Turkey won't cancel TV show depicting Israelis as killers
Turkey's Deputy PM says his country's ties with Israel are strong and they do not hold an anti-Israeli stance.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Friday that a controversial television drama which shows actors dressed as Israeli soldiers killing Palestinian children will not be taken off the air.
The TV program Ayrilik ("Separation") shows Israeli soldiers killing Palestinian children in Gaza. In one of the scenes, an Israeli soldier shoots an unarmed little girl at point-blank range.
Davutoglu withdrew responsibility from his government regarding this issue, saying the matter is up to the Turkish Radio and Television Corp., the state-run broadcaster which is airing the show.
"This is a matter to be evaluated entirely as part of their broadcast policies. Turkey does not have censorship," he said, while speaking to reporters in Ankara.
Turkish State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said earlier Friday that his country's ties with Israel have always been strong and will surely remain that way in the future, according to Anotolia news agency.
"Any stance of Turkey against Israel is out of the question," Arinc was quoted as saying.
Arinc is responsible for the state-run broadcaster TRT on which a controversial series is aired.
"If Israel has reacted against the TV series, we will talk to them on the matter," he said. "The TV series does not have any political target."
Arinc also said that the Turkish government will not stop the broadcast of the show despite the growing diplomatic tension with Israel surrounding the broadcast.
"We do not think of [canceling the series]," the Turkish deputy premier said. "The Turkish government does not intervene in a TV drama. Moreover, Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) controls TV broadcasts."
The Foreign Ministry on Thursday rebuked the acting Turkish Ambassador to Israel, Ceylan Ozen, over the show.
Naor Gilon, the Foreign Ministry's deputy director for Western Europe, on Thursday said that Israel places great importance on its relations with Turkey, but that it cannot stand by while such images denigrating Israel and the IDF are depicted.
"This kind of incitement is likely to lead to physical harm being done to Jews and Israelis who arrive in Turkey as tourists," Gilon told the Turkish envoy.
Gilon added that such a program, which uses stereotypes to instill hatred, must concern anyone who seeks coexistence between people of different nations and faiths.
He said that Israel views the program with utmost gravity, especially in light of the fact that the soldiers they depict as bloodthirsty killers in real life were the ones to aid Turkey after an earthquake there in 1999.
Earlier Thursday, the show's producer said that his show does not portray the IDF as a whole, but only a certain group of soldiers who had murdered Palestinians.
Speaking in an interview with Israel Radio, the producer added that he and his colleagues loved Israel and were convinced that Israelis do not support acts of slaughter perpetrated against Palestinians.
The show features a love story that develops between the lead characters during Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza.
But a partial episode available on YouTube depicts multiple images of the IDF brutalizing the Palestinian population by shooting children in the chest and kicking elderly people on the ground, among other things.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that, "Broadcasting this series is incitement of the most severe kind, and it is done under government sponsorship."
Lieberman added: "Such a drama series, which doesn't even have the slightest link to reality and which presents Israeli soldiers as murderers of innocent children, isn't worthy of being broadcast even by enemy states and certainly not in a state which has full diplomatic relations with Israel."