Photo Credit: courtesy, A9TV
Mendi Safadi, Likud adviser to Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara.

As Muslims enter the final segment of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the millions who listend to the words of an Israeli American rabbi and his political Israeli Druze companion last week on A9TV television will have much to think about — as will more than a thousand others who met them in person at Iftar celebrations in Istanbul.

Druze Likud member Mendi Safadi, a senior advisor to Israel’s Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation, Ayoub Kara, was honored at Iftar in Turkey with Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick, both at the invitation of Islamic scholar and peace activist Adnan Oktar.


Participants at the celebrated Iftar, held at the Ciragan Palace Ballroom, included representatives of the Orthodox, Protestant, Assyrian and Armenian churches, Mormons and members of various Islamic communities in addition to academics, artists, media figures and famous names from the business and sports world, as well as those from various Middle Eastern embassies.

Mendi Safadi, Israeli Druze Likud adviser to Minister Ayoub Kara, with religious officials at an Iftar celebration in Turkey.

Safadi emphasized during an interview with Oktar on his A9TV satellite television talk show that the reason for his visit to Turkey was his ongoing mission to help build peace between Israel and others. He met with political figures from a number of other Muslim majority nations as well, including a number from the Middle East with whom Israel has no current diplomatic ties.

As an adviser to Kara, who has also served for years as a Likud minister, it is Safadi’s job to report to the minister on comprehensive efforts to develop regional cooperation. “Peace does not start with agreement between governments,” he pointed out. “The real peace starts between the people.”

Safadi also noted that although relations between Jerusalem and Ankara are still troubled, “the people in Israel and the people in Turkey, they love each other… The politicians can fight against one another as they like, but we are the people: we are the ones to make the peace,” he said.

That is certainly true when it comes to trade relations: mutual trade volume between the two nations reached more than $5.6 billion in 2014, despite diplomatic friction.

Data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) quoted by Today’s Zaman earlier this year shows that mutual trade volume between Turkey and Israel in 2009 was only $2.6 billion. Turkish exports to Israel that year were only $1.5 billion, and imports from Israel were $1.1 billion. That was the year then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed out of a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos after shouting at Israeli President Shimon Peres. One year later, Erdogan yanked his ambassador out of Tel Aviv and severed ties with Israel in response to an incident in which eight armed Turkish terror activists, and one Turkish-American were killed after attacking Israeli soldiers who boarded a Turkish-owned flotilla vessel that illegally attempted to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza.

Nevertheless, by 2014, mutual trade volume between the two nations had reached more than $5.6 billion – a jump of nearly 50 percent. Turkish exports to Israel were $2.92 billion, and imports from Israel had increased to $2.7 billion in the same period.

The stores in Israel are filled with goods and clothes manufactured in Turkey, which are highly valued by Israelis and tourists alike. For shoppers in either country, there has never been a break in economic ties.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.