Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Article excerpt

Turkey's Charm Is Longstanding

"Eager for Closer Israel Ties, Turkey Turns Up the Charm" (July 10) gives the impression that the only party supporting closer ties between Turkey and Israel is the military establishment. While the Turkish military certainly has been the driving force in this rapprochement, it was also an outgrowth of the assessment by the foreign policy establishment that Turkey's traditional foreign policy in the Mideast is self-defeating.

On the other hand, the article fails to mention that Turks and Jews have a shared history of more than 500 years, when the Ottoman Empire provided safe haven to Jews persecuted during the Spanish Inquisition and later by Nazi Germany. There are thousands of Jews living in Turkey today as citizens of Turkey, and anti-semitism is nonexistent. Only at the fringes of Turkish society, among fundamentalist Islamists, are anti-Israel feelings harbored. For the average Turk, what really matters is who is standing by Turkey's side today.

Relations between Israel and Turkey extend far beyond military cooperation. Tens of thousands of tourists from Israel visit Turkey each year. Trade has tripled over the last few years following the signing of a free trade agreement. And cooperation between universities and scientists is at a record high. This will further bring the two closest US allies in the region together, not only serving their own crucial interests, but the national security interests of the US in the eastern Mediterranean and the Mideast as well.

Guler Koknar

Washington, D.C.

Executive Director, Assembly of Turkish American Associations

Abortion and UN dues

Regarding the opinion article "Abortion and UN Dues" (July 8): Ruth Wedgewood highlights the problems caused by imposing abortion politics on foreign policy, but misses the most important point.

Legislation to repay dues owed by the US to the UN has been derailed by the inclusion of an irrelevant and odious provision related to family planning funds. Ms. Wedgwood asserts that this isn't as bad as some family planning groups claim because very little of US dues to the UN are used for family planning. …

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