A Changing Middle East: Turkish-Israeli Perspectives

Years of Activity: 2013

Research Status:

Not Active

Van Leer-TESEV Workshops

The relationship between Turkey and Israel has drastically deteriorated in the past decade due to a series of political crises. Meanwhile, developments like the Arab Spring and civil war in neighboring countries such as Syria and Iraq has created a different regional context and has brought a wave of new challenges for both countries. Realizing that cooperation and repairing of ties, through unofficial dialogue, would be beneficial to both countries in this atmosphere, the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) teamed up to organize two workshops, hoping to find common ground. The first workshop was organized on October 2nd in Istanbul and was sponsored by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung's Turkey office. An Israeli delegation comprising representatives from the academia, press, foreign ministry and civil society traveled to Istanbul and met with their counterparts. The second workshop took place in Jerusalem on December 22nd. This time a Turkish delegation comprising civil society and think-tank members and journalists came to Israel for meeting

Attempting to decode the challenges and advantages created by regional developments – especially the Arab Spring, the regime change in Egypt and the civil war in Syria – the discussions revealed the gaps that exist in the Turkish and Israeli perspectives of the region. The two sides engaged in earnest dialogue to understand how each of them reads the regional map. The workshops showed that while Turkey adopted a liberal discourse attempting to increase its soft power in the region, Israel viewed the region from a realpolitik perspective focusing on security. The religious-secular divide, the role of different actors and differences in their perspectives were other issues discussed in the workshops. While the business world evaluates the opportunities in the region from a long-term perspective of thirty to forty years, the politicians and statesmen are more concerned with immediate and middle-term developments. Moreover, the workshops strove to reveal areas of cooperation that should be developed between the countries. The discussions on the issue of energy and natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean revealed that cooperation in this field     could become a game changer benefiting both countries