Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
On the rocks
A new primetime drama series called “Ayrılık” (meaning ‘separation’ or ‘farewell’ in Turkish) recently made its début in Turkey on the state-run TRT 1 television channel. Israel’s Channel Two aired a scene from the fictional show, showing a Palestinian father holding a baby above his head and an Israeli soldier in full combat gear taking aim and shooting the infant. Since the broadcast, Israel-Turkey relations have been put under more strain. The heated debate about the show has further influenced previously close ties between the Jewish state and Muslim Turkey that have deteriorated somewhat since Israel’s December-January Gaza offensive. At the same time, Turkey has strengthened its relations with neighbouring Syria. (Read more here.)
Leading Israeli daily newspapers Yedioth Ahronoth, Maariv and Haaretz have reported extensively on the show, wondering whether it pointed to growing anti-Semitism in Turkey. Tourism agencies said Israeli vacation bookings in Turkey have fallen steeply since the show was aired. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his disappointment in “the incitement on Turkish TV”. Netanyahu aides said Turkey, which has mediated indirect Israeli-Syrian talks, could not be an honest broker in any future peace negotiations. Commenters on Israeli web portal sites have called on Turkey to look in the mirror and take responsibility for what they termed its genocide against the Armenians.
Professor Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, believes Turkey is “not clean of anti-Semitism”.
“Anti-Semitism is not only in Arab countries, we can see now growing anti-Semitism even in Europe and unfortunately Turkey is not clean of anti-Semitism,” he told Reuters. “Basically we see a long term development in Turkish foreign policy, which is distancing itself from the West. We’ve seen the Turks deviate from European behaviour, for example accepting (Iranian) President Ahmadinejad in Istanbul, even inviting President Bashir of Sudan, who was indicted for war crimes. Just recently, the Turks announced they would not join sanctions against Iran as their American allies desire. So we see basically Turkey giving in to the Islamic impulses of the AKP Party (Turkish Prime Minister’s Tayyip Erdogan Justice and Development Party).”
Click below to watch a selection from “Ayrılık”:
Click below to watch our interview with the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman and Professor Efraim Inbar on October 15, 2009:
PHOTO: Turkish protesters shout slogans against Israel to show solidarity with defenders of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque in central Istanbul October 5, 2009. REUTERS/Osman Orsal