LONDON — A Turkish TV skein has pushed already fraught relations between traditional allies Turkey and Israel to an all-time low.
Valley of the Wolves: Ambush,” the latest installment of a popular action series about a group of crack Turkish commandos that airs on Turkish state TV, provoked the ire of Israeli diplomats for containing a scene that showed Israeli Mossad agents kidnapping children and shooting old men.
The political repercussions soon snowballed earlier this January with Israeli officials demanding a public apology from their Turkish counterparts. Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon even went so far as to summon Turkish ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol and embarrass him publicly by seating him in a noticeably lower chair during a photocall, and going against diplomatic protocol by not including a Turkish flag in the meeting.
Ayalon subsequently baited Celikkol in front of the attending press contingent — he made a point to highlight the Turkish ambassador’s low chair to cameramen — which earned a furious rebuke from Turkish government officials and threatened to scupper a planned visit by Israeli foreign minister Ehud Barak to Turkish capital Ankara on Jan. 20. Barak made the trip.
Turkey-Israel relations have been strained ever since Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Israel’s military offensive against Gaza in January 2009 that killed over 1,000 Palestinians. Israel launched those attacks in response to militant group Hamas’ continued firing of rockets from the Gaza strip.
While the latest spat appears to be cooling, another brouhaha between the two sides could be on the horizon.
Pana Film, the shingle behind the “Valley of the Wolves” series, has announced it is planning a spin-off movie: “Valley of the Wolves: Palestine,” which will look directly at the aftermath of the Gaza offensive.
Israelis were disturbed by a scene that only lasted for 1 minutes. Let’s see how they react to a movie that will last 1 hours,” series writer Bahadir Ozdener told local reporters.
This isn’t the first time the franchise has caused consternation. The 2006 feature “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq,” which starred Gary Busey and Billy Zane, showed U.S. troops torturing detainees in Abu Ghraib, harvesting human organs and massacring a wedding party. Unsurprisingly, the pic failed to lock down a North American theatrical release.