WESTERN GOVERNMENTS have been right to be concerned about Israel’s poor judgment and botched execution in the raid against the Free Gaza flotilla. But they ought to be at least as worried about the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which since Monday has shown a sympathy toward Islamic militants and a penchant for grotesque demagoguery toward Israel that ought to be unacceptable for a member of NATO.***
Mr. Erdogan’s crude attempt to exploit the incident comes only a couple of weeks after he joined Brazil’s president in linking arms with Mr. Ahmadinejad, whom he is assisting in an effort to block new U.N. sanctions. What’s remarkable about his turn toward extremism is that it comes after more than a year of assiduous courting by the Obama administration, which, among other things, has overlooked his antidemocratic behavior at home, helped him combat the Kurdish PKK and catered to Turkish sensitivities about the Armenian genocide. Israel is suffering the consequences of its misjudgments and disregard of U.S. interests. Will Mr. Erdogan’s behavior be without cost?
If nothing else, you have to admire the absolute chutzpah of the Washington Post and the pro-Israel lobby. Israeli commandos storm vessels in international waters, kill nine civilians and wound several dozen others, and the Washington Post wants… Turkey to pay a price. And I’m betting the Washington Post rejects an international investigation into the mess, preferring for an Israeli-led investigation (if that), and I’m reasonably sure we can forget about the WaPo calling for sanctions against Israel. But Turkey, on the other hand. Those guys need to pay for the people Israel killed.
I wish this hadn’t been so predictable, but if you just realize that much of the media, most of Congress, and the entire right-wing of the political spectrum are operating from the perspective that Israel can simply do no wrong, you would have known why I immediately expected a blame Turkey mantra to start. As Greenwald has noted multiple times, things are so screwed up and out of whack that there is far more debate about the appropriateness of Israel’s behavior in Israel than is allowed here in the United States.
And finally, as Larison has pointed out, what is remarkable about Erdogan’s statements is not how belligerent they are, but how restrained they have been. His population is in an absolute froth, but other than some mild rhetoric and withdrawing diplomats, has there been any real action on the part of Turkey? No. Look no farther than Israel’s response to a similar number of dead- the incursion into Gaza in which they killed 1500 for a dozen or so killed in rocket attacks. Now tell me Turkey and her officials have over-reacted by offering up some moderately heated rhetoric.