Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Turkey-Israel relations continue to worsen in New York
The relations between Turkey and Israel had another rocky week. First, it was reported in Zaman, a conservative Turkish daily, Turkish President Abdullah Gül was scheduled to meet with Israeli President Simon Peres in New York, where the two leaders arrived for the United Nations General Assembly meetings this week.
When the news was first heard, many observers thought this meeting could create a chance for a fresh start since the leaders are seasoned statesmen who are known for their soft-spoken manners.
Shortly after the news leak, a potential face to face meeting between Gül and Peres immediately collapsed and both sides put the gloves back on and continued to trade body-blows. According to a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, “Appointing commissions was intended to create a cooling-off period; having the two most senior representatives of Israel and Turkey meet without full preparation carried some risk. It might be better to proceed in a more deliberate and careful way to explore options to improve relations." When both sides tried to build on this weak terrain, it triggered yet further, significant erosion in relations.
Aiming for the top meeting and overlooking the deficit of trust issue between them, both countries seemed at first to be taking a risk. Nevertheless, before too long, which side is requesting and which side is rejecting the meeting game or fight occurred once more to collapse the potential meeting. Thus the trust deficit needs to be dealt with from the bottom of the cubicle of the relations mechanism to the top, if there is still any seriousness to repairing the relations on either side.
According to well-placed sources following Turkey-Israel relations closely in Washington, there are many players on both sides who want to sabotage any positive steps between the countries from taking place for their own benefit.
In that respect, the United Nations Human Rights Council's report on the Mavi Marmara raid does not seem to offer any assistance to either side to move on. The report slammed the Israeli side and condemned Israeli forces with harsh words; in return, Israel said it found the report “biased.”
Turkey, on the other hand, welcomed the report and stated it found it satisfying. According to diplomatic sources, Turkey is still expecting a formal apology from Israel at this point; Israel has also started to voice a demand for an apology from Turkey nowadays.
I asked David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, or AJC, to describe the climate following the UNHRC flotilla report which came out on Wednesday. Harris, following the daylong diplomatic meetings at the U.N., said: “I believe the issues are serious. They should not be underestimated. The strikingly contrasting reaction to the UN Human Rights Council's report illustrates the point. Turkey enthusiastically embraced it. Israel bitterly rejected it. But, in my view, it's not just about the Mavi Marmara episode, important though it is in the present discussion. Rather, it's about a strategic decision taken in Ankara to move closer to Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah -- and further away from Israel. Had it not been the Mavi Marmara story, it would have been something else, I fear. I deeply regret this development. ... Can we restore the friendship and trust? I certainly hope so, but it will take political courage and diplomatic creativity. The events in New York this week, including President Gül's speech at the U.N. and the snub of Israeli President Peres, surely did not help. More broadly, as a long-time friend of Turkey, I hope its leaders realize that its evolving orientation may be winning friends in Gaza and Tehran, but also, candidly speaking, losing friends in Washington and many European capitals."
A visiting assistant professor at the State University of New York’s Maritime College, Mark Meirowitz, insisted during our long phone conversations this week that both sides need to move beyond requesting apologies if they really want to get back on track. Meirowitz said: “Turkey should have been in the picture of the Middle East peace talks along with the American, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders. Turkey could have been active in the process more actively than currently is... What essentially needs to happen is for both sides to come to their senses and realize the importance of each other in the region. This link and mutual love is essentially out there between the people of two countries… It is up to the governments to find their own solutions to move forward.”
Not everyone is sure if the link between the people of two long and impressive histories, as strong as in the past. A leading voice of the Jewish Turkish community in New York, who immigrated to the US from Turkey just about 15 years ago, painted a rather gloomy picture when talking about Jewish life in Turkey. “About 17,000 Jews live in Turkey and nowadays there is a big pressure on them,” said the leader, who did not want to be named. “The current climate in Turkey is not good for Turkey’s Jewish community. Turkey has been our home for 500 years and it is sad to see many of the youth leaving there now. Every year hundreds of Jews are abandoning their home, Turkey. Things have got worse since the flotilla attack.”
President Gül also stated last week that what happened with the Mavi Marmara would have been considered as casus belli, a reason to launch war, in the past. He also stated, “We will never forgive Israel even if it apologizes for the Mavi Marmara.” These two harsh statements both mark an even sharper position on the Turkish side than ever elaborated before, adding fuel to a climate in which the head of states failed to meet. President Gül also received a plaque from ultra-orthodox and radical Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss during his visit to New York. Rabbi Weiss, in December 2006, spoke at the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust held by the Iranian government in Tehran, which was described by media sources such as NPR as a gathering of Holocaust deniers. It is sad to see that a head of a very serious country in international affairs, such as Mr. Gül, would meet anyone before thoroughly vetting or investigating him.
