mavi marmara 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
The Jerusalem Post recently published an article by Jonathan Schanzer entitled
“An Israeli apology may just deepen the rift with Turkey” (December 23) which
stands out as a shallow and one-sided analysis of the current nature of
Turkish-Israeli relations in general, and Turkish domestic politics, the Mavi
Marmara incident and Israeli politics in particular. The article in its entirety
is an attempt to hamper any efforts to salvage Turkish-Israeli relations in the
near future by discouraging anyone who aims to do so.
argues that only Binyamin Netanyahu and his advisers support the idea of
apologizing to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara deaths. Not only does he repeat
exclusively Israeli allegations about the flotilla organizers (they were
terrorists, wielding weapons), he also concludes that the IDF soldiers were
vindicated based on the highly edited videos released by the IDF.
the blame almost entirely on the current AKP government in Turkey, Schanzer
asserts that an apology to Turkey actually strengthens the AKP government in the
upcoming elections in 2011. Since rapprochement between Turkey and Israel is an
impossibility if the AKP remains in power, an apology that would strengthen its
rule would also deepen the rift.
Schanzer expects us to fall – without
questioning – into his presuppositions, even indictments about the Mavi Marmara
incident and the current Turkish government. Far from what he and other hasbara
professionals claim and regardless of how Israel views the council, the UN Human
Rights Council’s flotilla report documented what actually happened aboard the
. According to the report, there is clear evidence to support
prosecutions for the following crimes within the terms of Article 147 of the
Fourth Geneva Convention: willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to
body or health, torture and inhuman treatment and willful killing, among
others. The report further confirmed that no weapons were brought on
board the ship.
ALMOST ALL reports and eyewitness accounts, except for
those released by the IDF, demonstrate that Israel is far from being vindicated
for the deaths of civilians in international waters. International institutions
do not care that Israel does not care about them, and Israel will not be
vindicated on this incident only because Schanzer says so.
that Netanyahu is willing to apologize represents one of his more innocent
misreadings. Netanyahu, a highly populist politician who follows the currents in
Israeli public opinion closer than Schanzer, would not ponder upon apologizing
to Turkey while the Israeli public seems to be strongly against it, as it is
right now. Taking only domestic politics into account, this would mean political
suicide, and Netanyahu is smarter than Schanzer gives him credit
for. Turkey-bashing is a goose that lays golden eggs for Israeli
politicians at the moment, and none of them would be willing to kill that
As for the impossibility of rapprochement as long as the AKP stays
in power, do hasbara archives have any remnants of the rapprochement in 2005 and
2008, surprisingly during the AKP rule? Have they deleted all the news items on
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Jerusalem and his photos shaking
hands with Ariel Sharon, a highly controversial figure in Turkey? Did they
completely cut the direct communication line between Erdogan and Olmert
established during the Israeli-Syrian talks sponsored by Turkey in 2008?
Israeli government and its friends are so preoccupied with determining who
should stay in power in Turkey, that they cannot read what is really happening
in Turkish domestic politics. It is arguably true that Erdogan’s criticism of
Israel is highly supported by Turkish society. However, the support does
not emanate from the fact that Erdogan criticizes Israel. People support
him because he stands up against an injustice, and as long as he continues to do
so, he will keep broadening his constituency and stay in
Therefore, whether Israel apologizes or not, the AKP will have
little to gain from an apology.
So the magical solution is as follows: If
the Israeli government really wants to curb Erdogan’s ability to garner support
by speaking up against Israel and salvage relations with Turkey, it should
seriously consider stopping the injustices it inflicts upon the Palestinians and
apologize and compensate for the injustice it committed on board the Mavi
. An apology would be a good start.The writer is a fellow at
Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research in Ankara.