PM 'disappointed by Turkish TV incitement'

Turkish TV producer Our

turkish tv show soldiers kill 248.88 (photo credit: )
turkish tv show soldiers kill 248.88
(photo credit: )
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu broke his weeklong silence on the recent nosedive in Israeli-Turkish relations, saying Thursday night Israel was "disappointed" by the incitement on Turkish television and was not "taking pleasure" from "the direction we have seen from Ankara for some time." Netanyahu, speaking at a Jerusalem press conference with visiting Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, said that unfortunately the harshly critical Turkish position that was evident during Operation Cast Lead has continued. "This raises a question," Netanyahu said. "In which direction is the Turkish policy going? We very much hope that the direction is toward strengthening peace, and not the extremists, and that the direction is to preserve the important connection that we place on relations with Turkey, a very important country." The Turkish-Israeli relationship was important both for Israel and for Turkey, he said. The prime minister's comments came the same day that Israel summoned Turkey's envoy to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, to protest an inflammatory television show that aired on state TV there Tuesday, warning this could lead to violence in Turkey against Jews and Israelis. The Foreign Minister's deputy director-general for Western Europe, Naor Gilon, called Turkey's charge d'affaires Ceylan Ozen to Jerusalem Thursday to protest the TV drama Ayrilik, which variously depicted IDF soldiers shooting a fleeing Palestinian boy in the back, killing a sweetly smiling Palestinian girl at point-blank range, and lining up Palestinian detainees before an IDF firing squad. Scene 1: 'IDF soldier' shoots a Palestinian child Scene 2: 'IDF soldier' shoots a Palestinian girl According to a statement put out by the ministry, Gilon said that while Israel placed a great deal of importance on its relationship with Turkey, "it can not stand aside when such crude incitement against Israel and IDF soldiers is being broadcast." Gilon said that this incitement could lead to physical attacks against the Jews and many Israelis touring in Turkey. Furthermore, he said, "teaching to hate through the use of stereotypes in a television program viewed by both adults and children must concern anyone interested in peace and coexistence between states and religions in the region." Gilon said matters were made worse considering that the Israeli soldiers depicted as cold-blooded murderers in the drama were the same soldiers who rushed to give assistance to Turkey after the devastating earthquake there in 1999. Israeli officials said that while the meeting focused on the television show, it also dealt with the events of the past week, including Turkey's decision to exclude Israel from an international military exercise. The Foreign Ministry's spokesman for the Israeli press, Yossi Levy, said that despite the recent problems, "We have a clear goal to pursue a genuine and intimate dialogue with the Turkish government and the Turkish public." Levy said that Turkey, as a moderate, secular Islamic country, was an "inspirational" counterbalance to Iran. "As a bridge between East and West, Turkey is a source of hope for dialogue between cultures," he said, adding that Israel was keen on returning "the special spirit" that has for the last several years characterized Israeli-Turkish ties. One government official was much less sanguine, however, saying that Ankara, "drunk with its own importance and power in the region," was playing a "dangerous game." "Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," the official said, referring to Turkey's massacre of Armenians in the beginning of the century, its treatment of the Kurds, and its repression of freedom of speech inside its own country. A country that brings with it this kind of "dowry," the official said, should speak carefully. The official bewailed what he said was Turkey's ingratitude, saying that Israel has helped the country "in a thousand ways" over the years, including in Washington and Western Europe, often acting against its own moral conscience because of pragmatic political considerations - a reference to lobbying efforts in Washington for years against the perennial Armenian Genocide resolution. In an interview full of contradictions, Turkish television producer Selcuk Cobanoglu, whose anti-Israeli TV drama Ayrilik (Farewell) prompted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to summon the Turkish envoy for a meeting, told Israel Radio on Thursday that the soldiers depicted in the drama "are not Israeli soldiers" and that all of the program's staff love the Israeli people. "The show is not about IDF soldiers. We also wrote this in a warning that appeared on the screen at the beginning of the program," Cobanoglu said. In the first episode of a series on a Palestinian family living in the West Bank, which aired Tuesday evening during prime time on the government-controlled station TRT 1, IDF soldiers are seen killing a baby and a young girl, and lining up Palestinians to be shot by firing squad. In Thursday's interview, Cobanoglu stressed that "all of our staff loves the Israeli people. This show isn't about Israeli soldiers but rather about a specific group that is responsible for all the murders." However, Hakan Albayrak, a content adviser for the show, compared Israel to the Nazis in a Channel 2 interview, said it had carried out mass murder, and added that when films of Nazi war crimes were screened, Germany didn't launch an outraged diplomatic protest.