The Six-Day War's Legacy in Sinai

The Six-Day War's 50th anniversary will generate an overabundance of commentary about the war's legacy on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Most scholarship will focus on the continued challenges of Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Jerusalem, however there are valuable lessons that Read more

Trump in Israel: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  President Donald Trump was in Israel for all of twenty-eight hours, and yet even within that short window of time he managed to till a significant amount of discursive soil. Dozens of analysts and commentators will offer their thoughts Read more

Erdogan, Jerusalem, and the End of the Honeymoon

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statements at the International Forum on al-Quds Waqf (held in Istanbul) received international media coverage when he attacked Israeli policy in Jerusalem, compared the situation in the West Bank with Apartheid South Africa, and called for Read more

The Curious Case of Michael Flynn, Turkey, and Israeli gas

President Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn has been at the epicenter of an ongoing story for the last few weeks. While I don't want to rehash what has already been reported, I did find one particular nugget Read more

Angry Birds: Freedom of the Press in Israel and Turkey

Posted on by Gabriel in Israel, Turkey |  

“Freedom of the press” has been a hot topic this week in Turkey and Israel. Although the conversation in each country is unique, and the tactics employed to limit media freedom varies, it is nevertheless discouraging to witness the fragility of democracy when executive power goes unchecked. Read more

Grounds for Reconciliation? Turkish Coffee as Israeli Peacemaker

Posted on by Gabriel in Israel, Turkey |  

A bag of Israeli-branded "Turkish" coffee

I was watching TV yesterday when I stumbled across this commercial, made by Strauss Group, an international food & beverage company and one of Israel’s most well-known brands globally. Read more

A War on Christmas in the Middle East?

Posted on by Gabriel in Israel, Turkey |  

Holiday madness has arrived early in the Middle East. On Sunday, Israel’s Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein rejected a fellow MK’s request for an official Christmas tree to be displayed in parliament during the holiday season. Meanwhile, in certain neighborhoods of Istanbul – a metropolis that has thoroughly embraced the commercial spirit of Christmas and New Year’s – there have been local efforts to “ban Santa.” Protestors held up signs reading “Christmas is a coup against Islam.” (For more on the changing attitudes towards Christmas in Turkey today, read this piece by Pinar Tremblay.) Read more

Ataturk, Ben-Gurion, and Turkey’s Road Not Taken

Posted on by Gabriel in Israel, Turkey |  

Although they appear very far apart today, Israel and Turkey share common historical DNA. The two countries were forged in the same fire of post-World War I secularism, anti-imperialism, and ethnic nationalism; and they have both been tested by significant domestic and regional challenges. In particular, their founders, David Ben-Gurion and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, both developed nation-specific models for statehood after the chaotic collapse of the Ottoman Empire. They did so by drawing from European models, while each observed the successes and failures of the other. Both emphasized a cultural and historical relationship to the land and adopted strict secular values. Their goals were the same, even if the end product was not: To construct nation-states that would “be masters of their own fate,” as Israel’s Declaration of Independence put it. As a result, the early years of these two Middle Eastern states—both of which were non-Arab, secular, and Western-oriented—were highlighted by an intense strategic partnership.

Read more

Curing the hiccups in Israeli-Turkish negotiations

Posted on by Gabriel in Israel, Turkey |  

From tales of Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan revealing the names of 10 Mossad assets to Iranian authorities, to El Al being locked out of the Turkish market, it is hard to find a silver lining amid the darkening clouds of Israeli-Turkish relations. Read more

The Secret History of a Problem

Posted on by Gabriel in Israel, Turkey |  

The Israeli-Turkish relationship has experienced ups and downs since 1949, when Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize the State of Israel. And because both countries are partners with the United States in a sensitive region, American policy has an invested stake in that relationship as well—one which occasionally demands active engagement during low ebb periods to prevent the two sides from terminating the relationship altogether.

It is a tricky business, in that the interests of the three countries are asymmetrical. For Israel, good relations with Turkey constituted a keystone to David Ben-Gurion’s “peripheral strategy” of surrounding the Arab states (who surrounded Israel) with friends of the Jewish state, including Iran and Ethiopia. For Turkey, ties to Israel were at first less important strategically but burnished its inclusion in the Western security system without jeopardizing its ties with pro-Western Arab countries. For the United States, Turkey’s membership in NATO turned it into an important partner as long as the Cold War posited the USSR as the key adversary, but the special relationship with Israel came to have a Cold War-bound strategic significance of its own on the edge of NATO’s ambit. Just as, with the Israeli approach, the enemy of thy enemy is thy friend, American leadership preferred working with a pair of friendly allies to working with a pair of antagonistic ones (of the Greek-Turkish variety, for example).

Read more

Don’t count on Turkey

Posted on by Gabriel in Turkey |  

Israel welcomes the Erdogan road show

Posted on by Gabriel in Turkey |  

Renewed unrest in Egypt makes Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s promised (and oft postponed) visit to Gaza an unlikely reality. Regardless of when he makes the journey, however, most Israelis will casually observe the festivities with the tired dismissal that comes from the overexposure of such populist grandstanding. Contrary to popular thinking, however, Erdoğan’s long-anticipated road show in Gaza will actually serve Israel’s interests.

Prior to reconciliation talks, the Turkish government made three demands of Israel: an official apology for the Mavi Marmara incident, financial compensation to the families of the victims, and Israel’s lifting of its blockade of the Gaza Strip. With an apology already in the bag and compensation talks entering their fifth consecutive month, Erdoğan’s trip would render the Gaza blockade a non-factor in further negotiations.

Read more

What you need to know about the #OccupyGezi phenomenon in Turkey

Posted on by Gabriel in Turkey |  


Early and often, experts drew parallels between the recent events in Taksim and those in Tahrir Square, but for Israelis, the past days remind many of the social protest movement that swept our own country in the summer of 2011, where “social justice” was demanded from the Netanyahu government. This brief analysis presents the events in Turkey within the necessary historical, social, and political context. Read more

How Will OccupyGezi Impact Turkey?

Posted on by Gabriel in Turkey |  
Turkish Protests

Turkish protestors rallied even into the later hours of the nigh

In 2011, when the Arab Spring went into full bloom and protests against regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon began, some claimed the source of inspiration for this wave of political Islam was the so-called “Turkish Model.”

Since 2002 the conservative AKP (Justice and Development Party) and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had achieved successive parliamentary majorities, enjoyed u
nprecedented economic growth, and balanced relationships with European and Middle Eastern states while simultaneously advocating for a greater acceptance of Islam in the public and political realm. There was much to admire with how gracefully a country scarred by military coups and deep political divisions was able to transition from Kemalism to seemingly something different.

Yet this weekend’s events in Taksim Square, the cultural heart of Istanbul, suggest a different narrative. Perhaps Turkey did not serve as a model for the Arab Spring. Perhaps the rise of the AKP in 2002 was not the watershed moment that marked the beginnings of a Post-Kemalist era. The only lesson we can seemingly come away with is, like Tahrir Square, most people didn’t see this coming. Read more