Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The buzz about Turkey and Israel

I couldn't have really picked a crazier moment to jump into full-time daily news editing: 24 hours after Israeli forces boarded a flotilla of ships trying to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip, killing nine Turks (including one Turkish-American) and sparking outrage and protests all around Turkey. Our newspaper has been full of stories for the past week -- as it likely will be for many weeks to come -- about the raid and its implications for a relationship already severely rattled by bad behavior on both sides, from a prime ministerial outburst heard 'round the world to petty-minded mockery of a fellow diplomat.

While things don't look good for Turkey and Israel, those who hold out any hope for rapprochement figure the longstanding economic ties between the two countries will be incentive enough to avoid an irreparable rift -- a position bolstered, in an odd way, by a recent discovery about (of all things) bees.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the 3,000-year-old apiary found three years ago in Israel's Jordan Valley -- the "oldest known commercial beekeeping facility in the world" -- was likely home to bees from Turkey, the first such evidence of animals being transferred over such a distance. The science behind the discovery is fascinating: DNA testing showed that the bees were of "a subspecies found only in what is now Turkey," Wired explains. But in light of recent events in this part of the world, the finding is perhaps even more intriguing as an argument in favor of not letting a three-millenia-long trading relationship lapse.

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