Everything being said now about the Turkish crisis is wisdom after the fact. There is no way of knowing what would have happened had Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acted differently. Had Netanyahu accepted all of Turkey's demands, would the crisis have been averted? Would Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been appeased? And if so, for how long?
Netanyahu has made many mistakes, about which much has been written, including here. But in the Turkish matter, he has acted as sanely and logically as possible. It is not a matter of "honor", as his opponents are trying to depict it. Even if we wanted to, we could not take away Muslim extremists' monopoly on so-called honor, which is usually the lack thereof. Israeli governments for generations, and many prime ministers, have known how to forego their/our honor when necessary, and sometimes when it was not.
Let us put hindsight aside, and try to examine what is wisdom in action. On this point, we have no better perspective than the conduct of the prime minister - Turkey's not Israel's. This man, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, began raging against Israel even before the Mavi Marmara affair, and it is important to remember this. We saw him defiantly turn his back on President Shimon Peres, leaving his seat at the table. Peres did as Peres does - he relinquished his/our honor to avoid creating a crisis. This is Peres's way. Sometimes, when the issue is a practical matter, this can work. That did not happen this time, because it turns out that, for Erdoğan, Israel is not a practical matter, but a radical Islamic one.
The Gaza flotilla crisis followed the Peres affair. Today, after all the investigative committees, it is clear that this was a provocation that Erdoğan initiated, or at least gave his blessing to. It is possible that the military interception of the Mavi Marmara could have been carried out with fewer deaths. Or maybe not. In any event, it was clear to the Turks and the whole world that we were determined to halt the flotilla, and the inescapable conclusion is that this could involve casualties. The extent of the injury and the number of injured is not only a function of the attacker's conduct, but also of the attacked provocateur's conduct. Erdoğan unquestionably understands this.
But Erdoğan looks and sounds like the man who is planning for a crisis. He talks about and to Israel as a man who is afraid that the crisis will end. If Erdoğan really wanted an apology, he would have asked for it in a completely different style. When he sets ultimatums, when he expels an ambassador and some of his staff, when he abuses and curses us - it is not merely humiliation, it is proof that the man is a radical Islamist and as full of hate as Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with whom he is forging ties.
With or without the flotilla
There is no point is crying about lost interests. That is unquestionably a shame, but these interests were not lost on the Mavi Marmara, and not because of Netanyahu, but on the day that Erdoğan rose to power. It took him some time to create a crisis, but it would have happened with or without the flotilla, because that is what Erdoğan wants and because it is what he feels towards us.
Israel, instead of bewailing and blaming Netanyahu, should concentrate its energy on adjusting our interests to the new circumstances, which we did not create.
Is Israel the "spoiled child" that Erdoğan claims, or is Erdoğan acting the bully?
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 6, 2011
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011