Should Israel be Turkey’s Wet Rag?
Against this background, Turkey became a strategic ally to Israel in the late 1990’s, resulting in a Free Trade Agreement in 2000 (Israel now exports an annual $1.5 billion in goods and services to Turkey, and imports more than $1 billion); large Turkish Ministry of Defence contracts for Israeli products, with joint military exercises; and Turkey’s key diplomatic role in Israel/Syrian negotiations
was the single most popular foreign destination for Israeli tourists, representing 13% of all departures and generating an estimated $300 million in annual revenues. About 70% of these travelers headed for the resorts around Turkey . Antalya
This idyllic relationship seemed to also weather the change in Government in
, in March 2003, from the secular DSP-MHP-ANAP coalition led by Bulent Ecevit, to the Islamist AKP party under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey
However, the war in 2008/9 between
Israel and the Hamas in ostensibly put the relationship into a dramatic nose-dive. Gaza
Since then, Erdogan has not let up, including calling Israel “a threat to world security”, during a meeting this week with Lebanese President Hariri, who was accompanied by his new Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Al-Hajj of Hizballah (now a part of the Lebanese Governing coalition).
The hostility has also reached popular culture in
, with the recent launch of two vitriolic and inciting TV series, casting the IDF (in one) and Mossad (in the other) as cold-blooded satanic child-murderers. Turkey
In October 2009 a high-profile military exercise, together with
Turkey, Israel and the USA was cancelled by Turkey due to ’s participation. Israel
In parallel to the concerted destruction of good relations with
Israel, Turkey has been about-turning their relationship with historically ‘problematic’ neighbors Syria, Iran, Iraq, and the Armenians, a foreign policy dubbed as “zero problems with neighbors”. Greece
Syrian president Assad visited
Ankara, and Erdogan visited Iranian President Ahmedinijad in , in the past months, signing dozens of both commercial and strategic defence agreements. Tehran
Throughout all this, the Israeli Foreign Office has reacted in way which can only be described as stunned silence. Even Shimon Peres absurdly recently described relations as “absolutely perfect” between
Israel and . Turkey
Avigdor Liberman, technically Israel’s Foreign Minister, but practically sidelined form any foreign policy role, has made his views known that Israel’s good relationship with Turkey is “finished”.
This week Liberman's deputy Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beteinu party colleague, Danny Ayalon, called in Oguz Celikkol, Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, and delivered both a scathing verbal complaint about the latest anti-Semitic/anti-Israeli TV show, and also stage-managed the meeting to give non-verbal signals of displeasure – such as high vs low seating, lack of a Turkish flag on the table, keeping the Ambassador waiting some minutes in the corridor, etc.
Danny Ayalon has been roundly criticized in the Israeli Press for the theatrical side of the dressing down, which reportedly exceeded normal diplomatic protocols. If this is true, then Ayalon surely knew it, as he was
Israel’s Ambassador to the between 2000-2006. USA
Regretfully, repeatedly seeking “shalom bayit” (domestic peace), when only one party wants it, is not a rational policy, but dangerous delusion.