumatic event, or alternatively, memories may be vivid as if the person is reliving the event in the present.

People with PTSD may also have problems overcoming their fear response to thoughts, memories or situations that are reminiscent of their traumatic event. Due to the hippocampus’ role in memory and emotional experience, it is thought that some of the problems people with PTSD experience may lie in the hippocampus.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Lesley Goth who runs her own private practice outside of Denver, CO, specializes in treating clients who are diagnosed with PTSD.

She believes when trauma occurs at a young age, long-term effects show up in all social, emotional, and physical areas of their lives.

For example, trauma that is experienced at a young age, can result in poor school performance, poor social interaction, and an overall feeling of lack of safety, which can ultimately lead to low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.

When the feeling of lack of safety grows and grows and eventually becomes so intense, the victim of trauma turns towards dysfunctional coping mechanisms. Many addictions stem from the heavy need to numb out the suffering and agony that is caused from the memories of the traumatic events.

This is an important issue in today’s society, as many people try to cope with trauma through substances, and a variety of addictions. The most recent one being social media.

“Social media is a way that people can numb out from their pain and live in a false reality that is much more tolerable,” Dr. Goth said.

In conclusion, treatment is possible, and therapy can often times repair the unprocessed wounds.

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, is a frequently used type of therapy used to help process unresolved issues.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Beverly/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Could Gay Rights Rip Apart Netanyahu’s Conservative Government?

On Dec. 28th, 2015, the first openly gay member of the ruling Likud party, and the third ever in Israel, was sworn into the Knesset (Israeli Parliament).

Amir Ohana took office, following former Member of Knesset (MK) Silvan Shalom’s resignation after Shalom, the then Interior Minister faced a barrage of sexual harassment complaints.

Ohana will take over as Interior Minister, replacing Shalom.

Noticeably absent from the 120 member parliament were 13 members of Israel’s right wing coalition, of which Likud chairs. All of the absentees were from the Shas and the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) parties.

UTJ admits that Ohana’s potential advocacy for the LGBT community led to their boycott of his swearing in, while Shas claimed ignorance of the event altogether.

Regardless of whether Shas is feigning ignorance to save face, this demonstrates one of the peculiar cleavages in the Likud led Israeli coalition.

Regardless of whether Shas is feigning ignorance to save face, this demonstrates one of the peculiar cleavages in the Likud led Israeli coalition.

Both Shas and UTJ are Orthodox Jewish parties, and thus inclined to hold more socially conservative positions than the secular Likud party.

Navigating between the secular and religious movements in the Israeli Right presents a strong problem for the coalition.

One such instance includes UTJ leaving the 1999 coalition  due to a turbine delivery on the Sabbath.

Israeli Knesset Building. Photo Credit: Chris Yunker/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Israeli Knesset Building. Photo Credit: Chris Yunker/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

These cleavages further present themselves in discussion of the Palestinian residents of Israel, and Palestinian Administered regions.

While UTJ trends against expansion of the Israeli state to encompass the West Bank and Gaza, Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party (another right wing partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government) and the current minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs has inserted himself in several controversies related to the Palestinian question, including claiming there is “no problem” with killing Arabs, and banning a book from school curriculums about a pair of lovers separated by the Israel Palestine conflict.

This new exposure brought about by the swearing in of Ohana of these cleavages only reveal longstanding issues between various religious and Zionist flavors in the conservative coalition.

While this show of disrespect to the Likud party may be an isolated incident, Netanyahu ought to take care not to allow these instances, or growing instability in the PA, to break up his narrow majority in Knesset.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Nadav Shushu Siman Tov‎/Facebook

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