Turkey has expelled Israel's ambassador and all of its top diplomats. Military ties and trade between the two countries are finished for now, and Turkey has beefed up its presence in the eastern Mediterranean. But despite the obvious diplomatic tensions, business sources and a top Turkish theologian and philosopher insist that ties remain strong.
Business sources quoted by Turkey's Today's Zaman newspaper in a report published Sunday maintained firmly that "diplomatic crises and businesss ties are two separate things." The report went on the emphasize that its sources "all underline that the private sector will not be affected as much as business between the two countries' public sectors."
Turkey's exports to Israel in 2010 totaled $2 billion while it imported $1.3 billion from the country, a trade surplus of $700 million.
"Despite the diplomatic tension after the Mavi Marmara raid, the private sectors of both countries continued to trade without slowing down," the report pointed out. "I do not think that the diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel will have an evident effect on the foreign trade volume, since diplomacy and business do not always interact," Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) President Rizanur Meral told the newspaper.
Like any good businessman, Meral also made sure to hedge his bets. "Of course, it is expected that business ties with Israel will be affected, but I still expect that it will not pose a significant threat for both countries. However," he added, "every company will evaluate the current situation and its risks and if the tension gets worse, I think many Turkish and Israeli companies will look for alternative markets."
Meanwhile, Istabul-based theologian and philosopher Adnan Oktar, commented Sunday in an email exchange with Arutz Sheva, "It really does not look as if it is going to be resolved." But although the trend toward conflict appears imminent, Oktar said he still believes it is possible to avert such a disaster.
"I will now have guests from Israel, and our people will now go to Israel. We will speak with Iran too and with Israel. We will meet with various members of the Israeli Parliament, and they will come here. We want the problem between Turkey and Israel to be resolved at once, in the best way.
"In the same way we were friends in Ottoman times, and there was a friendly compassion in the sense of humane friendship in the time of our Prophet so there will be a humane friendship, humane compassion now," he said.
"We never just sit back and watch. And we won't wait till the last moment. We will do all in our power to make sure events take the path of peace, of goodness. Peace, anti-war stand, democracy, freedom, reason, science and the spirit of love and compassion must prevail, insha'Allah (G-d willing)."
Interfaith delegations from Israel have traveled to Istanbul to meet with Oktar on several occasions, most recently earlier this year. Two of his representatives are expected to arrive in Jerusalem sometime Sunday to meet with lawmakers, and expect to remain in Israel for several days.