Israelis Go ‘Cold on Turkey’

Israeli tourists go ‘cold Turkey”, avoiding a country that suffered a 59 percent decrease in visits from Israel to the once-popular vacation spot.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 8:03 PM

Erdek resort in Turkey
Erdek resort in Turkey
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

Israeli tourists have gone ‘cold Turkey”, avoiding a country which is suffering a 59 percent decrease in visits from Israel to the once-popular vacation spot before Ankara turned a cold shoulder to its former friend.

The decrease in the first five months this year compares with a 133 increase in 2010, when compared with the same period the previous year, Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper reported.

Only 30,000 Israel tourists visited Turkey between January and May of this year, compared with 72,500 the previous year. The sharp decline accelerated in May, when the decrease was more than 60 percent.

Turkey and Israel enjoyed friendly relations until two years ago, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to join international condemnation of Israel for the counterterrorist Operation Cast Lead campaign against Hamas terrorists. Retired Judge Richard Goldstone, who authored a damning report of Israel for the United Nations, has since admitted that many of his accusations were wrong.

Turkish-Israeli relations sank to new depths after the flotilla clash in May 2010, when Turkish members of the terror-linked and Turkish-based IHH group clubbed, shot at and kidnapped Navy commandos who boarded their boat to prevent it from approaching Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Nine IHH members were killed in the clash. The angry reaction from Ankara, accompanied by several extremely anti-Semitic presentations on television, has led many Israelis to look for different countries for vacationing.