During a press conference on Monday, in response to journalists’ questions, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he had nothing to say about the relationship with Turkey at this time. He said he had expressed his appreciation to the Turks for their assistance in putting out the Carmel fires, as well as his hope that the relationship with the Turks would improve.
Turkish sources say that an agreement is likely to end the political crisis between Israel and Turkey.
Earlier Monday, the American Arabic television network, al Hura, reported that Israel responded to most of Ankara’s demands, and based on the proposed agreement, Israel said it would apologize to Turkey for the flotilla raid and pay reparations to the families of those who were killed in the incident.
It’s not clear yet if this is true or, if so, the details.
I understand the importance that good relations with Turkey, a regional power, would have for Israel. I understand that Turkey made a serious gesture of good will by sending fire-fighting planes to Israel.
The terms of an agreement would have to be such that Turkish PM Erdoğan could announce that Israel had accepted its guilt and bears responsibility for the deaths of 8 Turkish citizens. It might be worded in such a way that Israel could spin it differently, but this is what it will have to say.
I can’t find words strong enough to express my belief that Israel must not apologize.
Here are some reasons:
1. Israel will not get good relations with Turkey anyway. Erdoğan’s problem with Israel is based on Islamist ideology. Even if his motives were totally pragmatic, it seems to me that Turkey has decided to place its bet on the ‘strong horse’ in the Middle East, which it believes to be Iran.
2. An apology would be an admission of guilt, that is, an admission that Israeli soldiers did not act in self-defense. Even if one accepts the Turkish position that the blockade was illegal, self-defense should never require an apology. An apology betrays the naval commandos who put their lives on the line. Explain it to the young man who had his abdomen cut open by the terrorists.
3. An apology would be an insult to truth. Those commandos were attacked in a brutal and premeditated way, an attack which may have been planned by elements high in the Turkish government, and of which Turkish officials were certainly aware.
The loss of dignity and respect — not to mention deterrence — that would result from Israel apologizing for defending herself, against Hamas and against the IHH terrorists on the Mavi Marmara would be incalculable. And the ‘good relations’ would last exactly as long as convenient for Erdoğan and the rest of the Iranian bloc.
How is it possible to think for more than a moment about the advisability of apologizing for self defense? What are the consequences of such an apology the next time it’s necessary to defend yourself? What will be the result of such abject abasement in cultures like those of Turkey and the Arabs?
How is it possible to not understand that this will be seen throughout the world as a validation of the false and ugly picture of Israelis as Nazis that her enemies broadcast every day?