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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘marvi marmara’

On Second Thought, Maybe Israel’s Apology to Turkey was a Good Idea

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

I was appalled to learn a week ago that the Israeli prime minister had apologized to his Turkish counterpart for his government’s actions during the Mavi Marmara incident, seeing this as feeding the Turkish government’s inflated sense of grandeur and power.

That prediction was borne out in spades.

The municipality of Turkey’s capital city, Ankara, put up billboards on city streets reveling in the Israeli apology. They are not subtle, showing a sad-looking Netanyahu beneath a larger, buoyant Erdoğan, separated by the Mavi Marmara itself. Addressing Erdoğan, they read: “Israel apologized to Turkey. Dear Prime Minister, we are grateful that you let our country experience this pride.”

Erdogan himself claims not only that the apology has changed the balance of power in the Arab-Israeli conflict but that it obligates Israel to work with Ankara in its diplomacy with the Palestinians. He told parliament:

The point we have arrived at as a result of our consultations with all our brothers in Palestine and peripheral countries is increasing our responsibility with regard to solving the Palestinian question and thus is bringing about a new equation.

Erdogan also claimed that Israel agreed to cooperate with Turkey on talks with the Palestinians. Hürriyet Daily News goes on to paraphrase Erdoğan:

He said all his regional interlocutors, including Khaled Mashaal of the Hamas, admit that a new era has begun in the Middle East what they all call after Turkish victory on Israeli apology.

No less notable is Erdogan’s petty put down of the Israeli side:

Erdogan said his conversation with Netanyahu took place under the witness of Obama but he wanted first to talk with the US President as he missed his voice. “I talked to him and we have reviewed the text and confirmed the [apology] process. we have therefore accomplished this process under Obama’s witness,” Erdogan said, adding this phone conversation has also been recorded alongside with written statements issued from all three sides.

Ryan Mauro sums up Turkish actions over the past week:

Erdogan is extending his time in the spotlight by demanding that Israel pay $1 million to each of the nine casualties’ families, ten times the amount Israel has offered. He isn’t yet dropping his case against the Israeli generals involved in the raid, nor is he fully restoring diplomatic ties with Israel. And he’s announced that he will visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in what is a thinly-concealed victory lap.

Indeed, the Turkish gloating has been so conspicuous and extended that it may have prompted to a healthy sense of reality. So long as the Mavi Marmara incident hung over their relations with Ankara, Israelis and others could believe that an apology would magically undo the past decade. The illusion could persist that the Turks, however unreasonably, just needed to put this unpleasantness aside and things would revert to the good old days.

Now that Israelis humiliated themselves and Erdogan is rampaging ahead, some are awakening to the fact that this apology only made matters worse. Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister of economy and trade, slammed the Turkish response:

Since the apology was made public, it appears Erdogan is doing everything he can to make Israel regret it, while conducting a personal and vitriolic campaign at the expense of Israel-Turkey relations. Let there be no doubt — no nation is doing Israel a favor by renewing ties with it. It should also be clear to Erdogan that if Israel encounters in the future any terrorism directed against us, our response will be no less severe.

Boaz Bismuth of Israel Hayom colorfully notes that Israelis “didn’t expect to feel that only several days after Israel’s apology, Erdogan would already be making us feel that we had eaten a frog along with our matzah this year.”

Perhaps after all the apology was a good thing. For a relatively inexpensive price – some words – Israelis and others have gained a better insight into the Turkish leadership’s mentality. It’s not that they suffer from hurt pride but that they are Islamist ideologues with an ambitious agenda. If the misguided apology makes this evident to more observers, it has its compensations and possibly could turn out to be a net plus.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review Online, The Corner under the title, “On Second Thought … Maybe that Israeli Apology to Turkey was a Good Idea,” March 29, 2013.

The Turks Walk Back their Promises

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Reactions to the surprise ‘apology’ from Israel to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident are coming in and they are interesting.

Barry Rubin points out that the actual statement by Israel does not accept blame for the deaths of nine ‘activists’, but merely refers to “operational mistakes,” apologizes for “any error which may have led to the loss of life,” and offers compensation.

