Which Idaho lawmakers went on the Turkey trip, and why?

In an earlier blog post, I asked aloud what a nonprofit group hopes to accomplish by squiring Idaho legislators around Turkey for 10 days.

Well, nothing, exactly. Or so says one of the legislators on the trip.

“They certainly didn’t ask for anything,” Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said in an interview Tuesday.

After the Turkey trip first hit the news — when state Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, went on his Facebook page to report Idahoans were unhurt in a fatal bombing in the Turkish capital of Ankara — the public scrutiny and online comment traffic have focused on the group that footed much of the bill.

While lawmakers covered their airfare to Turkey, the Pacifica Institute picked up the rest. The Turkish-American group paid for travel within Turkey, meals and lodging — although the accommodations included some nights in hotels and some nights staying with Turkish business people.

Hill likens Pacifica to the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a business lobby that, in its current iteration, represents the state’s big business interests. Pacifica’s primary concern is the way this Muslim nation is perceived in a post-9/11 world.

Said Hill: “They want to provide understanding.”

This group is going to no small expense in that regard. Ten lawmakers were on this recent trip: Hill; McGee; Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello; Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls; Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls; Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa; Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding; Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston; Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum; and Sen. John Tippetts, R-Montpelier. And, said Hill, at least three other lawmakers went to Turkey in the spring: Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot; Sen. Edgar Malepeai, D-Pocatello; and Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston.

So, that means more than a tenth of the Legislature has traveled to Turkey this year. It’s a regular Turkey Caucus. Do with that observation what you will.

And just as I question what’s in this for Pacifica, I’m not exactly sure what’s in this for Idaho.

The lawmakers tried to nudge Turkish businesses to buy Idaho products — an understandable sentiment, since Turkey doesn’t even crack Idaho’s list of top 25 export markets. But this was a political delegation, not a trade mission.

The lawmakers may have left with a better appreciation of the value of education, Hill said, seeing its impact on Turkey’s thriving economy. That’s nice, but are we seriously at the stage where Idaho politicians have to travel halfway around the world to learn the value of schools?

I don’t smell a scandal here — and that’s not just because Hill is as earnest a lawmaker as they come. But when a group purchases access to politicians to “provide understanding,” that’s never going to be the stuff of best practices.

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Has this Turkish group sponsored legislators from others states?

Idaho can't be unique in the Turks' efforts.

No, it's not unique.

Case in point: Hill says the Idaho delegation ran into groups from New York and Oklahoma.

Kevin Richert
editorial page editor

Many Such Trips

If you check the Pacifica Institures' website, there kind of trips are a major effort on their part.

It all makes sense

They went to Turkey to get a better understanding of how Idaho will look in a few years if present trends persist.

So does that mean IACI needs to be under investgation by the FBI

too???? "Hill likens Pacifica to the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry".

I want to know why the Idaho delegation is conducting business with an organization that has come under scrutiny worldwide as a front as a public education charter school implementer when really it seems their objective is to spread the acceptance of sharia law?

Dare you to Google "gulen institute under investigation by the fbi " or "Pacifica under investigation by the fbi" .....

This is going to be quite the rabbit hole.... This group is under investigation and our delegation is hob-nobing with them. Of course maybe McGee is above federal law enforcement and authority too?

Do your homework!!

Islamist Gülen Movement Runs U.S. Charter Schools

By Stephen Schwartz

A secretive foreign network of Islamic radicals now operates dozens of charter schools -- which receive government money but are not required to adopt a state-approved curriculum -- on U.S. soil. The inspirer of this conspiratorial effort is Fethullah Gülen, who directs a major Islamist movement in Turkey and the Turkish Diaspora but lives in the United States. He is number thirteen among the world's "50 most influential Muslims," according to one prominent listing.

Gülen has been criticized as the puppet master for the current Turkish government headed by the "soft Islamist" Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish initials as the AKP, in its slow-motion showdown with the secularist Turkish military. But Gülen is also known in Muslim countries for his network of 500-700 Islamic schools around the world, according to differing sources favorable to his movement. A more critical view of Gülen's emphasis on education asserts that his international network of thousands of primary and secondary schools, universities, and student residences is a key element in solidifying an Islamist political agenda in Turkey.

But in startling news for Americans, the Gülen movement operates more than 85 primary and secondary schools on our soil. A roster of the Gülen schools and of the numerous foundations that support them has been released to the public by the patriotic group Act! For America. The Gülen schools are often designated as "science academies" and are concentrated in Texas, Ohio, and California -- with others scattered across the rest of the country.

Two states that host Gülen charter schools are Arizona and Utah. In the former, the Daisy Education Corporation (the Gülen movement loves friendly-sounding institutional names) operates three schools in Tucson: one serving kindergarten through the eighth grade, another designated as an elementary school, and a middle-high school, all under the rubric of the Sonoran Science Academy. In Phoenix, it runs a satellite kindergarten-to-10th-grade campus with the same name.

