Political commentaries about the events in the Middle East resemble mythological plots written by an experienced censor.
Myth doesn’t need facts. It adjusts the facts to its own paradigm. And ideological mythology is not an exception.
Western journalists’ commentaries on Middle East problems, give me a sense of deja vu. It feels as though they have undergone the censorship of the Soviet Political Bureau or rather were written by the editor of Soviet “Pravda”, and then distributed with slight modifications, when actually these were written in The Washington Post, La Repubblica, Israeli Haaretz and other trustworthy editions.
Con Coughlin wrote in The Telegraph recently: “When the Palestinians lodge their formal application for statehood on Friday, they will simply be asking the United Nations to recognize the remarkable turnaround that has taken place in their political fortunes. It was not that long ago that the Palestinians’ desperate desire for independence was constantly being undermined through their association with violence and terrorism, and the endemic corruption that affected the few political institutions that they had.”
Antony Loewenstein (Haaretz): “The Palestinian narrative is routinely ignored or dismissed in the U.S. and beyond. This must change quickly for any chance of peace to break out in the Middle East . However, peace without justice is guaranteed to fail. …A thinking, more enlightened Judaism is emerging, a necessity in the face of apartheid realities. The cause is human rights, not Zionist exclusion.”
Roger Cohen of The New York Times has presented this paradigm in a very condensed matter. He wrote “Locked in its siege mentality, unable to grasp the change in the Middle East driven by the Arab demand for dignity and freedom, inflexible on expanding settlements, ignoring US prodding that it apologize – Israel is losing one of its best friends in the Muslim world, Turkey.”
Cohen claims that the key word among Palestinians now is “humiliation.”
My perception of a political analyst was of one who is urged to take into account all factors, purposes and aspirations of the all parties, and analyze the situation based on all three. I’ve never assumed that a column on a political issue can look a lot like the school’s essay “How to make good friends”.
Apparently I was wrong…
Let’s start with the Turks. Isn’t it true that according to this paradigm, Israel lost the Turks as allies because the former refused to apologize for killing nine pacifists on the Turkish “Mavi Marmara” last year?
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the general elections in 2002. In March, 2004, he called Sheikh Yassin’s murder – Hamas’ leader in Gaza – a “crime”, and compared Israel ’s policy to that of “the state terrorism.” During the war with Hizbullah in 2006, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia maintained a restrained attitude, his public defamation of Israel reminded that of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s.
Following Operation Cast Lead, In January, 2009, he slammed Israeli President, Shimon Peres, at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Instantly, all over Turkey appeared posters with Erdoğan greeting his people with bowing Peres in the background.
Turkey gradually brought to an end all military cooperation with Israel. Military maneuvers Anatolian Eagle were cancelled; instead Turkish forces took part in military maneuvers with the Syrian army. At same time Erdoğan became a welcome guest in Teheran.
Ankara banned flights of the Israeli aircrafts over its territory. In November 2010, during his visit to Lebanon , Erdoğan declared that his country “will not remain silent” if Israel deceides to “enter Lebanon with the most modern aircraft and tanks to kill women and children, and destroy schools and hospitals.” And long before the “Peace Flotilla” Erdoğan became the most popular politician in Gaza.
The “Peace Flotilla” became the next step in the anti-Israeli madness. Whereas the Turkish IHH, which financed this endeavor, is tightly related with both the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) of Turkey and with the international Islamic groups. Militants who attacked the soldiers were eventually killed.
Erdoğan’s ideology, what is it? He’s driven by rather clear-cut goals: creation of the Islamic state, rejection of Kemal Atatürk’s secular heritage and revival of the Ottoman Empire . The latter was initiated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. Ahmet Davutoğlu.
Erdoğan’s tactic is derived from this ideology multiplied by his political ambitions. The current situation opens up unique opportunities for him. From the economic and political stand point Turkey is rapidly growing. With “The Arabian Spring”, the fall of Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gadhafi, Erdoğan is left without any competition. Moreover, for Arabs, Turkey is a light of hope in the face of Shiite Iranian expansion. Although Arabs don’t have too many pleasant memories about Ottoman Porte, the Sunni Turks are definitely better than the Persian heretics.
Turks benefit from Barack Obama’s muffled and weak policy. The merely comatose Western Europe cannot compete with them. There was a time when Turkey was named – the”Sick Person of Europe”. Nowadays the “Sick Person of Europe” is Europe itself.
