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Welcome Home Oknins
By Micah Halpern

Thursday November 18, 2021
I've Been Thinking:

Mordy and Natali Oknin are free and have returned to Israel after spending more than a week in a Turkish prison. Israelis are celebrating.

The husband and wife arrested for espionage – they were taking pictures looking out from an observation tower. I ask you – isn’t that what tourists do on top of an observation tower?!

Even Turkish media called this international debacle an embarrassment for Turkey. How, the media asked, do our leaders expect tourist to come to our country if they cannot take pictures from a café atop an observation tower.

Mordy and Natali were not spies. That was apparent. But it required intense diplomatic discussions to bring about their release.

Upon her return, Natali Oknin delivered a message of thanks for her government:

"Mr. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, we want to tell you from the bottom of our hearts, we're not taking what you did for granted. You were by our side. I heard that [Lapid] spoke to my family every day, and also the prime minister. You spoke to my family, you spoke to my sisters, my brother, my daughter Shiraz, everyone. I heard that the whole government rallied behind us … We are grateful. We are strong thanks to you."

It is hard to imagine that leaders of a country would so involved and so caring and attuned to the personal lives of citizens in distress. But that is Israel.

What did Turkey gain? Israel claims that they gave nothing in return. That is not quite accurate. While Turkey received noting tangible from Israel, they received a major diplomatic boost.

Prime Minister Bennett spoke to President Erdogan. It was the first conversation between an Israeli prime minister and the leader of Turkey in 9 years - since 2013.

That’s significant.

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19 November 2021 05:11 PM in Thoughts

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