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The Peace Process Should Not Be Linked with the Flotilla

June 4, 2011

Painting by Banksy

Whether or not a second Flotilla takes off from Turkey to draw attention to the siege on Gaza is really not the United States’ problem right now. How much more goodwill in the Muslim world are we going to squander? At this point, the phrase “honest broker” has become the punch line of a decades-long joke.

After that infuriating performance by Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington DC recently, where he publicly dressed-down the President of the United States and had his Roman Triumph in the inner sanctum of Congress, it is absolutely mind-numbing how much time the State Dept. seems to spend protecting Israel from itself. Don’t get me wrong, I give Secretary Clinton huge credit for her patience and diligence, but at this point, Bibi Netanyahu has made his own bed.

The Flotilla and the peace process should not be linked together and any attempt to do so will just make matters worse.

This from Haaretz today:

The U.S. government is considering to offer Turkey a deal in which Ankara would stop a second Gaza flotilla that is due to depart later this month in exchange for the opportunity to host an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit in Ankara, the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman reported Friday.

Israel has been preparing to block the second aid flotilla sailing from Turkey to Gaza, one year after the Israel Defense Forces’ deadly raid on the first Gaza flotilla in which nine Turkish activists died. Turkey has demanded Israel apologize for the raid in order to restore Turkish-Israeli ties.

[snip]

According to Hurriyet, U.S. officials have been trying to get a sense of how Turkey would react to such a proposal, and one U.S. official said that Ankara seems unlikely to accept the offer without Israel apologizing for the IDF raid.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel prefers a diplomatic move to thwart the flotilla expected at the end of June, but if necessary would exercise force against anyone who tries to disobey the navy’s orders and head to Gaza’s shore.

[emphasis added]

Has it occurred to this administration that they actually have some diplomatic leverage with Bibi Netanyahu and at times they should use it? Despite increasing aid to Israel, vetoing UN resolutions condemning settlements, increasing Israel’s military capabilities and constantly reiterating how the US-Israel bond is “unshakeable,” “unbreakable,” “enduring” etc. Netanyahu has done nothing in return for this administration. In fact, he has helped perpetuate the false belief that Barack Obama is anti-Israel. Israeli members of Parliament have actually compared Obama to Yasser Arafat and claimed the President is trying to eliminate “Israel from the map.” Can you imagine the reverse happening? Can you imagine a US lawmaker talking sh*t like that about Israel? No, you can’t, so don’t bother trying.

Turkey should be involved in any eventual peace process not because of their willingness (or not) to stop a flotilla from leaving their shores- as far as I know Turkey isn’t even sponsoring the Flotilla anyway- but because they are major players in the region. Israel and Turkey need to engage in some actual diplomacy and restore ties rather than simply trying to get the U.S. to clean up the mess.

Turkey and Israel need to work out their problems, you know, like the adults sovereign states they are. If both sides would stop being so petty and arrogant it would go along way towards healing the divisions. Israel’s recent use of the Armenian Genocide as a tool to further piss off the Turks is just one more example of how there seems to be no set universal principles on human rights. The irony of politicizing the issue of genocide is rather jarring. Of course, the U.S. Congress has been playing that game as well. Ever since Turkish and Israeli relations cooled off Congress suddenly [last year] became interested in punishing Turkey by attempting a formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Talk about cynical. But here’s the reason:

In the past, the pro-Israel community [i.e. the Israel lobby] , has lobbied hard against previous attempts to pass similar resolutions, citing warnings from Turkish officials that it could harm the alliance not only with the United States but with Israel — although Israel has always tried to avoid mentioning the World War I-era genocide.

In the last year or so, however, officials of American pro-Israel groups have said that while they will not support new resolutions, they will no longer oppose them, citing Turkey’s heightened rhetorical attacks on Israel and a flourishing of outright anti-Semitism the government has done little to stem.

That has lifted the fetters for lawmakers like Berman (Chairman Howard Berman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) , who had been loath to abet in the denial of a genocide; Berman and a host of other members of the House’s unofficial Jewish caucus have signed on as co-sponsors.

Get that. The lobby has always opposed deeming the Armenian slaughter a genocide largely because Turkey has (or had) good relations with Israel. And the lobby, and its Congressional acolytes, did not want to harm those relations.

But, since the Gaza war, Turkish-Israeli relations have deteriorated. The Turks, like pretty much every other nation on the planet, were appalled by the Israeli onslaught against the Gazans. And said so.

Ever since, the Netanyahu government has made a point to stick it to the Turks. Most famously, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon seated the Turkish ambassador in a kindergarten chair during a meeting, and “forgot” to put a Turkish flag on the table alongside the Israeli flag. He then called the Israeli photographers in and said to them in Hebrew – so the Turkish ambassador wouldn’t understand, “The important thing is that they see he’s sitting lower and we’re up high and that there’s only one flag, and you see we’re not smiling.”

