Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:43 am (KSA) 08:43 am (GMT)

Turkey TV series stirs row with Israel

A Turkish television series,  the Valley of the Wolves, is at the centre of a diplomatic row with Israel
A Turkish television series, the Valley of the Wolves, is at the centre of a diplomatic row with Israel

A Turkish television series at the centre of a diplomatic row with Israel, the Valley of the Wolves, is a long-running ratings hit which has drawn criticism for being too nationalistic and violent.

In its latest episode, the show's star, secret agent Polat Alemdar, storms an Israeli diplomatic mission to rescue a Turkish boy kidnapped by Mossad.

 Is it only you who is allowed to carry out war crimes 
Star of series to Israeli agent

One scene shows blood splaying over the Star of David as Alemdar shoots an Israeli agent dead. When a second Israeli agent warns him that he is on foreign soil and is committing a war crime, Alemdar responds: "Is it only you who is allowed to carry out war crimes?"

Nationalist dialogue and victorious Turkish operations are the trademark of the series which became an instant ratings success after it was first broadcast in 2003.

The first series, which made the protagonist into a national hero, detailed how Alemdar infiltrated the mafia and brought it down from the inside.

But it was not long before calls came for the series to be removed from air on the grounds that it was nationalistic, racist and chauvinistic.

Glamorizing violence

 Why does the Israeli administration, which does not hesitate to bomb children seeking refuge under the U.N. flag, feel so uneasy about the Valley of the Wolves in relation to what it (Israel) has done? 
Pana

Opponents also argued that the series, dominated by scenes of gunfight and torture, glamorized the life of a mafiosi and encouraged youngsters towards violence.

"I believe the team behind the series is openly racist, defends acting outside the law, promotes the mafia and portrays violent role models...in a manner that would not have been seen in Hitler's Germany or Mussolini's Italy," the prominent author and poet Murathan Mungan has said of the series.

While the latest episode led to Turkey's ambassador in Tel Aviv being carpeted by his Israeli hosts, the makers Pana have been unapologetic.

"Why does the Israeli administration, which does not hesitate to bomb children seeking refuge under the U.N. flag, feel so uneasy about the Valley of the Wolves in relation to what it (Israel) has done?" Pana said in a statement.

The series proved so successful that 2006 saw a spin-off movie, Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, based on a true incident in 2003 when U.S. soldiers arrested and hooded 11 Turkish soldiers operating in northern Iraq, sparking an uproar in Turkey.

In the film, Alemdar heads an elite intelligence unit that goes to Iraq to settle the score over the humiliation.

The movie showed U.S. troops carrying out atrocities against Iraqis and engaging in trade of organs extracted from prisoners under the guidance of a Jewish doctor for rich buyers in New York, London and Tel Aviv.

The movie led to outcry both at home and abroad that it was anti-Semitic and anti-American.

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