Monthly Archives: August 2013

U.S Slams Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan For Another Anti-Israel Remark

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan (left) tells Israeli President Shimon Peres (right), “When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill,” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. January 29, 2009

By Taniel Koushakjian
August 22, 2013

In the latest development of the Turkish government’s increasingly anti-Israel posture, this week Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan made the audacious claim that Israel was behind the Egyptian military’s ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi. Speaking to a group of provincial governors of his AKP party, Erdogan reportedly stated: “What do they say in Egypt? Democracy is not at the ballot box. Who is behind it? Israel. We have in our hands documentation.”

This statement was quickly rebuffed by Israeli and U.S. government officials. In response to a reporter’s question specifically citing Erdogan’s comments, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said “We strongly condemn the statements that were made by Prime Minister Erdogan today.” “Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated and wrong,” Earnest stated.

According to the Jerusalem Post, “Erdogan’s rant was not worthy of a response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Tuesday. ‘This is a statement well worth not commenting on.’”

Erdogan’s anti-Semitic statements have become a new normal for him and his Islamic AKP Party. A few weeks ago, Erdogan blamed the Turkish uprisings surrounding the Gezi Park protests as being motivated by the “interest rate lobby,” a reference widely interpreted to mean Israel.

While these statements may win him praise on the streets of the Arab World, Erdogan may be miscalculating the effect. “’Erdogan’s speech blaming Israel for the coup in Egypt pours cold water on the option of Israel cooperating with Turkey on the gas pipeline,” Gilad Alper, a senior analyst at Ramat-Gan, Israel-based Excellence Nessuah Brokerage Ltd. told Bloomberg News. With Turkey looking to import Israeli natural gas, it appears that Erdogan’s continued anti-Semitic statements jeopardize Turkey’s dream to becoming a major energy hub in the region.

Statements such as these also have an unfortunate effect on Turkish society. Anti-Americanism in Turkey is among the highest in world and has been for many years. The growing anti-Semitism and increasing Islamism in the Turkish government appear related.

However, Erdogan’s comments are not just confined to Israel and the Jewish people. A headline last month in Commentary Magazine read “Erdogan’s disdain extends from Jews to Blacks.” Author Michael Rubin states that “Criticizing Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the center-left and secular Republican Peoples Party (CHP), Erdoğan declared, “Kılıçdaroğlu is striving every bit he can to raise himself from the level of a black person to the level of a white man.”

Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg goes even further: “It’s time to call Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan what he is: a semi-unhinged bigot.”

Jewish-American and African-American members of the Congressional Turkish Caucus should be made aware of these statements and reconsider their support of a government and society that is increasingly at odds with U.S. interests and those of our allies Israel and Armenia.

This article originally appeared on the Armenian Assembly’s Blog.

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Florida Armenians Wish Catholicos Karekin II Happy Birthday

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Today, August 21, is the birthday of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. Catholicos to the worlds 7 million Armenian Christians, His Holiness Karekin II visited Florida in 2007.

“We wish for His Holiness strength, peace, good health, many years of life, and success in all his endeavors as chief shepherd of the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church,” stated FLArmenians Communications Director Arsine Kaloustian.

Youth Profile: George Arut, Florida Supreme Court Intern

Florida Supreme Court Justices (seated) with 2013 Interns (standing). Chief Justice Ricky Polston (center) and George Arut (center standing)

Florida Supreme Court Justices (seated) with 2013 Interns (standing). Chief Justice Ricky Polston (center) and George Arut (center standing)

By John Brooks
FLArmenians Guest Contributor

George Arut, a young Armenian student of distinction, recently completed an internship for Chief Justice Ricky Polston of the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee this past summer. His journey from childhood to his brilliant future is worthy of detailing so that young Armenians can aspire just as he did to make and achieve goals.

George is a wonderful example of a young Armenian who in his short life has thus far accomplished so much in which all should be proud.

His family moved to the U.S. in January 1991 and George was born later that year. After spending most of his childhood in Cleveland, Ohio, George moved with his family to Florida in 2001, where they now live.

After going to public school from kindergarten through the fifth grade, George was home-schooled from middle school onwards, basically teaching himself via computer, since his parents were working hard to achieve their own version of the American Dream. Being a straight “A” student, he was able to skip grades due to his stellar academic achievements, finishing high school at the age of 16. George was then accepted to the University of North Florida (UNF) with a Bright Futures Scholarship. In just three years he graduated Summa Cum Laude at the age of 19, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.

Since childhood, George told his parents that he would someday be an attorney. Thus, he applied to several law schools in his final year of college. George chose to go to Florida Coastal School of Law, as they were the first to send him an invitation and offer a school scholarship for his high educational achievements. He is currently entering his final year of law school and will be graduating next year. At this rate, George will have a Juris Doctorate at only 22 years of age!

Because of his high achievements in law school, ranking #1 out of 500+ students for at least four semesters, George was chosen to do a summer internship at the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee under Chief Justice Ricky Polston. When I spoke with him, George remarked on his experience at the Court. “Being at the Court has been a truly awesome, and certainly humbling, experience. Getting to see how the highest appellate court in the state operates is something that many people do not get to see, and I feel honored that I had the chance to do just that. Not to mention the fact that I got to meet some of the Justices, staff attorneys, and other employees of the Court in person, and see a few oral argument sessions live, too. I even had the chance to help out high school students from Girls State in their mock oral arguments at the Court when they were in town, and to educate them on what law school is like. Then, to top it off, I got to meet and interact with several law students from across the state who were also interning at the Court. Overall, it was an experience that I will definitely take with me going forward,” Arut said.

Although he was not born in the “old country” and never visited there, George loves his Armenian culture, especially the music. George’s advice is to find your passion, follow your dreams and not to lose site of your faith and cultural heritage. When not obtaining his educational goals, George enjoys spending time with his family, who are the owners of INI Realty Investments in Jacksonville, Florida.

This is a perfect occasion for the Armenian community to celebrate the accomplishments of the future generation of outstanding Armenian-American leaders. Also, it is an opportunity to encourage our youth to keep their eyes on positive role models rather than the entertainment industry’s fantasy version of success in America. We in the Florida Armenian community will be watching this rising star and wish him great success.

John Brooks is the Vice Chair of the Armenian Church of Jacksonville.

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