Turkish Center helps raise funds for Carmel forest

Head of organization unaffiliated with Ankara gov't says, "our friendship with Israel, Jewish people goes back for centuries to 1308."

Deer surveys damage from Carmel fire 521 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Deer surveys damage from Carmel fire 521
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
NEW YORK - In a bit of humanitarian détente, the Turkish Cultural Center of New York collaborated with Helping Hands International relief fund to make a $10,000 donation to the Jewish National Fund’s operation to rehabilitate the Carmel forest after the December fires which ravaged the area.
While the Turkish Cultural Center of New York is a nonprofit organization with no ties to the Turkish government per se, its executive director Mehmet Kilic told The Jerusalem Post that the Turkish American community had no objection to participating in the fundraising venture for Israel.
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“We did not have any tension from our people -- people are open for dialogue and understanding,” Kilic said. “Our friendship with Israel and the Jewish people goes back for centuries -- it dates back to 1308. These are some of the historical facts we talked up in the community to build up our friendship.”
“We don't want our community to only think about the conflict,” Kilic said. “The Turkish-American community is very open-minded, so we didn't really encounter any resistance to doing this fundraising work.”
Relations between Turkey and Israel have suffered since the May 2010 flotilla incident in which ships departed from Turkey to bring materials to Gaza through Israel’s blockade. A UN inquiry into the matter, spearheaded by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, is scheduled to come out with its results sometime in the next few weeks.
“We are very happy that Turkey was able to contribute to the relief efforts and send two firefighting aircraft to help control the huge brush fire in northern Israel in December,” Kilic said. “Turkey's aircraft were among the first to arrive and we believe that the assistance from Turkish aircraft was an opening door to better ties between the two countries.”