Has Obama Outsourced the Job of Chastising Israel to Turkey?

The West has remained surprisingly silent in the Israel-Turkey spat. Erdoghan has won boisterous praise in the East, and few reprimands in the West for his tough criticism of Israel. Western politicians from one end of the political spectrum to the other are silently, satisfied to see Israel’s leadership brought up short for continuing to implant its citizens in the heart of what should be a future Palestinian state, making a mockery of Western efforts to jump-start negotiations, and ignoring regional peace offers.

Syria is also the beneficiary of this new Obama strategy – which might be called benign neglect.

Obama is powerless to change America’s relationship with Israel. He continues to provide it with more and better arms.  He cannot stop it from acquiring ever more Palestinian land and progressively whittling away at the prospect of a Palestinian state, but he can stop the US from acting as an overt cheerleader and advocate of this usurpation.

In the case of Syria, initial efforts to “remake the relationship” have been abandoned. No ambassador has been named. Sanctions have been reaffirmed, most strikingly with the recent refusal to allow Sarkozy to supply Airbuses to Syria causing serious ire in the Élysée Palace. All the same, Syria enjoys a period of delightful benign neglect from the White House. It is not being abused in the press. It has been allowed to reassert itself in Lebanon. Washington made no effort to stop Hariri’s visit to Damascus. Saudi Arabia has warmed up to Assad; the most recent visit by Assad to Riyadh lasted several days rather than the customary one. Turkey and Syria are still in the heady blush of young love after a century of estrangement. Obama has allowed the Iran deadline to slip by and is still holding out hope for a deal. The latest excuse not to do anything is that the Green movement is gaining traction and will take over somehow, relieving Washington of the task straightening out Tehran – something it is completely powerless to do. Rather than admit honestly, that Washington no longer has the authority in the international community or on the battle field force compliance from Iran, Washington prefers bluster. In some part, this is to placate pro-Israel sentiment among Americans.

Obama and his team undoubtedly understand that benign neglect is the only option they have to change the relationship with Israel. As Turkey assumes regional leadership, it will become a powerful and confident new voice in international affairs. It knows how to strike the correct note of moral disapproval without indicating anti-Semitism or enmity toward the Jewish state. Istanbul has a good track record toward Israel to prove its bona fides.

Israel will eventually discover a more dangerous and unbowed set of leaders emerging in the international arena who will not flinch at the notion of criticizing it. A post-holocaust order holds some surprises for Israel.

As Syria knits together a strategy for renewal, as Iran tip-toes through the minefield set for it by the Bush administration, and as Obama resists conflict with the Israel’s opponents, Authorities in Jerusalem will discover a more challenging environment in which it will have fewer defenders.

Turkey and Israel: The End of the Affair?
By Pelin Turgut / Istanbul
Time Magazine, Friday, Jan. 15, 2010

Not a month goes by without a new chapter in the increasingly bitter diplomatic sparring between traditional allies Turkey and Israel. Relations took a downturn a year ago, when Turkey’s government forcefully criticized Israel’s military assault on Gaza, and have since lurched from bad to worse. “One road accident, two accidents, three … all of a sudden it starts to look as if they’re not accidents — the road itself is the problem,” says Turkish foreign-affairs commentator Cengiz Candar. “The Turkey-Israel love affair is over.”

This week’s drama was provoked by a bizarre p.r. stunt on the part of Israel’s right-wing Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. Ayalon called in Turkey’s ambassador to Israel and staged a demeaning photo op calculated to humiliate the Turkish diplomat as a rebuke for negative portrayals of Israel on a Turkish TV drama. Only Ayalon’s last-minute apology prevented the resulting furor from causing a diplomatic breakdown. (See pictures of heartbreak in the Middle East.)

But further rows seem inevitable. Turkey’s newfound ambition to become a major regional power broker has seen an energetic forging of ties with Arab and Central Asian countries. Asserting a foreign policy increasingly independent of Washington, Turkey has not hesitated to criticize Israel’s actions against the Palestinians, defend Iran’s nuclear program and expand economic ties at a moment when the U.S. seeks to isolate Tehran, and repair relations with Syria. Israel’s leaders warn publicly that they believe Turkey is moving into the region’s Islamist orbit, and hard-liners within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government appear to have been spoiling for a fight.

In the past six months, Turkey has scrapped visa requirements for Lebanon, Jordan and Syria and signed a raft of agreements with each country designed to improve trade and cultural exchange. Since publicly chastising Israeli President Shimon Peres over Gaza at a conference in Switzerland last January, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become a hero on Arab streets, and the latest diplomatic spat with Israel won’t do his popularity any harm. Beirut daily Al Akhbar’s headline on the Ayalon apology story praised “Sultan Erdogan” and exalted that “Israel understands only Turkish.”

