Last update - 14:35 14/01/2010
Turkey's Jews urge calm after row with Israel
By The Associated Press
Tags: Jewish World, Israel news
Turkey's main Jewish group on Thursday said the row between their country and Israel must be solved courteously, and warned that continued tensions could inflame anti-Semitism.
Silvyo Ovadya, the president of the group Musevi Cemaati, or Jewish Community, said the 23,000-member community has no immediate fear, but further tensions could turn into anti-Semitism.
Israel on Wednesday bowed to demands from Turkey and apologized over an insult to its ambassador that had led Turkey to threaten to recall its ambassador.
The crisis erupted Monday when Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned the Turkish ambassador to complain about a Turkish television drama that has been perceived as anti-Semitic.
Ayalon forced Ambassador Oguz Celikkol to sit on a low sofa without a handshake and explained to cameramen that the humiliation was intentional.
The show, The Valley of the Wolves, depicts Israeli security forces kidnapping children and shooting old men.
"There might be ups and downs in relations between the two countries, there may be mutual anger, but all these have to be settled in a diplomatic way and in line with rules of courtesy," Ovadya said by telephone. "We are sorry to see that relations between the two countries are not going well."
Over the past decade, Turkey and Israel had built up a strong relationship, including military cooperation and tourism, making Turkey Israel's closest ally in the Muslim world.
Lately, however, Israel has been troubled by harsh statements from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was outraged by the high Palestinian civilian death toll during Israel's Gaza offensive a year ago.
The Anti-Defamation League, meanwhile, raised concerns about rising anti-Semitism in Turkey, pointing at Turkish government officials' harsh statements and the hateful depiction of Jews and Israel in the mass media.
"We continue to be concerned about a new environment in Turkey which permits and even encourages extreme expressions regarding Jews and Israel," Abraham H. Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement released Wednesday.
"While we have celebrated Turkey's history of coexistence with Jews and the protection Turkish society provides for its Jewish community, we cannot ignore this new atmosphere and its potential consequences."
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