The genocide should have been recognized by the U.S. and Israel long ago based on basic principles of justice, not based on the politics of what Turkey or Israel wants at any given time. Genocide is genocide, end of story. I know this is shocking so sit down and get ready for it: It’s not always about Israel. Sometimes we just need to do what is right and what is in our own best interest as a nation. I know, shocking! And yes, there are times when what Israel wants conflicts with what is in our best interest, the claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

Turkey and Israel will remain allies because it is in both of their interests to do so and irrespective of whether the U.S. and Israel recognize the Armenian genocide and regardless of whether a flotilla sets sail for Gaza this month. Perhaps relations between Israel and Turkey will never be warm and fuzzy, but who cares? That’s not the point of their relationship- contrary to popular belief diplomatic ties don’t need to be “special,” they just need to ensure stability, promote respect and prevent armed conflict.

The U.S. should stay out of this flotilla issue- it doesn’t involve us and since Bibi seems to not appreciate this administration at all, it’s a bit hypocritical of him to turn around and expect the State Dept. to prevent an international flotilla from leaving Turkish shores.

Note: Cross-posted at TaylorMarsh.com

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. Thain permalink
    June 4, 2011 7:58 am

    Good post, totally agree. Love the Banksy pic.

    Can Israel do anything by itself? Anything? Time for Israel to put it’s big boy britches on and deal with it’s own mess. Israel doesn’t act like a sovereign state, it acts like our protectorate.

    I agree that after Bibi spit in this administration’s eye Hillary should tell Bibi that if he needs she, Obama and Amb. Rice to prevent the flotilla and kill the September UN resolution perhaps he should have thought of that prior to his speech at AIPAC and Congress.

    Is Israel really our ally? Time for Bibi to prove it.

    Btw I think I know how Rep. Weiner can get past this scandal – he should just tell the media that yes, the crotch shot is of him but it’s all ok b/c he took it after Bibi’s speech. B/c all problems just disappear if a politician professes his/her undying love for Israel and God knows Weiner is one of the biggest AIPAC panderbears in Congress.

  2. Seamus permalink
    June 4, 2011 9:18 am

    I love Banksy. He’s done a bunch of graffiti art here in N. Ireland. He also has done quite a bit in Gaza.

    Secretary Clinton seems to spend a great deal of time trying to save Bibi’s ass and I’m not sure what goodwill she gets in return. Although I suppose it’s not about that. It’s about ensuring that Obama gets re-elected with a huge percentage of the Jewish vote.

    Israel has one of the most advanced, well-trained military in the world and yet they suck at crowd control and dealing with civil disobedience. They didn’t have to kill all those people on the last Flotilla and everyone knows it- all they had to do was wait until the ship was in Israeli waters and drop prop foulers and then they could have hauled the ship into port- no death, no drama. But no, they’ve got to use special forces commandos in the dead of night in a full scale assault on a civilian vessel in order to increase the chance of loss of life and the ability to play the victim. How do you become the victim when all the loss of life is on the other side?

    re: Weiner- harsh dude! That guy should just say “yeah, it was a photo of me but someone hacked my system and sent it and I want to move on no harm done.” The whole “I can’t say with certitude it’s me” thing just isn’t working. It’s even in our news way over here acxross the pond. The only reason it’s news is because he answers to questions have been so bizarre. He’s not the first guy to take a picture of his package and I doubt he’ll be the last. It’s not my thing but hey, my thing probably isn’t his thing either. :) Maybe he could hire me as a consultant because whoever was giving him advice before now should be fired.

    • June 4, 2011 9:23 am

      Agreed Seamus- prop foulers would totally work and not only that, it would give Israel some much-needed good PR.

      Rather than having to be condemned by the world for using disproportionate force for attacking a civilian vessel engaged in civil disobedience (yes- the flotilla is by definition “provocative” as is ALL civil disobedience!), Israel would be heralded for showing restraint. Rather than using the flotilla to play the victim- when in fact Israel and the US are the ones that essentially maintain the illegal blockade- they should just quietly deal with it. I say illegal because it’s the blockade is not just to stop the smuggling of weapons- it’s an economic blockade aimed at strangling the entire population of Gaza as collective punishment for the election of Hamas. Totally illegal under international law. But of course, as Tzipi Livni is on record as saying, Israel really doesn’t believe in international law.

      No comment on Weiner. As an aside, I couldn’t understand why over the last week I’ve had thousands more visitors every day- then according to my blog stat page the number one search all week to get to my blog was “anthony weiner” & “Huma Abedin” and my post congratulating them on getting married has been viewed this week 127,000 times. And I thought more people were coming here because of my wonderful blog! ;) Silly me!

      • discourseincsharpminor permalink
        June 4, 2011 10:13 am

        We come here for your wonderful blog. That’s something, right.

