Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's reprimands of Israel are neither new nor coincidental. On Monday, in the context of closer relations between Turkey and Lebanon, Erdogan saw fit to accuse Israel of violating Lebanon's airspace and "stealing" from it. He even called on the international community to apply pressure on Israel similar to that being put on Iran regarding its nuclear program.
Erdogan's vitriolic and well-publicized moves against Israel over the past year - including the cancellation of a naval exercise and Turkey's rapprochement with Syria and Iran - have also been linked to the successful television series "Valley of the Wolves: Ambush." The series was produced by a private Turkish company and broadcast on a private television network owned by a rival of Erdogan.
There is no connection between Erdogan's policy and the television series. Turkish media outlets are free and the series is based on a previous one screened back in 2003. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has chosen to focus on the series and accuse Turkey of disseminating anti-Semitism because this is a more convenient and easier target than dealing with real criticism.
However, a professional diplomatic reprimand was not enough for the Foreign Ministry. The display of scorn under the direction of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon in a "consultation" with the Turkish ambassador seems to have been taken from the days of the sultans, who by humiliating ambassadors showed their contempt for the countries themselves. The only thing missing from the show was for Ayalon to demand that the ambassador trample the Turkish flag.
If the foreign minister has specialized in continued damage to Israel's relations with its neighbors, his deputy now seems to be successfully translating this policy into disgraceful theatrical language.
Israel's fury at critics of its policies in Gaza is not new. But there is no need to be a "radical Muslim" or "a friend of Syria and Iran" to understand that imprisoning a million and a half civilians in Gaza is abuse and not policy. Even Israel's closest friends are cautioning against continuing this brutal policy, which has already gravely damaged Israel's interests and its close relations with Turkey.
Israel would do well to listen seriously to the Turkish criticism. Humiliation is not a substitute for intelligent policy and certainly not for repairing the vital relationship with Turkey.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now