BY HENRY D. ASTARJIAN M.D.
Like a surgeon’s scalpel, the events of Mavi Marmara (Blue Marmara) lanced the abscess which had formed in Turko-Israeli relationship since 2002, when Erdogan and his AK Party came to power. It spewed putrid political pus relieving both countries of their insincere political stances toward each other since both countries were delusional in counting on each other for support and defense under the umbrella of the United States. The rapprochement was both artificial and insincere for Turkey did it to please Israel’s guardian angel, the United States, and Israel did it to have a Muslim Ally in a sea of hostile Arabs and Muslims, also to protect their 50,000 or so Jews who led a prosperous life in Istanbul.
Ataturk, a Free Masson, made sure that these Jews were given their rights as a minor minority (Millet), unlike the Kurds whose ethnicity he denied calling them “Mountain Turks”. The Jews were grateful for this protection, which cost them their moral capital in supporting every human rights violation, which Ataturk and his regime institutionalized.
They were further grateful when Kemalist Turkey, unlike its Muslim sister states, recognized Israel at the instant of its inception, then cooperated with them in every aspect at the expense of the Arabs, including in the military arena, the latest of which was the recently cancelled three pronged military exercises.
Turkey’s action may have had many reasons, one of which could have been to avenge the Arab States which collaborated with the Western powers to carve their territories out of the flesh of the Ottoman Empire, the forefathers of the present Islamist entity. The other may have been the philosophical teachings of Ataturk. I am sure there were other motives, more on that some other time.
These actions alienated the Arab masses whose nationalist movements, which had originated in Hijaaz under the leadership of the Hashimite King Hussein Bin Ali, the great grandfather of King Hussein Bin Talaal of Jordan, had matured into Pan-Arabism; a movement which had extended to Bilaad arRafidayn (Which later became Iraq), Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and North Africa.
The armed duel between the Palestinian Arabs and the Jewish settlers, which was followed by the newly formed Jewish State, was at its peak, Turkey was, to put it mildly, oblivious to the dispute, it let the Arabs down and recognized Israel. Arabs felt betrayed! Turkey had already lost credibility; after Kemalist secular orientation it was no longer considered to be the seat of the Islamic Caliphate; there was a spiritual disconnect, which until then was ruling the entire Islamic Arab world.
In lieu of Turkey’s friendly stance, Israel returned the favor by shafting us, Armenians in Washington. The Israeli Embassy, in conjunction with AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) did their utmost to block, year after year, our Genocide resolutions in Congress, and they succeeded. Not only that: Shimon Peres, Israel’s President, standing with Suleiman Demirel in front of Cankaya presidential palace denied the Genocide stating “There is no such thing as Armenian Genocide”.
Yes! He said it with a straight face, and without batting a lash, and I saw it on the screen. His host couldn’t be more pleased. Here it is, a Nobel Laureate for Peace a Holocaust child himself supporting an outright lie advanced by his host.
Yes! There was a Jewish Holocaust, but no there has been no Armenian Genocide.
Now that Israel has been shafted by non other than their Turkish friends, their day of atonement has come, though months early: Knesset has decided to debate the Armenian Genocide in committee and the rumor has it that AIPAC is not going to block a congressional vote this time around. Mazeltov!
Erdogan’s decision to send Mavi Marmara to defy the Israeli block of Ghazza was a brilliant stroke of publicity, and Israel’s mishandling it is a further affirmation of Israel’s foreign policy rigidity.
The entire operation was but another link in a chain of Erdoghan’s and his AK party’s Islamist designs to resurrect the Chaliphate, not necessarily Ottoman Caliphate, but something similar to it; the goal being to gather the entire Arab region under one tent in Istanbul. The idea was born of a variety of political situations headed by the issue of Palestine, specifically Jerusalem, which would be rescued by the gutsy leader Erdogan. Given the vacuum in Arab leadership, the plan appealed to the Arab masses. Their situation had been pathetic. Since the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, and formation of Arab States according to Sykes-Picot arrangement of 1917, there have been no conditions conducive to establishment of Democracy. Arab states have been ruled by a king or an individual and his clique denying their population the freedom and the means to achieve prosperity and democratic lifestyle. In Iraq there was instability, British rule, then a coup and Saddam. Syria had numerous military coups, until finally they had a monopoly, that of the Ba’ath Party. Egypt had its Nassir, and Libya its Qadhafi, the Sudan its Basheer, not to mention the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Lebanon and the Gulf Emirates. All these countries have created a sorrowful situation in the life of the man in the street. Millions of highly educated and not so educated men and women live in despair. They blame, amongst other things, the ineptitude of their governments in raising a finger to help the people of Gazza. They blame the Arab League, and they of course blame Israel. They feel that their future is left adrift.
Now comes Erdogan with his overt opposition to Israel to fill a leadership vacuum in the Islamic world. For the first time since Ataturk, Turkey reveals hostility toward Israel, and the Arab world likes it. They like it very much, they consider Erdogan as their leader; Erdogan likes it. He champions the Palestinian cause, he champions the unity of the Islamic world, he has become a catalyst for the unity of all those who oppose Israel, he is to liberate Jerusalem. He is the new Saladdin who was a Kurd but waged a war against the Crusaders as a Muslim. Erdogan is a Turk, but also a Muslim worrier waging a war to liberate Jerusalem. Americans are mistaken in thinking that Turkey is a secular country
The United States deludes itself by thinking that it can contain Iran by supporting Erdogan’s government. The State Department deludes itself by thinking that Turkey and Israel can live in Pax Americana, no! not when there is a new Saladdin named Erdogan.