Turkish Journalists & Policy Specialists -2004, 2005, 2007

The Turkey-Israel partnership, while grounded in intersecting strategic, economic and energy-related interests, has faced serious setbacks recently– as demonstrated by the strained meeting between Prime Ministers Olmert and Erdogan in January, 2007. Nevertheless, both nations maintain meaningful commonalities and have engaged in substantive dialogue in areas as diverse as counter terrorism,  water, energy and regional strategic containment. Project Interchange sponsored delegations of Turkish journalists and foreign news editors in 2001, 2004 and 2005, many of whom have returned to their home countries to report quite sympathetically on Israel related issues. Turkey has an exceptionally vibrant and independent media which influences all sectors of society, from secular to Islamist. The 2007seminar brought together print and television journalists and editors as well as international affairs experts and scholars from the US, Turkey, and Europe in an attempt to build relationships and enhance understanding of Israel with Turkish journalists of truly global standing and influence.

In April 2007, PI brought together Turkish print and television journalists and editors as well as international affairs experts and scholars from the US, Turkey, and Europe in an effort to build relationships and enhance understanding of Israel amongst Turkish leaders of global standing and influence.  Project Interchange sponsored delegations of Turkish journalists in 2001, 2004 and 2005.

Highlights of this year’s program included a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzippi Livni and a discussion with Shmuel Ravel, Director of the Division for Multilateral European Institutions, at the Israeli Foreign Ministry.  Minister of National Infrastructure Binyamin (Fouad) Ben-Eliezer also briefed the delegation.

Sessions emphasized the cultural, political, economic and strategic connections between Turkey and Israel. The program began with a reception at the residence of Turkish Ambassador to Israel H.E. Namik Tan in Kfar Shmarihu. Participants had the opportunity to share a Shabbat dinner with Ambassador Alon Liel, Chairman of the Israel-Turkish Business Council, and Ami Bergman, Country Director for Turkey of the Joint Distribution Committee.

Avi Issacharoff, Arab Affairs Correspondent for Haaretz; Ksenia Svetlova, a reporter on Arab and Middle East Affairs for the Russian press; and Mohammed Najib, a correspondent for various foreign newspapers in Israel, lead dinner and a discussion, “Press as Prism: How Media Reflects Israeli Society and Influences.”

April 16-22, 2007 Impact

Tulin Daloglu, Op-Ed writer and frequent commentator of Haberturk and TRT (Turkish Radio and Television Corporation)

The seminars were very well organized and there was a lot of good information so for a person like me it was a great start. Obviously, I wasn’t ignorant about Israel, I knew something, but to put things in context and to better understand what I thought I knew was really very useful.

And I think once you start knowing something, it’s like riding a bicycle; you use it all the time. For journalists, for people like us, we are going to benefit from this in the rest of our writing.

Washington Times, 24 April 2007, Palestinian suffering:

Something else separates the Israelis and the Palestinians. Israel is undeniably a democracy with a vibrant economy and contemporary society. The Hamas government, however, was elected democratically but it is no friend of democracy. ‘The human-rights issue never appeared on Arafat’s agenda, neither in ‘[Mahmoud Abbas'] agenda,’ Bassem Eid, founder and director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, said. As he delicately described the unbearable living conditions on the Palestinian side, Mr. Eid said, It’s not because of occupation but because of Arab culture… They could have, at least, built the infrastructure of Gaza strip.

More important is the change in the nature of the conflict. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is becoming an increasingly religious fight. Hamas’ charter quotes a forged hadith (a traditional account of things said or done by Prophet Muhammad), saying that ‘there will come a time when the stone will call to a Moslem there is a Jew behind me’ — widely interpreted as sanctioning violence against Jews. The central role of religion in Israel’s government, however, does not discount its democracy.

The Arab-Muslim world believes that the United States and Israel are losing in the Middle East — the United States is losing in Iraq, and Israel has lost in Lebanon. They believe the balance of power in the region will change in time. Palestinians — and the Arab world at large — seem to believe that American and Israeli difficulties are working in their favor. Yet the Iranian nuclear dilemma makes strange bedfellows — Saudis and Israelis agree Iran’s rising influence in the region should be contained.

The extremists spread more violence every day. Yet Israel remains strong, while Palestinian suffering continues. And if Muslims believes that hating and attacking the Jewish state will bring it to an end, they need to think again.

Ali Aslan

I learned a lot from the seminar presenters. But I learned even more by seeing, encountering and sharing with Israeli society. Seeing is believing. Seeing is understanding.

I especially liked the visit to the Jewish-Arab Day Care Center. I think that was the most meaningful of all because it gave me an opportunity to see interactions among different communities. It gave me hope that these communities can live together in a peaceful way.

Israel has been established on a piece of land which hosted so many historical events. And it’s now one of the most conflicted areas. Whenever I read anything about these locations from history or current events, I will be able to visualize and materialize it in a much better way. This is really helpful to me professionally. From now on, I can put a face on Israel.

Today’s Zaman, 20 April 2007, Israel’s Choice:

Israel is definitely one of the foreign countries in the world where you can feel most happy to declare you are Turkish, as Atatürk’s famous saying goes. In how many countries has a Turkish ambassador presented his credentials only one day after stepping into the country? No wonder Ambassador Namık Tan so often expresses his gratefulness for the treatment the Turkish government and people receive here. The same is true at the societal level. I can testify to the utmost affection shown us many times on the Israeli street, when they learned we were from Turkey. In this former Ottoman Turkish land, also a homeland for nearly 100,000 Turkish Jewish immigrants, you can trust that our cultural and national heritage is highly preserved and respected.

April 16-22, 2007 Press

April 16-22, 2007 Photos

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In 2005

participants were selected from Turkey’s leading regional newspapers and the national television networks of Turkey and Cyprus.  Led by Barry Jacobs, AJC’s Director of Strategic Studies, participants met with Israeli President Moshe Katsav, Turkish Ambassador to Israel Feridan Sinirlioglu, top Israeli diplomats, and experts on Israeli-Turkish economic relations, human rights in wartime and the war against terror.  The seminar was covered extensively and favorably in the Turkish and Cypriot media.

December 19 - 25, 2005 Press

December 19 - 25, 2005 Pictures

December 5-11, 2004 Press