In a March 24 article in the Turkish daily Sabah entitled “Heron excitement in Batman,” the term “Heron” refers to the Israeli-manufactured drones recently acquired by Turkey and described in the article as providing “Big Brother-like surveillance” of camps belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The term “Batman” refers to the southeastern Turkish city currently playing host to the excitement of Heron test flights by the Turkish army; previous excitement has included attempts by the city’s mayor to sue Warner Brothers for royalties.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan thus continues to honor military arrangements with Israel for the moment, despite the fact that drone-fired missiles were presumably one of the factors contributing to his public announcement to Israeli President Shimon Peres during the 2008-09 attack on Gaza that “You are killing people.” As for the potential use of unmanned aerial vehicles against groups of people who already have their own country, this was suggested last month by international news headlines such as “Israel unveils new drone fleet that can reach Iran.”
Additional areas of Israeli expertise were addressed a few days ago in the town of Fethiye in southwest Turkey, where a former tomato farmer complained that tomatoes no longer tasted the same as they had in his youth thanks to the influx of hybrid tomato seeds from Israel. The farmer eventually conceded that the matter of taste alteration was more complex and that the Dutch were also to blame; as for agricultural processes more unique to Israel, these include making the desert bloom.
A Haaretz article from 2007 entitled “Tomato seeds for $350,000 a kilo, anyone?” confirms that Israeli botanical experiments did not end with the post-Nakba erection of forests atop former Palestinian villages, and that a kilo of yellow tomato-producing seeds sold to European farmers by the Israeli firm Hazera Genetics cost more than the equivalent of16 kilos of gold at the time of the article’s publication. The Hazera website offers substantial evidence of its claim to be “Where science complements nature,” and describes the results of scientific complementing in the case of the Tear Drop Tomato:
Did you think tomato has to be round [sic]? Now it does not have to. Introducing Hazera’s sexy Tear Drop shaped tomato. A refreshing change with the same excellent taste.”
The Israel Defense Forces have meanwhile refrained from advertising their own scientific adjustments with the tantalizing: “Did you think heron has to be bird?”, although a seduction of the U.S. public was attempted via a 2007 Maxim magazine spread encouraging readers to equate the IDF with shapely female soldiers rather than wars in Lebanon.
A Turkish estate agent residing in Fethiye maintained that Turkish drone purchases were merely the result of a deal concluded in 2005 and that cooperation with Israel would gradually subside in the event of continued Israeli pretensions to superiority. Such pretensions had been underlined at a January meeting in Jerusalem in which the Turkish ambassador to Israel was deliberately seated at a lower altitude than his Israeli interlocutors, who had called the meeting in order to register complaints that a Turkish television series occasionally depicted Mossad agents as kidnapping Turkish babies. (In the end the Israeli government apologized for the treatment of the ambassador.)
The estate agent in Fethiye argued that kidnapped babies were less of a concern than the acquisition of swaths of land in southeast Turkey by Israeli citizens but failed to extend this concern to his own encouragement of British expansionism in southwest Turkey via the sale of holiday villas. His opinion on agricultural interference was meanwhile that hybrid tomato plants constituted entrepreneurial genius, in that their sterility ensured recurring seed sales; as for recurring military sales, these are effectively ensured when vendors themselves encourage regional conflict.
First published in The Brunei Times, Mar. 30 2010