Photo Credit: Mohammed Al-Ostaz / Flash 90
Then Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan with de facto Gaza Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

A new Pew Research Poll found that more Turks dislike Israel than dislike either Hezbollah or Hamas. In fact, Israel is the most disliked country in Turkey, according to the poll, with 86 percent having an unfavorable opinion of the Jewish state.

Of course, Israel is portrayed by the leadership in Turkey as a detestable nation, so it is no wonder that the people share their leader’s view.


As Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has grown first slowly and now ever more quickly away from the policies of the secular heavyweight Ataturk, his belligerence and growing Islamic fervor has frequently found expression in his criticisms of Israel.

The most public ugliness between Israel and Turkey was over the Mavi Marmara disaster in May 2010. Erdoğan blamed Israel completely, loudly and with great fervor, despite the anti-Israel, terrorist-supporting Turkish thugs who attacked the Israelis (who were not permitted to use their live side weapons) boarding their ship when it attempted to break Israel’s legal blockade of Gaza. See the video clip at the end of this article. Ten Turks died in the ensuing meleé and Erdoğan, with his buddy Mr. Obama, demanded Israel both apologize and provide compensation.

Surely the Turks look favorably upon the United States. After all, U.S. President Obama has fawned over the Turkey’s leader Erdoğan, referring to his Turkish counterpart as his closest friend in the Middle East.

No, nearly two-thirds of all Turks have an unfavorable opinion of the U.S., and that less than loving picture has remained fairly constant for more than a decade.

But neither Israelis nor Americans should feel bad. The Turks don’t much like anyone. Other than Turkey. Almost four-fiths of Turks have a positive opinion about their own country.

How do other countries stack up in the opinion of Turks? Not too well. In addition to Israel, the U.S. and Iran being viewed unfavorably by more than three-quarters of all Turks, Russia, Brazil and China are disliked by well more than half of the population.

In fact, the only state which almost – almost – half of the Turkish population does not detest is Saudi Arabia, and still, only 26 percent have what they consider to be a favorable opinion of the Saudis.

Even NATO, of which Turkey has been a member for 60 years, does not rank high with the Turks. Only 19% of the Turkish population has a favorable opinion about NATO, and 70 percent have an unfavorable one.

But perhaps of greater interest is that well more than half of the population has an unfavorable (66 percent) opinion of the European Union, and only a quarter think favorably about the EU. Turkey has been trying desperately for years to join the EU. No doubt its star has fallen with EU members as well.

Another interesting finding is that although Turkey is currently on the hot seat with ISIS gaining strength on its borders, only half of Turkey’s population expressed concern about the growth of Islamic extremism in its country.

What does Israel really detest? Not so much ISIS. It is the tiny Jewish State which is rock bottom as far as the Turks are concerned. Only two percent of the population of Turkey has a favorable opinion of Israel.

UPDATE: With respect to the Mavi Marmari incident: The Israeli soldiers who boarded the ship were not unarmed, as was stated in the original version of this article,they had sidearms. But the Israeli soldiers were not permitted to use their sidearms when they boarded and that order remained in place for the first full hour they were on board, despite the brutal attacks launched on them as they repelled down the ropes, by the ship’s passengers, as seen in the video, above.


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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:


  1. What do you expect? If you write so much nonsense… Unarmed soldiers?

    Mate, I agree, the Turks fought, however, the Israeli soldiers were the ones which attacked on International waters, isn't it?

    Were the Israeli soldiers in right?

    Well that is a different question.
    However, in right or not in right, fact is that the Israeli military handled the matter far too heavy handed.

    These were Israeli SAS soldiers, one of the best in the world… they should have been able to disarm these weekend warrior Turks, without having to shoot them dead…

    The Issue is not that Israel insisted on controlling/stopping the ship… This is a legal question, which can be debated… there are arguments for both approaches… I personally would tent to argue for the Israeli view.

    Nonetheless, killing these 'dreamers'… naaahhh, that I cannot understand!

    This incident started to destroy the international public opinion about Israel… portraying a picture that the Israeli security/military forces are too quick to shoot to kill…
    and this had a far larger impact on the much bigger Palestinian-Israel matter than the comparable lower Turkey-Israel issue…

    Israel made Turkey's Erdogan famous… what a shame…

  2. The Turks supported, payed, and fostered ISIS and the other jihadi terrorist groups. The Turks occupy Anatolia, the entirety of which is Greek, so why not return Greek land to the Greeks? They also committed genocide against the Armenians, They occupy the land of, the Kurds, who they oppress. Turkey is led by an Islamist nutcase who wants to reestablish the Ottoman Empire instead of joining the EU. Ataturk is rolling in his grave. They have some nerve. BTW the Arabs don’t exactly like you either Turkey.

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