All true, but who cares? It is being reported as an admission of guilt by Israel, an affirmation of the anti-Israel narrative of the incident, in which Israel deliberately killed “peace activists” when it “committed war crimes” by “attacking” the ship.

One correspondent writes to me that he does not trust Erdoğan, but “this is a strategic decision, and if this can help Israel, I accept. At least this is the position of the israeli army commanders. Everybody today recognizes that the Marmara issue was very badly handled.” In other words, if this will improve relations between Israel and Turkey (and Obama?) then it’s worth a little embarrassment.

I don’t buy it. First, it will not improve relations with Turkey (indeed, see the end of this post!) because relations are poor as a result of a deliberate strategy, not an unpleasant incident. Relations have deteriorated consistently since Erdoğan’s AKP came to power in 2003. Erdoğan hosted Hamas leaders in Ankara, and humiliated Israeli President Shimon Peres on the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2009. And of course, remember that Erdoğan’s regime orchestrated the Mavi Marmara incident as a deliberate provocation — and Israel fell right into the trap.

Second, it is not merely ‘a little embarrassment’. It squanders the diplomatic gains Israel achieved when the U.N.’s own Palmer Commission found that Israel’s blockade of Gaza and its boarding of the ships of the flotilla were legal and justified (although it did criticize Israel’s ‘excessive’ use of force). It constitutes a loss of honor in the honor-obsessed Middle East (did any Arab leader ever apologize for anything?) And it is an invitation for further blockade-breaking flotillas. This is in addition to playing into the growing meme that Jews or Israel may not defend themselves, while supporters of ‘Palestine’ arepermitted any atrocity in the name of the oppressed.

Technically, the ‘apology’ does none of these things. ‘Technically’ and about $3 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks in Fresno.

But what about improved relations with Turkey? Didn’t Erdoğan promise to exchange ambassadors, and drop legal actions against IDF soldiers and Israeli officials? Well, it turns out that it may be a bit early for that:

“We will see what will be put into practice during the process. If [the Israelis] move forward in a promising way, we will make our contribution. Then, there would be an exchange of ambassadors,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying, in remarks at an opening ceremony for a high-speed railway line in the central Turkish province of Eskişehir…

Erdoğan told reporters that it wasn’t yet time to talk about dropping the case in which four IDF generals stand accused of war crimes over the incident. The indictment, prepared last summer, sought ten aggravated life sentences for each officer ostensibly involved in the 2010 raid — including former chief of the IDF General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and former head of military intelligence Amos Yadlin…

Despite the formal apology issued by Netanyahu on Friday in the presence of U.S. President Barack Obama, Erdoğan’s Saturday statement indicated that Ankara was not entirely prepared to let bygones be bygones. He stressed that during his conversation with him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised to improve the humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian territories.

“I accepted the apology in the name of the Turkish people,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying, adding that he was planning to visit Gaza in April. (Times of Israel)

Will Israel get anything out of this deal? I doubt it. And what’s been lost is lost. Same story, over and over.

An Israeli Apology to Turkey

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

On Feb. 27, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a conference in Vienna, “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.” His calling the Jewish nationalist movement that built the State of Israel a “crime against humanity” prompted widespread criticism, including by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

On Mar. 19, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced, “I stand behind my remarks in Vienna.” Nonetheless, on Mar. 22, Binyamin Netanyahu issued the long-awaited apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident. His statement made it clear “that the tragic results regarding the Mavi Marmara were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life. In light of the Israeli investigation into the incident, which pointed out several operational errors, Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation.”

My take: Erdoğan’s government has mastered the art of provocation and is being rewarded for it. The Israelis should not have apologized but should have demanded an apology from Ankara for its support to the terrorist-connected group that undertook this aggressive act.

Now that the deed is done, can we expect a change in Turkish policy toward Israel, an end to its aggressive statements and support for its enemies? That would surprise me. Rather, I expect the AKP government to pocket this apology and use as a building block for its neo-Ottoman empire. (March 22, 2013)

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review Online, The Corner, March 22, 2013.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/an-israeli-apology-to-turkey/2013/03/24/

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