Israel Presidential Visit to Turkey
On Wednesday, March 9, 2022, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog was received in a grandiose ceremony by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his presidential residence in Turkey.
The visit’s goal could be seen as a sign of thawing relations between the two countries, a beginning of a mutual respect era after good past relations had frozen during Erdogan’s rule.
While on their official trip to Turkey, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog and wife laid a wreath at Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s grave, the Former President of Turkey.
Kemal Atatürk was a Turkish field marshal, revolutionary statesman, author, and the founding father of the Republic of Turkey, serving as its first president from 1923 until his death in 1938. He undertook sweeping progressive reforms, which modernized Turkey into a secular – separation of state and religion – industrialized nation.
However, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the current president of Turkey, is not Atatürk.
Erdoğan reversed much of Atatürk’s policies. Made the Islam religion go hand in hand with the state and crowned himself with much power, making Turkey much less democratic. What is worse, he has shown to be anti-Israel and anti-Semitic on a large scale to the point where the two countries that enjoyed very good bilateral relations have become nemeses.
Erdoğan has shown to be acting as a tyrant, similar to other such rulers in the world and he has caused much concern to the international community especially when Turkey is a member of NATO.
Under Erdoğan’s rule, Turkey is the home to Hamas leaders who kill Israelis at will with rockets and other means and want to see Israel annihilated.
Israelis, by the thousands, who used to vacation in Turkey, a huge revenue source for the country, ended this trend. Envoy exchanges between the two countries have frozen or ended as well.
Considering the fact that Turkey has had a rather interesting history with the Jewish people since the end of the 15th century, let us open the book of truth.
Right now even Turkish people who understand Erdoğan – Turkey’s politics do not have a good word to say about this politician turned despot.
Here Comes The BUT
We need to remember that under Erdoğan’s rule thousands of Turks have been killed or imprisoned over their attempt to overthrow him.
The city of Istanbul is located partially in Asia and partially in Europe. And indeed, Israel doesn’t need more enemies, Turkey, especially when it is in close proximity to its borders, it is militarily strong and is a NATO member..
If one only pages through the Jewish people’s unique history books one will be rather conflicted.
Jews love Paris; they forget the Rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv: “Vel’ d’Hiv Police Roundup / Raid.” During WWII the Paris police, without any help from the Nazis, rounded up over 25,000 Jews, men, women and children, put them in a soccer stadium and then shipped them off to their death in Nazi Concentration camps.
In 2016, the Jerusalem Post headline was: “Home away from home in Romania; Romania pulls out all the stops to welcome Israelis.”
The Romanian Iron Guard did the same. We need to remember Romania’s ‘homegrown’ Holocaust and Bogdanovka massacre.
As part of the Holocaust, Bogdanovka concentration camp for the Jews, located near the village of Bogdanovka, was established in Transnistria Governorate by the Romanian authorities during World War II.
Three concentration camps, called “colonies” in Romanian, were situated near the villages of Bogdanovka, Domanovka and Acmecetca on the Southern Bug River, in Golta district, Transnistria, with Bogdanovka holding 54,000 people by the end of 1941.
In December 1941, a few cases of typhus, which is a disease spread by lice and fleas, broke out in the Bogdanovka concentration camp. A decision to murder all the inmates was made by the German adviser to the Romanian administration of the district and the Romanian District Commissioner. The Aktion (ACTION) began on December 21, 1941, and was carried out by Romanian soldiers, gendarmes, Ukrainian police, civilians from Golta, and local ethnic Germans under the commander of the Ukrainian regular police, Kazachievici.
Thousands of disabled and ill inmates were forced into two locked stables, which were doused with kerosene and set ablaze, burning alive all those inside. Other inmates were led in groups to a ravine in a nearby forest and shot in their necks. The remaining Jews dug pits with their bare hands in the bitter cold, and packed them with frozen corpses. Thousands of Jews froze to death. A break was made for Christmas, but the killing resumed on December 28. By December 31, over 40,000 Jews had been murdered.
Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban established very amicable relations between their countries. Prime Minister Orban told Israelis that Jews in his country can feel safe.
Before March, 1944, the Nazis began exterminating the Hungarian Jews. The Hungarians turned their backs on the Jews and in the last days of the war over 400,000 Hungarian Jews were either shot or shipped to their death in the Nazi concentration camps.
In 2005 a sixty pairs of shoes memorial site was opened in Budapest, Hungary, where fascist Arrow Cross militiamen shot Jews and threw their bodies into the river in 1944 and 1945. The shoes, now serving as a reminder were left behind by Hungarian Jews who were tied to each other; the executioners “only” executed a few of them, enough to pull with them the rest and fall and drown in the icy cold river. One other testimony as to how far the human race can go when its anti-Semitism disease takes over all rational thought.
In late 1944, [A year later Nazi Germany was defeated] even as Nazi-Germany was already facing imminent defeat, the Nazis expended enormous resources to murder or deport over 425,000 Hungarian Jews during the “cleansing” of Hungary.
Film director/producer Steven Spielberg produced an Oscar-winning documentary that focuses on the plight of five Hungarian Jews who survived imprisonment in Auschwitz.
Though these survivors recount the horrors they witnessed and endured as a result of the Nazis’ “Final Solution” plan, their individual triumphs are a testament to hope and humanity.
Where The Hell Do We Start or End?
Nowadays thousands of Israelis call Berlin, Germany, their home.
On January 20, 1942, in the House of the Wannsee, Berlin, Germany, the Wannsee Conference and the planning of the Final Solution took place.
Sadly there are more Israeli-Jews living in Germany than in St. Louis Missouri, USA, as my good friend claims.
It appears that for the Israeli-Jews who live in Berlin, the Final Solution matter does not matter.
We Prefer Peace
Israel is the most harassed and attacked state in the world. A scapegoat of people, institutions and countries.
Some kind of peaceful arrangement with Erdoğan-Turkey would be better than remaining rivals.
The Ottoman Empire, with its headquarters in Constantinople, nowadays modern-day Istanbul, Turkey’s capital, controlled lands around the Mediterranean Basin and was at the centre of interactions between the Middle East and Europe for six centuries.
If Turkey did not side with Germany during WWI, it would still be in Jerusalem as it was for 400 years. Thereafter the British, during the Mandate for Palestine rule, took over the land from 1922 till 1948, and were not at all kind to the local Jews, until Israel had to fight for its Independence and won.
So yes, I am conflicted. I am seeking the balancing equation.
There must be a way and there is a way. However, there is no need for such an embellishing ceremony. Israel’s President Isaac Herzog could have made a well-thought-out official visit of some sort. He could have spoken with politicians and Turkish people of influence and delivered positive messages, of good intentions, through the media to the entire world. There was no need for such a shameful and ostentatious visit when the man who leads Turkey – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – is proven to be an anti-Semite to his core, anti-Israel and a supporter of Hamas.
Sadly, one of Israel’s undesirable characteristics is to always seek ‘love’ but in many cases they do not know how to get it without humiliating themselves.
The wreath President Herzog laid on Atatürk’s grave should have been made of BLUE and WHITE flowers, the colors of the flag of the state of Israel.
Where were the thinking heads in Israel who planned this trip?
I understand that diplomacy is a political chess game and it includes much hypocrisy just as this visit of Israel’s president Herzog and entourage to Turkey. In politics everyone involved is kissing everyone else’s behinds when it suits them but not always with well-planned moves, as a chess game requires.
I would like to see Turkey’s president Erdoğan reciprocate. I would like to see him come to Israel and lay a wreath on 18 – the number equates with the Hebrew word LIFE – graves of people who were killed by Hamas’s rockets.
Without that, I think this visit is a poor performance for Israel and rather shameful.
Jews are hated not because they are blamed for everything; they are blamed for everything because they are not loved!
There is a lesson to be learned by every Israeli and Jew from Ze’ev Jabotinsky who wrote in Shir Betar (The Song of Betar): “Silence is Despicable!”