But while Erdogan may appear to be striking out independently of his country’s NATO partners, it’s notable that his outbursts critical of Israel draw little comment from the U.S. and Europe. That suggests “there is a sense that Erdogan is saying things that someone needs to say to Israel,” says a European diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity. Just last month, Erdogan left an upbeat meeting with President Barack Obama, rode to a downtown Washington hotel and gave a speech lambasting Israel for “inhuman” deeds in Gaza. “The timing doesn’t suggest someone who is unaware of what he’s doing in an international context,” says Candar. “The West is relieved to have someone taking on Israel. They’ve outsourced the job to Erdogan. That’s why, when he does the cost analysis of saying these things about Israel, he has the added confidence of knowing that Turkey won’t face recrimination from its Western partners either.”

Turkish-Israeli relations are still anchored by military cooperation, as they have been since the 1950s. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is due to visit Ankara next week, hoping to reinforce strategic ties and negotiate deals for Israel’s military industries, which already have contracts worth more than $1 billion to supply Turkey. Meanwhile, a Turkish delegation is currently in Israel to wrap up the purchase of 10 Heron drones. “Defense ties have become the safety valve for bilateral relations,” says Candar. “They prevent a complete breakdown. That doesn’t change the fact that there has been a significant structural shift in the relationship, and it is open to future crises.”

Comments (31)


1. Ghat Albird said:

A different view of the recent Turkey/Israel “crisis” as seen by Gilad Atzmon

“If you wonder what the Israelis do when they are exposed for who and what they are, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon has an answer to offer. Ayalon went out of his way this week to snub Turkey’s ambassador to Israel over his country’s “persistent criticism of the Jewish state”.

The Israeli official refused to shake the Turkish Ambassador’s hand and made him sit on a lower seat at a meeting. He also made sure that a cameraman was there to document the humiliation. Submerged in Jewish pride the Israeli Deputy Foreign minister was probably convinced that for Israel to get away with murder, treating a Goy diplomat with contempt must be the way forward.

The Israelis are boiling with anger with the Turks. They do not like to be seen through, they much prefer to be loved and admired regardless of their criminal record. For some peculiar reason Israelis lack the capacity to see themselves through others, they categorically insist on avoiding looking in the mirror. Instead they demand that the rest of humanity turns a blind eye to their war crimes and even apologizes for being witnesses to their horrific acts.

The spokeswoman for the Turkish TV production company behind “Valley of Wolves” was bewildered by such an Israeli demand. She clearly refused to apologize. “Israel” she says, “has already been declared a war criminal many times in the past by international rights organizations, including the UN, which has written about this in its reports.”

Like many of us, the Turkish spokeswoman legitimately wondered “how can the same Israeli authorities, who bombed children hiding under the UN flag in Gaza without hesitation, are so concerned now with a television show that merely displays what they did?” The spokeswoman fails to understand that Israelis are not interested in truth.

The current diplomatic rift between Israel and Turkey is just a symptom of a wide and sickening phenomenon: Israel, Jewish lobbies and Jewish ethnic campaigners around the world are employing different means to conceal the truth about the Jewish national project and its grave inhuman implications. An Israeli official would use a low seat together with an arsenal of abusive bad manners to snub a foreign diplomat, the Jewish ethnic Campaigner in the left would cry anti-Semitism in order to impose a total paralysis onto the anti Zionist discourse.

In their universe the Jew never takes responsibility. In their segregated planet, the Jew never regrets or repents. The Goy, on the other hand, becomes subject to insults for just telling the truth or even for being associated with the truth. If Israel and its supporters believe that they can maintain this tactic for much longer, they are pretty deluded. The tide is changing.

Humanity is primarily grounded on truthfulness. Hope is fuelled by our capacity to say things as we see them. In that respect, Turkey is a light at the end of the tunnel. As it happens, it is Turkey’s TV and Turkish leaders who are willing to say in the open what our ‘liberal’ leaders fail to admit or even spell in their minds.

Truth is not on Israel’s side. In fact, truth is becoming the biggest foe of the Jewish national project, its phantasmic narrative and its fictional notion of history. The Israelis know that truth will prevail. They have good reason to panic. The wall of defiance is emerging around them and their supportive lobbies.

By Gilad Atzmon http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/truth-will-prevail-by-gilad-atzmon.html

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January 16th, 2010, 4:56 pm

 

2. Akbar Palace said:

Has Obama Outsourced the Job of Chastizing Israel to Turkey?

Professor Josh,

I don’t think so, although I suspect you would prefer it.

President Obama, if you haven’t already noticed, is about where GWB was before 9-11. He could care less about the Arab-Israeli conflict/bullshit. Our dear president has numerous other more important issues to tackle.

The issue of Turkey’s declining relations with Israel can be summed up in this 2003 article by G. Burris:

http://www.meforum.org/569/turkey-israel-speed-bumps

The increase in Islamism in Turkey, I think, is the main reason for the change in Israel-Turkey relations.

So what is the impact of another in a long series of muslim countries “chastizing Israel”? Not much. Israel enjoyed having a friend in the muslim world, but Israel can get by without it. It has before. Probably the Turkish military establishment and seculars aren’t too thrilled about it. Oh well.

Ghat,

Gilad Atzmon looks like another of a handful of expat anti-Zionist Israelis. His strange opinions don’t mean very much to 99% of Jewish Israelis. The only purpose for such people is so antisemites and Israel haters will have web links “proving” how bad Israel is.

