If we need to add another element to the “ugly Israeli” epithet our people has been labeled with, we can see it in all its glory in the “deals” currently being offered by Turkish travel agents to Israelis. A small temptation, in the form of slashing the prices of Turkish vacations, managed to promptly remove the layers of loyalty and Israeli patriotism some of us were able to boast during three weeks of war while showing disregard to the notion of self-respect.
Turkey is a wonderful vacation destination; there is no arguing that. Those in the know refer to it as a strategic ally. Almost every Israeli family, from every part of society, boarded a plane in recent years en route to a Turkish vacation.
Yet in recent days Turkey is a country that has been leading a radical anti-Israeli tone. About a month ago, members of an Israeli basketball team had to run for their lives at a basketball stadium in Ankara after a furious mob threatened to hurt them. “They had a murderous look in their eyes,” said the players, who preferred to be slapped with a loss rather than return to the floor.
It appears that even in hostile Arab countries we have not seen such wave of anti-Semitism, protest rallies, the burning of Israeli flags, and the kind of racist statements seen in Turkey these days. Moreover, we are not only talking about the man on the street. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan walked out on Israeli President Shimon Peres at Davos less than a week ago. The facial expression of our stunned president expressed the sense of humiliation better than anything else. Meanwhile, after walking out Erdogan returned to his country as a hero. Thousands of Turks waited for him at the airport while cheering and chanting “death to Israel.”
The war in Gaza is not over yet. The town of Sderot, regional councils in the south, and the city of Ashkelon are still under missile attack. The Counter Terrorism Bureau has issued a travel advisory for Israelis. At this time, Turkey is a dangerous country for Israelis. Even without saying so openly, the impression formed was that any Israeli would be turning a cold shoulder to Turkey, so that we can prove – if not to ourselves than to the world and to the Turks – that we still have some dignity left.
Turks taught us a lessonYet as it turned out, this was not the case. Turkish hotels offered special deals, and hundreds of vacations were sold within three hours. Meanwhile, hundreds of other Israelis were left disappointed after being informed there was no more room on the flight.
Just when we were presented with an opportunity to show what unity and national collegiality is all about, the Turks taught us a lesson. A $150 discount prompted some of us to sacrifice our dignity and security. We are seeing yet another aspect of the “ugly Israeli” that is no less damaging, and possibly more so, than Israelis who vandalize, litter, and steal from hotels.
To those who were able to secure the sought-after Turkish deal, I have a suggestion: On the way from the airport to your hotel ask the Turkish bus driver to translate the graffiti on the side of the road. If he isn’t too embarrassed, you will discover that some of it features hateful messages against Israelis just like you.
The bottom line is that we proved to the Turks that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for a very small reward. Moreover, this is the best proof that we shall never see here the kind of conditions required to impose a consumer boycott, not to mention a national boycott prompted by unity – even in the face of a substantive tangible threat to our wellbeing and safety. If we failed the loyalty test under such circumstances, it will never happen apparently.