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Are Turkey and Israel Kissing Cousins Again?

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been strained to the breaking point, ever since nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara tried to run Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, and were killed by Israeli naval commandos in May of last year. In the years preceding this incident, relations between the two countries were relatively good, including strategic cooperation, tourism, economic cooperation, and the like. But since the Mavi Marmara affair, any attempt at rapprochement by Israel was met with; “apologize first,” by Prime Minister Erdogan.

In light of this recent and contentious history, rumors that Turkey may be willing to help mediate the prisoner exchange by which IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, now being held by Hamas militants, would be released, seemed too good to be true. Why, in the face of such strong positions taken by Turkey, would Prime Minister Erdogan even consider helping Israel secure the release of her soldier, Gilad Shalit?

The answer may well be the “Arab Spring,” or more specifically the “Syrian Spring.” The turmoil in the Arab world is plain to see, and is most vividly brought home by the relentless killing of demonstrators in both Libya and Syria. Particularly in Syria, the killing spree by the government seems to know no bounds, and is affecting Turkey directly by the swell of refugees crossing over the border.

There is little doubt that Turkish attitudes have changed, as the current harsh realities of the Arab street are factored in. And in fact, as Turkey searches for some measure of stability in the region, is it a wonder that she may look to Israeli in that regard? The ups and downs of Israeli/Turkish relations may well pale by comparison, as compared to the existential threats posed by the “Syrian Spring,” with its widespread and far reaching implications for the region as a whole. In short, a strategic partnership with Israel may be a bitter pill to swallow, but may also be the right medicine at the right time.

Rumors have it that we will soon see: the appointment of new ambassadors to Tel Aviv and Ankara, a renewal of a strategic partnership between the two countries, an Israeli apology for last year’s flotilla fiasco, and official confirmation of the Turkish mediation efforts in the Shalit affair. Much of the progress in this regard has been fostered and encouraged by President Obama and his administration, which is trying to bridge the divide between Washington and Ankara, and which sees a rapprochement between Israel and Turkey as indispensable in this regard.

If it is true that the “Syrian Spring” has played a significant role in bringing Turkey and Israel closer together, then this has widespread implications for the region as a whole. There is no doubt that the history of the Middle East is replete with enmity between Israel and much of the Arab world. Rightly or wrongly, and I believe wrongly, Israel and the U.S. have been blamed for much that has gone wrong in that troubled region.

However, the “Arab Spring” may have ushered in a new day, a turning point of sorts. Whereas in the past, Israel and the U.S. have served as convenient scapegoats, as a way of diverting attention away from the inadequacy of corrupt and oppressive leadership, today, in light of new realities on the Arab street, Israel and the U.S. may better serve as friends in need, as partners who may be of help in averting existential threats, and helping to usher in a new age in the Middle East, based on a Vision of Hope for the region, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom.

It would be quite ironic indeed if all this came to pass, but no less ironic than some of the other craziness that takes place on a daily basis in this mysterious place we call the Middle East.

Please visit us, with your comments, at http://www.sellingavisionofhope.org/

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Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 14, 2011 at 9:57pm
Change Is Called For On Many Fronts
written by Nissim Dahan, September 14, 2011

There is no question that change is called for in Palestinian society.

The education system teaches hate.

The media is skewed heavily in favor of confrontation.

And since Palestinians have come to depend on foreign assistance, to a greater extent then almost anywhere else, there is a need to create jobs, and to wean workers from public assitance.

To a great extent, these negative developments where not simply initiated and sustained by only Palestinians, but have been fostered by various Arab nations who wishes to keep Palestinians in a refugee status for their own political purposes. It was more convenient to use Israel as a scapegoat than a partner.

I would argue, however, that Arabs are very entrepreneurial and industrious, under the right conditions.

Trade and commerce has been an integral part of Arab culture over the centuries.

What needs to happen is not all that complicated: you help Palestinians to create jobs, even in crazy places like Gaza, and as you do, you cut public assistance, and transform the welfare economy into a business economy. As you do this, you reform the education system. You neutralize the hate in the media and in the mosques, with good paying jobs, and personal freedoms.

It is a change that could take generations. But there is a small window of opportunity to make something happen along these lines, or at least to start the process.

