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Sorry about that, Erdogan
Israel - Middle East
Friday, April 05, 2013
Alf Cengia

A few years ago a friend invited me to attend his son's 21st Birthday Party. How I love parties!

No, I'm really not a party person at all. Whenever I get an invite my mind immediately races to find a good excuse for not being able to attend. I'm that guy who comes a little later, stands in a quiet corner, and leaves early. I just don't do well around lots of people...and I can't dance. They're faults I have to live with.

But my friend had an ulterior motive. At the time there had been a spate of serious party crashing incidents. Young people would hear of a party from friends and then simply invite themselves in for free drinks. They would often end up getting drunk and causing fights. So, I was enlisted as one of the bouncers.

I guess my friend was desperate.

Now imagine that the party was invaded by a bunch of miscreants armed with hidden guns and knives. Imagine that one of the guests was brutally attacked and, in the ensuing defense, some of the troublemakers were seriously injured. Would the police and/or the parents of the invaders expect an apology from me and my fellow bouncers? In this crazy world I wouldn't doubt that'd be the case.

You know where I'm going with this.

It's old news now. One of the main stream media's most lauded highlights of President Obama's trip to Israel was his success in bringing two old feuding friends back to speaking terms. Just like old times!

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu finally apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan over the deaths of nine protestors aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in 2010. He even offered to recompense the families of the people who attacked the IDF.

I'm sure it was a touching conversation between Netanyahu, Erdogan and their translators. Undoubtedly, the U.S. president and his obliging media felt like he'd done his good deed for the day. It even took place at an airport, which might make a great romantic setting for a future movie based on Pres. Obama's Middle East successes...or not.

Did the U.S. president have to bend down on one knee and plead with his old buddy Netanyahu to swallow that foolish Israeli pride? Or did he put some sort of figurative arm lock on the Israeli PM? I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall.

Whatever the case, spare a thought for Pres. Obama; even the anti-Israel people are unhappy with him for not doing enough for the Palestinian cause. One miffed observer opined that, while the president was delivering his lecture...er talk...to Israeli students, West Bank Palestinian kids had been arrested by Israeli soldiers.

But Alinsky sure would have been proud. To change the world, you change the kids - right? When he spoke about putting aside the "frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace" and talked about "fundamental decisions about your country's future" - I wonder whether he got his audience mixed up with the Palestinian Leaders.

Was he talking "land for peace"? Does anyone still really believe that works?

Pres. Obama also noted:

"Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine. Given the frustration in the international community, Israel must reverse an undertow of isolation." (Emphasis mine)

There's enough material for several future columns just in covering those two politically charged sentences. In what way is this "international community" frustrated, exactly? That Israel won't go away? Or that the Palestinian Leaders don't really want peace?

As for "the demographics", the Ettinger Report actually contradicts the president's admirable concern for Israeli population growth.

Yet Turkey was never a true friend of Israel, despite the apparently civil relationship they enjoyed prior to the flotilla affair. As Caroline Glick notes:

"...Erdogan had effectively destroyed the strategic alliance Israel had developed with Turkey since 1949. In 2006, Erdogan was the first major international leader and NATO member to host Hamas terror chief Ismail Haniyeh. The same year he allowed Iran to use Turkish territory to transfer weaponry to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War."

Let's not so quickly forget what Erdogan had to say about Israel in the media:

"As with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it is inevitable that Islamophobia be considered a crime against humanity."

Because of the Syrian crisis, the region desperately needs a stable Turkish influence and perhaps Erdogan had to be placated in order to play ball, and help settle the region.

Israel's apology will affirm existing anti-Israel prejudice and empower Israel's enemies. 

The Syrian civil war shows no signs of ending. The longer Assad holds on to power the worse a dictator he'll likely if he holds onto power. Yet it's unlikely he can retain power as the rebels keep flooding in, while the international community refuses to support him. The situation is destabilizing the region, and some warn the conflict may even engulf Iraq.

From Israel's perspective; what happens if Syria is overrun by rebels and Iraq begins to go down the same road? How would that affect Jordan, which has had its own issues with rebels and the growing problem of Syrian refugees?

Will Erdogan pitch in and help out his Israeli buddy if the Syrian rebels win power and fire at Israel? Were there any weapons on the "peaceful flotilla"?

We haven't yet considered the relationship between Iran and that lovable North Korean regime, with their mutual interest in Nuclear Toys and the evil U.S.

Nor the fact that Israel's gas has started flowing. Israel has the "occupied land" - will the new cliché now be "stolen gas"?

And then there's the New Russia - which is looking so much like the old Soviet Union - watching over all these unfolding Middle Eastern dramas.

Finally, a 2010 Harvard study warned that Islamic fundamentalist Pakistan's nuclear weapons were susceptible to theft by terrorists.

And that's a whole other story!

How might all this ultimately affect Israel, the United States and the rest of the world?

About Alf Cengia

Last week: Remembering Jack Kinsella



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