Ertuğrul Özkök - English
Ertuğrul Özkök - English
Ertuğrul Özkök - EnglishYazarın Tüm Yazıları

I recalled the famous story of "The Price" when the Turkish PM spoke about Israel

As the citizen of a nation that embraced the Jews 517 years ago, I wish that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had not have made the following statements.

Haberin Devamı

What is more, as a member of a generation that grew on the story of "The Price"*, written by the Turkish novelist, Omer Seyfettin, and made a connection with the theme of the story as part of our cultural identity, I would never have expected that those statements would be made.


What does the prime minister say when he harshly condemns the Israeli ground offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza:


"We are speaking as the grandsons of the Ottomans who hosted your ancestors in these lands when they were expelled."


* * *

In the name of our country, I wish these remarks had never been spoken.

Haberin Devamı


To say, "We rescued you, but look what you are doing", is not befitting to Turkey.


These remarks were directed at the wrong address.


We embraced the Jewish people who suffered in Spain and not the Israeli government and army that bombed Palestinian children.


Throughout our childhoods we were told the story of  "The Price" and the message that it carried became a part of who were are.


In other words, we don't harbor this attitude of making someone pay in return for any favors or acts of kindness we show them.


We were told this story of the man who paid such a price for an act of kindness that was shown to him by cutting off his own arm.


In other words, our national tradition does not allow us to express such notions of accountability towards Israel in the name of our country.


These sentiments, which were directed at the wrong address, could stick like a thorn in the side of a nation, which could one day rise up and say, "Here is your payment".


What’s more, these words sabotage any possible positive contribution of Turkey's to the Palestinian people.


Besides, like all the other citizens, weren't the Jews also part of the Ottoman Empire?


It is for that reason that I didn't like this part of Erdogan's speech.

Haberin Devamı


Let me state outright that I didn't like the arrogance of his speech.


This arrogance may be welcomed by those who are rightfully angered by Israel’s actions, but it makes no contribution to bringing about peace in the region.


However, I think that Turkey could play an important role in this process if it doesn't lose credibility in the eyes of both parties.


Therefore I believe the answer to this question needs to very well thought-out:


"Will a Turkish politician, who is more angered and radical than an Arab or Palestinian individual, make more or less contribution to the solution of the Middle East problem?”


I am not a Middle East expert, nor a politician.

Haberin Devamı


In other words, I have no mission to either ease or appease the angering masses.


I, more than ever, am also filled with anger towards the Israeli government.


It destroyed not only the harmony of the Middle East, but also of Turkey.


I still believe that we need to stay level-headed when looking at the current situation.


As a person, what I want is for an end to the bloodshed in the Middle East.


I don't only want peace, but also prosperity for the region.


When I look at Gaza, I see that this region has not benefited even 1 percent from the massive global economic boost realized over the last 10 years.


Therefore, if we want to help the Palestinians we must first help to ensure a lasting peace in the region.

Haberin Devamı


And not contribute to feeding the growing animosity and fueling the war.


* * *


Another theory suggests that Erdogan's harsh response would increase Turkey's influence.


Hopefully, this evaluation is correct.


And hopefully, this theory eventuates and Turkey is not forced to pay the price for its words...



*The Price is the story of a man who is rescued in an act of kindness by another from the punishment of having his arm cut off. The Cost however feels eventually compelled to cut off his own arm to free himself from this debt of kindness – which he is forced to pay through constant reminders.





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