“Greater Syria” and “Turkey’s slide toward Syria and Iran” by Rabinovich, Maoz, Moubayed et al.

Netanyahu must avert Turkey’s slide toward Syria and Iran
By Itamar Rabinovich
Haaretz

Hit TV series behind Israel-Turkey spat, The Valley of the Wolves, is a long-running ratings hit which has drawn criticism for being nationalistic and violent. Hit TV series behind Israel-Turkey spat, The Valley of the Wolves, is a long-running ratings hit which has drawn criticism for being nationalistic and violent.

Pay attention that he is sitting in a lower chair . . . that there is only an Israeli flag on the table and that we are not smiling, Ayalon told the media, which he had invited to the meeting. Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced a new Israeli diplomacy: diplomacy of national pride. The days of groveling are over, he said.“Pay attention that he is sitting in a lower chair . . . that there is only an Israeli flag on the table and that we are not smiling,” Ayalon told the media, which he had invited to the meeting. Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced a new Israeli diplomacy: diplomacy of national pride. The days of groveling are over, he said.

Now that the melodrama of insults and apologies has passed, the government of Israel should seriously tackle the challenge of its relations with Turkey – one of the most important elements of our national security. What’s needed is a departure from routines, and primarily the engagement of the prime minister in managing the crisis.

The strained relations between Ankara and Jerusalem affect the balance of power in the entire region. A decade ago, Turkey was an ally of the United States and maintained varied and extensive relations with Israel. In recent years, it has been sliding toward Syria and Iran and away from America, and has become a venomous critic of Israel. If it slides any further, Turkey could become part of an Iranian-Syrian-Turkish triangle that would be a key element in Middle Eastern politics – to the detriment of Washington, Israel and the moderate Arab states.

Turkey’s foreign and domestic policies have undergone a transformation in the wake of developments upon which outside forces, including Israel, have no influence. The end of the Cold War eliminated Ankara’s dependence on Washington as a shield against the Soviet Union, and the European Union’s de facto refusal to take Turkey in has weakened the part of the country that advocate a secular, modernist and pro-Western orientation. Most importantly, the Islamist party, which has gradually shed the moderate cloak it started out with, has been taking over the country’s power centers.

The secular parties are weak, while the military is paralyzed by a dilemma: Grabbing power in a military coup, as has occurred in the past, would finally slam the door on the European dreams harbored by the secular modernist camp the army represents. Meanwhile, the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been systematically wiping out the opposition’s remaining power centers. A similar pattern has emerged in relations with Israel: estrangement accompanied by calming rhetoric, followed by hostile rhetoric and actions. Turkey’s role as mediator between Israel and Syria served to cover up the course of these developments, but it has ended in a breakdown.

There is not much Israel can do under these circumstances. The sources that yielded the collaboration have for the most part dried up. The Soviet Union is no more and Turkey has joined the radical camp in the Arab world. The influence held by Washington and Europe has diminished. The main assets Israel still wields in its ties with Turkey are mutual economic and security interests, the need of the Turkish ruling party to take into account the opinion of the army and pro-Israeli elements, and the country’s goal of playing a central role in regional politics. The Turkish leadership realizes that to mediate between Syria and Israel, or to help the Palestinians, it must maintain a dialogue with Israel.

To take advantage of its assets, Israel has to make a concerted effort, managed by the top governmental echelon. A considerable part of the damage caused last week would have been averted if the prime minister had intervened earlier. He must ensure coordinated action and division of responsibilities. The embassy and consulates in Turkey must also be strengthened. Turkey is still a democratic country with a developed economy and infrastructure, and with which Israel should engage. Moreover, “Jewish diplomacy” – to which the Turks tend to ascribe great importance – should be put into effect. Having already made bitter enemies of the Greeks and the Armenians, they certainly don’t want to do the same with the Jewish people.

It is a difficult and complex task, whose fruits will not be immediately evident. The prime minister must place it high on his agenda.
[end]

Addendum: Yossi writes in the comment section:

Israel presents a big conundrum for the Europeans, who are torn between despise to its occupation policies, guilt, indifference and in times collusion with Israel against the Arabs, this is a very confusing mix. Aside from Germany always pulling an extra sub for Israel when asked to, the overall policy indeed seems to hover between indifferent and erratic. It seems that the same way European academics and businessmen boycott Israelis—without much fanfare or saying they are doing so—is the same way diplomats are tacitly supporting the critical Turkish stance towards Israel. Short of a major economic shift of powers—e.g., China stopping its underwriting of America—I have no idea where this all will lead to, probably nowhere anytime soon. Whatever aversion lefty academics and diplomats have against Israel, it seems to be countered by the right-wing/anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim politics that have taken hold of the continent

To the extent this will end up in some chilly atmosphere for Israel.. I personally don’t believe that a weaker Israel will be more moderate. It could turn more bitter and belligerent. This could turn really explosive.

I also don’t buy what Norman and Shai are saying: Israel is extremely unlikely to bow to any of the Turkish demands. It will not accept Turkish mediation, it will not lift the siege over Gaza, and it will not let the Turks visit Gaza or send aid. Israel will only lift the siege when the Americans say so. It doesn’t need Turkish mediation. It was only necessary when the Americans were unwilling to mediate themselves. Any politician who would accept Turkish mediation is sealing his fate in Israeli public opinion court as the Israelis are fuming at the Turks.