Well, take it form me, a lot more people love Israel, including Israelis.

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January 16th, 2010, 5:29 pm

 

3. Akbar Palace said:

Israeli field hopital set up in Haiti to treat 500 people/day:

http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/News/today/10/01/1600.htm

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January 16th, 2010, 5:47 pm

 

4. almasri said:

The Egyptians have long been waiting for this change in Turkish position in order to follow suit and realign Egypt to its proper place. We are waiting patiently for Salhdin to visit the Nile valley again and cleanse it in the same manner his predecessor did not long ago.

We are hoping and praying that the day will come soon when the so-called ambassador of Israel will not be able to set foot on our dear Egyptian soil. Not very far following that will be the eradication of the midget pariah entity of Israel.

The world will then rejoice having gotten rid of a cancerous venom as it did when Nazism was swept to the dustbin.

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January 16th, 2010, 6:02 pm

 

5. Ghat Albird said:

UAE
Global briefing

UAE to send emergency aid to Haiti
Last Updated: January 15. 2010 1:19PM UAE / January 15. 2010 9:19AM GMT

The UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA) is gearing up to send emergency aid to Haiti, which was struck by a devastating earthquake on Tuesday, according to the state news agency WAM.

In a WAM statement, Ahmed Humaid al Mazrouei, the RCA’s board chairman said that the aid would be dispatched to earthquake survivors by order of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of the RCA.

The aid will include food supplies, shelter equipment and medical provisions.

“The first stage of the relief programme will involve provision of sheltering materials to the people who lost their homes,” said Mr Mazrouei.

The UAE is also setting up a relief organisation called Air Bridge to airlift humanitarian supplies to Haiti, according to WAM.

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January 16th, 2010, 6:33 pm

 

6. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

It was never “love affair”. It was marriage of convenience.
It was undemocratic coup of corrupt Turkish elites of wannebiz, who wanted to,
and fantasized that they are Europeans. They’re not.

Things changed, the old elites shrunk, the Turkish army starts to understand
it’s role in a democratic system and becomes modest, and the Turkish
people regain what they deserve = their natural power.

I like Erdogan very much. He’s genuine he’s charismatic and he wants
the best for his people. Israel behaves foolishly and with disrespect.
It’s a real pity.
.

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January 16th, 2010, 7:45 pm

 

7. opit said:

Minefield ‘set for Iran by the Bush administration’ is rather a minefield of deliberately positing observers of international conventions of open door use of nuclear power to be the dangerous ones : by the possessor of ridiculous global WMD overkill. Nor is the policy – applied also to North Korea and Iraq as ‘Axis of Evil’ – dependent on logical analysis : not when enrichment to weapons levels is difficult at the best of times…let alone using systems which are designed NOT to blow up. But Bush didn’t start it : the nonsense has gone on for decades…since the fall of the Shah. Before that Iranian nuclear power supply was celebrated as a triumph of western technology.

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January 17th, 2010, 2:13 am

 

8. Shai said:

For all those who still believe Israel has an address in Mahmoud Abbas, that he still represents the Palestinian people, that he can deliver on any agreement, or that he is anything but an Israeli-puppet, read this:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1143038.html

It’s time for the Obama Administration to wake UP, and realize that a Palestine-on-West-Bank-First is a myth, it cannot happen, it will not happen. As long as Abbas is in power, Obama, like his genius predecessor Bush, will continue to churn water.

There is only one path that makes sense at this point in time, that has any chance whatsoever, and that international pressure can quickly lead to a sustainable solution. That path is of course Syria.

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January 17th, 2010, 5:36 am

 

9. Shami said:

AlMasri ,Salahadin was a kurd but most of his army soldiers and generals were mostly turkmen .Anyway he was an officier of NurAddin Zanqi ,one of the best ruler in history ,who prepared the ground for the victory in Jerusalem.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nur_ad-Din_Zangi

Other Syrians had great impacts on Egypt’s historical events ,with the azhari sheikh Suleiman al Halabi (a kurd too)and Jules Jamal.

Inshallah,this Egyptian Syrian union will happen sooner or later ,the Israeli geopoliticians know that when Syria and Egypt will be united again under an effective regime ,it will mean the end of this zionist entity.
The union of 300 millions arabs and 1,5 billion muslims is a geopolitical nececcity.

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January 17th, 2010, 7:56 am

 

10. Shami said:

necessity

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January 17th, 2010, 8:06 am

 

11. arthur Stock said:

Since we have expanded our thoughts to include Egypt, the following is a reminder of the risk of speaking out or writing about repressive government actions.

Prominent Egyptian Bloggers and Activists Arrested:

The group intended to demonstrate Christian-Muslim solidarity against Sectarian violence

Washington, DC (1/15/10) – At least twenty leading bloggers and democracy activists were detained by Egyptian authorities today and reportedly charged with “illegal assembling and disorderly conduct/causing unrest.” The group includes Bassem Samir of the Egyptian Democratic Academy, who is scheduled to visit Washington January 17-23 as one of six representatives of conferences held in Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt by the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), the U.S. Institute of Peace, and Georgetown University’s Center for Democracy and Civil Society. The six representatives, including Bassem, are currently scheduled to meet with leading U.S. policymakers next week during their visit and to speak publicly at a conference in the U.S. Capitol on January 20, the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s inauguration.

