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Despite Anti-Semitism, Israel & Turkey Begin Mending Relations


This summer we’ve seen a shocking slew of anti-Semitic remarks from high ranking Turkish officials: the deputy prime minister blamed the “Jewish diaspora” for Turkey’s recent domestic turmoil, the biggest AKP-friendly newspaper blamed the “Jewish lobby” in the US for the Gezi Park protests, and even the prime minister joined the party when he accused Israel of orchestrating Egypt’s unrest. There is undeniable evidence that anti-Semitism runs deep and to the top of Prime Minister Erdogan’s AKP party, which makes Josef Levy Safari’s appearance at yesterday’s Victory Day celebration in Turkey unexpected and remarkable.

Safari is the chargé d’affairs of the Israeli Embassy in Ankara and this was the first time since the Gaza flotilla incident, when Israeli commandos killed nine Turks, that an Israeli diplomat was invited to such a celebration. Hurriyet, a Turkish news service, said that Ankara made the invitation as a result of Israel’s formal apology for the flotilla deaths, which Prime Minister Netanyahu made in March.

But all is not yet well in the Israel-Turkey relationship, Hurriyet cautioned: “Although the normalization process between the two countries could not be completed and no ambassadors have been exchanged, the Israeli issuance of an apology has been seen as sufficient for inviting the charge d’affairs to the reception.”

This is a promising step but don’t expect to see Erdogan and Netanyahu happily embracing any time soon. In the midst of an expanding civil war in Syria, Israel and Turkey have many priorities and concerns in common, and it makes sense to work together, and with their mutual ally, the US, on a variety of affairs. Hopefully they get there soon.

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