Over at the day job, I wrote about Savannah’s burgeoning business relationship with Israel in this week’s Civil Society Column.
I tried, probably to my detriment, to keep it apolitical, even though Israel’s always a touchy topic. Look, I only have 800 words. I thought it best to keep it light.
No matter, someone found issue with it. Yesterday I received the following email. In the name of decency and other people’s litigious tendencies, I didn’t include the sender’s name:
I just sat down to eat lunch and opened the Connect to thumb through as I nibble on my sandwich. I began reading your article about the mayor visiting Israel.
I stopped at the 6th paragraph.
I know it is all the rage to treat Israel as some special place that can do no wrong and is super awesome. But your statement about it being the Middle East’s only democracy and most thriving economy are not accurate.
Turkey, the nation from which the boat and citizens on board came to attempt humanitarian relief to Gaza and were beat down by some cute IDF guys came, is the largest Middle Eastern democracy both in population and size. Established in 1923 verses Israel’s 1948. The economy is ranked 15th in the world, raking in over one trillion a year compared to Israel’s 50th place ranking and their $240ish billion.
Coupled with Turkey’s proactive international relations and better progress in granting autonomy for their Kurdish population (verses how Israel treats the Palestinians), your statement is either a slight to the 74 million Turks or pure ignorance.
Which is it?
Huh. Do I hate Turkish people or am I just stupid? Gee. What a choice. I sent this back:
Your hostility, as well as your presumptive and sexist “Mrs.,” almost prevented me from answering your email, but your accusations of ignorance are worth examining:
While Turkey is certainly a democracy, because of its unique geographic position it is not necessarily included in the Middle East region that includes Syria, Iran, Iraq and other Arab countries as well as Israel. It’s an associate member of the EU; perhaps you lump it with its neighbors because it’s a (secular) Muslim country.
Economics certainly are subjective; numbers can be presented in plenty of ways. Israel’s GDP per capita is over $31K, while Turkey’s is $12.3K, indicating a higher quality of life for Israel’s citizens.
Accounts of the tragic flotilla incident are incredibly varied. The UN report released last year cited fault on both sides: the Turks were found to have an “organized and violent resistance” against whom IDF soldiers defended themselves; the soldiers were accused of using unnecessary force.
And today’s New York Times has much to say about Turkey’s humanitarian stance:
Delighted to write a story when the mayor visits Turkey.
Enjoy the rest of your lunch.
I won’t pain you with his reply, but if emails could sputter, his would.
In the meantime, what say you, readers? Was I correct in my assertion that Israel’s is the Middle East’s only democracy and its most thriving economy? Or do I need to examine some latent hostility towards the Turkish? Or—and I’m willing to accept this—am I actually kind of a dummy?