Tensions are mounting between NATO member and U.S. ally Turkey and her neighbor to the south in Israel over the recent flotilla attack by IDF forces.
“Doubts among Western countries about Turkey’s shifting foreign policy began in 2009 when Erdogan strongly criticised Israel for its deadly military campaign in Gaza.
Concerns over growing rapprochement between Turkey and its Middle Eastern neighbours and Iran grew following the Israeli raid on an aid expedition bound for Gaza on May 31 in which nine Turks were killed.
After recalling its ambassador from Tel Aviv, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said relations with Israel would “never be the same”.
Erdogan has stepped up the rhetoric against Israel as tens of thousands of Turks have taken to the streets of Istanbul each day to vent against Israel and praise Gaza’s Hamas rulers.”
This precarious situation does not bode well for the Middle East peace process or relations between the U.S. and Turkey or the U.S. and Israel. Israel, long assumed a close ally of the U.S. is not a member of any formal alliance or mutual defense pact with the United States. Making the developments between Israel and Turkey more difficult for U.S. policy makers is a strong connection and relationship many American voters feel toward Israel. The neoconservative voting block in the U.S. is largely comprised of supporters of Israel.
“As the right-wing leadership of the organized United States Jewish community defends Israel against international condemnation for its deadly seizure of a flotilla bearing humanitarian supplies for Gaza, a familiar clutch of neo-conservative hawks is going on the offensive against what is seen as the flotilla’s chief defender, Turkey.”
In addition to the rhetoric of neoconservative Americans directed at Turkey, high level former Israeli officials are taking the tone of that talk to a greater extreme, in some cases actually threatening the life of the Turkish Prime Minister if he were to make good on his promise to escort the next flotilla of humanitarian aid.
“If the Turkish prime minister joins such a flotilla,” Dayan said, “we should make clear beforehand this would be an act of war, and we would not try to take over the ship he was on, but would sink it.”
Missing from the neoconservative criticism directed at Turkey is any recognition of culpability on behalf of Israel. The flotilla was attacked and besieged in international waters, a war crime.
“The question of who attacked whom is irrelevant, however, according to experts in international law. The blockade itself is illegal, and therefore Israel had no right to board those ships in the first place. It renders the argument over culpability moot. Israel committed an illegal act of war attacking the convoy, regardless of who tried to draw “first blood.”
9 unarmed civilians were murdered, including one Turkish-American citizen who reportedly had 4 bullet holes in his head.
“A forensic report said he was shot at close range, with four bullets in his head and one in his chest, according to the Anatolian news agency.”
Also absent from neoconservative criticism is the continually changing story from the Israelis and even the doctoring of evidence by the IDF. Israel was forced to retract claims that weapons were aboard the flotilla and that the members of the humanitarian convoy were actually Al Qaeda terrorist.
When placed under journalistic scrutiny, the IDF is being forced to admit that its claims about the flotilla’s links to international terror are based on innuendo, not facts. On June 2, the IDF blasted out a press releaseto reporters and bloggers with the shocking headline: “Attackers of the IDF soldiers found to be Al Qaeda mercenaries.” The only supporting evidence offered in the release was a claim that the passengers “were equipped with bullet proof vests, night vision goggles, and weapons.”