But there is something in this neo-imperial, neo-Ottoman spirit that has taken over the country since the flotilla episode that is addictive, even for a secular Turk like me. Yesterday I watched the footage of demonstrations against Israel all over the Middle East and Europe with mixed feelings. I hate the fact that Turkey has become the primary nemesis of Israel—a country where I have many good friends who look and live like me. But then again, from Beirut to Sweden, I watch demonstrators holding Turkish flags and take guilty pride in those scenes.
Once the dust settles, there is too much we need to discuss back home. Can we really help the Palestinians and energize the peace process? Is Turkey strong enough to lift the embargo in Gaza? Or wait, wait—are we just abandoning our place in the West, losing ourselves in a fleeting moment of grandeur?
Only time will tell. But for now, am sitting here, in Europe’s largest Muslim country, sipping rose wine and occasionally staring across the desk at an old photograph of my great-grandfather—the Albanian-born, Ottoman police chief of Jerusalem at the turn of the century.
And I have no clue whether to go left or right.