Perhaps only in Israel can even a dead man rise from the grave to sing his country’s praises (well OK, it could happen in a few other places too like North Korea, Belarus and perhaps Iran). That’s what’s happened to poor Shabtai Rosenne, former Israeli foreign ministry official, appointed along with several other elderly cheerleaders to vindicate the Israeli massacre (called officially by the panel a “maritime incident”) aboard the Mavi Marmara. No sooner was the man appointed than a picture appeared on the front page of an Israeli newspaper with him sitting in PJs next to his Filipino male nurse. And then a few weeks later, just after the panel began its deliberations he was dead.
But his spirit lingers on. They probably saved an empty chair for him during deliberations. Kinda like Elijah. So, contrary to the Ashrey prayers which proclaim that the “dead shall not praise God” (only the living do that), even the dead sing Israel’s praises. In fact, one wonders why Bibi even bothered appointing anyone living to people this commission. It would save trouble to have Rosenne appoint a few other dead Israeli leaders to join him and issue the report from heaven. That might’ve offered the report a tad more credibility and authority than it’s currently enjoying. Turkey has spat on the results as “lacking credibility.” No one else in the world who’s a reasonable observer will feel any more fondly towards it.
In fact, the results beggar belief. IDF naval commandos killed nine Turks, one of whom was also a U.S. citizen. Their crime? They were running the Israeli blockade of Gaza. While the rest of the world and most experts in international law see the siege as illegal, Turkel and his as good as dead guys see both the siege and the attack on the Turkish ship as fully justified. According to them, it’s perfectly acceptable to place 1.5 million civilians under siege for no valid military purpose whatsoever.
Returning to the weaknesses in the panel’s procedures…just for starters, it actually expected Turkish victims might testify. Why? Why would they come after the hospitality they were accorded following their kidnapping, in which they were imprisoned and all their gear of any value stolen? Was the commission going to house them in the King David Hotel with a 24 hour security guard to ensure they wouldn’t be accorded the same treatment again? Those who did testify who were any less than IDF boosters, such as Israeli human rights NGOs, were treated with barely concealed contempt. Why would a Turkish victim subject him or herself to such hostility?
The fix was in. The inquiry delivered the result expected. Now Israel can say it did its duty and the rest of the world can laugh in disbelief. Just the way Israel wants things apparently. It would’ve been far too dangerous to have a genuinely independent panel. Israel doesn’t allow such things when it cannot control the outcome. It really doesn’t care what the world thinks about it. For domestic political consumption it needs to be able to tell Israelis it did its best to comply with the world’s wishes, and that it’s not responsible if the world thinks it wasn’t good enough. After all, that’s what the world always says about us now, doesn’t it (say Israel’s leaders)?
Oh, but wait. The panel did actually make one tiny criticism. Yes, you heard me right. They actually found one little thing to criticize about Israel’s treatment of Gaza. No you cynics, it wasn’t that the border isn’t sowed up tight enough. It’s that the IDF should be more merciful in dealing with Gazans who need medical care outside the enclave. It also said Israel should be more focussed in harming Hamas and not the civilians of Gaza. It’s touching really. And so humane and heartwarming of them. But how, pray tell, when you’ve put a lid on an entire territory can you pinpoint the harm on one small group of people within it? You can’t. So thanks for all the concern, but give it a rest. This is utter nonsense.
To read the whole report, see here.
On a related note, James Traub has an in depth profile of the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, in which the reporter claims that the only “failure” in Turkey’s foreign policy has been its supposedly over-the-top response to the Mavi Marmara assault. Note the quotation from the “U.S. government official” cum Israeli booster who has got to be Dennis Ross or Dan Schapiro, Obama’s pro-Israel point men:
The net effect of Turkey’s vehement reaction to the flotilla, which by an unfortunate quirk of timing came two weeks after the nuclear deal with Iran and a week before the sanctions vote, was to wreck whatever remained of its relations with Israel and to seriously harm its standing in the U.S. “The hyperbolic and provocative rhetoric” in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara incident, says a senior administration official, “has interfered with what has been a historic and hugely important, positive Turkish-Israeli relationship.” And it has done real damage in the court of public opinion, where Turkey looks like the enemy of the United States’ best friend in the Middle East as well as the friend of its worst enemy. After the Mavi Marmara incident, Thomas L. Friedman asserted in The Times, perhaps hyperbolically, that Turkey had joined “the Hamas-Hezbollah-Iran resistance front against Israel.”
The analysis contained in this passage is so off-key that it’s worth dwelling on it for a moment. First, why would any American care how Turkey reacted to the Mavi Marmara? None does. Except of course those who are ardently pro-Israel like Aipac’s members and those Congress members who do as they’re told and whip out their “scold Turkey” cue card when necessary. So it’s utter nonsense to say that Turkey has harmed relations with the U.S. What this passage and those quoted in it really mean to claim is that because Turkey has harmed its relations with Israel (but didn’t Israel choose first to harm its own relations with Turkey by killing so many of its citizens?), and the U.S. is Israel’s bestest friend in the whole world, that Turkey better look out. Because if you rile up Israel too much you’re gonna rile up the big guy too eventually. And Turkey, according to this lopsided thinking, wouldn’t want to do that now, would it??
And why pray is the Turkey-Israel relationship “hugely important?” And to whom? Of course it’s hugely important to Israel as Turkey used to be the only major Muslim country which had any relations with it, good or bad. So what precisely is Turkey losing by having this cold front blow in? Again, the U.S. official quoted here is speaking entirely from Israel’s vantage point, which is why I think it’s a dead giveaway that Ross is the one speaking here.
Finally, we have the typically ludicrous Tom Terrific quote claiming that by defending its own national honor and putting Israel in the dock for killing its own citizens that Turkey, which single-handedly negotiated an end to the Syria-Israel conflict which Olmert then proceeded to completely screw up, has somehow joined the armed resistance along with Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran. Stuff ‘n nonsense.
What I’d like to know is, what was Turkey supposed to do after the massacre? Sit back and say to Israel: “That wasn’t quite hard enough. Why don’t you hit me again?” Is that the way nations conduct international diplomacy and protect their interests? Do they turn the other cheek and say, I know you’re a good guy and didn’t mean it? Or do they vigorously protect themselves and their citizens from such murderous acts as committed by Israel?
- Turkey rejects Israel raid report (bbc.co.uk)