The Turks are playing with Israel, on the one hand they are extremely critical and allow for incitement against Israel on their media, on the other hand they continue to buy Israeli arms. This is sure to cause tensions within Israel between “pride” oriented politicians like Ayalon and perhaps long-term strategists who could be worried that the weapons will end up eventually in hostile hands, and the military complex who wouldn’t want to give up the opportunity to make a buck.

It’s been a long time since Israel had to deal with such nuisances, we’ve gotten used to applying a sledgehammer to any problem and the political system doesn’t really have the skill anymore to deal with delicate situations such as the current one poses. This is why Israel imploded with the theatrics of FM deputy Ayalon a few days ago. Such an incident could not have happened before the Bush years, when Israel got thoroughly intoxicated with power. Expect to see that only the following will be allowed to deal with the Turks going forward: Bibi, Barak, maybe Meridor, the top brass of the IDF. Lieberman and his cohorts will be kindly asked to continue their diplomatic forays into equatorial Africa and leave Turkey to the grownups.

The surface-to-air missiles armament of Hizballah is an interesting question. My guess is that Syria will not give them to the Hizb, and if they do, then Israel will bomb them, and nobody will say or do anything serious in response. On the other hand, if the Lebanese army got them from Russia, that would put Israel in a more complex situation.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan has sp0ken of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq as the “Şamgen area” or Greater Syria. (“Şam” is Cham in Turkish, which historically in Arabic/Turkish refers to both Damascus and ‘Greater Syria’): A couple of interesting articles on the reemergence of the Turkish “Damascus Province” (wilayat Dimashq) collected by Idaf – [Thanks Idaf for bringing this to our attention.]

Turkish-Israeli tension on the axis of the ‘Damascus Province’
Hurriyet

During an unexpected spring atmosphere in Istanbul in the middle of January, at the garden of Four Seasons Hotel in Bosphorus, Lebanese ministers and I, together with my colleagues, are having a conversation.

“You have arrived to cause a war between Turkey and Israel,” I joked. Lebanese officials are in laughter. They are happy, especially Prime Minister Saad Hariri who tells me that he had a multi-purpose visit and it was quite successful.

The pleased Lebanese guests are discussing the importance of Hariri’s visit to Turkey, which is the extremely critical first visit of the prime minister. Some are excited to be in Istanbul for the first time. The Lebanese agriculture minister, representing Hezbollah in the Cabinet, is asking “Which side of Istanbul are we on right now?”

I answered, “On the European side.”

He says: “The other side is Asia,” as tear drops appear in his eyes. “That side is the East,” the minister adds while staring at the district of Üsküdar. And I point my finger and say: “Yes. But Lebanon is across from it.”

I jokingly say to the Lebanese ministers: “Considering the point Turkey and Lebanon have reached; a kind of a triple-axis is emerging in the region.”

One of them adds, “Don’t forget to add Jordan,” in a way to approve my remarks. Jordan is another regional country which Turkey has recently lifted visa applications.

Yet another one is jumping into the conversation, “As Turkey has lifted visas, the Damascus Province has come out again.”

The Druze Transportation Minister Gazi Aridi, a member of Walid Janbulat’s party, is warning that the Lebanese media have not completely grasped the importance and value of the prime minister’s visit to Turkey. The Lebanese press today will be aware of the “situation,” just like the Turkish press, which also skipped Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks on Israel during a joint press conference he held with Hariri two days ago. So, the “arrogant reaction” Israel showed the other day will wake up Turkish media inevitably.

The Israeli press is already aware of the situation. On the front pages yesterday, Israeli newspapers fully concentrated on the tension that recently emerged with Turkey.

Following Erdoğan’s statement, the Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv, Ahmet Oğuz Çelikkol, was called back to the Foreign Ministry. Israeli Deputy Minister Danny Ayalon didn’t get the chance for a handshake with the Turkish ambassador, let him sit on a lower chair than his own and told the cameramen in Hebrew: “Pay attention that he is sitting in a lower chair … that there is only an Israeli flag on the table and that we are not smiling.”

I tried to explain in my article the other day that the “situation” that has emerged between Israel and Turkey is the result of the steps Turkey is taking beyond the “Middle East status quo.” The latest developments taking place in the last 24 hours, therefore, have confirmed my piece.

***

The rapprochement policy Turkey followed toward Syria has born the fruit of a lifting of visa restrictions. A total of 51 agreements were signed. Turkey also lifted visas against Jordan. As Hariri was visiting Turkey this time, relevant agreements were signed too.

One of the Lebanese ministers told me the other day that free entry will be enforced as of Thursday. He also stressed that the training and equipment of the Lebanese Army will be provided by Turkey and that electric and gas deals, which all are critically important for Lebanon, were signed.

All these confirm Turkey’s leadership in the Middle East and can be read that the country is taking a geopolitical position against Israel. All of the above countries, along with the Palestinian land today, were called the “Damascus Province” under the Ottoman dominion.

In fact, Erdoğan, in a private conversation with the Lebanese officials, made an irony and referred to the Schengen area in the European Union. I’ve learned that he said “We have the created Şamgen area;” “Şam” means Damascus in Turkish.

As Turkish-Israeli relations turn sour, Turkey has lifted the visas to all Arab countries neighboring Israel and a political-economic integration is being pursued.

This means being a “center of power” in the region.