Egypt today is a mess. But the Egypt that my wife was born into was different. Jews ran some very successful businesses there, including my father-in-law. We can bring that back. It's not fantasy land. It's the right answer for our time, before we see things falling apart even more, and Israel finding herself totally isolated in a very hostile neighborhood.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 14, 2011 at 9:56pm
WHEN
written by GABE1, September 13, 2011

I remember in 1972 when unemployment Insurance went into effect in Canada (an affluent country) and most factories emptied of workers and unemployment lines swelled until a modification was inserted.

The Palestinians have been on the DOLE for 63 years without any demands for jobs whether under the Jordanians, Egyptians or Israelis. In fact jobs would be a hindrance to them and not a help or panacea.

Lets please wake up to reality. Arabs are not particularly enterpreneurial or industrious. Just visit Egypt or Jordan or any of the Gulf States and you will get the gist.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 14, 2011 at 9:55pm
Think Again
written by Nissim Dahan, September 11, 2011

Money and Jobs may not be a panacea, but they're pretty damn important.

You don't have to look far.

The U.S. needs to create jobs, and to grow her economy, and things are looking pretty bleak if we don't come up with an answer soon.

The Middle East is not outer space. People of the region are not strange aliens. They need jobs like everyone else, and there is an opportunity to deliver on that and to change the landscape of the place.

As you suggest, morality is important as well. And I don't ignore that, as I appeal on a morality based on common sense values. However, your efforts to teach morality are directly related to your ability to improve lives. Case in point: The extremists themselves. They can preach their nonsense on the one hand, because they work to improve lives on the other, with charitable handouts.

If we help to create jobs, people may listen more to what we have to say.

And yes, we can perceive something wrongly, and develope a belief system around it.

But on the other hand, we could perceive something correctly, even against what others say, and foster a sense of belief in a new way of thinking, and begin to create facts on the ground which speak louder than words, and which point to the possibility of a new day.

I am not sure if I perceive things correctly. You are certainly convinced that I'm wrong. But I'm not so sure. My common sense tells me that there is an opportunity here to move forward. It won't be easy, and we will stumble along the way, and there will be those who trip us at every step. But there is a chance to make something happen, not because people love one another, God forbid, or because they want peace, or because they want a better world for the kids. No, none of that nonsense.

There's a chance to move forward because people are beginning to worry about the same sorts of things, and may actually need one another, for a chance, to make things better.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 14, 2011 at 9:55pm
SNAKE POIL
written by GABE1, September 11, 2011

are you aware that even Snake Oil, when packaged attractively works to relieve some symptoms.

The medical profession calls it a "placebo" and the resultant medical cures "the placebo effect"

Funny how the human minds works when one perceives something for what it is not and has a strong belief system in it.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 14, 2011 at 9:54pm
WIGGLE, WIGGLE ,WIGGLE
written by GABE1, September 11, 2011

the basic point in all that wrapping is simple.

MONEY AND JOBS are not the panacea and Turkey proves it, Saudi Arabia proves it.

MORALITY ,lacking in the Arab world, is the culprit and that is what YOUneed to work on. A vision of hope only works if one is blind and willing to appease.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 14, 2011 at 9:53pm
Fair Enough
written by Nissim Dahan, September 10, 2011

Gabe, let's say you're out on the trail selling a new pill on the market.

For some, your pill may represent a cure to what ails them.

To others, your pill may be a bitter pill to swallow.

And yet to others, your pill may be a death pill.

I am selling something that is not so palatable to certain players.

Afterall, I'm asking them to give up some of the beliefs they hold dear.

I'm asking them to invest in one another, when they wouldn't ordinarily do so.

I'm asking them to trash the models that have worked well for them in the past. like demonizing Israel as a way of diverting attention from internal political probems.

However, having said all that, it is possible that under the right circumstances, the pill you have to sell will appeal to some, who come to realize that there is no alernative.

Turkey is not Arab. Saudi Arabia, however, may see the writing on the wall, in the faces of Mubarak and Gadaffi, and may conclude that revitalizing the region with good paying jobs is in their interest, and that Israel may prove indispensable in this regard.

