New government in Israel opportunity for fresh start with Turkey?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 |  Sinem Tezyapar

Two days before the last election in Israel, Turkish and Israeli politicians made an appearance on Turkey’s A9 TV and expressed the necessity of solving differences with love, friendship and brotherhood.

The Israeli delegation, composed of a former government minister and two prominent members of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, was met by founders and former lawmakers from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party. The televised gathering was hosted by Adnan Oktar, a prominent Turkish Muslim scholar who has been outspoken on good relations between Israel and the Muslim world.

[Ed. Note - Relations between Israel and Turkey began to cool with the rise of Justice and Development Party and the seemingly harsh line of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Tensions reached their peak in May 2010 when Israel raided a Turkish-backed flotilla attempting to break the maritime blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, an action that resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish nationals and strong condemnations from Ankara.]

In an effort to look beyond the flotilla raid, Shas co-founder and Knesset Member Rabbi Nissim Zeev appealed to the people and government of Turkey to return to the historic friendship and alliance between the Jewish and Turkish peoples, which he said began in Harran, which is today located in southeast Turkey, when Abraham was called to what would become the Land of Israel.

Former Israeli minister Dr. Shimon Shetreet told his host, Mr. Oktar, "I think the vision of the prophets in the Bible should be the basis of the dream that you describe. The dream of creating a better world for us, a better world for our children and particularly a better world and better relations for our two great ancient nations; the Turkish nation and the nation of Israel."

Oktar responded by talking about the strong alliance he believes Israel and Turkey will forge to bring peace, love and tranquility to the region and put an end to terror and anarchy.

"Turkey and Israel will make the whole region become more devout, more prosperous and they will strive to attain widespread democracy and human rights. We will turn the region into a more beautiful place than Europe,” he said. “There won't be any wars or dissension. We will do away with those walls in Israel, you know those stone walls. You will be very comfortable. Israel will always be there.”

[Editor’s note: A Christian reading of Ezekiel 38 sees the time when Israel lives ‘without walls’ as the coming of a final, massive invasion of the Jewish state.]

Oktar went on to explain that the Koran contains a verse that grants the Jewish people divine right to the Land of Israel.

“That is the abode of your ancestors,” Oktar insisted. “Those people who tell you (the Jews) to leave, they are being disrespectful. Do not mind them at all. We love you and we want to see you in the region. …These conflicts are all artificial, they are all completely invalid.”

This was not the first meeting of its kind in recent years. Since the flotilla incident, there have been many efforts behind the scenes to calm political tensions and reinforce the bilateral relationship between Turkey and Israel. Many political and religious leaders have been invited to Turkey to have both private and public meetings under the auspices of Mr. Adnan Oktar, among them former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Chairman of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, and many others.

Lately these meetings have become public platforms for Turkish and Israeli politicians to discuss their expectations and mutual good intentions face to face in a warm atmosphere.

In the Middle East, the teachings of Abraham are our common language and our common heritage. In the Middle East, politics simply does not work if the politicians overlook religion while trying to find solutions to ongoing problems. We hope that the new government in Israel will embrace this spirit, and allow the two countries to make a fresh start between two old friends. As it is stated in Psalms 133:1, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!"

PHOTO: Adnan Oktar (center) welcomes his guests, Rabbi Nissim Zeev (right) and Dr. Shimon Shetreet (left).

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