  3. discourseincsharpminor permalink
    June 4, 2011 10:12 am

    After Netanyahu’s treatment of our President in his speech to Congress, I wouldn’t be so inclined to view the opportunity to host a peace summit which he would in all likelihood attend as a reason to stop the floatilla. He’s obnoxious to his nation’s friend and he’s a rude guest. He tries to humiliate them. If being at odds with Bibi leaves Turkey with a little more dignity than we have on this issue, then I can’t blame them for not rushing at the offer. Bibi needs to learn some social skills.

  4. HillaryFan permalink
    June 4, 2011 12:37 pm

    As usual, great post, well-written and informative. I heard about all the effort Hillary was putting into preventing another Flotilla from setting sail and I agree that her time would be better spent on other issues because she has a full plate as it is. I saw this post tweeted by Taylor and a few others so I am glad other people in the Twittersphere are reading it!

    I don’t think I follow you on Twitter- I did a search but couldn’t find you! It’s @secretaryclinton right?

    • June 4, 2011 12:49 pm

      Hi HF- thanks.

      Actually, my twitter handle is @SecyClintonBlog which is the same as my Facebook account. I just basically tweet my posts and other Clinton news and foreign policy stuff.

  5. June 4, 2011 12:47 pm

    Israeli security guards open fire on unarmed protesters:

  6. June 4, 2011 1:05 pm

    MJ Rosenberg, who was a former staffer for Sen. Carl Levin and a legislative affairs director for AIPAC, recounts how the debate on Israel and Palestine is censored by the media and special interest groups. You can read the article here and his follow up article here.

  7. Thain permalink
    June 4, 2011 2:40 pm

    The White House has a new page on it’s website dedicated to Israel’s security. Talk about pandering, they are really laying it on thick. What do the Palestinians get? Nothing. That’s why that video above posted by Stacy won’t even register on Obama or Clinton’s radar. The Arab Spring doesn’t apply to the Palestinians.

  8. Thain permalink
    June 4, 2011 2:41 pm

    BTW, Stacy- I think I found your new blog! You can run but you can’t hide ;)

    Why don’t you put the link here and let people know so people can follow you over there?

    Or if you want me to shut my mouth, I can do that too.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      June 4, 2011 10:04 pm

      New blog?
      I didn’t get an invitation to the party…

      • June 5, 2011 9:28 am

        @C-R- no party yet. I haven’t decided whether or not to do a new blog so I just created one and cross posted some stuff. If and when I decided to keep it you’ll be the FIRST formal invite ;)

        Basically, I want a place where I can rant about Mideast politics :)

    • stacyx permalink*
      June 5, 2011 9:26 am

      @Thain…hmmm…that’s strange that you could find it since it’s not listed anywhere. I’ll post a link to it if and when I decide I’m not going to delete the whole thing. Micah’s response to hearing I wanted to create a new foreign policy blog was “another one” heh. Can’t blame her there.

  9. anon permalink
    June 4, 2011 9:09 pm

    Left without allies, Israel would seek a biblical military solution to the problem, like they almost did during the Yom Kippur War when they prepped their nuclear missiles for launch. A realist might say that it is in the interest of stability to keep Israel secure enough to not use these very tragic, decisive options.

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      June 4, 2011 9:53 pm

      A realist could also say that, when the US constantly either ignores their transgressions or lends their full-voiced support, there is no reason to believe they wouldn’t try to create a one-state solution the old fashioned way if it looked like a good idea. Who knows, they might even be able to get the US to help – not this administration, but perhaps another.

  10. June 5, 2011 9:33 am

    BTW, for those that are interested, today is the anniversary of the Naksa (the start of the 1967 war) and I am on twitter and I cannot believe the hate being spewed by the so-called pro-Israel crowd. Basically they are saying the only good Arab is a dead Arab. And no, these are not people on the fringe either as much as I wish they were. So many in the pro-Israel community have become hardened racists but because the media protects mainstream america from seeing that side most aren’t aware of just how ugly this issue has become.

  11. Thain permalink
    June 5, 2011 9:46 am

    I’m on twitter too and it’s unbelievable. Basically there are a bunch of people claiming that Israel is at war with Syria (they aren’t) and Israel is the world’s perpetual victim which means Israel can shoot unarmed protesters and it’s ok. The fact that Israel has one of the most powerful military, has nuclear weapons and the total support of the world’s superpower makes the whole “we’re the victim in all of this” meme really tiresome. The fact that many, many more palestinian civilians (not hamas) die every year compared to only a handful of Jewish Israelis doesn’t seem to matter to anyone. The fact that there is a huge imbalance of power between the Israelis and Palestinians doesn’t matter. Nope, only the Israelis are the victims.

