Israel and Turkey, The Quiet Alliance
Friday, November 16, 2007
The Community of Turkish Immigrants in Israel has recently dedicated a monument of the late President Kemal Atatürk in gratitude to the father of the Turkish nation
This week Israel's President Shimon Peres paid an official visit to Turkey where he received a warm welcome. For the first time, an Israeli leader addressed the Turkish parliament, and in Hebrew. The president's visit highlighted what has been called 'the quiet alliance' between the Jewish state and Turkey, a Muslim non-Arab nation in the Middle East. Tourism and commerce flourishes between the two countries with tens of thousands of Israelis flocking to Turkey every year. Israeli Air-Force pilots also train in Turkey, a key element in military ties.
Ties between Turkey and the Jewish people go back a long way. Some five-hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire gave shelter to tens of thousands of Spanish Jews who fled from the Inquisition. They settled in Turkey and many European countries which were under Ottoman rule.
More recently, during the rise of the Nazis in the 1930's, Turkish president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk allowed many German Jewish refugees to enter Turkey, despite Ankara's alliance with Nazi Germany. During the Nazi era most of the Jewish communities in Turkish controlled countries of Europe survived the Holocaust. Many of these Jews went on to make their homes in the ancient Jewish homeland of Israel. In fact, Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and the country's second State President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi studied law at the University of Istanbull.
In tribute to Turkey's friendship with the Jewish peolpe, the Arkadash association (The Turkish Jewish Community in Israel) has dedicated a monument in memory of President Atatürk in the city of Yehud, outside of Tel-Aviv.
The Arkadash association, active in promoting friendship between the Turkish and the Israeli people, has chosen to establish this monument as a tribute to the father of the Turkish nation, and his overwhelming contribution to the Turkish people and the Jewish community. Moreover, the establishment of the monument is a symbol of friendship and tolerance between the two nations; it is a message of honor to one of the most important figures and symbols in the history of the Turkish nation.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk - Background
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938) was an army officer, revolutionary statesman, the founder of the Republic of Turkey and its first President. Mustafa Kemal established himself as a successful and extremely capable military commander while serving as a division commander in the Battle of Gallipoli. He later fought with distinction on the eastern Anatolian and Palestinian fronts, making a name for himself during World War I.
Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the hands of the Allies, and the subsequent plans for its partition, Mustafa Kemal led the Turkish national movement in what would become the Turkish War of Independence. Having established a provisional government in Ankara, he defeated the forces sent by the Entente powers. His successful military campaigns led to the liberation of the country and to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. Mustafa Kemal then embarked on a major programme of reforms in the political, economic and cultural aspects of life in Turkey, with the perspectives defined in the Kemalist ideology, which sought to create a modern, democratic and secular nation-state, guided by educational and scientific progress based on the principles of positivist and rationalist enlightenment.
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