JERUSALEM, April 2, 2013 - The last thing US President Barack Obama did before leaving Israel after his three-day trip in March was to make Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phone Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for the events of May 30, 2010, the day a Turkish flotilla set out to breach the naval blockade on Gaza.
Passengers on one of the Turkish ships, the Mavi Marmara, violently attacked Israeli commandos dispatched to prevent it from crossing the Israeli blockade reaching
Because the mission, sponsored by the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (a radical Turkish-Islamist NGO with ties to terrorist groups), was ostensibly a peaceful one, the Israeli soldiers were armed mainly with paintball guns. The “peace activists,” on the other hand, were prepared with metal pipes, knives and other weapons, which they used to beat the soldiers to a bloody pulp before throwing them overboard. By the end of the clashes, nine activists were dead, and several Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded.
The Turkish government tried and convicted Israeli officers in absentia for their involvement in the flotilla raid and demanded that the Israeli government compensate the families of those killed on the ship.
Strangely, this move toward Islamic radicals has not altered
Unlike Obama, Netanyahu actually grasps this fact. He also knows that
So why, after three years of standing his ground, would Netanyahu suddenly agree to an about-face on Obama’s cell phone? And why would newly instated Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, never known as a dove, support his having done so?
The explanation by Netanyahu is that the Syrian civil war is bubbling to boiling point, which makes Israeli-Turkish cooperation a necessity.
Pundits have gone a step farther, positing that Obama exacted the apology to Erdogan from Netanyahu in exchange for giving
Given Obama’s assertion that it is still possible to engage in fruitful negotiations with
The point is moot at the moment anyway, since Erdogan didn’t really accept Netanyahu’s apology. Instead, he upped his demands. He also proceeded to capitalize on the phone call, boasting to his public that he had brought the Israeli prime minister to his knees.
Now, he is going for
Nevertheless, liaisons are underway to determine how many tens of millions of dollars
In other words, rather than renewing ties with Israel to placate America and tackle the issues of Syria and Iran, Turkey’s stated aim is to get Israel to acknowledge moral, financial, and political blame for the flotilla incident, while fighting on behalf of the Palestinians “to end Israeli occupation.”
We should thus stop the wishful speculation about some secret pact between Obama and Netanyahu, and ponder the situation as we actually know it, by asking a number of relevant questions.
First of all, if it is in
Second, the US-Turkish alliance is so crucial, why didn’t Obama demand that Erdogan immediately restore relations with
Third, why is it
The answers lie in the inherent imbalance that exists between democratic countries and the despotic, often diabolical, regimes with which they try to reason. One could argue that
Obama is by no means the only American president to have treated this awesome responsibility more as a curse than a calling. But he may end up being the one under whose watch the word “superpower” no longer applies.
Erdogan and his ilk are counting on it.
Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’”
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.