But if you pay attention to Erdoğan’s remark on Israel the other day in the press conference with Hariri, you realize that Turkish Prime Minister said: “Israel says ‘I am the power of the region’ because there is an imbalance of opportunities. We never approve of this picture. We will continue to be with the aggrieved.”

Against a state that declares itself to be the power of the region just because of having more opportunities than the others, Turkey gathers the “aggrieved” around it, lifts visas, engages in serious economic ties and does all these by applying “soft power” only.

We should expect more reactions to come because Turkey and its prime minister have made serious moves against Israel and have caused debates both at in the region and outside it.

***

Discussions have already started in Israel. We see two tendencies in the Israeli government toward Turkey: The “anti-Turkey” camp is led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, famous for his racist approach toward the Palestinians. According to the Jewish daily Haaretz, Lieberman is looking for ways to dynamite the Likud Party leader and Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to Turkey next week.

Making an attempt to insult Turkey via its ambassador is interpreted as Lieberman’s plot to cause tension with Turkey.

The rightist Jerusalem Post backed up Lieberman and revealed the said “plot” the other day:

“The government removed the gloves on Monday in response to provocative actions and comments coming from Ankara, with the Foreign Ministry slamming Turkey as the last country that can preach morality, and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon calling in Turkey’s envoy for a dressing down in front of the cameras.”

“Israel’s message to Turkey is clear,” one diplomatic official said. “If you want a fight, we’ll fight.”

As Lieberman tries to block Barack Obama and Bejamin Ben-Elizer, both who are in favor of protecting relations with Turkey, President Benjamin Netanyahu is apparently trying to create a “problem” between Turkey and U.S. out of Turkish-Israeli tension.

Who is to lose in this Turkey-Israel row?

Whichever losing power in the region and in international arena, weakening and being isolated, it will lose.

Whichever keeps “internal balances” tight will win.

Turkey embraces role as Arab ‘big brother’
By Sami Moubayed

DAMASCUS – After the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in Ankara, many in the West referred to a new Turkish foreign policy called “neo-Ottomanism”, suggesting a revival of the intellectual, political and social influence of the Ottoman Empire, which departed the scene 92 years ago.

That policy was attributed to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his advisor, now foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. Quickly, however, the term “Ottomanism” began to fade, given that it was difficult to market in countries formerly controlled by

the Ottoman Empire due to continued indoctrination against Ottomanism by the Arabs over nine decades.

Some, however, continued to stand by the term, including Cuneyt Zapsu, an advisor to the Turkish prime minister, who said: “A new, positive role for Turkey in the world requires a reconciliation with its own past, the overcoming of societal taboos, and a positive new concept of Turkish identity. We are the Ottomans’ successors and should not be ashamed of this.”

Decision-makers in Turkey had once tried to hide their Ottoman past, ashamed of it during the heyday of Kemal Ataturk because it looked backward and was too Islamic for the secular state that was being carefully erected in Turkey. That is now a thing of the past thanks to the steady policy of the AKP, which has been opening up to countries such as Syria and, more recently, Lebanon.

Many wrongly interpreted Erdogan’s policy towards the Arab world, now entering its seventh year, as purely a Syrian-Turkish alliance. By nature of his new orientation, Erdogan is striving to restore Turkey to its rightful place amongst Arab and Muslim nations, and that by no means stops at the gates of Damascus. It is a policy that embraces Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

During the past few years, Turkey has sponsored indirect talks between Syria and Israel, tried to hammer out solutions between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine, and worked on mending broken fences between Damascus and Baghdad after relations soured last August.

Turkey has permanently stood as a mediator between Iran and the Arab world and has worked hard to help embrace non-state players like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas, whose leadership it received in Ankara in 2004, despite public outcry from the United States.

Additionally, it has tried to flex its muscle within the complex world of Iraqi politics, calling on Sunni leaders to take part in the political process that was started after the 2003 downfall of Saddam Hussein. Big brother Turkey, after all, had mediated in similar waters at the turn of the 20th century and apparently still knows the region, its people and their plight only too well, and still feels best suited to solve existing conflict within it.

This week, Erdogan received Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in a groundbreaking visit to Turkey, adding yet another link to the long chain of alliances that Erdogan is carefully creating for the Turkish republic.

Among other things, the two countries agreed to increase technical and scientific cooperation in military affairs and lift visa requirements between Lebanon and Turkey. At first glance, this will boost tourism and people-to-people contact between Beirut and Ankara.

According to official numbers, 50,794 Lebanese tourists went to Turkey in 2008 – an increase of 18,000 from 2007 and large when compared with the number, not more than a few hundred, of Turkish tourists who streamed into Beirut.

It will certainly affect bilateral trade, which stood at US$225 million in 2002 and now stands at $900 million. It also means that Turkey has now lifted visa requirements with six Arab countries, the others being Libya, Morocco, Tunis, Jordan and Syria.

Erdogan best explained it by saying that a “regional Schengen” system, similar to the agreement signed between European countries in Luxemburg in 1985, has now gone into effect in the region, removing systematic border control between these countries – making them closer to how they had been under the Ottoman Empire. When Iraq normalizes, he added, it, too, could join the regional “Schengen” system.

Clearly from all the optimism shown by Erdogan for the Hariri visit, cooperation between Turkey and Lebanon will not end there. The Turkish premier, after all, has visited Beirut twice, in 2007 and in 2008, and was the most senior foreign guest attending the inauguration of Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

During the Israeli war of 2006, he firmly stood by the Lebanese, and in its immediate aftermath, sent 600 Turkish troops to take part in peacekeeping on the Lebanese-Israeli border by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Erdogan saw to it that $50 million worth of aid was given to reconstruct southern Lebanon, along with building 41 schools, five parks and a rehabilitation center worth $20 million.