The appearance of Gülen charter schools in Tucson has produced critical attention in local media. The Tucson Weekly published a report at the end of 2009 noting that the Sonoran Science Academy in the southern Arizona town had been named "charter school of the year" by the Arizona Charter School Association. But writer Tim Vanderpool reported that according to one dismayed parent, who declined identification while pointing out the Gülen movement's history of intimidating critics, "the Sonoran Academy seems constantly to be bringing Turkish educators into the United States, and subjecting students to substitute teachers while the teachers await work visas." Vanderpool submits that "several Sonoran Academy parents believe the school has a hidden agenda to promote Gülen's brand of Turkish nationalism, advance sympathy for that country's political goals such as winning acceptance into the European Union, and discourage official acknowledgment of Turkey's genocide against the Armenians during World War I." Such issues are exotic, to say the least, for Tucson parents.

Earlier in 2009, the Beehive Science and Technology Academy, a high school in Salt Lake City, came under similar critical scrutiny from the Salt Lake Tribune. That major daily's writer, Kirsten Stewart, reported that the Utah State Charter Board had begun an investigation of the Beehive school following complaints from a former teacher and an alarmed parent. The complainants asserted that while "Beehive advertises itself as a public charter school offering college-bound seventh through 12th graders a foundation in math and science .... the school has another mission: to advance and promote certain Islamic beliefs. They point to questionable financial transactions and hiring practices as proof of the school's covert ties to Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen."

But while Fatih Karatas, principal of the Sonoran Science Academy middle school in Tucson, flatly denied any connection with the Gülen movement, Beehive principal Muhammet "Frank" Erdogan in Salt Lake City admitted such links in the case of his school. The Salt Lake Tribune quoted his admission that along with him, "many of Beehive's teachers and founders also support Gülen's ideals." The paper also described how "Adam Kuntz, a first-year history teacher at Beehive, was fired [in spring 2009], he alleges, for taking academic freedom concerns to the state board. Earlier in the school year, Kuntz had a run-in with Erdogan over a lesson plan on World War II and the Holocaust. Erdogan wanted Kuntz to revise the plan and during a tape-recorded meeting, questioned conventional accounts of the genocide."

Kelly Wayment, a parent of three children in the school, was removed from his post on the Beehive administrative board after he e-mailed other parents about Gülen movement influence in the school. Wayment told the Salt Lake Tribune that as in the Tucson case, teachers "tend to be from Turkey and central Asian republics living here on work visas."

Americans should ask both why and how the Islamist Gülen movement has managed to establish such a large presence for Turkish religious political indoctrination in publicly financed education -- and should unite to oppose it.

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz is executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington, D.C. This article was sponsored by Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

Idaho "Turkeys" travel to Turkey


Thanks for this informative information. Turkey has been experiencing a retrograde devolution into Islamic rule and sharia law for the past few years, and the days of Kemal Attaturk and secularism are long gone. Turkey is no longer Israel's ally, and the Islamists haver taken over. Turkish influence in this country must be carefully monitored; Saudi Arabia has been funding the vast majority of mosques and madrassas here, and the results have been the placing of radical imams and hate-filled literature in them and the radicalization of many Muslims. Apparently the Islamist Gulen movement moves in the same direction, but this time with deceitful, taqiyya-filled propaganda to desensitize non-Muslims to the danger posed by Islam being propagated in our schools, colleges and universities. This reminds me of the recent incident at Columbia University, where Muslim student radicals shouted down the Israeli ambassador as he was delivering an address. These "students" were tried in court and convicted of the violation of freedom of speech.

Islamists, be they from Saudi Arabia, Turkey or any other Muslim country, should not be allowed to propagandize our youth and promulgate campaigns of da'wa (proselytizing) and stealth jihad in our institutions of learning.

Questioning the Schwartz article

The first sentence claim that "charter schools ..... are not required to adopt a state approved curriculum" is not true in Idaho or any other state.

The article's appearance on a page regarding the Pacific Institute implies that Pacifica in controlled or overly influenced by the Gülen Movement, which is reported on other sites as a altruist service to the common good, active in education and interfaith (and intercultural) dialogue, and also aid initiatives and investments on media, finance, and health.

This piece may very well be irrational, undeserved -- fear all things Islam piece.

Not so fast!

Please reread my post.

Islam is not simply a religion - it is a totalitarian ideology incorporating a legal system called sharia, which is to supercede all civil law and which is intolerant to all Kuffar (Infidels).

Please examine the status of all minorities in Muslim countries - it is not pleasant for them.

Islam has the ultimate goal of supplanting every civil government everywhere with sharia law, which is absolutely incompatible with democracy and freedom.

It would behoove you to access jihadwatch.org and read Gregory Davis' "Islam 101", which gives a basic outline of Islam and sharia law. It should be enlightening.

deep breaths

E, It might behoove you to actually meet and get to know some Muslims who practice Islam.

