Sovereign state or colony?

 

Israel apologizes... for what?

Israel apologizes… for what?

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.

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4 Responses to “Sovereign state or colony?”

  1. Robman says:

    My understanding is that it wasn’t an outright apology, but rather, that Netanyahu expressed “regret” over the incident. Which is not the same thing in diplo-speak (“regret” means we’re sorry things went down the way they did, but we don’t consider our action to have been wrong in any fundamental sense, whereas a formal apology admits guilt for wrongdoing).

    I am not about to throw a party, but overall, some things that happened were significant in a positive sense.

    The most important of these was the fact that Obama made clear that the PA must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This is quite a change from two and a half years ago, when Netanyahu demanded this as the price for a three-month extension on the cosntruction freeze, and Obama would not back him up on this. Obama’s spokespeople at that time dismissed Netenyahu’s position as a cynical dodge.

    Netanyahu must now keep the recognition issue front and center, especially in light of the fact that Abbas once again – for the zillionth time – declared that he will NEVER recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Netanyahu, going forward, has got to make it clear to Kerry that this is a de-facto precondtion of Israel’s, that Israel does NOTHING until it gets this. Which she never will from the PA. Which means Israel doesn’t have to give up anything at all…and it is the PA’s fault, not Israel’s.

    I expect that certain members of the new government, particuarly Minister of Defense Ya’alon and also Naftali Bennett, are not going to stand by and let Obama dictate anything to Bibi concerning the status of Jerusalem, final borders, or really, anything else of importance.

    The key issue is Iran. That is where Israel needs U.S. cooperation the most, and where Israel is most vulnerable to blackmail, at least so far as we know without access to classified info. (Or, maybe Fordo worked well, and the U.S. no longer has so much leverage, and Obama is now just trying to back away from pushing Israel around in a face-saving, graceful manner, to bide his time until he has more leverage…THEN he puts the screws to Israel hard again.)

    An Israeli friend of mine watched all the Israeli news coverage of the visit, including the press conference with Obama and Abbas. Abbas was “furious”, he reported, had never seen him like this with Obama. I think that is a good sign.

    I’m still skeptical, of course. We shall see how Kerry follows up. If he comes and behaves as if the recognition issue is unimportant, can be “dealt with later” but that up front, Israel has to do this, that, and the other thing – i.e., per the Obama administration, the onus is still on Israel to “prove” that she’s “serious” about peace,, then we’ll know nothing has changed and this trip was nothing but a big con job.

    But, if we see Kerry publicly pressuring the PA, particularly on the recognition issue, and the upshot of this is that it is brought into sharp public relief that it is the Palestinians – NOT Israel – who have to prove they are “serious” about peace by recognizing Israel as a Jewish state (which they simply will never do), then it would seem that a real change for the better has occurred.

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Robman,

    Don’t minimize the fact that, regardless of the language, it is being presented and played as an “apology.”

    As far as saying the Palestinians have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, he did not make a precondition of it. We’ll see if he agrees with you that Israel should do nothing before it receives this recognition! Pretty soon he will be saying that Israel has to make some “tough choices” etc., meaning concrete concessions that can’t easily be taken back…

  3. Robman says:

    Vic,

    My last two paragraphs above address your concerns noted above in your second paragraph.

    Bibi has to make sure the recognition issue is up front, all the time. He has to hold Obama to this. It will be what he makes of it. But he has something he can sink his teeth into, so to speak, and that is the point.

    It is possible that Obama thinks he can get away with the same things he gets away with here in the U.S.: outright lies that a gullible public and a corrupt media do not hold him accountable for. I expect that Israel is different that way.

  4. NormanF says:

    There are times in life when an apology is appropriate.

    When it is not appropriate? When you have done nothing wrong, when you’re in the clear and when right is on your side.

    The Prime Minister Of Israel forgot this basic rule of life in issuing an unwarranted apology to the Turks.

    It doesn’t heal the discord with them nor does it make Israel look righteous. And it sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

    Israel’s apologizing for exercising its right of self-defense sent the wrong message! One should never sanctify evil and call it good; to the contrary, one should exalt good and defend it no matter the cost.

    An Israel that cannot maintain its conviction on a basic matter of principle invites not the respect but rather the contempt of others. The damage cannot now be undone but the lesson can be remembered for the future. Our human weakness is not license to do things that foolishly hurt us and raise our enemies up when they should be destroyed.

    This is true not only of individuals in their dealings with it others; a righteous nation should always walk in the light of G-d. It is both the privilege and the duty of Israel in this world.

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