People who claim to have “won” a war are lying. There are no winners in war. War may seem to have brought victory to one side and to have made the profiteers rich, but in fact the only outcome is destruction, poverty and want. Great unhappiness and misery awaits the survivors. The survivors will be crippled, sick, weary and angry; they will have lost their families, been driven from their homes and lands, and suffered deep psychological trauma. The light of love has gone from their eyes; their souls are darkened. The emptiness of that psychological death is all too readily apparent. Everywhere is filled with the stench of death. Nobody wins anything.
At a time when the world speaks only of war, fine words, moral words, words of peace, assume another form. They have a fine effect, a positive one. As virtue is shown, radical, angry and complaining voices start to die down. Since they cannot be provoked, they can find no scope for conflict. They cannot hate and they are weak in the face of virtue. A climate of peace and tranquility will reign.
That is what Israel’s apology has brought to Turkey. Certain people, enraged since the Mavi Marmara incident, have now begun speaking differently of Israel. The public in general was highly pleased. The Turkish nation dislikes losing a friend. It dislikes chilly relations. As the Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar stated in Al-Monitor, people on the Turkish coast always asked Israelis the same thing; “What took you so long? Do you know how much fun the Israelis had here all these years? Isn’t it a pity to lose that?” Eldar also mentioned a Turkish travel agent who was always being asked, “When are the Israelis coming?” The Turkish travel agent went on to say, “You know that everyone is happy about it. Never did we hate any Israeli, not even for a minute. We’re friends, and friends stay friends.”
In this way, a heavy shackle has been broken. Even if there are skeptical voices, Turks and Israelis have begun talking about more pleasant things. The tourism we can do together; the trade we will do together; the brunches we will enjoy together in Jerusalem; eating fish rolls together looking out over the beautiful Bosporus; sailing trips on the coasts of the Mediterranean.
Of course, there were those who wanted to go back time and time again to the Mavi Marmara incident. But to tell the truth, nobody wanted to discuss the matter after a few days. There were always plans for the future and they won out. Everyone immediately said, “What will happen now?” There was talk, but it was always optimistic.
The apology was a move forward, one made for peace.Because peace always wins out!
There is much to be gained politically and economically from unity between Israel and Turkey. I have set this out in general terms in my piece this week in The Jerusalem Post, discussed the Middle East in terms of various countries and discussed how many threats could so easily be brought to an end. Here, however, I wish to speak of the origins of true friendship and where it can lead.
Many claims were made after the apology. “That apology was for Syria.” “It was because of Iran.” “America insisted.” Although unity between Israel and Turkey will bring good things to the Middle East, Shimon Peres set out the real reason for the apology very clearly in an interview with a Turkish reporter:
“Turkey is the first country in the Muslim world that has managed to be modern and scientific. I am much impressed that Turkey values technology so much of late. Science has led to globalization. And globalization rejects racism and differences between faiths. Looking at all this as a whole, there are many reasons for us to work together.”
This expresses very much. The way that Peres speaks of the importance of science and democracy being valued in a Muslim society is noteworthy. The truth is that science is one of the main paths to progress, democracy, modernity and even rational and correct religious devotion. When people act in the light of science, love, affection and altruism, radical elements, racist elements and fascist and communist elements will have no place in that society. There will be no discrimination in that society, no religious hatred, no sectarian hatred and no hatred of minorities. At that point, extremists and fanatics will be too weak to divide people one from the other. Religion will be protected where there is science and democracy. Virtue, love and peace will also be protected.
The problem represented by these radical elements is that there is a need for a country that abides by this definition in the Islamic world. That is why, just as Peres says, a country such as Israel that values science, art, democracy and religion needs an ally such as Turkey; these two countries must therefore issue joint messages of peace that will break the shackles binding other countries. The two powers, both largely impervious to radicals, democratic yet also religious, must work together to create good things that lead the way to progress in art and science. Unity means strength, and a great force that emerges against radicalism, tyranny, xenophobia and intolerance can change a great many things. By acting together, teaching, exhibiting moral virtue and doing the right thing, not by indulging in a perpetual arms race and strident rhetoric.
We must not forget that the world is not like it was before 2010. The Middle East did not need an alliance between Israel and Turkey so much then, but now it does. The way to do this is by using the special language of peace. The Turkish journalist Cengiz Çandar is optimistic about Israeli-Turkish relations, but says that in political terms “we are not on honeymoon yet.” This is true. But it is a fact that the warmth between the peoples will increase rapidly in the wake of the apology. By using the language of love, we can turn this into a more deeply-rooted union of love than we had before. Throughout the last three years or so of tension, we have always issued messages of love and closeness to the Israelis and Jews in general through our TV broadcasts. We have welcomed them to our studios. We have been a powerful shield against anti-Semitism. That message of love has a powerful effect on this friendship of that and encourages Turkish people to show that love because the language of love has a special impact. Those who would wish to incite hatred are powerless in the face of the language of peace that harbors apologies, forgiveness, love and affection. They will fall silent. That is why we must always speak of peace and union. Let us never forget. Peace always wins out!
The writer is a commentator and religious and political analyst on Turkish TV and also a peace activist. She writes as an op-ed columnist for the Jerusalem Post, the Washington Post, Moment Magazine, Gulf Daily News and Haber Hilal in Turkey. Her webpage is: http://en.aylinkocaman.com