'Furious' Figments of Imagination

On Tuesday, as befits a historic event, Channel 10 gave extensive coverage to the first, pioneering planeload of Israeli tourists to Antalya - not after 2,000 years as in the usual Zionist narrative, but rather after two months.

I, of course, am hoping more than most people that Israel and Turkey will normalize relations and stop their manifestations of hatred. But if the price is a return to the previous, primitive love affair, then perhaps it's better to maintain the hissy fit.

Because back in the day, Israel would express its tender feelings for Turkey by sending it consignments of tourists in all-inclusive packages, and Turkey would swoon, "There is no one like the Israelis when it comes to big spending." Sometimes normalization is stupidity.

On Tuesday, as befits a historic event, Channel 10 gave extensive coverage to the first, pioneering planeload of Israeli tourists to Antalya - not after 2,000 years as in the usual Zionist narrative, but rather after two months. More precisely, this was the first group since the wretched Gaza flotilla morass, in which nine Turks were killed.

Eran Wolkowski

It should be noted that after that incident, amid the diplomatic uproar, Turkey did not say a single word that could have been interpreted as a hostile sign to the Israeli tourist. Israelis who mustered the courage to visit Turkey in the interim, for work or pleasure, were surprised to find they were treated with utter amiability. That is, the hostility between the peoples was born from the outset in the Israeli imagination and reinforced by travel warnings from the security services. The assumption was that the Turks were "furious."

As everyone knows, there are types of humans, or more correctly subhumans, of whom it is best to steer clear when they are "furious." Smoke comes out of their noses and ears, and they instantly start thirsting for Jewish blood and draw their swords so as to cut the first throat to cross their path.

The Turks belong to this hot-tempered category, along with the Arabs and Middle Easterners in general (although not Israelis ), who are known for their equable and forgiving temperament. There is no knowing why people all of a sudden believed that this was the week the fire-breathing, blood-drinking monster called Turkey ceased its wrath, leaving the way clear for renewing organized tourism.

Just as the birth of the myth of the "furious Turks" was baseless, so is the counter-myth of "the Turks have calmed down." In order to prove the truth of the latter unfounded observation, Channel 10 sent off a reporter and a cameraman, like the dove Noah sent to see if the waters had receded, with a full planeload of Israeli tourists. The latter were not asked their permission before being thrust into the human experiment examining the extent to which their belief in the state's stupid myths accords with their simple, sincere wish for a cheap and enjoyable vacation abroad.

So, first of all, in order for there to be a news story, the innocent vacationers had to be depicted as belonging to a special category of people, who aren't entirely people like you and me, that is to say, ummm, Arabs. And really, what can one expect from Arabs when it comes to proving the Israeli myth of "the whole world is against us"?

The trouble is that one Jewish family had infiltrated the flight, the Haddad family, which fell victim to cross-questioning by Channel 10 on suspicion of high treason against the state. Poor Mr. Haddad had to explain that he never thought the Israelis and the Turks were in conflict, and that the troubled relations was a matter of politics. His frightened wife demanded that she and her children not be filmed, perhaps for fear of exposing themselves to a revenge attack after returning home.

Then came along a second dumb, but more popular, idea - just as ridiculous as the stupidity spread by the State of Israel in the form of travel warnings. This is the idea that there is alienation between the Turkish people and its regime. Says the Israeli tourist to himself, along with Channel 10: "The fact that they welcome Israelis so nicely shows that politics is one thing and everyday life is another." It does not occur to the tourist or the TV station that these poor wretches are simply behaving professionally or showing hospitality, or that they are simply polite and cultured people. No: The Israeli will get no satisfaction unless he feels the Turks truly love him from the bottom of their soul and confess to him that they like him more than their prime minister.

The all-inclusive deal this week included a show: The mayor of Antalya himself beat his breast and admitted he has profound reservations about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's policy. And he longed deeply that Israelis would return to his city. And the hotel receptionist also sang the same miserable tune, "Politics is one thing and people are another thing."

And the peddlers in the souvenir market sang the same song of unbridled love for Israelis. Indeed that stupid myth of unbridled love always requires the backing of "the man in the street," and the peddlers played that role because if that is what the visitors like, then why not give it to them?

Thus, the following groups of "all-inclusive" tourists landing in Antalya will come with the renewed feeling of people with means, who, after punishing the natives, are once again arriving to shower them with their beneficence.