[Marxism] Business as Usual for Israel and Turkey

Louis Proyect 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

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 
longtime allies.

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,” 
he said.

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