Thursday, February 24, 2011
The bodyguard: A Turkish-Israeli love story
Turkish bodyguard, Israeli consulate employee in Istanbul meet at airport, fall in love. Now his mission doubles: Protect diplomat and wife
They met at the Istanbul airport, exchanging glances when she was an Israeli diplomat working at the Israeli Consulate, and he worked as a local security guard for El-Al. When flights to Turkey were suspended, the Turkish guard became her personal bodyguard, and a love story began to unfold. Just recently they got married and decided to move to Israel.
R. is a longtime employee of the Foreign Ministry who previously worked for such former foreign ministers as Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu and Silvan Shalom. In the past few years she has been serving as an Israeli diplomat at the Israeli Consulate in Turkey. Along with her colleagues she faced harsh protests following Operation Cast Lead, which damaged the relations between the two countries. Not once did the diplomats receive death threats causing them to work from home or return to Israel.
R. met V., a Turkish Jew, while flying to Israel. He was an El-Al security guard stationed in Istanbul and was hired by the Israeli consul. A few years ago, when El-Al stopped all flights to Turkey, V. became a guard for the colsulate, working closely with R.
Every step of the way
Just like the famous Hollywood film "The Bodyguard", which tells the tale of a romantic love story between bodyguard Kevin Costner and star Whitney Houston, R. and V. became romantically involved and the affair turned into a blossoming relationship.
Initially they kept their love a secret, but when they decided to get married they faced a problem – according to Foreign Ministry policy couples cannot work together in the same delegation.
R. filed a special request to allow V. to continue to work alongside her at the consulate in Turkey. A special Foreign Ministry committee looked into the matter and granted her unique request, seeing as the two had only a few more months to serve together.
Recently the two arrived in Israel for a visit and exchanged vows in Jerusalem. They have been living together since then, and now V. plans to make aliyah and build their new home in Israel.
All they've dreamed of
R.'s friends say she is very happy working in Turkey. According to them, she has been known to refuse marriage proposals before, "but now this big love has changed her plans and love is blossoming."
R.'s colleague at the Foreign Ministry said: "She looks happy and it's really wonderful that such an affair developed in a country like Turkey, where the service is pretty difficult these days. Their marriage is also a source of pride in the Turkish Jewish community, which is suffering from complicated security issues."
The Foreign Ministry was quick to point out the symbolism of the new situation: "Now he's a bodyguard with a two-part mission: Protect her life as a diplomat and as his wife." R. wished to remain anonymous and does not want to discuss what she calls a private affair.
Joy and happiness
Foreign Ministry elements explained they cannot tell someone who the can or cannot marry. "We have to examine things when it comes to the local employee, and in this case we decided to leave him at the consulate and not hurt them," an official said.
This is not the first love affair between an Israeli diplomat serving abroad and a local resident. The former ambassador to Amman fell in love with a German citizen and the two got married; the Georgian ambassador married a local woman; an Israeli diplomat serving in Japan married a Japanese woman; and the Consul General to Istanbul married a Turkish woman.
In the past there have also been cases of Israeli security guards working in embassies who married local women. However this is the first time an Israeli diplomat married her local bodyguard.