Your rhetoric is ignorance.

I would rather have a Muslim neighbor than a fundamentalist Christian neighbor.

With either, there goes the neighborhood.

Especially if your house is between them; would that make your property Lebanon?

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Liberal racist jerk you are. Outed mean sap and un-meltingpot.

My neighborhood is Black, Muslim, Russian, Spanish, and 1st generation Eastern European. Boisepoet says, "there goes the neighborhood". What a pompous as$.

Maybe my upbringing is different, but that is my neighborhood.

Most of my working crew is of these new American cultures but we are doing just fine. We don't need you condescending attitude to plant your anti American seed.

The ever tolerant SS...Whatever dude...

We know you lack understanding of macro economics, and evidently humor relating to groups of people killing each other off over intolerance of each other's fairy tale escapes you as well.

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Yeah BP,

How dare you exercise your freedom of speech! You are so anti-American!

BRR - it is simply called

BRR - it is simply called "Indoctrination" - please look for the signs, do some investigation. Don't be fooled by what they say they are promoting - peace, love, cultural diversity BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!


What's in it for me?

You have to accept these legislators chose to ignore asking the questions "What's the catch?", "who are these people?" and "Why are they willing to do this for Idaho legislators"? Right? It's fishy without ANY doubt.

Instead they asked "What's in it for me?". A free trip? I'm there!

Well I have no idea

what anyone would want in Turkey who was a state level legislature menber of the state of Idaho. Turkey is one of the larger Poppy growing countries in the world, I guess if you like Poppy product you might want to go there. Does the idea of turkish schools make sense here, just how many Turks, Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian ect. people do we have living here in our state anyway? I know that we have a large population of eastern european muslims, are they looking to set up "charter schools" for them in our area to teach islam?

Islamic Charter Schools

Several months ago, the New York Times published a story on this group and it's charter schools in Texas. These schools currently receive over $100 million from Texas taxpayers every year.
I'am sure these charter schools are devoted to offering excellent instruction in science and math and have NOTHING to do with ANY instruction in Islam.
Sure ... the same way charter schools in Idaho have NOTHING to do with teaching Christianity!
When will the press ask Rick Perry, among others, to explain why Texas taxpayers must pay to import teachers from Turkey to educate Texas kids.
Also, notice these schools seem to be popping up in Red states that hate unions -- particularly unions that represent those awful, terrible public employees -- teachers!

Pacifica Intentions?

The Pacifica Institute has out of California branches in Portland, Salt Lake City, Hawaii, and Nevada.

Perhaps Boise is next?

From their website Throughout nearly 80,000 years of history, many great civilizations thrived and left their legacy in the land of Anatolia, modern day Türkiye. The Intercultural Dialog Trips to this “cradle of civilizations” explores the rich cultures that have matured over time and extends the bridges of friendship between the peoples of the United States and Turkiye. These trips enable understanding through social and cultural interactions, and give the participants an opportunity to make new friends and invaluable connections. The trips feature a unique experience of not just tourist sites, but contact with the peoples and cultures of Turkiye on many occasions such as the dinners at host families.

My visit to Turkey hosted by the Pacifica Institute created a lifetime awareness within me of the vast cultural and historical importance of this ancient part of our world. We all share in the story of Turkey’s history and wish her the best in all that is good.
Leroy D. Baca - Sheriff Los Angeles County
The Pacifica Institute’s tour of Turkey is easily one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. While I have traveled to many parts of the globe, I cannot recall another trip that is quite like this one in terms of its capacity to affect both one mind and one’s heart. The beauty of Turkey—the great city of Istanbul, the Mediterranean coast, and the mountains and plains of Cappadochia—is dazzling. But even more astonishing is the people. The generous hospitality of the Turkish people will be a memory for a lifetime. If the goal of the tour is to foster cross-cultural understanding, deep reflection, and meaningful dialogue, then the Pacifica Institute tour is a five-star experience
Darryl Tippens - Provost, Pepperdine University

Things may not be as they appear

It is easy to get the wrong impression by only being exposed to what the sponsoring organization wants one to see.

Turkey has been undergoing a rapid Islamization process the past few years, and Islam is gaining control of the government and the people. Thus, Turkey is on its way to becoming another hostile Muslim country exemplified by cruelty to non-Muslims and intolerance of any but Islamic principles, and by strong animosity towards Jews and Christians and, particularly, Israel.

You will not recognize Turkey a few decades hence...

My biggest concern was

how long after a concussion do you have to wait until it's safe to fly?

Concussion/flying time lag

Just until your pants are dry.

Wonder how was the

hash? Sen.John McGee, can you tell us?

He's trying to quit,

cold Turkey.

How about Idahoans?

Our unemployed and our uninsured need help and these people are off on a trip to Turkey?