According to news reports, the Turkish delegation had a busy week in New York in which they met tens of representatives from various foreign countries. I think it is good for the Turkish leadership to meet and greet so many head of states in such a limited time. Though, the highlights of Gül's New York visit in the international media happened to be his meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his not being able to find time to meet with Peres at the same time.
Those who believe the worst is over between Turkey and Israel, after watching the nasty jabs in New York at the highest levels, might be proven wrong sooner rather than later – if they haven’t already been.
34 Comments   Bookmark and Share  printer friendly PRINTER FRIENDLY


2010-09-27 20:40:30
 Some people really pretend to be naive! The flotila had a definit target from the very first moment which was to provoke Israel openly in order for Turkey to gain the Palestinians&the islamic world.That was evident from the very first moment & was actually the reason that activists of non govermental groups supporting the rights of Palestinians in Greece refused to take part from the very first moment.We all knew in Greece before the flotilla sails that its intentions were far from humanitarian. Even a few independent Greek activists that took part were negatively&strongly criticised in the end causing the anger of the Greek public.Humanitarian aid to Gaza is one thing& aid to Hamas in order to gain the respect and honor of the extremist muslims of the middle east is another thing.The flotilla did not even respect the PA following a certain plan to provoke Israel &diplomatically expose it to the international community!I am sad ofcourse for the 9 sacrifised for the plan to work! 
Guest - Sylvia
2010-09-27 15:16:28
 @dr p- exactly! That is the question I am asking too. Why first provoke, knowing well that there would be a retaliation, and then complain about the consequences?? There exists a saying in German which describes well this situation "throw the stone, and hide the hand!... 
Guest - dr p
2010-09-27 14:22:00
 we still haven't heard as to why the akp blessed the flotilla in the first place, and flagrantly violated international and maritime law in ints political grandstanding...but still demands an apology from israel for the same. if turkey objects to having its nose bloodies, perhaps it shouldn't have picked a fight..or at least, found a better patsy? 
Guest - Georgy
2010-09-27 05:30:23
 Israel move on. The relationship with Turkey is broken beyond repair plus the Turks hold nasty grudges. Greece/Republic of Cyprus and Bulgaria (all EU members) welcome more strategic ties with Israel. Turkey has an Islamic agenda. 
Guest - vhardman
2010-09-27 00:22:49
 about the flotilla and turkeys strange stand on the matter ??? these vessels were flying the turkish flag and the captains should have attended a commission of enquiry as to why the sailing was not recorded in the ships log why the harbourmaster of the port was not requested for entry or if it was a military area why israels naval commander was not notified . why when stopped at sea they failed to follow voluntarily israeli naval ships to ashdod when ordered why the vessels were not carrying bols which had to be entered in israeli customs as gaza has customs union with israel. the unhrc enquiry was absurd when it ignored these maritime rules incumbent on turkey as the flag register turkey ! 
Guest - Ramil
2010-09-26 23:54:31
 woooow... Israel is getting for an formal apology for Turkey. hopefully it ll happen and but an apologize wont resolve all problems if even is continuing blockade of Gazza district. Turks hadn't any problem with Israeli government, but for sake of justice and peace in the region and in the world Turkey must have warned this pet government. I think support of Turkey to Israel should be example to all world. Hopefully our ''pampered ally'' Israel will understand its mistake. Israel cant do without Turkey! 
Guest - DrE
2010-09-26 22:07:08
 Igor, you'r right. It was not 100 000 Iraqis which has been killed since the start. The actual number given by independent agencies (Lancet and others) are between 500 000 and 1 000 000. During the first weeks more than 100 000 Iraqi soldiers were killed when defending their own country. If you want keep scores then no other region has killed more than west-europeans. Just try to count the people killed in WWI and WII and it will be more than all other wars combined throughout the entire history. 
Guest - Gary
2010-09-26 21:41:06
 In retrospect, was the Flotilla really necessary? Or should I say, was befriending HAMAS over the PA really necessary? 
Guest - Gary
2010-09-26 21:37:21
 Considering Greece membership in the EU, Israel has come up a winner out of this unfortunate incident by gaining another European ally. I hope the current Turkish government also knows what it is doing, and it is good for Turkey. However, the latest events prove the opposite. Decimating the Turkish military certainly creates some sympathy in Europe, but everyone is agreed today that the wait and see attitude is the most appropriate one toward the actions of the current Turkish government. In other words suspicion is the name of the game on both sides of the Atlantic today. 
