Not free to speak

From Arutz Sheva, a story to bear in mind when you hear a certain European leader going on about Israel:

Which country has the most free speech violations?

European Court of Human Rights reveals the Council of Europe state that again leads the pack in violating freedom of expression.

The European Court of Human Rights’s (ECHR) annual report, released on Thursday, revealed that in 2015 Turkey led the Council of Europe member states with the highest number of violations of freedom of expression.

Of the 28 cases in 2015 in which a violation of freedom of expression was determined, ten of them were committed by Turkey according to the report as cited by the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News. The closest after Turkey was France, with three rulings against it.

I wonder how much of the French violations were driven by bad decisions following earlier terror attacks. Hopefully they will get back on track.


While Turkey led in terms of freedom of expression violations, Russia outpaced it in terms of the total number of violations, putting Turkey in second place.

Highlighting the freedom of expression problem in Turkey was a case last December in which courts called up experts to decide if a doctor should get jail time for comparing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Gollum from The Lord of the Rings – the doctor had already been expelled from the Public Health Institution of Turkey in October for sharing the images comparing the two.

Turkey is not new to violating freedoms of expression. Back in 2014, the country committed more such violations that the rest of the Council of Europe states combined, being responsible for 24 of a total 47 violations.

Aside from freedom of expression, Turkey is also not granting the right to a fair trial according to the findings. Of a total of 120 Turkish violations in 2015, 20 were over the right to a fair trial.

The report found that the right to a fair trial was in fact the issue with the highest percentage of violations among the member states, standing at just under 25% of all violations.

While Turkey is second behind Russia in terms of violations in 2015, it is ranked first place in terms of all violations determined by the ECHR since it was first established in 1959.

Turkey committed a whopping 3,182 violations since 1959 according to the report, with Italy coming in second at 2,336, and Russia third with 1,720.

People in glass houses?

An Israeli in Paris

You have got to hand it to Bibi. He sure knows how to represent the Israeli people. For example, from the Times of Israel report on today’s Paris march (Sunday):

Netanyahu was initially situated in a second row of leaders, but shimmied his way into the front row, alongside Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Council President Donald Tusk and Abbas.

That shimmy? I can assure you; it’s a well practiced move in Israel…

Read the rest of the report here, then ask: if this is true, what the hell are the French playing at?

Charles de Gaulle Airport Welcome

On the journey back to Israel, we flew into Charles de Gaulle Airport, where we picked up the mid morning El Al flight. To get the final flight, after landing from the USA we had to go through the usual flight connections route, ending up with a security check before we were allowed access to the gate.

At the security check – where they x-rayed the hand baggage we had – they asked one of my girls to confirm the contents of the bottle of alcohol she had bought in the USA as a gift. It was still in its USA customs seal, but the security operative insisted on opening the seal, and the bag, and the gift box it was packed in, so as to examine the bottle.

At the same time, he noticed my daughter collecting her baggage, belt, and boots (and so on) from the x-ray conveyor belt. She had separated out her small change and put it in a ziploc bag. The security operative noticed this and said:

“What’s this? Are you Jewish?”

My daughter was on her own and took the decision – sensibly in my opinion – to ignore the comment, although inwardly she was very upset. (It rarely pays to mess with airport security personnel.) She finished with collecting her belongings, came over to where I was waiting, and told me. We did not have long before the flight and that, largely, guided our decision to do nothing more. We didn’t have the person’s name, and he had moved on to another part of the airport, so we could no longer point him out. It left a bad taste. Maybe it’s representative of just how bad things are in France. Maybe we should have reported it. Maybe that’s the way things are, and always will be.