Will Obama make Israel apologize to Turkey?
posted at 9:30 am on July 6, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Er, shouldn’t this be the other way around? After all, Turkey allowed a flotilla of ships to attempt to run a blockade imposed not just by Israel, but also by Egypt, on an area used for launching rocket attacks on civilian populations. Israel and Egypt both accept humanitarian supplies for Gaza in their own ports. Under those circumstances, Turkey committed an act of aggression against Israel, and not the other way around.
But according to the Obama administration, that must be why Israel has to apologize:
Tensions between Turkey and Israel escalated Monday as Turkey’s foreign minister said his country would sever diplomatic relations with Israel unless it either apologizes for its deadly raid on a Turkish aid ship or accepts an international inquiry into the incident.
The threat came as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prepares to meet Tuesday in Washington with President Obama. A Western diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity before the foreign minister made his comments, said Obama plans to press the Israeli leader to apologize to defuse tensions.
“The president is very concerned about the breakdown in Turkish-Israeli relations,” the diplomat said. Asked if he thought Obama could persuade Netanyahu to apologize, the diplomat added: “I’m sure he’ll give it the college try.”
Senior Obama administration officials would neither confirm nor deny the president’s intentions for the meeting with Netanyahu.
“The college try” fits perfectly in this instance. Only an Ivy League dilettante could possibly believe that (a) Israel would ever apologize in this instance, and (b) Israel should apologize in this instance. An actual ally would not demand such a thing when it’s both unwarranted and impossible, and a skillful diplomatic effort would never raise those expectations.
This is very similar to the way the Obama administration handled the construction in East Jerusalem last year. Thanks to their “smart power” bungling, the administration managed to turn a minor zoning issue into a major crisis, both between the US and Israel and Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians hadn’t made that a major talking point until the White House blew it all out of proportion, but they exploited the situation to make reversing it an unconditional point in blocking further talks.
For his part, Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have publicly stated that Israel has no intention of apologizing for enforcing an established blockade intended to defend their people against terrorists. Maybe the US should be publicly pressing Turkey for an apology for their interference on behalf of those terrorists. If this is the old college try, it demonstrates that the people making it were the beneficiaries of a lot of grade inflation.
Addendum: For some reason, this story recalls this scene from A Fish Called Wanda:
Kevin Kline does an excellent Barack Obama, I believe.