Israel and Turkey have been seeking a rapprochement over the Turkish flotilla catastrophe. Israel has apologized and has offered $25 million in compensation to families of the victims. But for Turkey, it is insufficient.
Before agreeing to resumption of full diplomatic relations, Turkey is insisting on Israel’s uplifting of the Gaza blockade and permitting the building of a seaport for Gaza.
The Gaza question is one that Israel cannot agree to Turkish demands. A seaport at Gaza would open up the facilitation of arms and weapons into the Gaza strip and would create havoc on Israel’s border.
Erdogan has set himself us as the redeemer of the former Ottoman Empire. He dreams of being the new caliph. And he has increased his military strength and dictatorial powers in an effort to re-create his dream.
Only this past week did he order the closure of the large daily newspaper, Zaman, for its continuous criticism of him in particular and of his government. The editor-in-chief was arrested as hundreds of Turkish police broke into the newspaper’s offices, destroying property and seizing papers.
The Turkish public was incensed and took to mass rioting in the streets of Istanbul and Ankara. They were met by the riot police using water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Journalists from the largest newspaper, Hurriyet, condemned the government’s attack on freedom of the press and condemned Erdogan personally for violating democracy. They condemned his treatment of journalists who were imprisoned for criticizing the government.
If Turkey, under Erdogan’s dictatorship, seeks a return to Ottoman Empire-like regime, Turkey will return to its former status as “the sick man of Europe”.
In this context, how can Israel sign declarations of renewed full relations with Turkey? The Turks are not genuine friends of Israel. Because of their hostilities with Russia, they are interested in buying gas from Israel. They are very interested in resuming profitable tourism from Israelis.
Their interest is merely selfish. There is no genuine Turkish love for Israel.
Zapping Zaman, a very influential opposition newspaper, is an affront to democracy and a violation of freedom of the press.
If Turkey can break its laws with its own people, how can we trust them to keep agreements made between our two countries?
Today, it is zapping Zaman. Tomorrow, it may be zapping Zionism.