The group arrested in Egypt, which includes prominent Coptic Christian and Muslim activists and bloggers, had traveled to the town of Nag Hammadi in southern Egypt to express Christian-Muslim solidarity in the wake of recent violence against Coptic Christians in that town on January 6, the Eve of Coptic Christmas. Upon arrival in Nag Hammadi this morning, Egyptian security services detained at least twenty members of the group, who at this time remain in the custody of Egyptian authorities, despite repeated promises to release them at several points during the day. These arrests are the latest in a long series of arrests by the Egyptian government targeting private Egyptian citizens who express themselves politically.

The Obama administration has frequently highlighted the importance of freedom of expression. In October, the United States co-sponsored a resolution championing freedom of expression together with the Government of Egypt. President Obama, in his June 4th speech in Cairo, promised to promote free online dialogue, “so that a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.” Secretary Clinton told a group of civic activists in Morocco: “You have before you people who have paid a big price for standing up for democracy, for fighting against corruption, for asking that government actions be transparent and accountable. And I want to stand with them because the United States stands with them, and we want to be sure that we send a very clear message to the region and to individual leaders that it is in their interest to work with these men and women.”
…….If released and permitted to travel, Bassem Samir will be speaking at a public event on Wednesday, January 20th from 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM at the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center (Room SVC 203).

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January 17th, 2010, 11:48 pm

 

12. Yossi said:

Prof. Josh,

This theory seems very consistent with events, but if it’s true, what’s the overall goal of those Western diplomats who are supposedly happy with the Turkish bashing of Israel? Is it mere desire to mete revenge/justice towards Israel or is it supposed to have some practical outcome such as softening Israel’s position in future negotiations?

Another event to support the theory is the recent trip of Mitchel to the ME “without any new agenda”. Seems like he’s passing a message that America is fine letting Israel stew in the criticism of “2nd tier allies” such as Turkey and Sweden and in the UN.

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January 18th, 2010, 5:35 am

 

13. Akbar Palace said:

ALMASRI said:

The world will then rejoice having gotten rid of a cancerous venom as it did when Nazism was swept to the dustbin.

ALMASRI,

How many years now has Egypt been at peace with the “cancerous venom”? You must be very proud of your nation’s leadership.

Also, we want to thank the Egyptian government for doing its best to control your border with Gaza, but I’m still not sure why a border is even needed. Perhaps you may know why Gazans cannot not freely cross the border into your country.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL34346.pdf

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January 18th, 2010, 12:42 pm

 

14. Yossi said:

Turkey blocks 3,700 web sites, including YouTube.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60H2WJ20100118

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January 18th, 2010, 4:41 pm

 

15. Joshua said:

Dear Yossi,

You write: “This theory seems very consistent with events, but if it’s true, what’s the overall goal of those Western diplomats who are supposedly happy with the Turkish bashing of Israel? Is it mere desire to mete revenge/justice towards Israel or is it supposed to have some practical outcome such as softening Israel’s position in future negotiations?”

I agree with you that it is not a positive or deliberate foreign policy by the US or Europe.

It is an expression of weakness in the face of a congress which is very pro-Israel and a US public which is pro-Israel. Much of the US foreign policy establishment is also pro-Israel.

Recent reports that Israel pushing ahead with plans to bomb Iran or Hizbullah in retribution for their arming are attempts to force the West to bear down on Iran diplomatically and economically. It looks like China and Russia will not go along with such an economic regime. It makes no sense for anyone but Israel and Saudi Arabia to put the screws to Iran on the nuclear issue.

Because Israel’s desired foreign policy of displacing Palestinians and bombing challengers without compromising – a policy which is entirely in Israel’s power today – is bad for Western countries, they will look for ways to stop it without overtly doing so, which they seem powerless to do anyway.

You are absolutely correct that this makes for very twisted and potentially erratic foreign policy.

The only thing that will moderate Israel is a shift in the balance of power in the region, which weakens Israel. Congress and the president cannot do this through stated policy. In fact, we see just the opposite. The US continues to build up Israel’s military superiority and sanction its rivals.

There are many people who realize that this is bad for the US, the West, and probably Israel as well, but they cannot do much to change it. Hence the farming out to Turkey.

You are right to question whether Turkey can change the balance of power. I think it can, but not quickly. By being silent on Turkey, Western governments are signaling to regional powers that they will not punish countries who break from the official position of the US and begin to deal with Iran, form trade alliances with Israel’s enemies, such as Syria – etc.

Syria will try to arm Hizbullah further in order to test Israel’s ability to stop it. Will Israel bomb Damascus, as it threatens? It can do so much more easily than it can bomb Tehran, but it would come at a high price.

My suspicion – and it is only a suspicion – is that Israel’s present arrogance is losing it friends and international support. Turkey’s experiment in taking it on is only a proverbial canary in the mine shaft. If Turkey gets away with it, Israel will be living in a much more difficult world. Many people are rooting for Turkey, which Erdoghan clearly senses and enjoys. Israel needs either to punish Turkey very severely for its “arrogance” or it needs to moderate is policies in order to patch up the cracks that are now forming in its traditionally effective alliance system.

