Turkish Israeli Civil
The Turkish-Israeli Civil Society Forum (TICSF) is a civilian initiative that aims to improve Israeli-Turkish relations through civil society cooperation. We believe that cooperative and positive bi-lateral relations are of an interest for both countries and the Middle-East at large. The TICSF works to promote civilian cooperation (culture, academia, NGO's, etc') as means to strengthen civilian relations in the long term. We work online via our Facebook page and Twitter account, as well as by an annual joint civil society conference.
The initiative was created with the exclusive and continuous support and coordination of the Jerusalem and Istanbul offices of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty.
Rationale and the road taken
Since established, Israeli-Turkish relations have known stability and tension and were mainly influenced by regional political developments and domestic politics. Recent years marked maybe the most strenuous time in the history of both countries.
A team of Turkish and Israeli experts from the academy, journalism, business and conflict management have decided to take action and investigate the current crisis in relations and explore ways to resolve and manage it. With the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, The "Turkish-Israeli Dialogue" team met for the first time in December 2011 in Istanbul and twice more in February 2013 in Tel Aviv, and in November 2013 in Istanbul.
Following an in-depth research done by the team, it was concluded that relations between Israel and Turkey were always based on political interests, and once those did not intertwine, then the countries grew apart. Therefore, it was essential to develop and promote civil society relations that will serve as a solid basis of bilateral relations.
The research was presented in the November 2013 meeting in Istanbul and its results indicated that civil society relations are in need of a platform that will help guide, develop and expose joint civilian activities that in the long run create a strong base of cooperation.
Since then, the TICSF have been working virtually-through social media and physically-in an annual conference which takes place in Istanbul or Tel Aviv.
In 2017 The TICSF conducted its first public conference in cooperation with the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul. Following the public event, representatives of Israeli and Turkish organization met and explored different options for cooperation.
In October 2018, the TICSF held a public event in Istanbul that included a panel of Israeli and Turkish speakers from academia, media and the private sector. The speakers discussed the importance of Israeli-Turkish relations and the role of civil society can take to promote it. Following the panel, a round-table of experts was adjured to discuss and advise about the progress of the TICSF initiative.
In October 2019 the TICSF had its second matchmaking seminar in Tel Aviv, Israel that also included a cultural event with live Turkish music. Four Israeli and Turkish NGO's went though an intense seminar that assisted them to explore mutual collaboration.
Since 2020 ,due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the TICSF started having Facebook Live events and initiated the "Influencers for Dialogue program" that nurtures the next generation of leaders to keep developing bilateral relations. By the end of 2022, two cohorts of the Influencers for Dialogue have successfully completed the program and designed digital campaigns that support people-people dialogue.
In June 2023, the first offline meeting of the IFD winners took place in Istanbul. The participants got to know each other, learned lessons and new insights about their digital campaigns and visited different cultural sites in the city.
Shai Cohen, Israeli Consul in Istanbul at the press conference