It was nice that the U.S. government, in the person of Secretary of State John Kerry, called the Turkish prime minister’s most recent anti-Semitic remark “objectionable,” and everything, but there are still problems with how the episode is portrayed in the press.
You may recall the other day that Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Zionism “a crime against humanity,” – something Kerry said wasn’t helpful in the search for Mid-East peace.
“We not only disagree with it; we found it objectionable,” Kerry is quoted saying.
A Turkish spokesman, “however, gave no acknowledgement of the U.S. complaint and denied that any Turkish official had made hostile or offensive comments about Israel,” A.P. reported. “Instead, he blamed Israel for acting in a hostile way toward Turkey. He repeatedly referred to the deaths of nine civilians at the hands of Israeli commandos aboard a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship in 2010.”
Maybe he’s testing the international waters, like Hitler did with his first anti-Jewish laws, which is why it was crucial that the Obama administration didn’t ignore it.
Or, maybe, he’s trying to get cozier with the Islamists in the wider Arab world.
Either way, Erdogan knew what he was saying.
Naturally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also “sharply condemned the remark late Thursday, calling it a ‘dark and mendacious statement, the likes of which we thought had passed from the world,’” Associated Press reported. A little less expected, U.N. chief Ban ki-Moon also joined the critics, saying it was “unfortunate that such hurtful and divisive comments were uttered at a meeting being held under the theme of responsible leadership,” according to the report.
And it is at this point in the Associated Press article where the writer attempts, either intentionally or due to a lack of knowledge, to blame the deterioration of Turkey-Israel relations on the 2010 Israeli raid on a blockade-busting flotilla.
The story points out that “Turkey and Israel were once important allies,” but fails to note that the unraveling of that relationship came long before the flotilla raid, in which nine armed and violent combatants attacked the Israeli commandos sent aboard to ensure no weapons were being brought into Gaza.
In fact, that flotilla, the aim of which was hostile to Israel from the outset, would never have originated in Turkey had the Turks not elected an Islamist prime minister in 2002.
Turkey was the first and among the very few Muslim countries to recognize the state of Israel in 1949, and since then, “military, strategic, and diplomatic cooperation between Turkey and Israel were accorded high priority by both countries,” historical sources say. Trade and tourism were booming, the Israel Air Force practiced maneuvers in Turkish airspace and Israeli technicians were modernizing Turkish combat jets. There were also plans for high-tech cooperation and water sharing, sources note.
That began to change with the election of Erdogan, “whose ruling party has roots in Turkey’s Islamic movement,” A.P. reports.
Turkey’s officials have, since then, frequently criticized Israeli actions against Palestinians, and in November, Erdogan accused Israel of state terrorism and of an “attempt at ethnic cleansing,” a hot-button phrase that implies genocide.
It did not require a prophet to predict exactly where Turkey-Israel relations would go the minute the 2002 Turkish election results were in. In fact, I predicted it, then, so I’m not surprised by any of this.
I’m a little surprised by the world’s readiness to forget the facts and blame the bad blood on Israel.
No, actually, I’m not.
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here