If this report is true, today is a very sad day for the ‘sovereign’ Jewish state:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey for the 2009 [sic] raid on the Mavi Marmara flotilla that killed 9 Turks and one Turkish-American citizen [sic], US officials said Friday, in what they hailed as “a first step” toward reconciliation between the former allies.
The apology was made in a thirty minute, three-way call between President Obama, Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, conducted from a trailer on the airport tarmac in the last hour of Obama’s historic visit to Israel, the US officials said.
“Netanyahu apologized for the Mavi Mara flotilla incident and acknowledged ‘operational mistakes,’ said one senior US official, according to the White House pool report.
“Erdoğan accepted the apology,” according to the official, the pool report said. Netanyahu also agreed in the call to pay compensation to the families of those killed in the raid on the flotilla, that had sought to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, Turkish media reports said.
A short description of the incident, which actually occurred on May 30, 2010, is this:
On the ship, part of a flotilla attempting to break Israel’s legal (according to the UN’s Palmer commission) blockade of Gaza, was a contingent of Turkish thugs from the Islamist IHH organization. They boarded the ship separately from the other activists, and armed themselves with pipes, metal bars, knives, etc. When poorly prepared Israeli commandos (again legally) landed on the deck, they were attacked, beaten and stabbed. Several were injured, at least one quite seriously. After the Turks took several injured commandos hostage, moved them below decks, took their pistols and began to shoot, the Israelis responded with live fire. Nine of the attackers, one of whom was an American citizen, were killed. Five other vessels in the flotilla were intercepted without incident.
There is good reason to believe that top levels of the Turkish government planned this incident with the intention of provoking violence. The performance succeeded spectacularly, the final incident in an escalating series of dramas orchestrated by Turkish PM Erdoğan with the intention of weakening and ultimately destroying the formerly good relationship between Israel and Turkey (and especially the Turkish armed forces).
US pressure following the incident caused Israel to significantly loosen the blockade, rendering it ineffective as economic warfare against Hamas, and providing a propaganda victory to Hamas supporters, including Erdoğan.
Israel had already admitted that it had made mistakes in intelligence and preparation — the commandos should have expected a violent reception and should have been appropriately armed with effective non-lethal weapons (they had paintball guns and flash-bang grenades). Although Israel did not accept blame for the killings, which it considered justified self-defense, it did offer to compensate the families. This was unacceptable to the Turks.
Now it appears that Mr. Obama has pressured PM Netanyahu to give up on the idea that IDF soldiers are entitled to defend themselves when they are being fired on, and see their colleagues beaten with pipes and thrown into the sea with their abdomens sliced open.
I’ll add that Netanyahu has offered this apology to someone who just a few weeks ago called Zionism a crime against humanity. Can you think of any other case when a head of state apologized after such an incident? And to such a person?
One of the criticisms leveled against Netanyahu from the Right has been that Bibi, who has demonstrated undeniable physical courage in battle, lacks the moral courage to stand up against this kind of pressure. Today, it seems like this is true. It will be interesting to see if this will have immediate political consequences for his leadership. My guess is that it will.
Some commentators wondered what Obama’s visit was all about. After all, there were both positive and negative aspects of his public remarks, and nothing significant seemed to have changed in his position.
Well, now we know. In the last few moments of visit, Obama got
- Points with Muslims around the world, by affirming that a Jew is never justified in killing a Muslim.
- Points with his “outstanding partner and … outstanding friend,” Erdoğan.
- To humiliate his enemy, Netanyahu. He hasn’t forgotten that standing ovation from Congress.
- To hurt Netanyahu politically at home.
- To prove that an Israeli leader has to do whatever the US President tells him, no matter how wrong or degrading.
- To suggest that Israel has no right of self-defense.
- To prove, yet again, that Turkey is a more important ally than Israel.
- To show that Israel is not a sovereign nation, but rather a colony of the US, which can decide what its borders are, where its capital isn’t, and when it can or cannot use force.