Last week we talked about the Israel's Consul General Shai Cohen's letter to our newspaper regarding an op-ed article written by Vakkas Dogantekin that was published on Feb 17. In last week's article titled "Duties and limits of the ombudsman" included both Consul General Cohen's letter and the answer of our Editor-in-Chief Serdar Karagöz. Afterwards we decided that the case in question was not under the purview of Daily Sabah ombudsman and made the following conclusion:
"My take is that the most elegant solution to this problem would be to provide a place in the op-ed pages of Daily Sabah for Consul General Shai Cohen as a platform for him to voice his objections and opinions about this matter in a more detailed fashion."
While the page was getting ready for print last week, the writer of the article titled "Has Trump divided Zionism?," Mr. Dogantekin, also sent his own reply to us but due to time restrictions as well as the available space in our page we were unable to include it in our article at that time. Therefore we will remedy that this week and provide all parties in the debate a voice as well as to honor their right to reply. Without further ado, here is Mr. Dogantekin's letter:
"Dear Daily Sabah Editorial Board,
I was surprised to learn today that Israeli Consul General, Mr. Shai Cohen expressed his concern over my article published at your distinguished newspaper. Daily Sabah is one of the most important and objective news outlets in the region and its influence is growing exponentially. Daily Sabah values freedom of speech and defends freedom of press. Columnists and op-ed authors of Daily Sabah are motivated by this professionalism.
Every day, Turkish citizens and Muslims all over the world patiently read, watch and stomach several articles and programs in major news organizations, including Israel's, where Turkey and her elected leaders and Muslims are severely and irrationally criticized to demonization levels.
Those who know me personally will comfortably testify that I am full of love and respect for all. Jewish race, religion, language and tradition are no exceptions. Therefore, I strongly condemn the ‘anti-Semitic' libel and label that calls for an apology. It was deeply saddening. The opinions in my article never targeted the Jewish identity. I am NOT anti-Semitic, but only a Zionism critic. Furthermore, I believe in the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Jews, not only in Palestine but in every corner of the world. I oppose to the violent methods of IDF as much as I oppose to the rockets of Hamas. Civilian lives are equally important regardless of the ways we were brought up with.
Mr. Consul General should know that I construct my opinions regarding Israel from Jewish news sources, journalists and intellectuals. He knows very well that a significant number of Jews in the world, even in Israel, are in the anti-Zionist front. So, I believe that it is unfair to be singled out. As a Muslim Turk, whose ancestors always stood against the persecution of Jews and provided them with a safe and peaceful home, I will also unhesitantly fight against anyone who wants to hurt Jews on account of their race, religion or language. However, I will not be silent to the undemocratic treatment of Palestinians by the state of Israel and demonization of Muslims in the Zionist publications.
To conclude, I would like to congratulate Daily Sabah's commitment to freedom of speech and its continued success in promoting objective journalism. I also would like to congratulate Mr. Shai Cohen on the new job and pray for good relations between Turkey and Israel. I will be happy to listen to his side of the story or interview him at his convenience. As a diplomat of Israel and the appointed representative of the Jewish people, he should build bridges, not walls. Turks are historically true friends of Jews rue friend tells the painful truth unsparingly.