The change in Turkish-Israeli relations By Jerry Mazza

By Jerry Mazza
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
July 1, 2010

Turkey, one of Israel’s closest allies, friendly to it in a rare pact between a Middle East state, albeit secular Muslim, yet whose predecessors, the Ottoman rulers, welcomed oppressed Jews as far back as 1501, leading the way for the betterment of Jewish life in Anatolia and a historical friendship long before the Turkish Republic was one of the first countries to recognize Israel.

This same Turkey, the New York Times reports, Is Now Barring Israeli Military Flights From its Airspace, so incensed is it over Israel’s brutal attack on the Freedom Flotilla’s lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, carrying peaceful activists and supplies of building materials, medicines, water and food to starving Gazans. The Israeli attack resulted in eight Turkish and one Turkish-American activists’ deaths, a number in execution style, plus 30 casualties and the undiminished enmity of most of the world.

So far, Turkey has not received an apology from Israel. Only excuses that its commandos were attacked first, that is, as they first tried to grapple hook their way on board from water crafts in the pre-dawn hours of May 31. After they were physically repulsed as pirates would be, helicopters took off from the Israeli fleet that had been surrounding the armada in silence, rappeling uniformed commandos onto the Mavi Marmara to wreak terror and death.

The barring of flights now does not affect civilian flights, and it wasn’t stated how many flights by the Israeli air force would be affected. Previous to the ban being put into place now, the Israeli military only crossed occasionally into Turkey’s airspace, said Turkish officials.

Ironically, reports in Israeli media said that a plane carrying Israeli military officers to visit the Auschwitz death camp in Poland had been barred from flying over Turkey. Turkish officials did not comment on those reports on Monday. Perhaps it is too painful to contemplate a Palestine now regarded as the largest open-air concentration camp in the world and some point is trying to be made.

A Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity in this matter of international relations, said Turkey would reject Israeli requests to use its airspace “until there would be a change in their treatment of Gaza.”

The same official said the Turkish government would not invite Israel any longer to take part in any international military exercises hosted in Turkey and their central training activities over Konya, a central Anatolian town. The official remarked, “After all, the experience gained in these exercises is used in launching operations on Gaza. We had to respond to that.”

This is a laudable show of guts exhibited by the Turkish government, unmatched by the US, to make Israel accountable in some way for its ongoing genocide of Palestinians, particularly the Gazans.

The change in Turkish-Israeli relations began in part from 2000 on when a more religiously conservative government came into power, just as the aggression against the Palestinian community intensified and put pressure on the alliance. This forced the two countries to the brink of diplomatic standoffs. Political analysts in Turkey see this attack against the peaceful Flotilla aid operation as a possible last straw.

Turkish Prime minister Recep Tyyep Erdogan strongly criticized Israel’s pummeling approach towards Gaza. He called for continuous international pressure to force an Israeli end towards the Gaza blockade since the duly elected Gaza leadership, Hamas, won the election, ousting the rival Fatah movement in a short civil war in 2007.

Erdogan made his remarks Sunday at a news conference in Toronto, where he was attending the G-20 meeting. The flyover ban will require individual requests to be filed by Israeli authorizes for passage of Israeli military planes through Turkey. The ban had actually been active for a while prior to the Flotilla incident.

An official said, “Israel’s last request came only days after the military operation on the Turkish aid ship and was rejected. Such demands will continue to be rejected until there would be a change in their treatment of Gaza.”

The official did not identify the particular flight that was refused flyover rights by Turkey but underscored the fact that, “according to the international law that applies, it was beyond their jurisdiction to question the purpose or final destination of these flights.

The most pronounced signs of strained ties with Israel occurred early in 2010, as Mr. Erdogan took part in the Davos summit in Switzerland. There he walked off of a panel, after a strong exchange of words with Israeli President Simon Peres over the military offensive in Gaza.

On other fronts, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that Palestinians will have to wait at least till 2012 for their state. Skipping the hypocrisy for once, the Israelis might as well reveal the world’s worst-kept secret that Palestinians will never step from under Israeli’s thumb unless the worst happens to them, abandonment by US and/or European support.

Think it over, guys. Perhaps now would be the time to consider what Helen Thomas suggested, a European Diaspora, a return to the countries of Europe, plus America, New Zealand, Australia, or anywhere the 7 million Israelis could settle in peace, respect, and the pursuit of happiness. The bloom of a two-state solution has worn off the rose of the world and the alternative smells like havoc.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer, life-long resident of New York City. His book “State Of Shock – Poems from 9/11 on” is available at, and


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