|The Turkish-owned ship Mavi Marmara, which took part in the |
2010 "Gaza flotilla" that attempted to break Israel's navel blockade
of Gaza. (Image source: "Free Gaza movement"/Flickr)
22 May '15..
"This is the first time in history that a foreign army has killed civilian Turks in peacetime!"
This is how government-friendly media justified Turkey's reaction to Israel when, in May 2010, the Israel Defense Forces raided the "Mavi Marmara," a ship in a Turkish-led flotilla off the Gazan coast, and killed nine pro-Palestine activists aboard.
Any reader could be tempted to believe that Turkey was preparing to go to war with Israel.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, then foreign minister, insisted that "This is Turkey's own 9/11."
Turkey asked the United Nations Security Council to summon an emergency meeting. It knocked on other doors too: NATO, the European Union (EU), the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Then Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan called to discuss the Mavi Marmara crisis with U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Erdogan's portrayal of the incident contained words such as "state terrorism," "an attack on world peace," "piracy," "thuggish state," and "massacre." He said that:
- Israel must definitely be punished,- Israel will pay a very heavy price for this,- Israel murdered innocent people at sea, and- [Addressing and threatening Israeli citizens:] Israel is openly exposing your security to great risk.
Since the incident, Turkey's relations with Israel never normalized. Neither country has an ambassador in the other's capital. Turkey has vowed to isolate Israel internationally until Israel has apologized, paid compensation to the families of the victims, and removed the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip (which a UN commission probing the Mavi Marmara incident later declared to be legal).
One might, initially, understand the Turkish ire. After all, a foreign country's military had targeted a civilian ship and killed people aboard, with or without good legal reason. After all, again, the vessel that was attacked was not a Turkish frigate intending to shell the Israeli coast. So, Turkey's justified anger presumably had nothing to do with the inherent anti-Semitism of its Islamist rulers. Really?