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Turkey and Israel: Our War by Proxy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It was a diplomatic and a political crisis at heart but the battlefield and the main tool was the media.

The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister intended to insult to the Turkish ambassador by making him sit in seat that was lower than his own and ignoring the diplomatic custom of putting up the Turkish flag, as well as by frowning the whole time. This was all a deliberate performance in front of the cameras to convey a message and elaborate on its detail.

However, it seems that Israel’s media and political deception blew up in its face in the form of embarrassment, as Israel intended to insult a Turkish diplomat but ended up doing more damage to itself. It seems that the consequences of having a right-wing extremist as the Israeli Foreign Minister (Avigdor Lieberman) have become too hard to contain for the Israeli institution. In the recent crisis, the Israeli institution seemed to be ignorant of the changes taking place in Turkey or unable to understand Turkey’s inclination towards its Arab and regional surroundings, which began to appear over a year ago.

The recent Turkish-Israeli crisis appears to be a crisis between the Arabs and Israel by proxy.

It was noticeable that the Israeli press was more concerned with the Arab media coverage of the crisis between Ankara and Tel Aviv than with the reaction of the Turkish press or its reaction to what happened to the Turkish ambassador in Tel Aviv. On the Arab side, full media attention was given to the way that Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon received the Turkish ambassador and deliberately insulted him. The Arab and Israeli media’s concern with the image of diplomacy, the crisis and its sense of concern surpassed that given to the Haiti disaster that claimed the lives and injured hundreds of thousands.

In the late 1970s, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was cited as saying that Israel’s foreign policy was purely internal and Israeli and US analysts consider this to be valid today. This was evident during the recent Turkish-Israeli crisis.

Arabs might misinterpret the magnitude of Turkish [political] escalation towards Israel, especially as some in the Arab press have celebrated the Turkish position (which is right without doubt), as both Ankara and Tel Aviv have a tendency to turn over a new page.

Arab celebration of the Turkish diplomatic victory ignores the fact that Turkey and Israel have diplomatic ties and [joint] military, economic and political interests, a fact that misplaces the Turkish victory, despite its significance.

As part of our constant habit of searching for an imaginative Arab victory, we fabricate victories and we become incapable of investing in our enemy’s blunders. What the Israeli Foreign Ministry did under Lieberman’s leadership is a sign of a different context, so perhaps monitoring the Israeli media’s reaction might be beneficial in this regard.

It is no exaggeration to say that both Ankara and Tel Aviv need to contain the recent crisis, and it seems that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to the Turkish capital is enough to control the effects of the crisis and put a stop to any more deterioration.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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