08/25 Zaman: Turkish Press Review


Are Turkey’s relations with Israel crumbling?

Just as Turkey is tackling domestic issues surrounding the election of its next president, the decision of an influential Jewish group -- the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) -- to recognize the World War I killing of Anatolian Armenians as genocide, kicked the genocide debates back onto Turkey’s agenda again.
Israel and Jewish lobbyists have so far pursued a policy of siding with Turkey on this controversial issue, refusing to recognize those incidents as genocide, but this long-time policy has been reversed with the ADL’s move, arousing suspicion that something might be askew in Turkey-Israel relations, which cannot be considered independent from Jewish groups operating in the US. There is a widely held view that Turkey’s improving relations with neighboring countries, particularly Iran, has disturbed both Israel and the US, resulting in such consequence.
Milliyet columnist Taha Akyol speculates about the possible reasons for such an attitude change among Jewish groups in the US and connects this to recent political developments. Akyol thinks it was the politics of yesterday that prompted Jews to take sides with Turkey on this controversial issue and it is politics again that has made their stance change. Akyol, for instance, shows that Turkey’s rejection of a motion in 2003 that would have allowed US troops to be deployed in Turkey during the Iraq War and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal visiting Turkey after winning elections in Palestine as some of the reasons for deteriorating relations with the Bush administration neocons, who are in political and economic alliance with Zionism. He also talks about Turkey’s improving relations with Iran and Syria as possible reasons for the change in stance among Jewish groups. “The Jewish groups do no act independently from Israel. So, their taking a stance against Turkey will undoubtedly deal a severe blow to Turkish-Israeli relations. Turkey, Israel and the US will all suffer from the deteriorating relations,” argues Akyol.

Sabah columnist Ergun Babahan agrees that Turkey’s close relations with Iran in the fields of economics and the military disturbed both the US and Israel, since both countries view Iran as a foe. “So it is not surprising for Jewish groups in the US to change their attitudes and label Armenian deportation as ‘genocide’ all of a sudden,” argues Babahan. Looking at Turkey’s relations with Jews in the course of history, he recalls that Turks always had good relations with Jewish groups and that Turkey is the single friend of Israel in the region. Hence, Babahan thinks that the Jewish groups’ attitude will cast a shadow over Turkish-Israeli relations and asserts that Israel will be the most harmed. “Of course, it is up to Israel whether to spoil its relations with its only friend in this problematic region, among so many enemy countries,” says Babahan.

Radikal’s İsmet Berkan thinks that Israel lending support to Turkey in countering genocide allegations was one of the important bases of relations between the countries, but now it is gone. Berkan associates the ADL’s decision to recognize an “Armenian genocide” with the fate of a pending genocide bill in the US Congress and argues that the front of lobbies to prevent the passage of this bill in the US Congress was weakened after losing the Jewish group’s support. “From now on, Turkey can only prevent this bill with its strategic weight and its blackmailing power over the US administration,” comments Berkan.

Turkish Press Review

Source: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/yazarDetay.do?haberno=120344