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January 18th, 2010, 5:43 pm

 

16. Akbar Palace said:

Responding to Syrian Government Mouthpiece Josh

I agree with you that it [Obama Outsourcing “the Job of Chastizing Israel to Turkey”] is not a positive or deliberate foreign policy by the US or Europe.

Correct, it is just a made-up pipedream of from an Arabist Professor who needs a way to explain Obama’s disinterest.

It is an expression of weakness in the face of a congress which is very pro-Israel and a US public which is pro-Israel. Much of the US foreign policy establishment is also pro-Israel.

Perhaps if Israel started terrorizing Americans, the above “bad news” would change.

Recent reports that Israel pushing ahead with plans to bomb Iran or Hizbullah in retribution for their arming are attempts to force the West to bear down on Iran diplomatically and economically. It looks like China and Russia will not go along with such an economic regime. It makes no sense for anyone but Israel and Saudi Arabia to put the screws to Iran on the nuclear issue.

This doesn’t explain Europe’s fears as well. It isn’t just Israel and Saudi Arabia who are concerned about Iran. Just ask them.

Because Israel’s desired foreign policy of displacing Palestinians and bombing challengers without compromising – a policy which is entirely in Israel’s power today – is bad for Western countries, they will look for ways to stop it without overtly doing so, which they seem powerless to do anyway.

If Israel desired a “foreign plicy of displacing the Palestinians”, she wouldn’t have unilaterally left Gaza or propose returning 95% of the West Bank. Is bombing “challengers” your description of the GOI trying to put an end to 7 years of missile and mortar fire? It’s always nice to read the term “challenger” or “resistance” in place of intolerant jihadists who call themselves “Hamas” (“zeal”).

You are absolutely correct that this makes for very twisted and potentially erratic foreign policy.

Yes, for anti-Israel terrorist sympathizers.

The only thing that will moderate Israel is a shift in the balance of power in the region, which weakens Israel.

Yes, we certainly need a more powerful jihadist government in power so we can “moderate Israel” (who has already made peace with Egypt and Jordan).

Congress and the president cannot do this through stated policy.

Toda la el.

In fact, we see just the opposite. The US continues to build up Israel’s military superiority and sanction its rivals.

I feel as though someone may need a box of Kleenex®.

There are many people who realize that this is bad for the US, the West, and probably Israel as well, but they cannot do much to change it.

Many? Let’s see: Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, Leftist Academia, and 2% of the US public.

Hence the farming out to Turkey.

Of course, our dear professor admits that is not a “deliberate foreign policy” and offers no proof.

You are right to question whether Turkey can change the balance of power. I think it can, but not quickly.

I don’t think Yossi even asked this. Of course, we can only hope…;)

By being silent on Turkey, Western governments are signaling to regional powers that they will not punish countries who break from the official position of the US and begin to deal with Iran, form trade alliances with Israel’s enemies, such as Syria – etc.

By being silent on Turkey, Western governments are signaling they couldn’t care less. They also could care less about Ayalon’s dressing down of the Turkish Ambassador. It probably did get a lot of muffled laughs from the world’s ambassador crowd.

Syria will try to arm Hizbullah further in order to test Israel’s ability to stop it.

I’m shock-ed.

Will Israel bomb Damascus, as it threatens? It can do so much more easily than it can bomb Tehran, but it would come at a high price.

What price would that be I wonder?

My suspicion – and it is only a suspicion – is that Israel’s present arrogance is losing it friends and international support.

You obviously need to expand your sources of information.

Turkey’s experiment in taking it on is only a proverbial canary in the mine shaft.

True.

If Turkey gets away with it, Israel will be living in a much more difficult world.

Yes, Israel is “living in a much more difficult world” as witnessed by her increased GDP, per capita GDP, and growth rate, and improved relations with Europe. Turkey is surely getting away with murder! Those tricky Turks! BTW – Is Turkey’s relations with Europe improving with the Erdogan government? Just wondering.

Many people are rooting for Turkey, which Erdoghan clearly senses and enjoys.

“many”: Islamists, middle-easterners, Syrian mouth-pieces.

Israel needs either to punish Turkey very severely for its “arrogance” or it needs to moderate is policies in order to patch up the cracks that are now forming in its traditionally effective alliance system.

or c.) send Erdogan a movie documentary explaining the Armenian genocide.

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January 18th, 2010, 7:24 pm

 

17. Ghat Albird said:

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Merkel backs Iran sanctions at German-Israeli cabinet session

At a historic joint German-Israeli cabinet meeting in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has backed calls for sanctions on Iran, should Tehran continue to reject cooperation. » JAN.18, 2010.

“We have made it clear that if the reaction of Iran does not change, we will cooperate in the preparation of wide-ranging sanctions … preferably within the framework of a UN Security Council resolution,” Merkel said.

Looks like Israel has replaced Turkey with Germany. Could this have been a dry-run by Mr. Netanyahu as a test to hold similar joint meetings with other members of the EU?

