Soothing ties with Turkey
On May 31, Israel and Turkey — two countries that, until then, had been fairly close allies — were forced to take a step back.
If you’ve read The Chronicle in the past few months, you know what we’re referencing: Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza, and after a violent struggle, nine of the ship’s pro-Palestinian activists were left dead.
Understandably, both nations were alarmed at the outcome. The Turkish government’s response was swift and harsh: severe criticism of Israel’s actions, as well as withdrawal of Turkey’s ambassador. Israel’s actions were far more defensive — the country’s Counter Terrorism Bureau issued a severe warning against Israelis traveling in Turkey, in addition to Israel’s many attempts to explain and justify the incident’s outcome.
The Turkish/Israeli relationship, to be blunt, was icy.
But this week, the first signs of thawing appeared.
The Counter Terrorism Bureau issued a statement Tuesday that “in light of the calm in Turkey and absence of large-scale anti-Israeli demonstrations,” the travel warning was no longer in effect.
Israeli tourism and visitation of Turkey dropped substantially in the months following the flotilla.
The repeal of Israel’s travel warning is the first step toward the rebuilding of the two countries’ once strong and friendly relationship. And though the warning is aimed more at the public than toward Israel’s government, Israeli officials should note it as a symbolic gesture that, yes, it is time to get to work mending fences.
While it may still be awhile until Turkey’s view of Israel warms, this is the right move for Israel: nothing may bring back the lives of those lost, but the Turkish-Israeli relationship is certainly worth salvaging, for the sake of both nations.