For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
'Turkey has a very special place in my heart and special relationship with Israel... Turkey can bridge the gaps between us and our neighbors and help promote normalization and coexistence in the region" - Trade and Industry Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer in Turkey last week.
No wonder Rahat Lokum, that delectable Istanbuli confection marketed since the 19th century as Turkish Delight, conquered Europe without any resistance. If anything, there was willing cheerful surrender to the jelly-like starchy cubes, flavored with rose water and nuts and liberally dusted with icing sugar. There's an unquestionable exotic whiff to these pale-pink mouthfuls, accentuated by repeated suggestions that they are an addictive pleasure (to which, for instance, the untrustworthy Edmund succumbs in C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).
The soft candy is almost emblematic of the land in which it originated. Of all the world's Muslim powers, Turkey appears the most accessible. A negligible corner of it even protrudes into what's arbitrarily defined as Europe. The founder of its post-World War I republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, seemed to transform the abolished Ottoman sultanate with political, cultural, social, economic and legal reforms. Despite the occasional resort to military coups to protect its threatened secular quasi-democracy, Turkey became a NATO stalwart and for decades held radical Islam at bay.
It's enticing to relish this political confection, smacking with traces of alien seduction, even if excessive indulgence guarantees indigestion.
Bigger players on the international arena have very realpolitik motives to suck up to Turkey. For Israel the attraction is overpowering. An outcast in its neighborhood, Israel yearns for Muslim friends. It fell headlong for the vision of the region's non-Arabs banding together in a comradeship of self-preservation. This made particular sense in the heyday of nationalist pan-Arabism. It was bound to erode as jihadist fervor supplanted nationalist zeal, and Arabs could theoretically welcome Iran and Turkey into their club rather than shun their coreligionists as rank outsiders.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"