17 April 2014, Thursday
Today's Zaman

Toledo: Turkey should normalize ties with Israel as 2015 nears

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24 October 2013, Thursday /SİNEM CENGİZ, JERUSALEM
Ankara should accelerate its efforts to normalize ties with Israel before 2015, the centennial of the so-called Armenian genocide in 1915, as the global Israeli lobby has significantly toned down its previously staunch support of Turkey in blocking the recognition of claims of genocide, said Zali De Toledo, head of the Association of Turkish Jews in Israel.

“As 2015 is approaching, Turkey should take into account its interests and should normalize relations with Israel by appointing an ambassador to Israel as soon as possible. If both countries miss the opportunity to mend the ties, the Israeli lobby will likely stay neutral when 2015 comes,” De Toledo told Today's Zaman.

Relations between Turkey and Israel -- countries that once enjoyed solid ties at all levels -- worsened in May 2010 and have remained strained since Israeli naval commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, a humanitarian aid ship attempting to breach Israel's blockade of Gaza, killing eight Turkish civilians and one Turkish-American.

After the Mavi Marmara incident, Turkey downgraded ties with the Israeli state by withdrawing its ambassador and expelling the Israeli ambassador from Turkey.

De Toledo said she had done her utmost to pressure the Israeli lobby in the US to refrain from labeling mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans in 1915 as genocide, adding: “I was the strongest supporter of the Turkish position. And now I am really disappointed to see Turkish-Israeli relations at this point.”

De Toledo served as Israeli cultural attaché to Turkey for 10 years, from 1993 to 2003. Israeli President Shimon Peres offered her the position in a bid to improve relations between the two countries.

Although for many years Israel has held back from commenting on the matter for fear of angering Turkey, last year the Israeli parliament had a debate over whether to recognize the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I as genocide.

In order to end what became a major diplomatic crisis between the two former allies, in late March Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered an apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident.

The apology met one of three demands Ankara made to Tel Aviv. The others were compensation for the families of the passengers killed on the ship and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

Referring to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's harsh stance toward Israel over the Gaza issue, De Toledo says: “It's a one-man show in Turkey. Why is Erdoğan asking for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza? Why is he interfering? This is an issue between Israelis and Gazans, after all!”

Israeli apology has nothing to do with isolation in region

Israel did not apologize to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident because it felt isolated in the Middle East, according to Reuven Azar, head of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bureau for Middle East Research.

“It is not an issue of feeling alone in the region or not. It is more than that. Israel considers Turkey a major player in the region and wants to have an alliance with it just like in the past years. Israelis have sympathy toward Turkey and want to restore relations,” Azar told a group of Turkish journalists at the Israeli Foreign Ministry earlier this week.

“Israel is not alone. When it comes to the balance of power in the region, our position is better than the past in terms of security and economy,” Azar said.

The Israeli prime minister said that Israel apologized to Turkey because of the volatile situation in Syria.

Azar went on to say that Israel and Turkey have common interests when it comes to Syria. “The common goal is to maintain stability in the country,” he said.

Addressing the strained relations between the two countries, Azar said that Ankara and Tel Aviv can solve the problems that concern each side, adding that the two countries should come to an understanding and move on. “However, we don't really know what is going to be the future of the Turkish approach toward Israel. Turkey's relations with Hamas are seriously disturbing. This situation brings a question to mind -- to what extent can we put our eggs in the Turkish basket?” Azar said.

Relations between Turkey and Hamas, which rules Gaza, have been improving since Turkey's ties with Israel collapsed over the Mavi Marmara incident.

“We have to ask whether Mavi Marmara is the only issue on the table. Where is Turkey heading in terms of political orientation? We look to Turkey-Hamas relations with great concern. We know that Turkey supports the Middle East peace process, but on the other hand it talks with Hamas,” Azar said.

In early October, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal paid a surprise visit to Ankara, where he met with Erdoğan for talks on Palestinian reconciliation and developments in the Middle East.