Politically, Lebanon and Turkey are now colleagues in rotating positions at the UN Security Council, and this is where real political cooperation will materialize in the months to come. Turkey’s heavyweight influence will come in handy as Lebanon tries to waiver Security Council resolution 1559, which called on the Syrians to withdraw from Lebanon and stipulates the disarmament of non-state players, including Hezbollah.

In as much as the Hariri team once called for implementing 1559 in 2005-2009, they would now prefer that it disappears, given that, far from being an adversary, Hezbollah is now a Hariri ally, strongly represented in both parliament and the Hariri cabinet.

The Lebanese government recently claimed that the resolution should be canceled, saying that all of its clauses had been fulfilled, noting that Hezbollah was a part of the Lebanese state and defense system and not merely a non-state player or a militia, as many in the West claim it to be.

That argument, which saves both Hezbollah and Hariri the burden of having to deal with 1559, was put forth last December by Hariri’s new Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami, an appointee of the Hezbollah-led team in the Hariri cabinet.

When speaking at a press conference with Erdogan, Hariri noted that not a single day passed where the Israeli Defense Forces did not infringe on Lebanese waters or airspace, claiming that this was a legal breach of UN resolution 1701, which was passed after the war of 2006.

Erdogan nodded, saying that Israel had breached “no less than 100” resolutions in recent years, adding: “This requires serious reforms at the United Nations. We do not support Israel’s position and will not remain silent.”

Having Turkey on Lebanon’s side will be a great boost for Hezbollah, which is preparing for a possible new round of confrontation with Israel in summer this year. From Ankara, Hariri came to Hezbollah’s defense, telling reporters, “Terrorism is not when one defends one’s land – the opposite is correct,” thus supporting Hezbollah’s war against Israel until the Sheba Farms are liberated from Israeli occupation.

This fits in nicely with the barrage of criticism that Erdogan has been firing against Israel for the past year, started in January 2009 when, speaking at Davos right after the Gaza war, he told Israeli President Shimon Peres: “President Peres, you are old, and your voice is loud out of a guilty conscience. When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill. I know well how you hit and kill children on beaches.”

Erdogan, in the weeks to come, will help further normalize Syrian-Lebanese relations, saying that he advised his “friend” President Bashar al-Assad to reciprocate Hariri’s visit by paying a visit of his own to Beirut. He will further work with Syria and Lebanon to see to it that Hezbollah is sheltered from another Israeli war, and try to pressure Israel to return to the negotiating table to lift the siege on Gaza and restore the occupied Golan Heights to Syria.

Best mirroring Erdogan’s new policy is that, despite the new and firm relationship with the Arabs, he has not wasted his country’s historical relationship with Israel. Although critical, his embassy remains open in Tel Aviv, and he is preparing to receive Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Ankara in late January.

Only by being able to talk to all parties will the Turks achieve the security and normalcy they aspire to in the Middle East. While Israel is not pleased with Erdogan’s new policy, claiming that he has clearly taken sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Arabs are thrilled that the Turkish giant has emerged and, unlike the case since 1918, is now clearly on their side in the battlefront.

He has reminded the Arabs that despite a very rough period in bilateral relations during World War I, the Ottoman legacy in the Arab world was not all bad, and not all autocratic. Why? Because by defending Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, Erdogan feels that he is also defending Turkey, seeing all four countries as one, given their geographic, historical, social, religious and cultural proximity.

Many of the finest buildings in Damascus and Beirut, after all, were constructed during the Ottoman era. So were many of the codes, laws of commerce and aspects of civil administration, which lasted well into the 20th century. The Ottoman influence on Arab language, heritage, music, heritage and cuisine, cannot be ignored, despite years of trying to write off anything Ottoman as being destructive to Arab culture.

Although the Ottomans struck with an iron fist at the Arabs working with Great Britain against them during the Great War, they also – very symbolically – refused to sell land in Ottoman Palestine to the Zionists during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II. It is that part of Ottoman history that Erdogan wants the Arabs to remember, not the hangman’s noose that was erected by the Ottoman governor of Syria, Jamal Pasha, in the central squares in Beirut and Damascus in 1915-1916.

When the republics were young in Lebanon, Turkey and Syria, Turkish and Arab nationalism stood in the way of a clear appreciation of history, leading to nothing but bad blood between Arabs and Turks. That era is now hopefully gone – never to return – thanks to the efforts of Erdogan, referred to, very symbolically, by Hariri as “Big Brother” during his Ankara visit.

Sami Moubayed is editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine in Syria.

Analysis: Assad’s new regional strategy creates fresh options
By Moshe Maoz in the Jerusalem Post, Jan 11, 2010

… Damascus is likely to use this new configuration to advance yet another crucial objective: to negotiate with Israel the return of the Golan Heights from a position of regional strategic advantage. Apart from seeking to renew indirect talks withIsrael under Turkish auspices, Syria can now use Saudi good offices in convincing Washington to mediate a peace deal between Damascus and Jerusalem, either bilaterally or within the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative. Concurrently, Assad can exploit Iran’s strategic umbrella and Hizbullah’s serious nuisance value to signal toIsrael that he has military options. While he would like to keep all these options open, he would certainly prefer the diplomatic track, in league with the United States and Sunni Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia.

