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In the Newsroom

October 16, 2009
Israel condemns Turkish TV drama for “incitement”

Gizem Yarbil is a producer at Worldfocus and a native of Turkey. She blogs about a controversy over a Turkish television program.

Only a few days after Turkey excluded Israel from a joint NATO war exercise, a new crisis is brewing between the two Middle East allies.

The problem is a television drama series that Israel condemns as state-sanctioned “incitement.”

“Separation,” a 13-part TV series that aired on Turkey’s state-run television channel for the first time on Wednesday, has several controversial scenes. In one, a Palestinian father holds his new-born above his head in front of Israeli soldiers at a check point. A few seconds later, one of the soldiers shoots the baby dead. In another scene, Israeli soldiers kick and beat elderly Palestinians on the streets and one soldier shoots a teenage Palestinian girl on her chest.

Here is an excerpt from the television drama “Separation:”

The drama outraged Israel. The Foreign Ministry summoned the deputy chief of mission at the Turkish embassy to complain and protest. “Such a drama series, which doesn’t even have the slightest link to reality and which presents Israeli soldiers as murderers of innocent children, isn’t worthy of being broadcast even by enemy states and certainly not in a state which has full diplomatic relations with Israel,” said Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The coordinator of the Turkish drama replied by saying that none of the incidents in the show were “imaginary.” “It is possible to find photographs of what Israelis did to Palestinians on the Internet,” said Bulent Erdinc, the series coordinator.

The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also shrugged off angry Israeli protests over the show saying the Turkish state “has no right to comment on the quality of broadcasts or the opinions expressed in them.” This statement should be met with some skepticism as Turkey’s record on freedom of speech issues is not known to be very high.

The controversial scenes in the drama are subjective. I’m sure some people will think they’re simple propaganda and some will think them a reflection of reality. In general, Turkish films, especially TV dramas and soap-operas, do tend towards exaggerated melodrama.

But a broader question here is whether filmmakers should care about the sensitivities of those they depict.  For example, should the producers and writers of the drama series “24” have taken into consideration the fact that their depiction of Muslim terrorists may have possibly led to suspicion against ordinary Arab-Americans?

The TV drama is airing on Turkey’s state-owned channel, TRT. This channel, according to law, has to be “autonomous and impartial.” However, since the Islamist-based ruling AK party came to power in Turkey, TRT has been criticized for its religious/conservative programming, and also for appointing party sympathizers. I think it’s quite possible that the government officials knew what this television drama, which has been advertised in Turkey for a long time, was going to entail. And I imagine they could foresee the reaction it would draw from Israel.

In that case, considering the already strained relations between the two “allied” nations, the question becomes, is the Turkish government interested in enlarging the rift between the two countries? And if so, what would this say about the future of the Middle East?

– Gizem Yarbil

For more Worldfocus coverage of Turkey, visit our extended coverage page: Turkey between East and West.

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Comments

18 comments

#18

I suggest to be realistic you call yourself not “Son of Jerusalem”, but “Son of El Quds”. Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) is the ancient Hebrew name of the city. El Quds is what the Arab invaders named it so many centuries later. You Muslims can make a thousand fictional TV shows and tell each other the same lies. Islam is a mechanism that was wound up tight with lies from the beginning and now it is at the end of its run and the machine is running fever pitch. Islam is choking on its lies and nothing will save it. Write, write and show yourselves for who you are. Everyone can see it. You have convinced yourselves yet again, as always.

#17

So let me understand Colonel Richard Kemp – in #10 comment – you say the Israelis killed less than Collation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, therefore they are not war criminals. Hay, that means they are not as good as you in killing people but they are still war criminals just like you.

#16

GUYZ! israel is a occupationist nd u cant deny that! millions of palestines have been slaughtered and forced to immigrate all over the world . they are civillians of the second degree. i just feel sorry for the real arabs being oppressed by the “open arab” countries that express other opinions than their people.

#15

Israel democracy does not allow of anything, the soldiers who sopke were threatend and will be punished. Israel has an illiberal, selective, military guarded democracy. Do not abuse terms and concepts and use them to serve your own propoganda. No democracy on earth will do what Israel is doing. Just look at the UN. More than 3000 resolutions have been violated by Israel since its creation. True democracies respect international law and advocate for it, Israel is ready to always abuse it. Remember when Israel was admitted to the UN Resolution, 273. Israel agreed to respect, abide and implement all UN resolutions especially 181, that gives the natives the right to return to their homes. So, J Garbuz, Save me your selective moralism

#14

you are so oppssessed with Islam and not with occupation. The question of Palestinian is a question of Colonials who came from Europe and occupaied a land that does not belong to them. Did Palestine have Jews in it for the last 3000 years? yes it did. Do those Jews have the right to claim Palestine as their country? no they do not. Judiasm is a religion not a nationality. As you said anyone can convert and become a Jew. Many Russians converted to Judiasm just to leave the country. Does that give them the right to come to Palestine. J. Garbuz, in sume, do not make this a Jewish Muslim conflict, it is an illegal occupation of a land by European Whites who still believe that they are supprior to the natives. Every action in the West Bank proofs that. The killing, the checkpoints 675, the Walls, the settlers killing of natives, cutting olive trees, destroying water wells, and crossing to Jordan.

#13

In fact, this is one of the major ways that Islam spread so fast, as Arab men took women in the vast territories they conquered, and naturally the children were automatically Muslims and belonged to the father regardless. And conversion from Islam to another religion carries a death penalty in Islam. By contrast, under Jewish law it is just the opposite. Children of a non-Jewish mother are NOT Jews and if they wish to become Jews must convert like any other Gentile. The religion, race, ethnicity of the father is not a factor. Tribal affiliation is purely matrilinial.

