The Peace Process Should Not Be Linked with the Flotilla
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.
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.
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