The longer the conflict goes on, and the more apparent that the Israelis are winning, the more we see anti-Israel protests and riots in Europe, and the more threats against Israel come from its enemies such as Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan.
In May 2010, the Turkish government supported a flotilla of six ships that tried to break the Israeli sea blockade of the Gaza Strip. The Turkish “humanitarian organization” Insani Yardim Vakfi, known as “IHH” tried — amid a media frenzy — to sail six ships past the Israeli blockade. They refused to sail to an Israeli port for inspection of their cargos before docking in Gaza. When commandos from Israel’s Squadron 13 (their equivalent of the U.S. Navy SEALs) boarded one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara, they were met with armed resistance by IHH fighters. Nine people were killed.
A U.N. investigation, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, determined that the Israeli blockade was legal under international law. His report said, “The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”
IHH is planning to try it again. According to reports in the Israeli media, IHH claims that a new blockade-busting convoy will soon sail from Turkey, this time under the protection of the Turkish navy.
Erdogan is radical Islamist who has ended his nation’s secularism since becoming prime minister in 2003. Like others of that ideology, he frequently condemns the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank, while conveniently overlooking his own nation’s illegal occupation of northern Cyprus 40 years ago this month that drove out its Greek population and continues today.
His policy toward Israel was made clear when he told CNN last week that “you can see that what Israel does to Palestine, to Gaza right now, has surpassed what Hitler did to them.” Erdogan condemns Israeli action in Gaza, clearly siding with the Hamas terrorists.
IHH, which pretends to be a charitable organization, has been designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the Netherlands and Germany (but not by the US). The kind of “aid” its new flotilla would be carrying to the Hamas government is, to say the least, highly suspect.
IHH is tied to several terrorist groups including al Qaeda. In January 2014 the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported that six IHH offices were raided and 28 people arrested on suspicion of ties to al Qaeda. Most importantly, the report said that two antiterrorist police unit chiefs were fired within hours of the raid. Given the fact that he has been an outspoken supporter of IHH and the blockade busters, Erdogan probably played a role in those firings.
Despite Erdogan’s fulminations and his support for IHH, it’s highly unlikely that the Turkish navy would try to help their ships run the blockade because that would constitute a clear act of war against Israel. Erdogan isn’t ready to face open war with Israel.
Erdogan should not be misled by Secretary of State John Kerry’s ineptitude. By inviting Erdogan and Qatar’s governments to negotiate peace in the Israeli-Palestinian war – and excluding the Israelis and the Egyptians – Kerry only demonstrated his lack of understanding of the situation and his bias against Israel. Kerry has a hugely inflated concept of American influence and Israel’s concern for international opinion.
Any peace agreement that doesn’t demilitarize the Gaza Strip and prevent rearmament in a verifiable manner should be rejected by Israel. America shouldn’t even be party to such a sham.Jed Babbin served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration and is a senior fellow of the London Center for Policy Research. He is the author of "The BDS War Against Israel," with Herbert London.