As a precondition, Syria has to be assured that under a peace treaty with Israel it would retrieve the entire Golan Heights (and the Shaba Farms) and receive massive financial aid from the US and Saudi Arabia (and other Arab Gulf states)…..

However, Damascus will reject any precondition requiring it to sever its strategic-military alliance with Teheran, lest it abandon the regional maneuverability and strategic umbrella Iran affords it vis-à-visIsrael’s military advantage. For its part, Israel should insist that Syria erase from its bilateral military agreements with Iran the anti-Israel clauses and eliminate Hizbullah’s arsenal of missiles and rockets. In return, Israel should undertake to withdraw from the Golan Heights (and Shaba Farms) within the framework of a peace agreement modeled on the 1979 Egypt-Israel treaty, meaning demilitarization and effective supervision of the Golan Heights, diplomatic, economic and cultural relations with Syria and cessation of Syrian anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement. Israel should also initiate, with international funding, a regional water project designed to supply the crucial needs of both countries as well as of Jordan and the Palestinians.

It can be expected that the majority of Israeli Jews (now some 70 percent) will maintain their refusal to relinquish the Golan Heights even in return for peace with Syria. By contrast, the core of the Israeli military-security establishment is advocating the afore-mentioned deal with Syria, provided this helps reduce Iran’s and Hizbullah’s threats. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, despite his rhetoric, may also be inclined to pursue a peace agreement with Assad, if only to deflect US, Arab and international pressure to resolve the more complicated Palestinian problem….

Turkey and Israel: Quo vadis?
SUAT KINIKLIOĞLU in Zaman

Despite some Israeli and American efforts to paint Turkey’s objections to Israeli policies as “anti-Semitic,” people in the business understand very well where Turkey is coming from. They equally recognize that disagreements between Turkey and Israel are likely to continue provided there is no recognizable change in issues such as improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the complete and immediate freezing of settlements and the overall posture of Israel toward the peace process — if one can still talk about such a process.

I remember vividly the days when the US was criticizing Turkey for engaging with Syria at a time when Washington and the Europeans were trying to isolate Syria. Today we see a full reversal of US and European policies on Syria. These actors now recognize that engaging with Syria is the right course of action. Then, Turkey’s views on the Middle East were shunned and disregarded — in my view, primarily due to the inability to make the mental shift about Turkey and its new posture. The Americans began to revise their position in 2007 and recognized that Turkey is a regional power and no longer the satellite state of the Cold War years. They understood that Turkey needed to be treated accordingly. It took quite a bit of time and effort to facilitate that mental shift, but US President Barack Obama’s early visit to Turkey was a confirmation of that perception vis-à-vis Turkey.

The Europeans still have a hard time making the mental shift concerning Turkey, which is why our relations remain fragile. Israel appears to be in the same position. They also do not seem to have fully accepted that Turkey has changed — as Americans came to notice on March 1, 2003 — and that Turkey’s re-entry into the Middle East is permanent. Israel appears to be yearning for the golden 1990s, which were the product of a very specific structural situation in the region. Those days are over and are unlikely to come back even if the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) ends up no longer being in government. The natural uniting and bonding in Turkey over the Ayalon affair should be an eye-opener for those who believe that all would be dandy if only the AK Party would fall from power. Friends and foes better treat our ambassadors accordingly. Clumsy efforts to humiliate a Turkish ambassador should never be part of Israeli domestic political calculations.

Our neighborhood policy seeks to reintegrate Turkey into its immediate neighborhood, including the Middle East. Turkey is a member of the G-20, a member of the UN Security Council, negotiating with the European Union and increasingly influential in various regions. Turkey will continue to advocate a new inclusive order in the region and will seek diplomatic means to further this agenda. As is confirmed consistently by public opinion polls, our people and government have great sensitivity to the plight of the Palestinians. Unless there is visible change addressing the humanitarian situation in Gaza and a more constructive position is adopted in relation to making peace with Syria, it is highly unlikely that the quality of the bilateral relationship will improve. The first step to take in the right direction is to recognize the new regional setting and Turkey’s interests in the region. For that to happen, it is necessary to make the necessary mental shift about Turkey.

Why Israel humiliated Turkey in response to a TV show
By Yigal Schleifer, Christian Science Monitor / January 12, 2010

Comments (27)


 

2. Akbar Palace said:

Looks like the Israel/Turkey relationship is, again, on the mind of the owners here.

Today’s topic:

Netanyahu must avert Turkey’s slide toward Syria and Iran

By Itamar Rabinovich

Comment by ME observer, Akbar Palace:

I disagree with Itamar Rabinovivh. There is nothing Israel can do to “avert Turkey’s slide toward Syria and Iran”. Turkey’s decision to embrace Islam has more to do with world and ME politics than with Israel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_and_Development_Party_(Turkey)

If we want to “avert Turkey’s slide toward Syria and Iran”, I suggest we vote Obama out of office and get someone in office who is fully prepared to confront Iran and terrorism.

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January 19th, 2010, 12:10 pm

 
 

4. idaf said:

Amir,

While it is admirable that these volunteers (are they?) are doing their humanitarian duty, on the other hand on the political level, it seems that the Haiti earthquake is seen as godsend for Israel.

A badly needed PR opportunity, and Israel is leveraging it very well.

