Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 18:11 pm (KSA) 15:11 pm (GMT)

A conflict with Turkey would mean the suicide of Israel

Ahmet Turan Ayhan

Let's have a flashback about the Palestine cause: Israel played the world like a fish and made itself seem like a big playmaker by holding the initiative consistently.

Led by Yasser Arafat, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) drove rock-throwing little children against Israel's strategic moves, and Israel could not overcome this for a long time.

Arafat's leadership did not allow Israel to pull all the strings in the region with its moderate and elastic policy. Holding the initiative and playing the field was not that easy for Israel in those years. Carrying out shuttle diplomacy among Arab states, Arafat knew how to turn the Palestine issue into one of the most important causes in the Muslim world. Thus, the Palestine issue was never an easy pill for Israel to swallow; even the US did not spare its support.

Following the death of Arafat, things got easier for Israel because of the conflict between Hamas and Fatah. We can say that this bicephalous structure increased Israel's desire for the region even more and unfortunately could not mount a resistance against Israel in Palestine. Another gap that Israel has benefited from is the veiled or open conflict between Hamas and Arab states. And Arab countries that see Hamas as a threat to themselves have been on the same page as Israel: Hamas should be demolished. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have shown virtually no reaction to Israel's latest operations for that reason.

The Palestine issue is also evaluated as a "buffer zone" between the Arab and Western worlds. The Israeli threat was a disturbing issue for the Arab world, and Israel could be kept busy by supporting Palestine against Israel. Thus, the support of Arab countries for Palestine never crossed to the other side of the retaining wall. And Israel, being the only country whose borders the United Nations could not define, continued to expand its land with its ongoing invasion of Palestinian land. Dividing Palestine into the two tiny regions of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel nearly erased Palestine from the world map. As it was expanding its land and deepening its invasion, Israel took advantage of "Islamophobia" very often to convince the Western world; Israel represented itself to the Western world as a country that was fighting against "Islamic terrorism" and tried persuade the Western world by saying it was eliminating that threat for the sake of the whole world, and this is still taking place. The lack of a reaction from the Western world against Israel should not be attributed only to the influence of Jewish lobbies, but also to the success of Israel's strategy of convincing Westerners through fictionalized Islamophobia rhetoric.

Does Israel have its back against the wall?

Israel lost the war in Lebanon in 2006 in military aspects and lost the war in Gaza (2008) in ethical aspects. If we consider domestic politics in Israel, it seems as though political parties will not meet their expectations in terms of collecting votes. Maybe Israel will achieve the political aims it has planned in the short term, but it will suffer because of its image as a "murderer state" in the long term. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan communicatively expressed "the truth that all the people on the planet agree on" to Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos. Actually his reaction to the Israeli president in Davos created a bigger impression than leaving the Davos meeting. In diplomatic language, the phone call made by Israeli President Peres to Erdoğan indicating that he was not offended by what happened can only be evaluated as the desire to shift from the image of a "murderer state" to a more personal one. We should underscore that predictions about the future that await Israel are not definite. Israel incited the reaction of the world with the barbarian slaughter it carried out, and it appears that Israel's propaganda, which deliberatively reduces Gaza to "Hamas," cannot be handled even by Nobel Peace Prize winner Peres.

As long as Israel does not trigger a new process after the crime against humanity it committed in Gaza, it will start to eat up its own energy internally. Above all, a political crisis with Turkey in this period would mean the suicide of Israel. The Israeli policy that drives the country forward is its friction with "radical Iran" and its challenges against Iran. So, a conflict with Prime Minister Erdoğan, who takes initiative for stability and peace in the region and who has become one of the most respected leaders in the world -- a conflict with Turkey -- would be the end of Israel's survival strategy in the region. Can Israel take such risk, which may cause it to turn from a country that holds the initiative and produces policy into a country that is shaped by others' policies? Essentially the situation is that. At this stage, it should be stated that Israel may find itself in such a situation whether it wants to or not, since international developments that are likely to take place imply that this may take place. Peres' phone call to Erdoğan to express his sorrow over what happened was not for nothing. The thing that Peres could not handle, more than Erdoğan's personality, was the strength and success of Turkish diplomacy under the leadership of Erdoğan.

Is the Davos crisis a great chance for Turkey?

The point at which Israel has arrived can be defined as "go farther and fare worse." Israel may recognize itself as having achieved certain aims (especially political aims) through the operation in Gaza, which was planned considering the nature of the soil there -- an operation that was planned very well tactically just before the Obama administration took office. But Israel's policy of producing tension in the region is taking a jab starting from today. Now there is a peaceful country, Turkey, between Israel and Iran (the country Israel has continuously used as a foundation for its legitimacy). Turkish diplomats know how to bring Hamas and Israel together at the same table through their practices of peace and shuttle diplomacy, and now this has turned into a strong barrier for Israel. Turkey can succeed in limiting Israel by taking the initiative in the region and bridling both Palestine and Israel and another actor in the region, Iran. Moves that weaken the hand of Israel politically are made by Turkey. Turkey can turn the crisis in Davos into an opportunity, and this has become possible because of a historical turning point in the meeting in Davos that occurred when Mr. Erdoğan (as he should have) left a panel discussion after an argument with the Israeli president. While the Turkish media discuss whether the behavior of Prime Minister Erdoğan was right, Erdoğan's action, which can be defined as active, smart and not to be outdone, has carried Turkey into a key position. Now, what is the probability that this attitude and this occasion will be turned into a stable one in the international arena? This aspect of the issue deserves to be discussed. One of the things that bothers Israel most is the possibility that Turkey may work out a stable peace between Hamas and Fatah. This is one of the opportunities that await Turkey, and Turkey will increase its influence through its success in this. We should not be surprised if we witness such an initiative by Turkey.

* Published in Turkey's TODAY'S ZAMAN on Feb. 5,

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