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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Middle East Spotlight

In a meeting summoned for clarification regarding a Turkish drama television show ‘The Valley of the Wolves’, the Israeli-Turkish relations took another major hit Monday January 15th.Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, publicly and intentionally humiliated the Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv Oguz Celikkol over a recent episode of the television show which showed actors dressed as officers of the Israeli Security Agency,Shin Bet. The officers then proceeded to enact scenes of kidnapping babies and shooting old men. In an arrangement carried out by Lieberman (Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs) , ‘Celikkol was seated on a low sofa, while Ayalon and two other officials sat in higher chairs’, said Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper.During the photo-op, Ayalon notified photographers in Hebrew: “Pay attention, he is sitting in a lower chair and we are in the higher ones, that there is only an Israeli flag on the table and that we are not smiling.” In addition, Ayalon and Cilikkol did not shake hands.The news made headlines worldwide. Britain’s Financial Times quoted Alon Liel, a Turkey expert and former top Israeli diplomat, accusing Ayalon of making “Israeli diplomacy look ridiculous,” adding that Israel needs Turkey, a leading player in the region, more than Turkey needs Israel.The Israeli media also condemned this undiplomatic act carried out by their Deputy Foreign minister. The Jerusalem Post accused Ayalon of shooting his own country in the foot, implying the consequences this could cause with Turkey, one of Israel’s strongest allies in the region. Such analysis turned out to be true when the Turkish government confirmed that a formal letter of apology was sent by Israel after the first threatened to recall its ambassador from Tel-Aviv.Turkish-Israeli relations first took a wrong turn in the 2008 Gaza war. Turkey accused Israel of “using disproportionate power against innocent civilians”, and such actions “wounded” the peace process between Israel and Syria which Turkey was mediating. In the midst of forty thousand Hizbullah rockets aimed at its north, and an anti-Semitic, nuclear seeking Iranian regime, Israel finds itself in need of Turkey as a strong ally in the region today more than ever.Iran has terrorist cells spreading in Arab countries faster and deadlier than cancer. It is doing so by supporting radical Islamic groups which pose a threat to local regimes and governments that oppose the Iranian political agenda. On May 7 2008 Hezbollah took over west Beirut leaving 11 dead and 30 wounded. Yemen and Saudi Arabia are engaged in a war with Houthis, a Shi’a minority believed to be backed militarily and economically by Iran. Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic resistance movement, also receives aid from Iran. These policies are making the region unstable. Syria a weapon transit route between Iran to Hezbollah and Hamas has earned itself effective negotiation leverage with the western world.With unstable countries in the region on the verge of eruption, Israel cannot afford to be playing immature foreign diplomacy if it hopes to maintain good ties with Turkey. Turkey is a strong ally that could potentially have the power to disengage Syria from Iran. This would leave the Islamic Republic alienated from the emerging terrorist cells it supports, rendering it vulnerable in a foreseeable regional military conflict