Iran and many others are providing similar or better aid but no one hears about them. If you watch CNN or other venues, you would notice that the Israeli PR machine is in full throttle. After an hour of coverage on CNN on the Haiti crisis, one would assume that the Israelis are rebuilding the island on their own. Interviews with Bill Clinton visiting the Israeli hospital, interviews with recipients of aid from the Israel. AIPAC members (and supporters) pushing the story everywhere.

One wonders why the Iranian for example are not utilizing their aid for PR despite the fact that -as with Israel- they badly need it: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=116527&sectionid=351020101

Israel has too many victims requiring relief sitting in grief just by its borders (and effectively within its borders). Israel does not even allow others’ humanitarian aid to pass through its check points to reach these victims. Personally, I find the Israeli PR drive on Haiti, exploiting the grief of these people for PR, is obnoxious if seen within the context of the incredible number of disaster and war victims created by Israel.

While we are at it, this is an interesting story:
Pennies for Haiti, Billions for Israel, Egypt (CBS)
http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/01/16/blogs/coopscorner/entry6102995.shtml

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January 19th, 2010, 12:41 pm

 

5. Ghat Albird said:

1. AMIR IN TEL AVIV said:

IDF’s field hospital in Haiti.

and

AKBAR PALACE said:

MLK & Israel:

with a link to john lewis congressman from Georgia and the one supported and financed by groups that wanted Congresswoman Cynthia McKinick defeated for her views on the Palestenian/Israeli issue.

It may be time to remind several of the contributors to SC the actions of a year or so ago what the IDF did to over 1600 Palestenian men, women and children in Gaza.

Rumors are that the IDf wanted to use the Snoopy Blimp {used to cover football games and golf] to fly over with the Israeli emblem but were told that would conflict with planes landing & taking- off from Haiti’s main airport.

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January 19th, 2010, 1:43 pm

 

6. why-discuss said:

“It is Israel who must show remorse…. If they cannot see themselves in the mirror, we know how to hold the mirror to their face,” he said.

Turkish movie sparks Israeli fury

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100116/wl_mideast_afp/mideastturkeyisraeldiplomacyentertainment

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January 19th, 2010, 1:52 pm

 

7. Akbar Palace said:

Movies & Mayhem

Why-Discuss,

The entertainment industry is a great way to make people feel better. Whether it is an American Superhero who defeats a suicidal Arab terrorist (there must be hundreds of such movies), or a Muslim Superhero who defeats a “conspiring”/murderous Israeli Jew (I’ll guess that there are hundreds of such movies as well), in the end we still have the real regional tension.

Maybe Israel should create some movies with a “Turkish” theme.

And if Turkey wants to make an issue over Israeli “crimes”, I am sure Israel can do a fine job defending herself in both the legal courts and the court of public opinion. Israel can detail the reasons for the attack on Gaza, as well as focus on Turkey’s own military adventures in their “neck of the woods”.

http://townhall.com/cartoons/cartoonist/MichaelRamirez/2010/01/6

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January 19th, 2010, 2:19 pm

 

8. majedkhaldoun said:

There is something common between Lee Harvey Oswald and akpar palace, they both hate the president of their time.
A.P. said ” I suggest we vote Obama out of office “

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January 19th, 2010, 2:35 pm

 

9. Ghat Albird said:

The former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who in an interview with a CBS reporter stated ” even if it takes the killing of 300,000 Iraqi children due to the sanctions and embarges put in place by the US getting rid of Saddam Hussein is worth it.”

MS. ALBRIGHT IS AT PRESENT WORKING TO EXPAND NATO’S MEMBERSHIP FROM 28 TO 29 WITH THE ADDITION OF ISRAEL.

Several European web-sites have reported that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is pressuring its 28 member states and dozens of partnership affiliates on five continents to contribute more troops for the war in Afghanistan.

The Jerusalem Post reported on January 13 that “Israel is launching a diplomatic initiative in an effort to influence the outcome of NATO’s new Strategic Concept which is currently under review by a team of experts led by former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.”

The recent German/Israeli cabinet members meeting in Berlin may have been the ice breaker in getting Israel to become NATO’s 29th. member. It looks very much that a re-alignment in the region is under way given the recent friction between Israel and Turkey. And the rejection by China and Russia of any new sanctions against Iran.

Could it be that the proverbial worm is turning?

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January 19th, 2010, 3:07 pm

 

10. Akbar Palace said:

Ghat,

Thanks for the Madeline Albright “quote”. Below is the real quote along with Madeline Albright’s clarification. A few things to note, no American embargo included food or medical supplies/medicines. Moreover, the Iraqi sanctions were voted in and enforced by the UNSC.

If any children died in Iraqi hospitals, it is solely due to Saddam Hussein and his government preventing these children from receiving what they needed.

I understand that “heroes” like Saddam Hussein are always held without guilt or responsibility by the pro-jihadists. This is a Given. I wonder if Assad would ever do the same thing Saddam did. I doubt it.

http://www.fff.org/comment/com0311c.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_sanctions

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January 19th, 2010, 3:30 pm

 

11. Observer said:

Hahaha….it is enough to see this behaviour of an Israeli “diplomat” to understand how troubled Israel has become. Expect more and more of this as the geopolitical situation is putting Israel in an unprecedented isolation….oh wait a minute, they Have Husny Mubarak…dont they!!! Hahaha

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January 19th, 2010, 4:53 pm

 

12. Nour said:

This is “Israel”. The dam mentioned in the article was built by the “Israelis” precisely to keep water from naturally flowing into Gaza, thereby denying the reservoir there one of its sources of water.
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=116482&sectionid=351020202

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January 19th, 2010, 4:57 pm

 

13. Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

Ghat,

I understand that “heroes” like Saddam Hussein are always held without guilt or responsibility by the pro-jihadists.

