Show trial

With this mock trial, Ankara appears to have signaled loudly and with insolent finality that it is not interested.

Mavi Marmara le 26 décembre 2010 (photo credit: Reuters)
Mavi Marmara le 26 décembre 2010
(photo credit: Reuters)
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 the USSR.
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.
If any 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.”
The 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 itself.
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 elaborate production.
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 accused.
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 ship.
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 their lives.
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 interested.
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 rebuff.
Regrettably, Turkey, with active premeditation, fosters conflict instead of cooperation. This works not only to Israel’s detriment.
The 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.