When it’s properly motivated, the UN can react with lightning speed. It just has
to want to, as in the case of the errant mortar shells from the Syrian civil war
that inadvertently overfly the border and come down with an occasional thud on
the Turkish side.
No lucid pundit can envisage any stratagem that would
remotely tempt embattled Damascus despot Bashar Assad to arouse Turkish ire.
Assad presumably has his hands more than full at home. He is the least likely to
launch deliberate aggression against his big neighbor and thereby ostracize and
endanger himself even further in an already hostile world
Whatever else we have to say about Assad, and there’s plenty
to rightfully badmouth him for, he certainly didn’t seek confrontation with
Turkey. This isn’t his doing.
Nevertheless, it’s no less than instructive
to witness the stern censure against Syria after each mortar shell that explodes
in Turkish jurisdiction. One would think that this constitutes the most heinous
belligerence in recent memory. And so UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was
rattled out of his habitual inclination for keeping lethargically mum (such as
when Hamas rockets explode deep inside Israel).
The violation of Turkish
territory, despite the overwhelming likelihood that it wasn’t calculated Syrian
policy, positively shook Ban up. In an official statement, he informed all the
peace-loving denizens of this planet that he was “alarmed by escalating
tensions” between Syria and Turkey.
Gazan missiles fired for many years –
and very intentionally so – at Israel’s entire South don’t upset him. Ban only
expresses concern on those occasions in which Israel rises to defend its
incessantly terrorized civilians.
But in the case of Islamist-led Turkey,
Ban’s concern took on a resolute proactive expression. With unprecedented
swiftness and solemnity, he warned against “the risk of the 18-month-long Syrian
conflict embroiling the entire region.”
The manifest implication is that
the Mideast is in trouble because a Turkish response is to be naturally
expected, contingent on Turkey’s inalienable right to exact vengeance. Again,
needless to stress, this is quite unlike what is perceived as natural and
inherently justified for Israel.
But as this wasn’t about Israel, Ban’s
official spokesman, Martin Nesirky, lost no time to let us all know that “the
risks of regional conflict and the threat to international peace and security
This is never the case when Hamas, Islamic Jihad and
associate proxies boasting mutating monikers fire rockets at Israeli
kindergartens, schools, medical facilities, family homes, apartment houses,
grocery stores and even the Ashkelon Power Plant that inter alia supplies Gaza
The UN Security Council also reacted with
uncharacteristic alacrity when Ankara asked it to take the “necessary action to
stop Syrian aggression and ensure that Turkish territorial integrity is
respected.” No sooner did Turkey squawk then the Security Council condemned what
was called “the Syrian attack.” This starkly contrasts with the undisguised
disdain with which numerous Israeli complaints are dismissed.
the council’s clairvoyance had magically enabled it to determine that this was
an attack and not an accident, and that said attack came from Assad’s military
forces and not the insurgents who are bigheartedly armed by officially
dispatched Saudi and Qatari weaponry. The fact that no international
fact-finding probes were mandated in this instance might raise a few eyebrows,
but apparently investigations are prescribed only in Israel’s case (invariably
in order to ostensibly substantiate its guilt via due process).
event, the Security Council was unequivocal in the compassion it copiously
showered upon the Turks. “The attack,” we were told, “highlighted the grave
impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbors and on regional
peace and stability.”
Syria might have fared even worse in the Security
Council were it not for the obliging Russian and Chinese Assad-boosters who
objected to a more severe admonition against the “grave impact to international
peace and security,” as distinct from mere regional repercussions.
council went on to sanctimoniously demand that “such violations of international
law stop immediately and are not repeated.”
EVER HEAR anything of the
like out of the same council regarding Gaza? You’re not likely to. There’s as
much chance of that as of tasting the green cheese from the dark side of the
Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Ja’afari repeated his patrons’ frightened
apology to Ankara and assured the council that his government isn’t out to
trigger combat with Turkey. But no one was listening.
Council called on the Syrian regime “to fully respect the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of its neighbors.”
Israeli territorial integrity is
surely not included in this request.
No outcries of dismayed denunciation
greeted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s reiterated bluster that
“The Turkish Republic is a state capable of defending its citizens and borders.