Speaking of “heroes” like Saddam Hussein….whats the latest on Ariel Sharon AP?
Is he still in coma? And speaking of children check out:-

The Impact of the Conflict
on Children

124 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,441 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/about_us/

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January 19th, 2010, 5:13 pm

 

14. Akbar Palace said:

124 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,441 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.

Ghat,

From your comment above, what are you suggesting?

IMO, If Hamas would stop firing rockets and mortars into Israel, none of these children would be dead. Further, judging from Hamas’s words and deeds, it doesn’t seem they do enough to protect their kids from harm.

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/pictures/PalestinianChildAbuse/

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January 19th, 2010, 6:13 pm

 

15. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Akbar,

The extensive, not to say ecstatic coverage of the Turkish-Israeli
quarrel in this blog, comes from a deep concern of the owners of this blog
for the well being of Israel. I’m touched.

IDAF,

What you say (in summery) is that Israel created the Haitian earth quake
in order to gain good PR.
I cannot comment on that.

“NOUR”

( I noticed that you like scare quotes. Here, take 2 sets more,
for free “”,”” ).
The link you brought from PressTV argues that Israel created the fludings
in S. Israel and Gaza: “…The locals say Israel intentionally caused the floods, the Press TV correspondent said.”
I cannot comment on that.
.

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January 19th, 2010, 6:37 pm

 

16. Akbar Palace said:

Middle East “Drama Queen” Central

Amir in Tel Aviv states:

The extensive, not to say ecstatic coverage of the Turkish-Israeli quarrel in this blog, comes from a deep concern of the owners of this blog for the well being of Israel. I’m touched.

Amir in Tel Aviv,

I think the “extensive” coverage of the Turkish-Israel quarrel is because some (like Observer stated above) believe this is an issue that will unduly pressure Israel in some way:

Expect more and more of this as the geopolitical situation is putting Israel in an unprecedented isolation….

Hundreds of little “mini-crises” come and go with respect to Israel, and the anti-Israel Arabs and their spokespeople (hint) only watch to see Israel become stronger, richer, and more self-sufficient.

I always get a kick watching this sort of “Kabuki Theatre”.

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January 19th, 2010, 7:11 pm

 

17. Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

124 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,441 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.

Ghat,

From your comment above, what are you suggesting?

AP.

READ HEAdLINE/COMMENTARY IN HAARETZ DATED. Shval 4, 5770/Jan, 19, 2010

Israel’s compassion in Haiti can’t hide our ugly face in Gaza

By Akiva Eldar

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January 19th, 2010, 7:29 pm

 

18. Nour said:

I am sure if “Israel” wasn’t occupying Palestinian land, besieging and starving Palestinians, killing and maiming civilians, uprooting trees and orchards, demolishing homes, etc., then the Palestinians would have no reason to resort to Resistance to defend themselves.

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January 19th, 2010, 7:45 pm

 

19. Akbar Palace said:

Ghat,

Akiva Eldar’s article was rather long and boring, however, this still doesn’t tell me what you are suggesting by reporting death statistics in the Gaza conflict. I sort of asked for YOUR input, not Mr. Eldar’s.

FYI, Eldar is another one of the handful of Israeli leftist journalists that the leftist newspaper Ha’aretz (and the Arab world) depends on:

Eldar wrote that “he is on a mission” and cannot write about the Israeli-Arab conflict in an objective and neutral manner.[2]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akiva_Eldar

BTW – Ha’aretz’s circulation would be a lot higher if it steered a little more away from the rich, elite, leftist crowd. But, hey, what do I know…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_in_Israel

Nour said:

I am sure if “Israel” wasn’t occupying Palestinian land, besieging and starving Palestinians, killing and maiming civilians, uprooting trees and orchards, demolishing homes, etc., then the Palestinians would have no reason to resort to Resistance to defend themselves.

Nour,

I believed the same thing as you, until I read a history of the conflict. My studies show there was PLENTY of resistance BEFORE the “occupation”.

Do you have another, more believable excuse?

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January 19th, 2010, 7:49 pm

 

20. offended said:

Serving time doing ‘community service’ around the world to cover up for war crimes isn’t enough. Sorry, Israel, but we’ll have to see you all at the Hague.

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January 19th, 2010, 10:25 pm

 

21. offended said:

Now, listen up, ‘Amir’ and co, this is how humanity works:

“Palestinians in Gaza donate to Haiti:

It might be one of the world’s poorest areas, besieged by its neighbour Israel, but Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have been donating what little they have to help those struck by the earthquake in Haiti.

Among the donations collected by a Red Cross representative: toys, toiletries and sweets – small luxuries that Gazans know only too well can brighten spirits in the face of devastation. Some also gave money.

Dr Jamal Khudari, from the Palestinian Committee against the Siege said: “It’s a symbolic donation for the people of Haiti, for the children of Haiti, to tell them that we feel the suffering.”

There are ruins in the Gaza Strip reminiscent of the scenes in Haiti. These were not caused by a natural disaster, but by bombs and shells in Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza, which drew to a close a year ago. Israel blamed attacks by militants for sparking the offensive.

