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The Turkish text can be found here.
AN OPEN LETTER TO TURKISH FRIENDS
We in Israel very much regret the loss of life that has taken place. We did not seek this confrontation and we are not saying that we are completely right, have handled everything correctly, or have not made mistakes. But in a spirit of friendship these issues can be discussed and worked out in the best manner. We also remember the time of the earthquake in Turkey and the spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding that prevailed then.
At the same time, though, whatever mistakes Israel has made, we ask at this difficult moment in the long history of friendship between the Turkish and the Jewish peoples beginning in Ottoman times and the more recent friendship between the Turkish and Israeli peoples: please remember that stirring up anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hysteria has long been used by tyrants to seize power, to fool and exploit their people.
Today, narrow-minded politicians within the AKP are exploiting and creating unnecessary conflicts in order to destroy Turkey’s democratic constitution and win the next election. The Turkish people have already rejected its efforts to change Turkish tradition regarding head-scarves and the Imam Hotep schools. Its Kurdish policy has collapsed in failure. Corruption scandals have angered the public. The Constitutional Court has already rejected some of its actions and may do so for more of them. After seven years in power it is trying to figure out a way to stay in control on the country.
Many of you know that even while the Turkish people are united in their response to the recent events, the current policy of the Erdogan regime wants to exploit faith and promote hatred order to change the Turkish Constitution to gain control over the court system. The Erdogan regime now wants to exploit hatred and hysteria to win next year’s election at the moment when it has mismanaged the economy and is declining in the public opinion polls. Even some well-known Turkish Islamic clerics have criticized this behavior.
Remember the words of Kemal Ataturk: He who exploits faith for personal and political gain is contemptible.
“Religion is an important institution. A nation without religion cannot survive. Yet it is also very important to note that religion is a link between God and the individual believer. The brokerage of the pious cannot be permitted. Those who use religion for their own benefit are detestable. We are against such a situation and will not allow it. Those who use religion in such a manner have fooled our people; it is against just such people that we have fought and will continue to fight.”
One cannot help but think that previous governments in Turkey would have criticized Israel-perhaps correctly-and then worked calmly to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of the Turkish nation. This has been the way that issues between the two countries have been worked out for many years successfully. The two sides would have been able to work out the questions of whether an apology should be made or whether compensation needed to be paid without any need for threats or insults.
For its entire history, the Turkish Republic’s foreign policy has been based on the idea, “Peace at home, peace abroad.” This expresses his fundamental strategy that was brilliantly successful: that the Turkish Republic would avoid looking for conflicts outside its own territory.
The question here, asked with all respect, is whether the decision of a few Turkish citizens as individuals to try to break a blockade imposed as part of a foreign conflict requires the entire country to perceive itself being attacked and insulted.
Can any Turkish citizen, acting purely on his own, attack foreign soldiers, or help create a situation where violence takes place, and then drag the entire country into a crisis or a foreign conflict by getting themselves killed or injured? Can a Turkish citizen support a foreign terrorist group-despite the fact that Erdogan denies this, Hamas has staged hundreds of terrorist attacks designed to kill Israeli civilians–and then force the nation to back that group by helping to set off a confrontation?
The problem is that by taking this approach you are allowing these individuals to take any actions they want, which can lead to the image of the entire Turkish nation worldwide becoming one not associated with peacefulness and entangling Turkey with foreign conflicts. Is this not the kind of thing that Ataturk was warning against?
We hope that our friendship will survive these tragic events.
Sincerely, Barry Rubin