Nobody should try and test our determination on this subject.” On yet another
oratorical opportunity Erdogan counseled Damascus not to attempt to assess
Turkey’s “limits and fortitude.” He declared that Ankara “was not bluffing” when
promising payback for each instance of “Syrian aggression.”
counterpart in Jerusalem had repetitively resorted to similar rhetoric, the
global commotion would be deafening and damning. Israeli leaders need utter
nothing to traumatize the international community. Mere hype about hypothetical
bullying by ogre Jews suffices.
Israelis are culpable before sounding
off, never mind before actually acting.
The world purports to know what
we think and despises us for it. On the other hand, there is profuse sympathy
for unfortunate Turkey’s unspeakable ordeal, as there is a tacit understanding
for the counter-shelling with which Turkey is, alas, compelled to retaliate. On
Turkey’s part, answering fire with fire is the unchallenged and self-evident
course to take.
Russia failed in its attempt to sneak in a
noncomplimentary comment about Turkish reprisal bombardments. No such failure
could be vaguely probable in Israel’s case. We actually get off lightly when our
self-defense is cynically equated to the unprovoked rocketing of Israeli
noncombatants (ongoing and premeditated for many years). That is our bestcase
The knee-jerk Security Council proclivity is to deprecate
Israeli self-defense and to exaggerate its proportions to the point of
demonizing Israel and delegitimizing any deterrent or defensive strikes on its
Therefore, it’s clearly better to be a Turk.
GET THE take of
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Erdogan’s cautions that his country “isn’t
far from war with Syria.” Panetta was quite cool and collected about it and with
studied composure informed all and sundry that “the US is using its diplomatic
channels to relay worries about the fighting in the hopes that it won’t
Not a hint from this prime representative of the Obama
administration about strong-arming Turkey into restraint. The most Panetta could
come up with was that “the continued exchange of artillery fire between Syria
and Turkey raises additional concerns that the conflict may escalate and spread
to neighboring countries.”
Such soft vocabulary choices are never used
for Israel. Panetta, undoubtedly echoing his boss’s sentiments, serially and
acerbically scorns our survival strategies.
Put in a nutshell, he blames
all regional ills on Israel. The inescapable corollary is that justice can only
be achieved by righting wayward Israel’s wrongs and winning concessions from
Less than 10 months ago, pontificating at the Brookings Institute’s
Saban Center, Panetta unambiguously placed all onus upon Israel, and urged
Israel to take risks and “lean forward” to achieve peace with the Palestinians.
Never mind that Israel had already taken risks aplenty – time after disastrous
time – gaining nothing but more bloodshed and abuse for its sacrifices, while
whetting appetites for yet more sacrifices.
What if our goodwill blows up
in our faces yet again? “If the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those
rebukes for what they are.
And that is exactly why Israel should pursue
them,” Panetta proclaimed.
Subtext: Israel needs to bare its throat to
genocidal enemies, so that the watching world will admire its virtue. One would
think Panetta, a former CIA director, has just surfaced from a sealed bunker,
oblivious of successive displays of Israeli virtue that only intensified
In other words, Panetta preached that we’d be
better liked for being weaker and that getting weaker will improve our
Indeed, weakening Israel is precisely the
Obama administration’s definition of “just” and consequently the “pursuit” of a
just solution means twisting Israel’s arms. This begins with reading it the riot
act. Hence the recurring, rigorous warnings against a preemptive Israeli strike
on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Likewise, Panetta pompously prods Israel to
“reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional
stability – countries like Turkey and Egypt.” We might question how much
stability has been furthered by either Egypt or Turkey, but Panetta left no
doubt regarding who’s liable for the busted fences.
expanded on this motif when he suggested that Israel undermines the Palestinian
Authority and is at fault for not restarting moribund negotiations with it. That
was why he hectored: “Just get to the damn table!” Can anyone imagine such
callous language and contemptuous tones used to browbeat Turkey? Obviously one
set of rules applies to Turkey and quite another to Israel – without even
configuring the incomparably more prolonged, frequent and menacing provocations
That goes for the media too. One Syrian mortar shell that
hit just inside Turkish territory last Sunday made headlines worldwide. Over 55
shells and rockets that barraged Israel that same night went largely
unmentioned. Israeli pain is clearly not worth wasting airtime for.
paraphrase Tevye’s plaintive exclamation in Fiddler on the Roof
: “If only we
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