Guest - Gary
2010-09-26 21:24:31
 Let’s see... Israel used the last several months after the Flotila incident to advance its relations with Greece and Cyprus. Turkish government used the same time frame to advance its relations with Iran and Hamas (not with even with the PA, unfortunately). This development makes more than a few people in Brussels and Washington a bit nervous. 
Guest - Murat
2010-09-26 20:12:21
 "Turkey is making too big a deal out of the 9 people who died on Mavi Marmara." This coming from a country (or its supporter) that has bombed another country into rubble, killing thousands, in response to a kidnapped soldier? Turkey should simply ignore this crime and piracy? It does not work that way. True, there are many unsavory players in ME, and Israel is just one of them, with much blood on its hands. The Jewish State does not even understand the meaning of secular, it is a tribe that values only its own blood. Bibi and Libi's Israel, ruled by Russian mobsters and peasants, settlers and zealots, is in no position to make statemens about the Republic of Turkey, that is and will be democratic and secular forever. Where there is a crime, there are criminals. Justice demanded. 
Guest - Ollk
2010-09-26 17:37:44
 babadog. You are writing..... "Turkiyes young and dynamic population and astronomic economic growth potential will be Europes China in 20 years" .....I also hope Turkey will continue to prosper. But for Gods sake, keep the proportions right! Turkey's population is around 70 million, whereas China is around 1 200 million. In other words, China is four to five times as big as the entire EU, and amost 20 times as big as Turkey. How can you even compare China with any other country in the West or Middle East? 
Guest - Igor
2010-09-26 17:33:18
 Kangaroo. You are stating that the US in Iraq has been "killing over 100,000 civilians within Iraq alone". That is totally wrong! What is correct though, is that Sadam H killed over 300 000 and tortured, raped, gased many many more Muslims. What is also correct is that many many more Muslims have been killed in Iraq by other Muslims than by Americans. But somehow it seems like if Muslims are killed or tortured by Muslims it does not really count (just look at the lack of reaction about the human rights problems in for example Syriah or Iran or Darfur), which is for me very strange. The death of a person is sad and should be prevented, regardless of the religion of the victim and the killer. But you do not seem to share my view, which is a shame since you seem to be more fond of blaming and wipping up hatered against Christians than caring about Muslims suffering (or other human beings for that matter). 
2010-09-26 17:32:52
 As everyone with any insight knows that Mr. Erdogans election harolded a distinct and irreversable change in Turkey's world outlook. One incident after another Mr. Erdogan builds and aggregates reasons for a policy that he had already formulized at his election. Mr. Davis, whom this writer quotes, is right, if not the flotilla episode then it would have been something else. And so be it. Turks, for most part are happy with this choice. Israel and the Americans take that for what it is. No body is deluding themselves. So Turkish leaders can go ahead and be insulting as you want. You'll score a lot of brownie points with Iran and your newly found Islamists friends. You have joined the Rest and expect nothing from the West. Next step, not that you'll care, is being ousted from the NATO and ofcourse you'll never have an entry in the EU. You made your bed - you have no choice but to lie in it. 
Guest - Murat
2010-09-26 17:04:56
 "Our state might be in the middle east but our hearts are in Europe." Explains everything wrong with Israel today and how we came to this point. The sad irony is, Europe was where their grandparents were thrown into gas chambers and where anti-semitism is well and alive today. That is how they ended up in ME in the first place! Not to mention the fact that EU stands today for everything Israel does not. Talk about truly being confused. You do not kill unarmed men in international waters, rob and imprison the rest and then claim some moral ground and expect all to act as if nothing happened. Justice is demanded. 
Guest - Kangaroo
2010-09-26 14:37:16
 Mr I Tanir, 9 Turkish citizens were murdered by the Israeli raid, illegally within the international waters. No matter who said what in the past. No matter what pollitical games being played by both sides, it was Israel illegally boarding Mavi Marmara pulling the trigger, knowingly murdering Turks. You are stating that the Turkish President had two harsh words. I would question your political motives and your alliances. USA invaded two nations after losing less than 3,000 innocent lives (Twin Towers), and killing over 100,000 civilians within Iraq alone. You are portraying Turkey as the guilty party, and that Turkey should bend backwards to Israel. I see, in your idealistic outlook, Turkish citizens do not have any value what so ever and therefore Turkey should not seek justice internationally. My friend you are wrong. Turkey should and will take all avenues at its disposal to bring the criminals to justice. This is what you should be arguing for. 
