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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Does Turkey hate Israel?

Journalist and author Claire Berlinski was recently in Israel for a visit and filed this exclusive report for Powerline (some guys have all the luck). I haven't clicked through all the links yet, but this one ought to intrigue you.
It's unbearable to me that the formerly close relationship between Turkey and Israel has been injured so deeply. It makes no sense strategically, for Turkey or for Israel. And it makes no sense culturally. These countries have far more in common than they realize. They are both new nation-states--remember, the Turkish Republic is almost as young as the state of Israel, both products of the upheavals of the first half of the 20th century, and both deeply insecure on the world stage because of it. They are both multi-ethnic democracies. One has a Muslim minority; the other a Jewish minority; both are remarkably tolerant in a region not known for tolerance; both are secular states; both face similar security concerns in a dangerous region. Both are struggling to figure out how to reconcile the concept of a secularism with the piety of its citizens; both are countries with young, vibrant, populations. Both countries have universal conscription, and not one mother in either country is happy to pack her son off to the army. I'm not pointing this out because I'm corny and sentimental: It's just a fact.

The Turks you've seen in the videos howling about their longing to be martyrs for the jihad? They are not the majority, you've just got to trust me. It's a country of some 70 million people; any country this big will have its nuts. These nuts have a terrific media strategy, so they end up looking like the real face of Turkey. They're not. Ordinary Turks don't have a media strategy. They have jobs--oftentimes hard, demanding jobs--and families.
Read the whole thing.

I really, really wish Claire were right, but with the Turkish government (Erdogan, Gul, Davotuglu and Arnc all come to mind) on a crusade against Israel for the last two years or so, we may be lucky that the Turks consider the US a bigger enemy than they consider us.

Unfortunately, it sounds like the average Turk is being bombarded with it on all sides. But that bombardment has had an effect. In the recent BBC 'Who Loves Me' (pdf link) poll, just 9% of Turks viewed Israel as having a positive influence on the World, while 77% said we have a negative influence. The only country polled where our net number was worse was Egypt.

Unfortunately, the real face of Turkey seems to hate Israel. I agree with her that the reverse is not true.

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