Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stupid Move by Israel

Israel's relations with Turkey, once an ally, have deteriorated substantially in recent years, primarily because of the growing Islamist sympathies of the Turkish government. This has led to public recriminations between the two countries, and the cancellation of joint military maneuvers. Israel is justified in being upset with Turkish behavior, but what it did Monday and today was just stupid.

On Monday Israel's deputy foreign minister summoned the Turkish ambassador, and complained about an anti-Semitic tv show running in Turkey. While doing so, he deliberately insulted the ambassador.

The ambassador was forced to sit on a low sofa without a handshake, while Mr. Ayalon explained to local TV stations that the humiliation was intentional.
He explained in Hebrew, so the ambassador wasn't aware of what he was saying. Naturally the Turks were outraged, demanded an apology, and threatened to recall their ambassador. Today the offending minister apologized. But here's what the prime minister of Israel had to say.
The statement from Mr. Netanyahu's office said the Israeli leader "supported the essence of (Ayalon's) protest but distanced himself from the inappropriate style." It expressed concern over the deterioration of relations between the two countries and said the Israeli government would work "to find ways to prevent the continuation of this trend."
In other words, Turkey deserved to be insulted but it was done in the wrong way. I'm sure the Turks will be thrilled with that explanation.

Israel is in a difficult position. It has Hizbollah armed to the teeth in Lebanon, the festering problem of Gaza, and the never-ending farce that is the so-called "peace process." The U.S. is governed by an administration that is less sympathetic to, and more critical of Israel, completely clueless regarding foreign policy, and committed to a policy of naivete and wishful thinking toward the Iranian nuclear program. Israel may at some point have to launch a unilateral strike on Iran, and relations with Turkey are already bad. Why go out of your way to slap the Turks in the face over a tv show, no matter how anti-Semitic it was? I'm not sure what the Israel government hoped to gain by this action. It seems like sheer stupidity.

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