I’m in Istanbul, and to read and see the Turkish perspective on the events near Gaza has been enlightening. [The ship Israeli commandos boarded is Turkish.]
The main take-away point is that the Turkish press and perhaps Turkish officialdom feel as if there’s no future in genial diplomatic relations with Israel, the logic being . . . what’s in it for us, and what’s in it for Gaza?
More peripheral to this reaction is the language used to describe Turkey’s response. In addition to viewing CNN and BBC Europe (both of which have much more aggressive interviewers: take a lesson, U.S.), I’ve been reading the English-language newspaper, Hurriyet, umlaut over the u.
The headline today reads “Israeli assault . . . sparks global outrage”: probably accurate. Then came “the last straw”: emergency Orwell worn-out metaphor alert! More useful and pithy:’ “Our relations with Israel will never be the same,” Huseyin Celik, spokesman of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, told reporters Monday.”‘
More worn out metaphors on pages 3-4 of Hurriyet: “Final Nail in Coffin of Turkish Ties with Israel”: oh, my: coffins, nails and ties.
More interesting, and more explicitly rhetorical, was the editorial in Hurriyet, which begins, “For many years, the rhetorical tool in efforts to probe the self-destructive side of Israel’s political reflexes has been the refrain, “‘Israel has a Samson Complex.'”
What I did not know but learned from the editorial was that Israel itself has referred to elite commando units as “Samson units,” and that it has referred to its nuclear-weapon capacity as “the Samson Option”: quaint and chilling. Why “the world” doesn’t speak openly of Israel’s nuclear weapons is a puzzle to me. What other nation gets to have nuclear weapons but pretend not to?
The editorial soberly acknowledges that the deliverers of humanitarian support might have used different tactics, and it refers to “European sycophants” who may be involved in the delivery of humanitarian aid for self-aggrandizing reasons. Nonetheless, the editorial mentions, these are boats delivering goods:why board them? And why, for heaven’s sake, start killing people? How about a normal blockade? How about a proportionate response?
Here’s a clear sentence: “No serious observer can argue hat Israel lacked better alternatives at its disposal.” Hard to quibble with that practical assertion. “But the trigger-happy Likud government responded with an all-too-familiar reflex of maximum and brutal force. This time, it pulled down the temple.”
Continuing: “It is a tragedy for those activists who have lost their lives. It is a tragedy for the Palestinians of Gaza. Above all it is a tragedy for the people of Israel, victims too of a vain and foolish government.?
The last part is arguable. The previous part: No better alternatives? Really?–I’m not sure that is arguable. The ships were delivering goods, whatever you may think of the propaganda-angle. And: why board them? And: photos taken right before the boarding show people either praying or hanging out.
In any event, the Turkish responses have been instructive–politically, rhetorically, linguistically.