Jerusalem, Nov. 12, 2013 - Amidst a prolonged background of strained Turkish-Israeli relations, a Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor was honored in Turkey recently, for his academic scholarship.
At a ceremony held in conjunction with the 90th anniversary of Turkey's independence, Prof. Amnon Cohen, was named as an honorary fellow of the Turkish Historical Society in recognition of his outstanding research on the Ottoman Empire.
Cohen was the only Israeli among 60 other leading researchers from around the world, mostly from Middle Eastern Muslim countries, who received the honor from Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc. The honorees were dressed in the ceremony in special golden robes recalling the robe worn by sultan Selim I, who conquered much of the Middle East for the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 16th century.
Prof. Cohen is a professor emeritus in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University and is a past director the university's Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace. Over the years, he has conducted extensive research on the administrative, social and economic development of Israel in the 16th century under during the Ottoman rule. He also has served as an advisor to past Israeli defense ministers Moshe Dayan, Shimon Peres and Ezer Weizman. He was the winner of an Israel Prize in 2007.
Cohen said, that "I am very happy to have received this honor. The Turkish Historical Society is significant in its connection with the Turkish regime, and therefore one can see their presentation of an honorary fellowship to an Israeli researcher as an optimistic political statement. There is no doubt that Turkey under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan prefers to base its ties with the Muslim world at the expense of relations with Israel; nevertheless, events of this sort show that despite the political rift, Turkey is showing signs pointing towards improvement in its relations with Israel."