Israeli Tourists "Not Needed" In Turkey, Says Erdogan
As political Islam becomes gradually more dominant in the Arab Muslim world, Turkey’s religiously conservative government seems to be losing interest in building bridges with Israel. In other words, the Turkey-Israeli relationship is close to hitting rock bottom.
Last week, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a baffling statement. "We do not need Israeli tourists. We have successfully filled their places, and in the past year, 31 million tourists visited Turkey.”
Indeed, Turkey’s tourism industry expects to make more than last year despite Europe’s deepening financial crisis. The vacation destination expects to earn $25 billion this year and ranks seventh in the world in terms of the highest number of tourists.
While Erdogan’s unwelcoming attitude toward Israeli tourists may not cost the Turkish economy, it unfortunately takes away from the prospect of making Israelis and Muslims believe they can coexist together in peace. Turkey was the first Muslim majority country to recognize the State of Israel in 1949. Although Arab nations criticized Turkey for its relationship with the Jewish state, they also saw it as beneficial to their interests because Turkish diplomats were able to talk to all sides in the region. (...)