Con­tex­tu­al­ized dic­tio­nary of Turk­ish pol­i­tics,

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - By Richard Peres

The prime min­is­ter’s Arab Spring tour and his speech at the UN, along with in­creas­ing ten­sions be­tween Ankara and Tel Aviv, dom­i­nated Turkey’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape at the start of the fall. How­ever, the fo­cus even­tu­ally shifted as at­tacks by the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK) es­ca­lated, and the gov­ern­ment’s mil­i­tary and po­lice re­sponse, along with in­creas­ing ca­su­al­ties on both sides, stalled in­for­mal talks with jailed PKK leader Ab­dul­lah Öcalan, low­er­ing the like­li­hood of a rap­proche­ment in the near fu­ture.

Turkey’s anti-Is­rael sen­ti­ments

The term “anti-Is­rael” has dif­fer­ent mean­ings glob­ally based on lo­cal pol­i­tics. In Turkey it orig­i­nates in cur­rent events and is­sues, con­flicts and in­ci­dents. In the West, and in par­tic­u­lar the US, crit­i­cism of Is­rael is of­ten a zero-sum game, with crit­ics branded as be­ing op­posed to Is­rael’s very ex­is­tence. Anti-Is­rael sen­ti­ment spiked in Turkey with the re­lease of the Palmer Re­port on the Mavi Mar­mara in­ci­dent. Much me­dia cov­er­age and pub­lic support were given to Turkey’s de­mands that Is­rael apol­o­gize for the at­tack and pay com­pen­sa­tion to the fam­i­lies of the nine peo­ple killed, and that the block­ade of Gaza be lifted on hu­man­i­tar­ian grounds. Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Erdoğan re­it­er­ated th­ese de­mands in his speech to the UN and in meet­ings with US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. The Turk­ish press also re­ported the bel­liger­ent com­ments by Is­raeli For­eign Min­is­ter Avig­dor Lieber­man, who ad­vo­cated, among other sanc­tions, Is­rael’s support of the PKK, de­fined as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by the US, EU and Turkey. Lieber­man com­pounded the con­flict by stat­ing, “Our prob­lem is first and fore­most with the cur­rent Turk­ish lead­er­ship -- the rad­i­cal and ex­trem­ist Is­lamist lead­er­ship that sup­ports and nur­tures ter­ror.” This level of polemic was fre­quently quoted, adding fuel to the fire. Thus much of the anti-Is­rael sen­ti­ment in Turkey re­flects the cur­rent state of Turkey-Is­raeli af­fairs, driven by Turkey’s em­pa­thy for the peo­ple in Gaza (par­tic­u­larly in the wake of Op­er­a­tion Cast Lead), Is­rael’s po­si­tion re­gard­ing the Pales­tini­ans, and con­tin­u­ing dis­con­tent over the Mavi Mar­mara in­ci­dent.

How­ever, Turkey’s stance has found few sym­pa­thetic ears the West, least of all in the US, where crit­i­cism of Is­rael is frowned upon as be­ing “anti-Is­rael,” par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the run-up to the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. As Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said be­fore a joint ses­sion of the US Congress this year, “Is­rael has no bet­ter friend than Amer­ica, and Amer­ica has no bet­ter friend than Is­rael.” Turkey’s la­bel as “anti-Is­rael” is ex­em­pli­fied by me­dia cov­er­age of Prime Min­is­ter Erdoğan’s speech to the UN in Septem­ber -- cov­ered in the same ar­ti­cle in The New York Times as Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad’s speech, which

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