The justly infamous term “show trial” was first coined back in the dark 1930s,
when stage-managed pseudo-trials became a favorite ploy of Stalin’s purges in
But this perversion of legal due process appears alive and
thriving in Turkey, where the authorities opted to “try” four former IDF
commanders, headlined by exchief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, for the 2010 deaths of
nine Turks on the Mavi Marmara, a vessel sent to Gaza in a provocative move to
break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas stronghold.
The Turks thereby
succeeded to combine two legal parodies in one courtroom sham – the
aforementioned show trial along with the equally problem-fraught trial in
absentia, where the defendant is not present to answer charges.
further underscoring of the circus-like atmosphere were needed, it was furnished
by Muslim demonstrators, many wearing the iconic keffiyeh head scarf, outside
the Istanbul courthouse. They hoisted Turkish and Palestinian flags, chanted
invective against Israel and cheered the prosecution’s inventory of trumped-up
charges, topped by “incitement to kill monstrously and by torture.”
crowd’s mantra was: “Assassin Israel, get out of Palestine!” The banners equated
between Israel and Nazi Germany. Other slogans warned Israel that “the day of
retribution is coming” and that “Israel will die.”
Relatives of the dead,
hailed as martyrs, were given rousing welcomes. This backdrop to what is paraded
as a serious and impartial judicial procedure speaks amply for
The roll call of absent Israeli defendants included, apart from
Ashkenazi, former OC Navy Eliezer Marom, former OC Air Force Amos Yadlin and
former head of Air Force Intelligence Avishay Levi.
Heaping absurdity on
the farce, the prosecution proceeded to demand prison sentences amounting to an
excess of 18,000 years per each defendant.
In the spirit of the Stalinist
precedent, the Istanbul version too left little doubt that the culpability of
the vilified defendants had been predetermined, that guilty verdicts are not
only foregone conclusions but that they are the raison d’etre of the entire
This ostensible trial is little more than a
propaganda vehicle to draw attention to the accusations and to hype the court’s
inevitable ruling as the “justice,” which, by right, ought to be meted to the
The list of 490 witnesses is mostly composed of the provocative
flotilla’s participants and of journalists who say they covered the clashes with
IDF commandos boarding the Mavi Marmara. In strictly legal terms, it is more
than doubtful that any of these witnesses can cogently connect the four
calculatingly chosen defendants with whatever happened on the
Equally doubtful is that this chorus of prejudiced witnesses would
admit that the Mavi Marmara was not bound on a peaceful mission, that it carried
weapons and that its passengers were in fact the aggressive assailants. There is
no chance that any summoned so-called witness would dare spoil the much
ballyhooed pageant by noting that the Israeli troopers had to desperately defend
There is plainly no point to expect anything remotely
objective of this bizarre Turkish extravaganza, least of all an unbiased quest
for truth. Indeed abusive bias in the extreme is what this entire contrived
exercise in crude propaganda is all about.
This first of all ought to
dispatch a message to those Israeli public figures who still stubbornly aver
that a rapprochement with our erstwhile ally in this region is possible and that
the onus is on Israel to effect reconciliation.
With this mock trial,
Ankara appears to have signaled loudly and with insolent finality that it is not
Its concurrent return, with much attendant publicity, of
three Israeli-made tactical Aerostar drones – on account of “poor performance” –
offers supplementary emphasis to the trial’s grand populist
Regrettably, Turkey, with active premeditation, fosters conflict
instead of cooperation. This works not only to Israel’s detriment.
Jerusalem-Ankara partnership, for as long as it flourished, incontrovertibly
served the interests of both sides.
Turkey did Israel no favors. Hence,
by adopting its strikingly confrontational anti-Israel agenda, Turkey cuts off
its nose to spite its face.