Erdoğan acknowledges that Arabs don’t trust Turks, but knows that through hatred to Israel he can win their hearts. He uses this trump at full capacity. In order to become the leader of the Muslim world, while pushing Iran to the side, he needs the conflict with Israel, at least, being on the verge of it. So far he’s been very successful in accomplishing his ambitions. Egyptians in Cairo greet him with posters saying “The Hero of Gaza – Egypt Welcomes You!”.
What can Israel do? It’s useless to apologize; Erdoğan is not interested. France ’s declarations about its peaceful intentions didn’t bother the Germans; Hitler didn’t need the French curtseys, he needed France itself. Erdoğan’s logic, like that of all ambitious dictators, is simple: reluctance to apologize is Casus Belli; willingness to do so is an opportunity for new allegations.
In fact, Israel’s choice should be psychological and not political: either to react by counteract ion or hope for a happy end.
But the problem is not only in Israel , and not so much – with Israel … From the beginning of the Cold War, Turks needed the United States and the NATO, because it feared Russia – Turkey ’s powerful enemy, which threatened to take over Dardanelles . With the dissolution of USSR, Turkey’s main threat has disappeared. Simultaneously the radicalization of the Islamic world has strengthened. The chaos in the Balkans and in Iraq has created a vacuum which tempted the Turks to intervene.
No one threatens Ankara anymore. On the contrary, right now it has an opportunity to regain a status of type of an Ottoman Empire, expanding its influence from the Balkans to Iraq , and from Caucasus to the Middle East. However, it can only be done while manifesting Islam.
Under such circumstances, Erdoğan doesn’t need the alliance with Israel or the USA. Turkey proclaims itself as a protector of the Muslims, and instigates growing fears not only in Israel, but in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia, Cyprus who are all very well familiar with their neighbors.
The repositioning of Turkish Navy to the East Mediterranean Sea is named Barbarossa – after a Hayreddin Barbarossa, a Turkish (Ottoman) admiral on a piratical flotilla in the 15-th century. And it’s not a coincidence. Such maneuvers are targeted not only against Israel , but also against Greece and Cyprus.
Erdoğan has already declared that the Turkish Navy won’t allow Cyprus to look for gas and oil in the Mediterranean Sea. These declarations made Athens, which is rapidly growing closer to Israel, very angry. At the end of last year, prime-ministers George Papandreou and Benjamin Netanyahu reached an understanding which resulted in new agreements about military cooperation between the two states.
These are the political realities, in which the incident with “Mavi Marmara” is only the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s move onto the Palestinians … As I’ve already stated: it has nothing to do with the settlements. As tough as the issues of settlements, borders, the status of Jerusalem and refugees can be, they can be resolved, but only if Arabs recognize Israel’s right to exist and Jews’ right to live in the land of Israel. They don’t wish to see any Jews in the West Bank as it was repeatedly declared by Abu Mazen. They do everything to deprive Jews of any connection with their land and holy places. They don’t accept that there were Temples on the Temple Mount, and don’t recognize the strong connection between Jerusalem and Jewish religion and history. The PA Mufti, Ikrima Sabri, appointed by Yasser Arafat, said that the “Wailing” Wall doesn’t exist and claimed that the Western Wall was a part of the walls of the Al Aqsa Mosque. He called it “Al Burak Wall”. And apparently the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, mentioned in Genesis Chapter 23 and Genesis 35, 19, have always belonged to Arabs and even constructed by them.
But let’s go back to settlements. Till 1967 there weren’t any settlements on the West Bank, yet by this time Arabs attempted “to drive Israel into the sea” twice: in 1948 and in 1967, and terrorism was a norm of life. Palestinians had at least four opportunities to get their own state. In 1948, when Palestine is divided – they initiate a war. In 1993, after the agreements in Oslo – they react with terror. In 2000, in Camp-David, Ehud Barak is ready to transfer 98 percent of the West Bank to Arafat, and another two percent – in exchange for the Israeli lands. Arafat said “no”, enraged Bill Clinton, and reacted with vicious terror. In 2008, in Annapolis, Ehud Olmert had the same generous offer for Abu Mazen – the latter has also turned it down. In 2005, Israel dismantles all settlements in Gaza – Palestinians react by triumph of HAMAS and rockets over Israel cities. In 2010, Israel freezes construction in the settlements for 10 months – Abu Mazen refuses to return to the negotiating table. So, what is driving the Palestinians? Is it peace, statehood, or something else?
None of the authors, neither Roger Cohen, nor others have considered those circumstances. It seems that their answers were taken from a Soviet school, 5th grade History textbook.
“Why there was a Bolshevik revolution?” The answer: “Because the Tsar was evil, and Bolsheviks cared about the poor people.”