This is a guest post by Israelinurse
It’s a worrying day when one finds oneself sort of almost half-agreeing with Seth Freedman, but in his article about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest outbursts, he does make some valid points regarding Turkey’s apparent aspiration to ‘dance at two weddings’, as the Hebrew phrase goes.
Unfortunately, he then ruins it all by being unable to resist taking a few pot shots at Israel’s government along the way.
“[W]hile it is entirely legitimate to upbraid Israel, as with any other state, for misdeeds carried out by the state’s rulers, ..”
Turkey’s about-face began last winter during Operation Cast Lead. Does Seth Freedman really care to define a government’s actions in defence of its people after eight long years of attacks upon civilians as “misdeeds”?
Then, predictably, there’s a quick stab at the right: “those on the Israeli right who believe that they are up against a collective Arab enemy who will never deal with the Jewish state on a level playing field.” It would have been pretty difficult not to get that impression in 1948, 1967 and 1973, even if one were not of right-wing persuasions. The fact that the Arab states tend to vote en masse against Israel at the UN, regardless of the issue at hand, may also lead one to suspect that the playing field may not be all it should be, even if one does not suffer from some uncontrollable urge to vote Likud.
Freedman then goes on to suggest that “the country [Turkey] should be sidelined in terms of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, in order not to throw yet another spanner in the already-stuttering works.”. As far as I am aware, Turkey’s main role in recent times has been as mediator in negotiations between Syria and Israel regarding the Golan Heights, but I have to say that I do agree that Turkey’s influence in this field should be seriously scrutinised, albeit for different reasons to Freedman.
I now have to admit to having something of a personal interest in this subject for the simple reason that the Golan is my home. Since the early nineties those of us who live there have been told every few years that our evacuation is imminent because a peace deal is just around the corner. Despite the best attempts of Binyamin Netanyau in his first term as prime minister and Ehud Barak as head of a Labour government, the deals were never signed and the residents of the Golan went back to raising cattle and growing crops, all the while waiting for the storm clouds to gather again.
My dear partner- an incurable optimist – always says that he trusts that the inability of the Assad family firm to compromise will keep us in the Golan more than he relies upon an Israeli government of any political persuasion to do so, as both Labour and Likud have tried to sign deals with Syria. So Seth Freedman’s declaration that “Israel’s rulers have shown that they are adept at seizing on any perceived slight and throwing out the baby with the bathwater at will” does not ring particularly true with those of us who have stared evacuation in the face time and time again.
There’s more to a peace agreement than just nice words and good intentions. In order to justify making the thousands of residents of the Golan homeless and jobless, any Israeli government will have to be 100% sure that the rewards will outweigh the heavy price paid, particularly when one takes into account that some of today’s residents of the Golan are evacuees from Sinai and from Gush Katif. There is nothing “histrionic”, as Freedman puts it, about a government trying to ensure that a deal protects the interests of its people. Indeed, the people should not demand any less, particularly when the broker of the deal can be seen to have vested interests of its own and, as Guy Bechor puts it, “Turkey has an existential interest in seeing the Syrians get the Kinneret”.
So whilst Freedman may well be right that Turkey should be sidelined and its actions closely scrutinised, he unfortunately reaches the right conclusions for the wrong reasons. This isn’t about Israeli leaders being petulant or looking for any old excuse not to make peace; the implications of Erdogan’s romancing of Syria and Iran whilst a member of NATO and a US ally are far wider than that. What a pity that Freedman cannot distinguish the wood from the trees, but that’s what happens when one is hampered by political blinkers. Never mind, Seth – you were almost there.