I will tell my turkish friends a truth, be sure and certain, nor Israel neither the Zionist will ever or can recognize the Armenian Genocide. Do not get blackmailed by them anymore. They simply can not recognize the Armenian Genocide we all know why, not because of the superiority and unicity of the...
All of these genocide denial efforts will make Turkey more vulnerable in the years 2015 and beyond. Historians and common people alike will look back and see that The Turkish State as well as its nationalists did everything in their power even well into the 21st century to block recognition efforts ...
Dear Uncle Bill, Turkey has said many times we are ready to investigate with the Armenian state on what really happened. We are ready to open up our archives and you the Armenian open up your archives, and in a international court if who ever is guilty we will accept the verdict. If your Armenian s...
Wise one
@Hisham, I call your nonsense anti-Christian bigotry. This article is about the Armenian Genocide and not about Russia, France or the United States. If this is about anti-Muslim bigotry, then what have you got to say about the fact that Turkey, the only Muslim country in the world, is a NATO member ...
The words of Zali De Toledo, like many other two-faced Zionists who will sell their mothers for a buck, truly describe the vile and despicable character of these people. They only care about their fascist agenda and could care less who they hurt in the process. What she is advocating is no different...
@Marawan, keep the fact that super tiny Israel has only enemies in the Middle East, that it did not want to antagonize Turkey, the only Muslim country that wasnt hostile to Israel, until the Sultan Erdogan took over. But make no mistake that Israelis and Jews all over the world, and Christians all o...
To Hisham your comment smells islamic bigotery instead. I understand you can not digest the fact of accusing other moslems of crimes against humanity espescially if committed against christians! But the difference between Afghanistan and Algeria is that there are not Genocide but war crimes, ignoran...
Turks have not noticed yet how it is becoming slave and dependant on others in the blackmail of denial of past crimes. If Turkey wants real power and sovreignity they should recognize the Genocide and take off hands this card blackmail by countries such Israel and all the west. Anyway if not todat, ...
Hisham, it will be nice to read about basic history before commenting on issues that you know nothing about. Each event that you mention has its individual cause and circumstance. 1915 Genocide had nothing to do with religion, only the perpetrators advance that notion. Armenians found safe haven in ...
time for Turkey to make an honest effort to know their Armenian neighbors the old taboos don't work in this modern times and the past should be studied and corrected you expect Turks to be treated fairly in Europe set an example in your own land
@Hisham, I call your nonsense anti-Christian bigotry. This article is about the Armenian Genocide and not about Russia, France or the United States. If this is about anti-Muslim bigotry, then what have you got to say about the fact that Turkey, the only Muslim country in the world, is a NATO member ...
The words of Zali De Toledo, like many other two-faced Zionists who will sell their mothers for a buck, truly describe the vile and despicable character of these people. They only care about their fascist agenda and could care less who they hurt in the process. What she is advocating is no different...
the Jewish lobby only showed it arrogance when it decided its good for Israel to serve the Turkish denial, it lost its dignity, fairness and honor in doing so, the Armenian Genocide is a historical fact and no lobby or government can change that no matter how many layers of paint you use to cover i...
How about Russia apologize for its holocaust of 2 million Afghans in the Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan? How about the French apologize for its holocaust of 2 million Algerians in the Algerian Revolution and the French Colonialization of Algeria? How about the US, Spain, Portugal, and British apol...
Hisham; Dubai, UAE
Ms. De Toledo is spouting nonsense and I doubt very much anybody either in Israel or in America is paying any attention to her ravings. Wishful thinking is a poor substitute for common sense. The Jewish lobby shouldn't be acting as a shill for foreign interests.
It is easier, noble, and cheaper to confront the past, than to live under the guilt and blackmail of the Int'l community
Unless Turkey faces up with its real history and accepts the facts of 1915, they will always be subject to Israeli pressure and blackmail. What is more important, to accept history as everyone knows it and move on as a legitimate government or be blackmailed forever?
Uncle Billy
In other words, to continue the falsified history of Turkey and the lies of 1915 it is will worth to mend relations with Israel. This is the absolute definition of hypocrisy both for Turkey and Israel.
No power in the world can change history , not even the Israel lobby . The Jewish people more then any others in the world know what it means to be subjected to massacres and genocide and there for we expect them to do the right thing here and stop playing politics with a moral issue . This lady Tol...
"a humanitarian aid ship"? ... filled with "peace activist" armed with knives, sticks and iron bars, refusing to bring their "precious" goods in through Egyptian or Israeli ports as this would not have caused any publicity and no harm to anybody...
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