Our sages, of blessed memory of the Mishna and Talmud (חז"ל) were very wise people. We would do well to learn from their wisdom. They taught: A king cannot excuse insults to his honor. This is in contrast to an ordinary person, who can do so [[מלך המוחל על כבודו אין כבודו מחול.
In the Middle East honor is very important. The king, who represents the entire nation, cannot forgive insults to his honor, which is the national honor. If he does this, he is regarded by all our neighbors as weak, and invites further insults and injury. Perhaps he will be regarded differently in Washington or London or Paris, but they are not our neighbors in the Middle East.
Turkish Premier Erdogan began to “stick it” to Israel as early as 2009. On Jan. 29, 2009 at the World Economic Conference in Davos he publicly insulted our president before the eyes of the entire world. And not any president, Shimon Peres, the prophet of the “new Middle East”! Erdogan rose and deliberately and demonstratively walked out while Peres was speaking, in front of all the world media. He knew exactly what he was doing and achieved the effect he wanted.
What was Israel’s response? We figuratively wiped off the spittle from our faces and said, “It must be raining.” At that moment Erdogan saw Israel as weak and he has never stopped attacking us and insulting us ever since. The Mavi Marmara incident is instructive. Turkey was well aware of the plans and preparations of the IHH terrorists and encouraged them to try to break the blockade by force. It could have been a turning point, but after our soldiers heroically defended themselves from the terrorists who tried to kill them and killed those terrorists first, Israel slipped back into the routine of excusing and justifying ourselves and our actions.
Every time Erdogan insulted us again, we responded weakly. So the insults and injuries increased, until now they reach a new climax every day. Some Israelis and “friends” tell us, “Why don’t you apologize already and stop all these attacks on you.” Apologize for what, to whom and what good will it do?
Erdogan demands not only an apology for Israel’s killing the terrorists on the Mavi Marmara, but also payment of compensation and cancellation of the blockade on Gaza. Without the latter, the first two won’t help. And who will be crazy enough to cancel the blockade at Erdogan’s behest after the U.N. Palmer Commission declared it legal?
Next, apologize to whom? The man who sent the IHH terrorists on their mission? And why, because we foiled them?
Rather, we should look truth in the eye. For almost three years, Erdogan has been engaged in a campaign in which Israel is only a part. His first purpose, in which he has succeeded, was to become the dictator of the Muslim Republic of Turkey. To the surprise of many, he defeated the army generals who were his major obstacle and jailed many of them where they await trial for treason.
His second purpose is to become the leader of the Muslim world. He is well on his way to achieve this, especially after Mubarak fell and Egypt is in shambles, Iran is shunned, and Syria is engaged in bloody civil war. He is about to make a triumphal tour of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and is considering a stop in Gaza (which he may postpone at present.) To realize this ambition, he insults, denigrates and attacks Israel, its leaders, people, army and industry and will continue to do so. In Tsarist Russia the anti-semites had a motto, “Beat the Jews and save Russia.” Erdogan has modified this to, “Beat the Jews and conquer the Muslim world.”
So far he is succeeding and that is why, no matter what we do, he will not stop his anti Israel escalation. Israelis are not the only ones who do not understand this. The Obama administration is also clueless, which is why all they do is to keep repeating that Turkey and Israel should “make up”.
For quite a while Israel has been a favorite Turkish supplier of sophisticated military equipment. No matter what he says publicly, Erdogan wants this to continue. Note his complaint that Israel has not returned to Turkey unmanned aircraft which were sent back here for servicing. Also note the Turks are coming to the annual Israel Defense and Security Expo in October. No boycott there.
However, we must realize that any weapons system we supply to Turkey will end up in the hands of Hamas and Hezbullah, sooner rather than later. If we are not willing to supply anything directly to Hamas, we had better rethink the wisdom of supplying it to Turkey.
Israel’s response to Erdogan’s Turkey should be taken from Teddy Roosevelt’s famous advice, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” There is nothing we need to say to drive Erdogan up a wall. He will do that all by himself. On the other hand there is really nothing we can say or do to conciliate him. He wants to beat us on the head as his stepping stone to Islamic hegemony and as long as that works (as it is working) he won’t stop.
Israel’s actions should be guided by the principle expressed by the Romans as, “If you want peace prepare for war.”