After years of acrimony, several recent meetings between Israeli and Turkish leaders seemed to suggest the possibility of a gradual thaw in relations between the two most powerful nations in the Middle East. Such a reconciliation, combined with a growing relationship with the Arab states in the Gulf, might have firmed up an alliance structure in the region powerful enough to deter Iran and its many proxies.

The Hamas massacre on October 7 has thrown a wrench into that possibility. Senior Hamas operatives live in Turkey and operate there under its protection. On October 11, Erdogan criticized the “shameful methods” that Israel used to strike Hamas targets. On October 25, he disputed the idea that Hamas is a terrorist organization at all, calling them instead mujahadeen—soldiers engaged in jihad. On October 27, he called Israel a war criminal and a pawn of the West. Ambassadors in both nations have been recalled.

Are relations doomed to degrade further? Can they be rescued? Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak is a longtime observer of Turkey based at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and also at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University. In June 2022, he wrote an essay in Mosaic looking at Israeli-Turkish relations. Here, he speaks with Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver to look at that question in the wake of October 7.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.