Dear Friends of Israel,
The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has demanded an apology from Israel in regard to the events surrounding the ship Mavi Marmara. As expected, Israel decided not to apologize. Turkey reacted by recalling its ambassador from Israel. To emphasize their displeasure, they expelled the Israeli ambassador from their country too.
Although some Israelis also called for an apology to Turkey (such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak), the government in Jerusalem decided not to apologize, because a careful analysis of the ongoing developments in the region showed clearly that an apology would only bring a short-term easing in the mutual relations between the former allies. Furthermore, an apology would only bolster the position of Erdogan and his party in the eyes of the Islamic fundamentalists, which is important to him politically. Ankara is preparing itself for the time that will follow the “Arab Spring,” when the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, as well as Egypt will likely increase its power tremendously. With all the turmoil in the Arabic world, Erdogan sees a chance for Turkey to become a regional power, even to the detriment of Iran.
Domestically, Erdogan has already been able to neutralize the once influential Turkish Army. He forced practically the entire military leadership to resign and had dozens of other high ranking officers arrested on flimsy accusations. At the same time, he is working to change the nation’s constitution in order to introduce a presidential system of government. That does not mesh well with the previous, secular form of government, but it would give him more strength while helping him solidify his position. These developments in Turkey led Jerusalem to recognize that an apology would only be counter-productive.
Erdogan made it clear that he intends to increase his power in the region during his victory speech in June, following his third election as Prime Minister; an election that brought a big victory for his party, the JDP as well. His government has now held power longer than any other government before him in the democratic history of Turkey.
In his victory speech he said, “We intend to become more active in regional and global affairs. Believe me,” Erdogan proclaimed to the assembled crowd, “Today, Sarajevo won as much as Istanbul, Beirut as much as Izmir, Damascus as much as Ankara, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, all the West Bank and Jerusalem as much as Diyarbakir (a city in eastern Turkey).”
What do these insinuations in Erdogan’s victory speech mean? Nothing, except that he and his government intend to assert their influence throughout the region, particularly in Palestinian affairs, since he listed their towns in such detail. The mention of Jerusalem was especially troubling, evoking worry and contemplation throughout Israel.
The escalating confrontation with Turkey will cause Israel to be even more reliant on the United States, which has also issued an official warning against the Turkish speeches. The fact that one of Israel’s former allies has now become an enemy shows us once more the truth of God’s word, which tells us that all the surrounding nations will turn against Jerusalem.
Fascinated by the contemporary truth of God’s word, I greet you with a hearty “Shalom.”