Turkey is playing a different game. She enjoys a strong economy. The president is playing to his base, and in an effort to extend Turkey's influence, he has concluded that using Israel as a convenient enemy is preferable to partnering with the Jewish state.

Fine. But that does not rule out that others in the region may come to different conclusions, and that when they do, Turkey may have no alternative but to reconsider her strategy.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 14, 2011 at 9:52pm
I WOULD HAVE
written by GABE1, September 09, 2011

I would have assumed that the whole Turkey fiasco would have shown that your vision is nothing but an empty shell and unsupportable in fact and reality.

Turkey is quite prosperous and has been an Israel ally for many years. The economies of Turkey-Israel are very rewarding for both as is the military sphere and the tourist trade.

So what happened and why is Turkey acting so extreme against Israel. Their human record is quite abysmal against Christians, Jews and Kurds. So how would your theory apply to bring Turkey back into sanity.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 9, 2011 at 10:51pm
No to Appeasement, but yes to Competition
written by Nissim Dahan, September 09, 2011

As I've said before, I am not a strong believer in appeasement. Nor do I subscribe to the notion that we can buy our way out of this mess.

There are times, and this is one of them when you have to be willing to confront your enemy head on. He will not be appeased, and he will not be bought off.

The question still remains, however: How do you be confront and defeat you enemy. Is the military appraoch, even though it is necessary, the only way to go? Or is there something else that could help us in this regard.

That's where a Vision of Hope comes to play. What we need, in my opionion, is to put in place a model that competes aggressively with the extremist agenda. If you build a Green Industrial Zone in a crazy place like Gaza, you put forth a model that envions Jews and Arabs working together, in common purpose, to support themselves economically, to tackle some of the environmental threats, and to weaken the allure of extremist thinking.

If an Arab looks at the table and sees only extremism then that's what he's going to buy into, because that's all there is.

But if he looks at the table, and sees a job, and freedom, and a sense of hope, then now there is an alternative, and most people would choose a life, and would help us fight those who would take that life away.

Let's fight when we have to, but let's also beat the extremist at his own game.

If the extremist is ideological about violent Jihad, we will be ideological about common sense.

If the extremist invests peanuts in charitable handouts, we will use Arab money to invest in jobs.

If the extremist sell a vision of hope for martyrdom, or paradise, or virgins, or what have you, we will sell a vision of hope for peace, prosperity and freedom.

At every turn we will cut the extremist off at the pass, and beat him at his own game. In the final analysis, the ideological extremist will not be able to capture the public's imagination, once people begin to imagine a better life for themselves. Write a comment:
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 9, 2011 at 10:50pm
I GUESS
written by GABE1, September 07, 2011

WELCOME BACK.

That is the difference between us. Rather than courting them (appeasement) I prefer to call their bluff and bluster and come to their senses. I do not jump for joy every time a Muslim leader yells "peace".

Turkey has been on the slippery slope of Islamization fr a long time now and way before Marmara. Let them cool their heels for a while and than maybe? they will see the error of their way. Money-NADA, and that goes for not just Turkey but the wider Muslim world and specifically the Arabs.
Comment by Nissim Dahan on September 9, 2011 at 10:50pm
We're Back to Square One
written by Nissim Dahan, September 06, 2011

I just read an article, featured on this website, that Turkey has expelled the Israel Ambassador and has vowed to prosecute all those responsible for the deaths of the nine Turkish activists on that Marmara.

Some say that this negative development is a result of the upcoming UN report which makes it clear that the activists on the ship were not merely peaceful activists, but were rather quite aggressive in their physical attack against the Israelis who attempted to board the ship.

Others say that Turkey has concluded that an Israeli apology is no longer seen as valuable to Turkey in her quest to play a leadership role in the region.

Whatever the reason, Turkey has decided to pull back from an effort to rebuild relations between the two nations. This duality, between coming together on the one hand, and drifting apart on the other, is an on going process, which defines much of the region as a whole.

Leaders in the region will have to decide where their best interests lie.

In my opinion, for what it's worth, there is at least a strong possibility, that some of the key players will eventually come to the conclusion that coming together in common purpose is in their best interests, as a way of enhancing security, and revitalizing the region with jobs: jobs which grow our economies, jobs which protect the environment, and jobs which help to weaken the hold of extremist elements.

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