Well, it’s not over yet, relations between Israel and Turkey are still prickly. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon refused to shake the hand of Turkish envoy, Ambassador Ahmed Oguz Celikkol and made him sit on a sofa, lower than his seat, during a meeting in Jerusalem this week. Also, there was no Turkish flag on display at the meeting.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to criticize Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians – as this month violence has continued between Hamas, the IDF and Israeli border police.
Ayalon on Monday, summoned the Turkish ambassador to criticize a television drama in Turkey which depicts Israeli security forces as kidnapping children and shooting old men. This is the second such drama in Turkey broadcasting in two years.
The Turkish response came on Tuesday when their Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on Israel
“to abide by diplomatic courtesy and respect.”
The statement stated,
“Turkey is expecting steps to repair the treatment of our ambassador in Tel Aviv.”
The relationship between Jews, the Jewish State and Turks is complicated. While Zionist pioneers fought alongside the English in the fight for control of Palestine between the British Empire and the Ottoman Empire, during World War I; many years ago Turkey were the ones to embrace Jews exiled by the Spanish Inquisition, and there have remained Jews in Turkey, successful and free, ever since. So we should be cautious before labeling Turks as anti-Semites.
Turkey and Israel grew close in the mid-1990s, basing their alliance on mutual fears of Iran and Syria. Israel has supplied hundreds of millions of dollars of military hardware to Turkey over the years. Furthermore the two countries conduct joint naval exercises and the Israeli air force trains over Turkish airspace.
When Turkey scrapped a military exercise involving Israel last year, the feud began to get ugly.
Since Erdogan’s government came to power in 2003, Turkey has forged closer ties to Iran and Hamas. Turkey believes Hamas must play a key role in the Palestinian territories – One Jerusalem strongly disagrees.
Erdogan said in Ankara, at a joint press conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri:
“We can never remain silent in the face of Israel’s attitude. … It has disproportionate power and it is using that at will, while refusing to abide by U.N. resolutions.”
Ayalon responded that,
“The Turks should be the last to preach morality.”
He was alluding to Turkey’s past conduct against Armenians, Kurds and Greek Cypriots.
A tunnel in Jerusalem’s Old City, near Jaffa Gate, has flyers posted on its wall, depicting the Turkish genocide of Armenian’s in the beginning of the last century. The tunnel is near an Armenian restaurant.
But the Turks maintain that they have the right:
“Deep-rooted relations between Turks and Jews that precede the establishment of the Israeli state and the general structure of our relations give us the responsibility to make such warnings and criticism.”
Cabinet Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer
of the Labor Party, concerned about relations between the two countries apologized, calling Ayalon’s conduct, “uncalled for” and “humiliating.”
Speaking to Army Radio, Ayalon refuted that
“It’s the Turks who need to apologize.”