Guest - KEREM
2010-09-26 12:19:02
 Breaking our relations with Israel was an absolutely stupid policy.Israelis and Greeks are very similar in mentality and culture even lifestyle and our fault only provided a very good opportunity for Greeks and Israelis to approach each other for the first time in their history!Have a good look on the map and just consider the benefits that a close coperation between Israel Greece and Cyprus could have for them...Taking into consideration that Greeks have exceptional relations with most Arab countries just think the opportunities opened for Greek diplomacy...It was just yesterday that Greek prime minister signed a 5billion euros protocol for invesments with Quatar while just the previous day he met with the heads of all Jewish assosiations of the USA...It wont be long before bankrupt Greece will stand on its feet again enforced by allies which we abandoned...Greeks and Israelis will rule the area of Eastern Mediteranenan while we will be sitting with Hamas and Iran on the same table! 
Guest - Yaacov
2010-09-26 06:28:54
 Turkey is making too big a deal out of the 9 people who died on Mavi Marmara. That many Israeli's die every month to terrorist attacks, yet we manage to have a relationship of sorts with the Palestinians. We don't demand they apologize, we set our talks with them above such incidents. Turkey's leaders don't have stature or maturity. They deal with every issue emotionally. They're amateurs on the world stage, frankly. Davutoglu should apologize to Israel for boring us with his foolish comments and demands. He's not going to get any apology or compensation so he may as well quit whining. 
Guest - ManInTheMiddle
2010-09-26 01:05:40
 Marriages of convenience with Israel have limited shelf lives. Israel was desperate to find an "ally" in the ME which was not Arab nor Iranian, but Muslim and could be taken to the cleaner by the Israeli military-complex. Israel was in need of larger air-space to give its air force "strategic depth" due to Israel's tiny size. So Turkey was presented by the US to Israel as the right victim at the time. Turkish military singed many contracts with Israel to purchase arms, UAVs and to have its tanks and old F-4s to be "upgraded". All of these contracts were signed by corrupt officers, the equipment delivered by Israel were shoddy and did not pass the Turkish field tests, and they were over-priced. In short, the Turks were screwed-and-tatooed, as we say in the US. The Zionist apologists commentators are trying to depict Turky's awakening and course correction as getting "... into the extreme islamist anti-democratic camp"! This is nonsense. Turkey is fighting for its national interests. 
Guest - Mizrahi
2010-09-26 00:44:24
 From now on the relations between Israel and Greece/Cyprus/USA is of major importance then with Turkey which decides to increase its diplomacy with Iran and the Hamas. After all the future belongs to the US and EU in terms of political and financial issues. Israel has no more interest in Turkey and its crypto-islamic agenda. The dice are thrown and the situation is clear. Our state might be in the middle east but our hearts are in Europe. One of these days a new "peace and aid carrying flotilla" will start its voyage to the strip. We say come if you dare! 
Guest - Tore
2010-09-25 22:52:43
 Theres no point in making friends with the current Israeli regime. If you forgive them they will behave even worse. Wait until there is a new government or there is substantial movement in the peace process. Being friends with Israel is a liability and not something that any state should sell their soul to achieve. As for those who think being friends with Israel is important for European opinion on Turkey, I think they are deluded. Israels image in Europe is in my opinion deteriorating rapidly. 
Guest - Cautious
2010-09-25 18:16:41
 Both Israel and Turkey have administrations that have very limited Diplomatic skills - not a great combo when trying to resolve a dispute. 
Guest - Cetin
2010-09-25 18:11:31
 THAT is something that speaks to us : 
Guest - George
2010-09-25 17:38:05
 @ babadog, I am afraid you are sleeping in a "rockabye baby crib" Your scenario about Turkey twenty years from now stems from your puffed up image of Turkey along with that of FM Davutoglu&Co.'s neo-ottomanism which is likely to create not zero problems in the area but eventual havoc. For if Turkey continues this hostile attitude towards Israel and the Western World, be certain it will be an eventual calamity for Turkey. The only reason that "ally" Turkey has been able to be doing all these "no nos" lately is because it has only caught the West by surprise which amounts to double-crossing. If Turkey continues on this path, give it enough time for the West to flex its muscle and then you will see where Turkey will be twenty years from now. The West built up Turkey economically, militarily etc. and the West can equally tear it down. 
Guest - Murat
2010-09-25 17:29:52
 Amazingly, Israel and its supporters expect everyone to act as if nine Turkish citizens (one also has US citizenship, but it is ok for Israel to kill a few Americans here and there it seems!) were not brutally killed in high seas and an act of piracy did not take place. How can Turkey pretend that nothing happened? To top it off, and this is where they completely lost me and I will never forget, they decorated the killers! None of that waiting "let us see what the facts are". They were claimed heroes on the spot for executing unarmed civilians. No army in the world does that. Justice is demanded. 
