On Patriotism

Even before we hit a Turk in his pocket, we?re already sleeping in his hotel. We were very hasty when we imposed edicts on ourselves.

The boycott on Turkey soon turned out to be an own goal, a Turkish goal actually, which is anything but a score. They've already considered producing a new television program - "Survivor Marmara" - which is a contest for the Patriot Prize between the Noodle Tribe and the Poodle Tribe.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was, as we recall, the first to shower fire and brimstone on Operation Cast Lead. He even demonstrated chutzpah toward the president of Israel during the Davos Economic Conference. His behavior was hard to tolerate. That's it; and all the rest is history.

In response, the masses of the House of Israel decided that Turkey could wait; our feet would not trod there.

A boycott would be imposed on Turkey that would teach them how to behave. And to think, it still wanted to be a peace mediator here.

It's not certain whether Israel, which is itself a target of ostracisms, should be the one to use this boomerang. But when patriotism goes to people's heads and fries their brains, their eyes no longer notice the double-edged sword or the glass house. In the end individuals and groups compete with one another as to who can be the biggest boycotter.

This week it finally became clear that the boycott is over: 70,000 Israelis in 500 flights streamed to Turkey during the intermediate days of the Sukkot festival, bringing back the good old days when Turkey was the Number 1 tourist destination for Israelis.

The anger is over and done with, so yallah, a reconciliation: Anyone who hasn't seen the joy of the water-drawing ceremony in Antalya has never seen true joy in his life. Turkey was and remains the last refuge of the patriot.

Even before we managed to hit a Turk in his pocket, we're already sleeping in his hotel. There's no place like Turkey to make you feel at home: We remember the fish we ate for free, the stuffed squash and the old-fashioned watermelons and the onions and the garlic and the Iskembe soup and the lentil stew. We love the kitschy palaces on the beach, the sadder-than-life films, the songs that are like balm to our souls.

Now we can confess: We were very hasty when we imposed edicts on ourselves that the public was unable to abide by. Turkey, we have returned to you for the second or third time, and you are as you were in the beginning.

The rage passed quickly. Patriotism is sometimes a luxury and it is overpriced. We actually tried to locate a Turkey-substitute, but we couldn't find the all-inclusive package deal. So we have reached the conclusion that you don't have to be fanatical or provincial, and that patriotism does not mean no matter the price.

And we recalled: The greatest patriots, according to all the surveys, are always the prisoners and the emigrants, and we do not belong with them. What are we, criminals? Who are we, weaklings? Not at all. We are loyal and decent citizens. We are the true patriots.

On the way to Turkey, in the air, we read an airport book by some Russian, Tolstoy, who wrote something quite interesting in "Patriotism and Government," which in his opinion is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires.

He wrote that it is the abdication of human dignity, reason and conscience, and a slavish enthrallment to those in power; that it is a surrender of human dignity, wisdom and conscience, and a despicable enslavement to those with power.

He added that this is a terrible thing to say, but there is not, and never has been, violence that was not exercised in the name of patriotism.

See, that Tolstoy is no fool, and it's as though he guessed where we are headed for Sukkot.