#12

Israeli democracy even allows soldiers to speak out, something that certainly that exists in NO Muslim country and definitely inside the “Palestinian” territories.
And under Muslim law, a non-Muslim woman who marries a Muslim their children automatically BELONG to the husband, and are automatically Muslims. Women have to be warned that if they marry a Muslim man and the woman chooses to divorce, the children remain with the father regardless. Hundreds of women are trapped in bad marriages to Muslim men because of this. It is only right that Israel inform Jewish women what they might expect if they hook up with a Muslim man.

#11

The world should call Israel’s actions what they were: war crimes. Many countries do not want to criticize Israel because of the fear of being called anti-Semites. War crimes were even confirmed by the soldiers who took part in the 24-day Gaza killing spree. Racist Jews are now patrolling the West Bank stopping Jews from dating Palestinians.

#10

Delivered by Colonel Richard Kemp, 16 October 2009
UN Human Rights Council: 12th Special Session

“Thank you, Mr. President.
I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the
Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did
more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned
its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian
population.

#9

I wish more countries, like Turkey, would speak out against Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.

#8

Turkish oppression of the Kurds has been ongoing since at least 1925. Until very recently, Kurds weren’t even allowed to speak their own language! At least 30,000 Kurds were killed in the war against the PKK. By contrast, in Israel, Arabic is one of the state’s 3 official languages. My main problem with Israel is that it doesn’t hit back. On the contrary, in Israel, award winning anti-war and anti-government movies are made and even financed by the Israeli government itself every day. And I have as yet to see a single anti-Arab or anti-Muslim movie made in Israel, and I watch a lot of them. Israel’s problem is that until Netanyahu, Israel hasn’t even bothered to speak up in its own defense. That’s because the Arabs have over 20% of the vote in Israel, and Israeli politicians can’t offend a minority that votes. So Israel has taken the lies and caluminies levelled against it with equanimity, and it is proving very detrimental. One of the most democratic countries in the world is being being painted into a corner by states that really have some of the worst human rights records on earth. In the UN, the lunatics took over the asylum long ago. I think, as with the League of Nations in the 1930s, its days are numbered. It’s a shame that Turkey has lost its way, allowing the Islamists to take over. It does not augur well at all.

#7

Well, if it was Incitement exactly what did it incite? The civil objection is called slander but it seems that the images depicted had been witnessed, so there is no slander. Israel and established Jews have a known paranoia about negative images no matter how isolated, as if to insist that no Jew has ever done anything wrong. Every nation culture and people have had marks and scars on history, and I am always skeptical of people who insist on sugar coating their faults, sense it implies their own inability to come to grips with the truth as if they even want to. Then again given the NATO flap, it is common to that culture to demonstrate a want to be spiteful and vindictive .

#6

Maybe it’s time for Israel to help the Kurds more in their own struggle for statehood and independence. Maybe it’s time for the Kurds to free themselves from foreign domination.

#5

Israel should produce a drama about the extermination and ethnic cleansing of the Jews of Medina and Khaybar by the “prophet” Muhammad. The fact is, that while even in Germany there are still Jews living today, not a single Jew remains alive in Saudi Arabia. And while the Temple Mount may be the THIRD holiest place in Islam, it is the FIRST holy place for the Jews, and yet, despite the fact that Israel reconquered East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, it has allowed the Muslim Waqf to keep control of it, and has not destroyed or harmed it in any way. Despite that kindness, the Muslims do not let Jews even go up there to pray. When Jordan controlled the Temple Mount, no Israeli Jews were allowed to come and pray at the Western Wall. Israel has been open and free to all people to come and pray and has protected every Christian, Muslim, Bahai and other shrine under its control. Clearly, Israel has been too kind and decent and that is why it is being attacked from every side. Kindness in the Muslim world is only seen as weakness, because they know what they do when they are in control. The Muslims have no problem turning Churches into Mosques, and desecrating Jewish synagogues altogether.

#4

LESSON. Turkey is a Muslim country. Israel is blowing up the 3rd holiest Muslim mosque in the world. Like it or not, Turkey will say the truth. ISRAEL KILLED MANY INNOCENT PALESTINIANS. IRAN, TURKEY, AND MANY MORE ARAB COUNTRIES WILL DEFEND THE MOSQUE. SO ISRAEL must stop being murderers. Like it or not, sooner or later the truth will come out. ISRAEL killed 1,300 Palestinians in 20 days.

#3

When Israeli schools and Rabies begin teaching their childern love, respect, and acceptance of others as equalls, then it is fair to ask others to do the same. But, Rabies bless the killing of Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims at large. The killing of the Palestinians is reality. What the Turks are showing is fiction and none should complain about fiction on TV

#2

Turkey should be ashamed of itself! Israel is a country that is surrounded by nations that wants to wipe her off the face of the earth. This is not fair for Israel. Israel is being attacked every day by rockets, suicide bombers, small arms fire, etc. If this was any other free country, they would be doing the same thing. It is very unfair how each country that does not support Israel plays the victim role in the U.N. in order to victimize themselves and vilianize Israel.
People wake up! Israel is the free worlds biggest supporter in the middle east.

#1

Turkey is able to stop such programs that sponsor such hatred and mistrust. It does seem that it is encouraging a rift to develop between the two countries. It is very dangerous for America and Israel for Turkey to align itself with Syria and the Iranian axis. Erdogan’s anti-Israel and anti-semitic remarks, followed by this primtime series showing IDF soldiers cruelly killing innocent Palestinians. Such lies and hatred are as dangerous, I think, as a nuclear bomb in Iran’s hands. The future of the Middle East is only hopeful to me because God, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, is ultimately in control and good will win out over evil.

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