Guest - Rich
2010-09-25 17:14:22
 I think we should just give up on the idea of a reproachment between Turkey and Israel so long as the AKP runs the country and so long as Mr. Gul is President. Israel should not sell any arms to Turkey because the technology will not remain in Turkish hands but will be given to Iran and Syria. Turkey's is once again becoming the "sick man" of Europe- only this time it is a mental illness- and not a physical illness since Turkey is a prosperous country. The episode is a shame- another lost opportunity for peace in the middle east. 
Guest - KEREM
2010-09-25 17:11:55
 @babadog...what are you talking about???How can Turkey be the... "leading light in the area towards peace and stability" when in fact our only friend in the neighbourhood soon will only be IRAN??? We have managed to have bad relations with everybody except Iran....Even Azerbaijan will start to be suspicious in the end!How can we be the leading light of stability when obviously all our neighbours see that we are the destabilising player in the area???? We have underestimated Israel and overestimated our power thinking that they needed us more than we need them..It seems that Israel will ally politically and millitarily with Greece and Cyprus now (who already have good relations with Arabs) and we will end up sitting together with the islamic leaders of Iran.Greece in the end will be mediating between Israelis and Arabs as common friend of both and we will end up apologising to the international community...for hanging around with the nuclear islamic terrosrists of Iran and Hamas!!!! 
Guest - babadog
2010-09-25 15:39:27
 Could Jewish and Greek and Armenian commentators please take note that Turkiye is the leading light in the area for the drive towards peace and stability.Ahmet Davutoglu's policies of nil problems with neighbours and the corresponding drive for greater mutual wealth creation is working a treat.A million more Arabs have visited Turkiye so far this year all thanks to the courageous abolition of visa requirements and common trade have increased exponentially.Turkiyes new found prestige and soft power is at last being noticed by EU and the USA policymakers who are now talking about how invaluable Turkiyes young and dynamic population and astronomic economic growth potential will be Europes China in 20 years time when as expected the aging pensioner populations of EU member countries will double whilst at the same time the working population that will have to support these dependents will halve. The geostrategic country in the whole area is Turkiye just like it was in the Ottoman empire. 
Guest - DavidSassoon
2010-09-25 14:06:35
 How ironic? Two countries with a record of denial, trying to outdo each other. 
Guest - jonathan
2010-09-25 13:14:04
 I think the time has come for Israel to take a complete break from Turkey - diplomatically, economically and militarily. There is only so much that can be taken, whilst still trying to restore the frosty relationship. Turkish leaders are getting way ahead of themselves, playing to Iran, Europe and the US, whilst promoting themselves as peace keepers in the Middle East. The show must start coming to an end... 
2010-09-25 13:02:45
 Turkish impressive history! Please give me a break 
Guest - James
2010-09-25 12:45:53
 President Gul might be soft spoken but along with Erdogan he is pulling Turkey into the extreme islamist anti-democratic camp. The AKP has no interest in letting the Mamara affair blow over. Asking Israel to apologise for the events before meeting Peres, was designed to prevent a meeting with him. Israel has said many times that there will be no apology for Israel's having defended itself from the extremists of the IHH, sponsored by the AKP. Insisting that Israel apologise is a ploy to avoid any chance of a reconcilitation. The AKP want the opposite to happen, and is most likely cooking up the next stunt to this end. The problem for Turkey in this is that the AKP will ruin its standing in the world, bring its own dubious record on human rights into the limelight and keep itself in the critical spotlight it has trained on Israel. Turkey is now being increasingly seen as an extremist country that can never become part of the EU. 
Guest - allen
2010-09-25 08:22:12
 President Abdulla Gul was scheduled to meet with Shimon Peress, but in his meeting with Ahmadinejad, The President of The Islamic Republic and The Midle East, did not give him permition for that... 
Guest - bob
2010-09-25 00:53:33
 whenever muslims say both sides are at fault than it means that only they are at fault. "both sides need to move beyond requesting apologies" israel never requested an apology from turkey. "which side is requesting and which side is rejecting the meeting game or fight occurred once more to collapse the potential meeting" its always turkey that doesnt want to meet after davos instead of erdogan saying he is sorry for being rude to a 80 smtng year old, peres called him and said he was sorry (not clear for what) and still turkey attacked israel and israeli officials personally ever since. so its not both. its turkey ruining the relationship.

No comments: