Turkey has filed charges against four senior IDF officers for the deaths of the Turkish citizens during the Mavi Marmara fiasco. This in itself would be understandable if not logical considering that the UN Palmer Report exonerated Israel. However the Turkish step has taken a giant stride towards outright lunacy with the prosecution demanding up to 18,000 years imprisonment. Yes, eighteen thousand years. We should all live so long.
Turkey has taken other hostile steps against Israel since the flotilla, including demanding that NATO exclude Israel from a military exercise and that NATO not share anti-missile intelligence information with Israel.
In the light of this excessive belligerence, Dan Margalit in Yisrael Hayom asks what is behind it all: (my emphases):
A predatory virus must have infected Turkey. The decision to indict senior Israel Defense Forces officials who were involved in blocking the Mavi Marmara points to one of two possible strains of this virus: an obsessive, borderline, infantile need to keep digging into the two-year-old flotilla fiasco to the point of fulfilling Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan’s every whim and fantasy; or, alternately, the sneaky, malicious desire to fuel the friction between Turkey and Israel to prevent that wound from ever healing.
Israelis who asked Turks in private conversations why Erdogan was foaming at the mouth got the incredulous answer that the Mavi Marmara was the first time Turkish civilians had been killed since World War I, and that it was difficult for Ankara to come to terms with the incident, in which nine of its citizens were killed.
There is no logic to this argument.
This conduct is just another example of Turkey’s blatant international belligerence. It won’t allow Cyprus to explore underwater natural gas reserves, and it has threatened NATO against incorporating the majority of the Greek island into its security arrangement. Every move is an extortionist ultimatum: either Turkey’s will is done, or Turkey throws a fit.
Israel is not powerless. Turkey is an active NATO member, and a prominent member of the U.N. and its subsidiaries. The U.S. and Europe could restore Ankara’s balance, a balance necessary for such an important regional superpower. Enlightened nations must remind Erdogan that there are obligations that go along with NATO membership. It is almost like nobility — noblesse oblige. Turkey’s unreasonable hostility is precisely not the way to get into the international club of enlightened nations. If this message is clearly conveyed, it may do the trick.
The question then remains whether the “enlightened” nations have the will to confront Turkey over Israel.
In a related article in Yisrael Hayom, it is reported that senior Israeli officials have come to the conclusion that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan simply wants to “crush ties with Israel“:
In response to the Turkish court’s decision on Monday, Ashkenazi said, “[Turkey] is an important country which together with Israel has a joint interest in maintaining stability in the Middle East … I am certain common sense will prevail in the end.”
Ashkenazi added, “From the first moment, I chose to stand up in every forum to defend the soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces … if the price for this is that I won’t be able to visit Turkey, I will pay the price.”
Speaking unofficially, the same source said, “This is another personal and intentional move by Turkish Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] to erode Israeli-Turkish relations. It seems that by his decision, [Erdogan] is trying to bring Israeli military officers to justice, just as he brought to justice officers in the Turkish army, and therefore he is trying to completely crush the central axis on which Israel-Turkey relations have rested for many years.”
The only senior government official to comment on the Turkish court’s decision on Monday was Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who said, “We should take these things very seriously. This has gotten completely out of proportion. Based on the facts and on international maritime law [these allegations] are entirely unfounded. We at the Foreign Ministry are obviously working, and have worked, to ensure that all of our people are protected in the best possible way. I imagine there will also be international political pressure on Turkey to drop the indictment.”
I disagree with Ayalon. The charges are so outrageous and the sentence demanded so ludicrous that the whole issue should be ignored until Turkey comes to its senses. Giving a legal opinion and official reaction only gives official sanction to the absurd and outlandish Turkish belligerence.