And will there come a time for a US – Israeli historic joint cabinet meeting sometime in the not too distant future?

Regardless of whether any such meetings occur can one imagine the “mass chorea” that will take place in Iran when they learn about Ms. Merkel’s and Mr. Netanyahu’s threats

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January 18th, 2010, 9:27 pm

 

18. Off the Wall said:

Dear Josh and Yossi

Some Crazy thoughts:

Is it possible that Israel is not as central in European policy as Israel and its friends wants everyone to believe. There is a major benefit to Europe in Turkey finding its own power through its own regional alliances that has nothing to do with Israel. The more Turkey is comfortable within its surrounding, the less pressure on the EU to face up to including Turkey as a “Muslim” member in the EU. I believe that the Europeans are hoping that Turkey will eventually either slow down or abandon their quest to join the EU and by that give the west a face saving way out of confronting themselves in the mirror. No one in “rational” European political circles is happy with the result of the swiss pole regarding minarets, as it further increases tension with the Muslim world, already at the brink. And you can imagine the result of an EU wide referendum, or more so, the campaigns leading to a referendum, on Turkey’s joining, which will only serve to expose the ugly racist side of Europe, a face, the continent has tried very hard to cover over the past 40 years.

The ability to snub, or expose Israel, is merely a bonus. The real prize is a strong, moderate turkey, leading its neighborhood and creating a new alliance that is not necessarily anti-west and that in fact, may present improved business opportunities. The ultimate goal is for Turkey to decide that they are better off being part of the east and to fully abandon their quest to join the EU. Another bonus is the emergence of a region less beholden to US policy, an aspect tolerated by Europe only because no one in the region has managed to effectively provide a viable alternative. Weakening Israel, even slightly, is in Europe’s interest, since by now Israel is a fully US client country and not a reliable extension of European colonialism it was thought of few decades back. This is why the US is now the only country continuing to build up Israel’s military strength.

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January 18th, 2010, 10:30 pm

 

19. norman said:

OTW,
That was interesting ,

Yossi,Shai,

one day will come when Erdogan will be looked on as the one who saved the Jewish people from the arrogance of their leaders ,

on the other hand , the Israeli leaders might be secretly welcoming the Turkish attack to justify to their people their peace leaning future as a way out of isolation ,

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January 19th, 2010, 3:53 am

 

20. Shai said:

Norman,

You don’t know how right you might be. I also think that at times.

OTW,

I certainly don’t believe Israel is key in any major way to European foreign policy. Most European nations, as most Europeans, find Israel a very arrogant little nation. We are deemed a lot less “modern” than we’d like to think.

But there is one thing Israel has always been “good for”, and that is, doing Europe’s “dirty work” for her. That is, keeping danger-from-the-east at check. Be it Saddam and his WMD-aspirations (remember 1981), and nowadays Iran. It doesn’t matter that Iran has a right to nuclear technology – if it is belligerent, if it is deceiving, if it may indeed be creating a military nuclear capability, all those are a threat to Europe as well. And as long as Israel keeps fighting that, not to mention physically destroying things if it gets to it, it’s worth “supporting”. I’m sure Merkel tries hard not to discuss the Palestinian Rights in the same breath as Iran with Netanyahu.

We Israelis would like to believe we are a “light unto the nations”, and all too often we really think we are. But in reality, we are still a tiny nation of 7 and a half million, that still rule over another people without rights and freedom. And as long as that is the case, no nation will accept it, or forgive us.

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January 19th, 2010, 5:17 am

 

21. Yossi said:

Prof. Joshua, OTW, Norman and Shai,

Israel presents a big conundrum for the Europeans, who are torn between despise to its occupation policies, guilt, indifference and in times collusion with Israel against the Arabs, this is a very confusing mix. Aside from Germany always pulling an extra sub for Israel when asked to, the overall policy indeed seems to hover between indifferent and erratic. It seems that the same way European academics and businessmen boycott Israelis—without much fanfare or saying they are doing so—is the same way diplomats are tacitly supporting the critical Turkish stance towards Israel. Short of a major economic shift of powers—e.g., China stopping its underwriting of America—I have no idea where this all will lead to, probably nowhere anytime soon. Whatever aversion lefty academics and diplomats have against Israel, it seems to be countered by the right-wing/anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim politics that have taken hold of the continent

To the extent this will end up in some chilly atmosphere for Israel.. I personally don’t believe that a weaker Israel will be more moderate. It could turn more bitter and belligerent. This could turn really explosive.

I also don’t buy what Norman and Shai are saying: Israel is extremely unlikely to bow to any of the Turkish demands. It will not accept Turkish mediation, it will not lift the siege over Gaza, and it will not let the Turks visit Gaza or send aid. Israel will only lift the siege when the Americans say so. It doesn’t need Turkish mediation. It was only necessary when the Americans were unwilling to mediate themselves. Any politician who would accept Turkish mediation is sealing his fate in Israeli public opinion court as the Israelis are fuming at the Turks.

The Turks are playing with Israel, on the one hand they are extremely critical and allow for incitement against Israel on their media, on the other hand they continue to buy Israeli arms. This is sure to cause tensions within Israel between “pride” oriented politicians like Ayalon and perhaps long-term strategists who could be worried that the weapons will end up eventually in hostile hands, and the military complex who wouldn’t want to give up the opportunity to make a buck.

It’s been a long time since Israel had to deal with such nuances, we’ve gotten used to applying a sledgehammer to any problem and the political system doesn’t really have the skill anymore to deal with delicate situations such as the current one poses. This is why Israel imploded with the theatrics of FM deputy Ayalon a few days ago. Such an incident could not have happened before the Bush years, when Israel got thoroughly intoxicated with power. Expect to see that only the following will be allowed to deal with the Turks going forward: Bibi, Barak, maybe Meridor, the top brass of the IDF. Lieberman and his cohorts will be kindly asked to continue their diplomatic forays into equatorial Africa and leave Turkey to the grownups.

The surface-to-air missiles armament of Hizballah is an interesting question. My guess is that Syria will not give them to the Hizb, and if they do, then Israel will bomb them, and nobody will say or do anything serious in response. On the other hand, if the Lebanese army got them from Russia, that would put Israel in a more complex situation.

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January 19th, 2010, 6:35 am

 

22. Shai said:

Yossi,

I’m not saying Israel would necessarily bow to Turkish demands. But there is some likelihood that recent tensions will be “eased” by greater involvement of Turkey in, for instance, the Israeli-Syrian track. Netanyahu’s interests in Turkey are certainly not Syria-related, but they absolutely are Iran-related.

As you said yourself, with each Ayalon-type incident, there is a greater likelihood that the current Foreign Ministry will be less involved in Israel’s MidEast foreign policy. I hope that’ll prove true.

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January 19th, 2010, 7:59 am

 

23. norman said:

Shai , Yossi,

I do not know about the worry about Sam 2 , they and SAM 3 did not work in 1967 when Syria and Egypt had them , i do not know why would they work now , the Israeli jamming systems will do the job , it could be just an excuse for Israel to attack Syria ,

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January 20th, 2010, 1:13 am

 

24. Shai said:

Norman, Yossi,

I think if Syria wants to give something to Hezbollah, it finds the way to do so. No one can stop everything, and Israel knows some of those Grads were from Syria. Norman is right, Israel would probably never consider giving up territory if it doesn’t feel threatened. And this is probably true about anyone for that matter. It’s not just territory, it’s Peace itself.

If Israel wanted to punish Syria for its support of Hezbollah (and thought it could get away with it), it would have already done it a thousand times. Especially in Lebanon 2006. But it didn’t, because whether we admit it or not, we accept certain “rules of the game”, and apparently arms support of HA by Syria is included in that set. Developing WMD’s of certain sorts, isn’t. But clearly attacking the Syrian installation in Deir ez-Zur was also a huge risk. It could have easily developed into war.

In general, I would say that Israel tends not to react to developments on the ground that can’t clearly be explained as provocative. Fact is that in almost every Intelligence briefing to the Knesset Security Committee (that was reported on), Heads of Intelligence suggested Hezbollah and Hamas not only regained lost capabilities, but indeed far surpassed them. And yet Israel hasn’t attacked yet, not on large scale.

There is a well-known misconception (self-deception, really) amongst supporters of the Right in Israel and abroad (e.g. Akbar Palace), who think the Likud “fights Terrorism” more and far better than the liberal Leftists in Israel do. In reality, it is exactly the opposite. The last serious “military operation” taken by the Likud was Lebanon 1981-2! Almost without exception, every major operation since was undertaken by Leftist governments. (I imagine Akbar wouldn’t label Sharon or Olmert of the Kadima-Era “Rightists”).

I believe Arab leaders understand this point, but don’t do enough to take advantage of Likud-led governments, which could disappear in an instant as so many Israeli governments have. This is the time to act, and if Syria has tried one route and it hasn’t worked, it has to try another. And another, and another. Peace is not only about Justice, it’s also about strategic interests, and I believe Syria has chosen Peace more because of the latter.

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January 20th, 2010, 8:34 am

 

25. Joshua said:

Dear Yossi, I have heard the argument that Israel is more moderate when it is stronger than its neighbors and more erratic and less prone to compromise when it is weaker.

I have never found this argument convincing or supported by fact.
I don’t think that the basic laws of balance-of-power are reversed in Israel’s case because of the Holocaust.

Israel launched the 1967 War because it believed that it could win in a short period of time. Both the CIA and Mossad got those assessments correct and predicted a quick victory if Israel started with a surprise attack.

Netanyahu’s success in thwarting Obama’s peace plan and in going over his head to congress have confirmed the wisdom of the right wing that Israel can use the hammer with little down side.

Israel has been too strong not too weak, I would argue.

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January 20th, 2010, 10:27 am

 

26. Shai said:

Dear Joshua,

I don’t think we can generalize and suggest that Israel is not moderate when strong, or vice versa. One may argue that the price Israel had to pay during the Yom Kipur War of 1973 is precisely what caused her to be open to peace with Egypt 4 years later. But few Israelis would suggest that Israel didn’t come out victorious in that war. In 1967, one may argue that Israel’s quick and decisive victory created such overconfidence that caused her to reject peace until 10 years later. But others can argue that there absolutely were initiatives in those early months following the 1967 War, when Israel did look for Palestinian leaders to take over the territories captured from Jordan and Egypt.

