Out of the rubble, a chance to mend relations

Aydoğan Vatandaş
Aydoğan Vatandaş


Date posted: October 31, 2011

AYDOGAN VATANDAS*, Sunday, October 30, 2011

EVEN THOUGH Turkey and Israel had great tensions after the Mavi Marmara raid last year, it was a breath of a fresh air to know that Israel was the first country to extend her hand to Turkey following last week’s devastating earthquake in Van.

The United States, Germany, Greece and Poland also offered help, as did Armenia, a country that had no diplomatic relationship with Turkey for a long time.

But Turkey was initially reluctant to accept outside offers of help.

Even though Turkey has improved its skills in dealing with earthquakes, such refusal was wrong.

As a Turkish journalist, I know how important pride is for Turkish culture and conscience. But does pride save lives and help the victims? Definitely not.

Late Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the Turkish government turned down Israel’s offer of aid. However, Israel didn’t reject Turkey’s fire-fighting planes when Israel battled a brush fire that killed 41 people last December.

Turkey’s efforts to assist Israel and Israel’s positive response to Turkey were important signs that the two countries were trying to repair their relations.

Interestingly, the Arab world didn’t criticize Turkey’s decision to send its firefighting planes to Israel last year.

Iran, Azerbaijan and Pakistan sent aid without first asking Turkey. Turkish officials said that “it wouldn’t be polite to reject the aid while it was already in the country.”

Turkey’s decision not to accept offers from the other countries initially was not appropriate in terms of Turkish traditional customs and diplomatic courtesy.

And Israel’s decision to extend a hand to Turkey immediately following the quake indicates Israel’s sincerity about its efforts to repair relations with Turkey.

After Israel’s announcement, Turkish Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc said that Turkey would not reject Israel’s humanitarian assistance.

Relations between Turkey and Israel were terribly strained following the military raid last year by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound ship that violated Israel’s shipping embargo. Israeli commandos were assaulted as they boarded the ship and the ensuing battle left nine Turkish nationals dead.

The U.N. Security Council condemned Israel and called for a prompt investigation. A United Nations report said the Israelis used excessive force by firing stun guns and smoke grenades before boarding the ship, but also raised “serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers.”

Blockade was legal

While Turkey was expecting a full apology, the report concluded that the Israeli blockade of Gaza was legal.

Afterwards, Israel’s ambassador in Ankara was ordered to leave the country and diplomatic relations were downgraded.

In response, the Netanyahu government has announced that Israel would not apologize to Turkey.

Can Turkey and Israel, the only secular democracies in the region, sustain this animosity?

They must not.

Following the attack, Fethullah Gulen, Turkey’s most influential religious leader, criticized the flotilla for trying to deliver aid without Israel’s consent. Gulen, interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, said that failure to seek an agreement with Israel before attempting to deliver aid was “a sign of defying authority, and will not lead to fruitful matters.”

It is imperative to note that the Gulen Movement, which supports interfaith dialogue and has played a critical role in the social and political history of Turkey, does not support hostilities between Israel and Turkey. The movement encourages the two countries to repair their relations as soon as possible.

As Gulen said in his interview, they don’t believe that anti-Israeli sentiments are helpful for Turkey’s future.

These two great nations should work together and help their governments to repair damaged relations immediately. They must understand such strained relations degrade their capability to fight terror.

Natural disasters remind us that we are all human beings and united through compassion.

AYDOGAN VATANDAS IS AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER AND CORRESPONDENT FOR TURKISH CIHAN NEWS AGENCY AND TODAY’S ZAMAN IN NEW YORK.

Source: Bergen Record http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/turkey_103011.html?page=all


Related News

Gülen’s contribution to a pluralist democracy

The Hizmet movement, inspired by Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen, is a formidable actor in catalyzing change for a better Turkey and will remain so for the foreseeable future as a non-political force to be reckoned with.

Chorepiscopus Yusuf Sag: Fethullah Gulen’s service is admirable

Chorepiscopus Yusuf Sag, Vicar General and leader of the Syriac Catholic Church in Turkey: “I wish every country had its own Fethullah Gulen. I watched the students performing at the recent Turkish Olympiads in admiration. They all sang in Turkish like angels. I have to ask: Is it better that they sing Turkish songs or hold guns in their hands?”

Democracy on the rocks in Turkey

Last week’s military coup attempt in Turkey is likely to have a debilitating impact on Turkish democracy. Already, several thousand military officials and bureaucrats have been arrested. Even more perturbing, more than 2,000 judges were removed from their jobs.

Kimse Yok Mu offers cataract surgery to 2,000 Nepalese

Kimse Yok Mu reached out for help to Nepal, the roof of the world, too. Kimse Yok Mu local affiliate Nepal-Turkish Foundation performed 2,000 cataract surgeries in the country where the disease is remarkably widespread due to sunlight at high angle.

Virginia delegation teams up with Turkish NGO, delivers aid to Syrians

A delegation from the US state of Virginia was in the working class neighborhood of Umraniye in İstanbul on Monday, delivering food and blankets to Syrian families with the help of the charities Kimse Yok Mu and Embrace Relief.

Int’l language and culture festival ends with spectacular ceremony in Germany

A message from well-known Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen who inspired the Hizmet Movement was also recited at the ceremony. “At a time when rage, hatred and war prevail in different places of the world, some people see path to science, love and peace as far away. However, as it is said in a Japanese proverb ‘If you have a good friend with you, no way is far to you’, said the message. Gülen also expressed his special thanks to German people for hosting the festival.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Another thousands of locals now have access to drinking water in Chad and Cambodia

Fethullah Gülen suggests Turkish coup attempt could have been staged

Foreign Minister Babacan visits Turkish school in Dakar

Only educational efforts of groups such as Hizmet can eradicate extremism

Taraf, Baransu file criminal complaint against PM Erdoğan

AK Party provincial board member resigns after insults

Fethullah Gülen’s lawyers fear attacks on his life amid calls for return to Turkey

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News