Israel should not apologize to Turkey
The Turks have real Chutzpa. They’re demanding that Israel apologize for killing nine of its people during the battle on the Mavi Marmara, pay compensation to the families of the dead, and lift the naval blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The UN report into the Marmara incident, whose publication is being delayed to give Israel and Turkey time to negotiate a way back to normal relations, says Israel acted within the bounds of international law – but did however use excessive force. We know that from multiple leaks. We also know that Turkey is slammed in Palmer’s report. We don’t know what for exactly [that, so far, hasn't been leaked] but its safe to assume that the report will point to Ankara’s practical involvement and encouragement of the Flotilla to Gaza in 2010. So Israel is happy to accept the Palmer report and move on. Turkey, believing that it did nothing wrong, is rejecting the report and sticking to its demand that Israel apologize. Just a quick reminder: our commandos boarded the Marmara carrying paint-ball guns, were lynched, and to save their lives, pulled out their sidearms and started shooting their way out.
Israel’s in a tough spot: apologize to Turkey and thus restore relations with this regional superpower [good to have them back in the friends and allies camp with Iran going nuclear and Syria imploding], OR, not apologize and see relations with Ankara deteriorate further, to only God knows where. But the Turks are on a power trip: they see America’s growing weakness in the Middle East, Iran’s rise and Syria’s descent, and they’re staking a claim here, again. The Ottomans ruled here for a very long time, not so long ago, and they’re returning to their old stomping ground. So if Israel apologizes, things go back to ‘normal’ – and Ankara wins in this arm wrestle and shows everyone in the neighborhood who the boss really is. We’ll lose a lot of respect if we apologize, and my hunch is that it will only embolden the Turks to more outrages in the future. Who is to say that they will stick to agreements in the future? If we don’t apologize, they’ll file lawsuits against soldiers who were directly involved in the Marmara affair, and that could be a nasty new front to deal with from Ankara.
Israel’s at a disadvantage it seems, and Turkey holds all the cards. If Israel doesn’t apologize, Turkey will escalate tensions thus winning brownie points in the Islamic Middle East; if Israel apologizes, Turkey comes out as a clear winner over the Jewish state.
The Turks are in effect asking us to kneel at their feet and lick their boots. The same boots they kicked us in the head with.
So what should Israel do?
Fuck’em. Seriously. Apologizing would be a massive, historic capitulation we’ll end up paying for on a much larger scale.
In the past ten years we’re run out of southern Lebanon only to be dragged back in and then fought to a stalemate, and Hezbollah is getting stronger. We took thousands of rockets and turned the other cheek for 8 years, then went into Gaza and Hamas is still standing and getting stronger. We let the world take a diplomatic approach to Iran’s nuclear weapons drive and now the Iranians are enriching uranium freely and are a stone’s throw away from a nuclear bomb.
Time to stop the rot I would say. Turkey is not the baddest boy on the block here. We are. Or we’re supposed to be anyway.