The reason for the destruction might be different, but Palestinians say they understand Haiti’s pain.”

http://www.euronews.net/2010/01/18/earthquake-in-haiti-palestinians-in-gaza-donate-to-haiti/

Amazing human solidarity shown by the residents of Gaza.

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January 19th, 2010, 10:30 pm

 

22. Nour said:

Akbar,

Your propaganda is hillarious. And your attempt to compare your thought–prior to “enlightenment”–to mine is truly comedic. But nothing can change the face of your racist, cancerous entity. Nothing can erase the reality that “Israel” was founded on the blood and bones of innocent Palestinians, your propagandistic so-called “historical” sources notwithstanding. The fact remains that Jews were shipped from all over the world (mostly Europe) to a land they had never seen in order to establish a state exclusively for themselves at the expense of the indigenous inhabitants. Since then, your cancerous, criminal entity has pursued a continuous, consistent policy of terrorizing a civilian population into capitulation and submission. But your biggest frustration is that this population you are attempting to subjugate will neither capitulate nor submit; and that’s what really worries the leaders of your terror state.

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January 20th, 2010, 1:04 am

 

23. Akbar Palace said:

The reason for the destruction might be different, but Palestinians say they understand Haiti’s pain.

Offended,

Do you think the Palestinians also understand Haiti’s vote to partition Palestine? Do you think the Haitians understand why Hamas still does not?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_General_Assembly_Resolution_181

Nour,

It’s the 21 Century. Time to play “Catch-Up”.

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January 20th, 2010, 1:22 am

 

24. offended said:

Akbar

“Do you think the Palestinians also understand Haiti’s vote to partition Palestine?”

Why don’t you go to Gaza and ask them?

Although due to Israeli barbaric siege, inhumane treatment, and blockade; Palestinian students are not able to study history. So they probably do not know about the partition vote. And even if they knew, they are smart enough (believe it or not) to distinguish between the poor people of Haiti and the successive puppets who ruled that country and reported to the white house.

They’re also not aware that the united states robbed Haiti of 40% of its national revenue for 32 years, if they were, they’d be more sympathetic with Haitians.

But even without knowing all that, they still demonstrate great humanity towards Haitians. You and Amir could learn a thing or two from them.

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January 20th, 2010, 7:36 am

 

25. Shai said:

Akbar,

“Do you think the Palestinians also understand Haiti’s vote to partition Palestine?”

You know, although belatedly, I read that comment you wrote and I think I finally realize what it is that you’re trying to do on SC. You’re trying to embarrass the Arabs (the Palestinians in particular), to depict them as hypocrites. You’re trying to make the Arab side feel very uncomfortable, whenever you can, with the hope that they might reconsider criticizing Israel.

You’re not trying to bridge any gaps, you’re just here as some “ME Observer”, who reports to us on every Wikipedia link you can find. You don’t want to discuss, you want to argue. You want to plant anger and conflict, not resolve anything. You think that way people would respect you or your opinions… somehow.

But I promise you, that amongst the people who will solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, you will not find a single person like you. Not a single person who will be there with Wiki-mirrors, who’ll be the “party-spoiler”. Not one who’ll search, and find, reasons NOT to trust the other side, regardless of History. Not a single person who’ll accept his interpretation of reality as the only legitimate interpretation, and disregard the other side’s as one.

In that fine and intricate House of Mirrors you’ve been creating for us here on SC, you should occasionally also go in and have a look.

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January 22nd, 2010, 5:53 am

 

26. Akbar Palace said:

But even without knowing all that, they still demonstrate great humanity towards Haitians. You and Amir could learn a thing or two from them.

Offended,

I think the article below sums up my feeling on the subject.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1144179.html

You’re not trying to bridge any gaps…

Shai,

How are you or anyotne else on this website “bridging gaps”?

You’re trying to embarrass the Arabs (the Palestinians in particular), to depict them as hypocrites. You’re trying to make the Arab side feel very uncomfortable, whenever you can, with the hope that they might reconsider criticizing Israel.

Shai,

Actually I usually respond to facts presented here that are misleading (like Professor Josh’s 2 sentence explaination of why Israel conducted the 6 Day War) or downright false. If my response countering these facts embarrass anyone, that’s too bad.

I’m not here to change anyone’s mind or “bridge gaps”. All of our minds have been made up. Restating my position, I recognize a Palestinian AND a Jewish Nation, because that is how they define themselves. I recognize that each of these nations have a right to a state of their own, with negotiated borders and international relations.

I’m sorry if that sounds too extreme for you. I know you feel more comfortable with anti-Zionists.

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January 22nd, 2010, 1:38 pm

 

27. Yossi said:

Akbar,

Reading the Bradley Burston piece in Haaretz I think that he’s missing one other option: maybe Israel is not the murderous psychopath who wants to gain good reputation by mowing the old lady’s lawn, nor is it the angelic boy scout that is always ready to help. A third option (and there are more) is that it is like a murderous psychopath who helps the old lady mow the lawn not because he wants to score brownie points but because maybe he likes the old lady, or maybe it lets him feel good about himself. After all nobody is pure evil. But he’s still a murderous psychopath, even if he’s capable of a good deed. Maybe Israel is like Fritzl who was only evil towards his captive relatives but normative towards the rest of the world.

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January 23rd, 2010, 4:17 am

 

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