I find most out there not very open to the idea that for Israel, victory in 1967 did not entail conquering all the Palestinian territories, and holding on to them forever. In fact, few Israelis could have anticipated the results of that 6-Days war. Few could have imagined a 42 year long Occupation of these territories. And we must continue to ask ourselves, why is it that Israel never annexed the West Bank and Gaza? If it felt it had the legitimacy to do so on the Golan, where it had barely thousands of its own citizens living (after 1967), why did it not annex territories where hundreds of thousands are now living?

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January 20th, 2010, 11:25 am

 

27. Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh provides the reason why Israel launched a major war in only 2 sentences (a new world’s record):

Israel launched the 1967 War because it believed that it could win in a short period of time. Both the CIA and Mossad got those assessments correct and predicted a quick victory if Israel started with a surprise attack.

Meanwhile wikipedia provides a little more clarity than our biased pro-Syrian mouthpiece:

The Israeli cabinet met on 23 May and decided to launch an attack if the Straits of Tiran were not re-opened by 25 May. Following an approach from United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Eugene Rostow to allow time for the negotiation of a nonviolent solution Israel agreed to a delay of ten days to two weeks.[97] UN Secretary General, U Thant, visited Cairo for mediation and recommended a moratorium in the Straits of Tiran and a renewed diplomatic effort to solve the crisis. Egypt agreed and Israel rejected these proposals. Nasser’s concessions did not necessarily suggest that he was making a concerted effort to avoid war. The decision benefited him both politically and strategically. Agreeing to diplomacy helped garner international political support. Moreover every delay gave Egypt time to complete its own military preparations and coordinate with the other Arabs forces. Also, Israel’s rejection did not necessarily demonstrate a desire for war so much as it demonstrated the urgency it felt the situation warranted. Israel felt it could not afford to sustain total mobilization for long.[98]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War

Netanyahu’s success in thwarting Obama’s peace plan and in going over his head to congress have confirmed the wisdom of the right wing that Israel can use the hammer with little down side.

Professor Josh,

What “peace plan” are you referring to? Silly me, I couldn’t find it!

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1084660.html

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs quickly played down Egypt’s expectation of a formal U.S. peace proposal, saying the UN General Assembly “will be an important opportunity to continue to make progress on comprehensive Middle East peace.”

“We hope to continue to make progress, but I don’t know of any specific plan,” Gibbs added.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aLygDMZ2KjKI

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/08/04/world/worldwatch/entry5213218.shtml

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January 20th, 2010, 12:26 pm

 

28. Ghat Albird said:

Ariel Sharon’s statement is the only one that is honest enough and direct enough but for some unknown reason is still not accepted as the prime exposition of Israel’s continuing policy.

Until and unless this policy is made untenable it will continue to be implemented by every government in Israel, regardless of political affiliation.

To quote Mr. Sharon’s “modus vivendi”

“Everyone there should move, should run, should grab more hills, expand the territory. Everything that’s grabbed, will be in our hands. Everything we don’t grab will be in their hands.”

Ariel Sharon, as Israeli Foreign Minister, in comments broadcast on Israeli radio, November 15, 1998.

It would seem that a logical response on the part of those whose “hills” have been grabbed is to somehow “RE-GRAB THOSE HILLS”. Until then they will be meandering all over “the road to peace process” whatever that may mean.

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January 20th, 2010, 1:06 pm

 

29. Yossi said:

Prof. Josh,

Let me rephrase, what I see happening is that public opinion in Israel radicalizes to the nationalistic right as Israel comes under greater international pressure. How would that impact Israel’s official policy, I don’t know. It may end up with schizophrenic behavior, such as what we’ve seen towards Syria in the last week (Barak vs. Ayalon).

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January 20th, 2010, 3:26 pm

 

30. Shai said:

Ghat Albird,

I don’t know of many Israelis who encouraged the Occupation and then physically removed thousands of settlers out of their homes (from Sinai and Gaza), as much as Ariel Sharon did. I believe something happened to him in the first few years of the new millennium, perhaps the “demographic map” finally sank in, and changed his whole outlook on Greater Israel.

He was elected in 2003 to precisely withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank, and to enable the creation of a Palestinian State. I believe if he were functioning after 2006, he would have continued on this mission. Not out of renewed love for the Arabs, or a sudden recognition in the Palestinian people’s rights to freedom and independence, but out of fear that Israel’s Jewish majority would be lost forever if we did not withdraw soon.

There’s no doubt Sharon changed.

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January 20th, 2010, 9:59 pm

 

31. Linkblog » Syria Comment said:

[…] “Has Obama Outsourced the Job of Chastizing Israel to Turkey?” the author asks as the US government has been quite silently in the latest disgruntlement in the Syrian-Turkish relations. In the end Israel had to apologize for it’s treatment of the Turkey’s ambassador. […]

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April 12th, 2010, 9:58 am

 

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