    You see, if someone says something hateful against Jewish people, it’s a crime. If someone says something hateful about an Arab, well, the Arabs must deserve it.

    Lets admit it, shall we? The pro-status quo, pro-perpetual war community has become a bunch of hypocritical racists and hatemongers but because so many (certainly not all) of them are Jewish, we don’t go there because if we do go there then we get called antisemites. As Stacy said, the hatred being barfed up isn’t from extremists it’s from ordinary folks who think it’s ok to make sweeping generalizations about ALL Arabs, but these same people go nuts if anyone makes a sweeping generalization about them.

  12. Thain permalink
    June 5, 2011 9:59 am

    David Brooks: All that matters is Israel and the job of the US is to appease every Israeli whim. The job of the US media is to parrot Israeli propaganda to keep people from questioning how our knee-jerk support for Israel Right or Wrong harms our own national security:

    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/06/netanyahu-owns-congress-but-palestinians-have-captured-europe.html#more-44136

    At least he admits it. More of the media should do the same and then maybe the charade can end. #dualloyalty

  13. Thain permalink
    June 5, 2011 4:44 pm

    Boy, these unarmed Palestinian refugees sure look scary don’t they? Good thing Israel is shooting them. Over 20 dead so far.

    They are trying to get their wounded across the border- btw- when you hear the NYT and the hasbarists try to claim Israel is protecting its borders remind people they are not legal borders- it’s the occupied Golan.

  14. Steve permalink
    June 5, 2011 4:50 pm

    It would be nice if the Secretary would come out and denounce these killings. Maybe she’s busy marching in the Israel parade today here in NYC. My son, being the good Jew that he is, went with his mother to the parade to protest the occupation. I’m a very proud dad!

    BTW, you guys are right- Twitter is out of control on the hasbara front but it’s a great source of information from Palestinians and others on the ground. Maybe Ethan Bronner is there. JUST KIDDING! Bronner doesn’t leave the safety of his home and rolodex.

    Thanks for the video Seamus it puts it in perspective. Those protesters look about 17, I don’t see any guns or rock throwing. This sort of thing Americans never see and the media don’t want people to see it because it shows in stark reality just how powerful Israel is and just how little power the Occupied population has. It puts the Israel As Victim myth to rest.

    • June 5, 2011 6:31 pm

      I’m really disgusted. This could be the last straw for me. After watching videos of unarmed protesters being killed by the IDF I really can’t believe that the State Dept. has come out with the following statement which said in part:

      “like any other sovereign nation, has the right to defend itself.”

      Jesus H. Christ! So that’s the excuse for EVERYTHING! Killing unarmed protesters is self defense now? So it was wrong in Egypt but it’s ok if it’s Israel doing the killing. And as noted above, these aren’t Israel’s legal borders they are the occupied Golan.

      Honestly, I really can’t support this administration’s foreign policy anymore. One Israeli dies and Clinton immediately releases a statement condemning the killing and blasting whoever did it but 20+ unarmed protesters are killed- Palestinian refugees- and we get a blanket statement about Israel’s right to self defense.

      No wonder the Arab world hates us.

      • June 5, 2011 6:39 pm

        http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/06/05/236950/israeli-forces-wound-protesters/

        This administration called on Palestinians to use nonviolence to get their point across and then when they do and get shot, this administration claims Israel’s right to self-defense justifies it. I just can’t get over this- there is only so much pandering to the Lobby I can take in one day. Maybe if people at the state dept. actually saw some of the videos of these killings they would understand that this was NOT self defense?

        Oh, never mind.

        • Tovah permalink
          June 6, 2011 8:03 am

          I read today that the Palestinian refugees are going to use nonviolent resistance more frequently to draw attention to their plight. The sad thing is, the US doesn’t care. I agree that it is really problematic for this administration to lecture the Palestinians on the importance of nonviolence only to ignore it when they are killed by the Israeli army. Always such a one-sided death toll- zero Israelis dead.

          A UN official said he thinks Israel ordered their soldiers to fire on the crowd in order to send a message to other nonviolent protesters that the same would happen to them.

          The US may be willing to sit back and rationalize this but the rest of the world won’t- as time goes on Israel and the US will find themselves/ourselves very lonely on the world stage. We seem to try to send the message that we understand the Arab Spring but clearly we don’t- our understanding is very selective.

          I’m disappointed in the State Dept. I really expected Hillary to come out and say that the deaths were unacceptable. Oh well, I guess I was wrong.

  15. IsraelFirst permalink
    June 6, 2011 1:21 pm

    Israel should and will do everything to secure it’s borders against terrorists infiltrating from Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. You liberal kooks just want to see Israel destroyed. The Palestinians already have a state- it’s called Jordan and they should get the hell back there and leave Israel as the home of the Jews.

  16. January 24, 2013 1:44 pm

    It’s to bad we all just can’t get along.

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