[Marxism] Business as Usual for Israel and Turkey
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jul 3 08:29:41 MDT 2010
NY Times July 2, 2010
Despite Raid, Mostly Business as Usual for Israel and Turkey
By DINA KRAFT
TEL AVIV — Since the deadly Israeli raid on the Gaza flotilla, Turkey
has recalled its ambassador from Jerusalem and banned Israeli military
planes from the country’s airspace, while its prime minister has called
the Jewish state “a lying machine.” Israel, for its part, has warned its
citizens not to travel to Turkey.
But in most other respects, it is still business as usual between the
A military and government delegation from Turkey is in Israel right now,
its officers and soldiers rumbling through the sands of the Negev
learning how to operate the same pilotless aircraft often used by Israel
to hunt Palestinian militants in Gaza. They are there, said an Israeli
official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal,
because the Israeli instructors who were training them in Turkey were
called home after the flotilla raid.
Still, the $190 million deal for the drones has not been canceled. Nor
have most of the civilian business dealings, from textiles to irrigation
systems, that accounted for almost $3 billion in trade last year,
business analysts said. “Everything is according to schedule,” the
Israeli official said. “There are no changes. It’s business as usual.”
“There are good business contacts,” said Soli Ozel, a professor of
international relations at Istanbul Biligi University. “The business
community would like to see that continue.”
The investment and trade that continue beneath the surface are reminders
of the deep and interconnected ties that Turkey and Israel have forged
over the years as regional misfits — Israel as the Jewish state and
Turkey as a Muslim country that straddles Europe and Asia. When the
investments are years in the making, as most of the weapons deals are,
and with Turkey relying on Israeli technical support, the ties are not
so easily broken.
Hard figures are difficult to come by when it comes to defense
contracts, but Lale Sariibrahimoglu, the Turkey correspondent for Jane’s
Defense Weekly, says that Turkish military sources said that military
trade between the countries totaled around $1.8 billion in 2007. Israel,
she says, was second only to the United States as a source of military
technology for Turkey.
Turkey maintains that full reconciliation with Israel is possible only
if Israel apologizes for the raid on the Turkish ship, provides
compensation for the wounded and the families of those killed and agrees
to an independent international inquiry.
So far, Israel has resisted the idea of an independent investigation,
but the Israeli government has tried its best to tone down the crisis
and patch up relations. This week, for example, Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu sent Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a cabinet member who has cultivated
close ties with the Turks, to a secret meeting with the Turkish foreign
minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.
“It is not in the interest of Israel, or even Turkey, that this
relationship continue to deteriorate,” Mr. Netanyahu said in an
interview with Channel 1, the state television station, on Friday.
“Israel cannot apologize because its soldiers had to defend themselves
to avoid being lynched by a crowd.” He added, “We regret the loss of life.”
Israel has a free trade agreement with Turkey that no one has spoken of
rupturing, and shortly before the flotilla raid Turkey helped ensure
Israel’s inclusion in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
But problems are starting to crop up. Turkish officials are concerned
that the Israelis will cancel a $141 million contract to enhance the
intelligence gathering abilities of Turkey’s warplanes for fear that the
new systems might be used against Israel, Ms. Sariibrahimoglu said.
“I am sure we are much more sensitive about sharing sensitive material
with them out of fear it will get to the Iranians,” said Efraim Inbar,
an expert in Turkish-Israeli relations and director of the Begin-Sadat
Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
Israel’s ties with Turkey had begun to fray well before the flotilla
raid, starting with the election in 2003 of an Islamist prime minister,
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who began to tilt Turkey toward new relations with
two of Israel’s most serious foes, Iran and Syria. Relations with Israel
took an especially icy turn in early 2008, when Mr. Erdogan lashed out
at Israel over its killing of civilians in its offensive on Gaza.
Israel’s growing wariness of Turkey goes back several years, as
evidenced by its decision not to sell the Turks its Ofek spy satellite,
Israeli officials said, again speaking on condition of anonymity. On the
civilian side the main fallout from the damaged diplomatic ties is
easily visible on Turkey’s beaches, once a favorite vacation destination
of Israelis who this year canceled en masse.
Menashe Carmon, the chairman of the Israel Turkey Business Council, said
that although long-time cooperation between Israeli and Turkish
businesses had not stopped, partnerships and investment ventures that
were in their initial stages had slowed. “They have decided to wait and
see what will happen politically,” he said, referring mostly to Israeli
His office in a building overlooking the harbor in Jaffa features the
Turkish and Israeli flags — a rare sight in Israel. He says he remains
hopeful that better times lie ahead. He is busy at work planning a trip
for Turkish businesspeople in Israel.
“The Turkish are regular visitors to Israel. This will be nothing new,”
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