[Israel National News, Israel]



Hurriyet, Turkey

Israel's Gaza Raid Puts Obama's Manhood at Stake


"There is now a perception around the world that Israel can spit in America's eye and get away with it every time. President Obama's election triggered waves of optimism across the Middle East. At the time, Israel was the only country overtly dissatisfied with Obama's victory. But the way things are going now, this equation could easily reverse itself."


By Semih İdiz



June 3, 2010


Turkey - Hurriyet - Original Article (English)

After a commando raid on a flotilla of ships intent on breaking Israel's three-year blockade of Gaza, the Jewish State is confronting a firestorm of global criticism.


IBA ISRAEL NEWS VIDEO: Israeli news coverage of the global reaction to the commando raid on the civilian flotilla that was carrying aid for Gaza, June 1, 00:24:35RealVideo

Israel's latest botched display of determination toward pro-Palestinian activists headed for Gaza has brought matters to a head not only for Tel-Aviv, but for U.S. President Barack Obama as well. Washington is now in the uncomfortable position of having subtly diffuse tensions between two of its key allies, Turkey and Israel.


The Americans also have to prevent a crisis in its own relations with the two countries. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's angry tone on Tuesday during a highly publicized speech to Parliament wasn't something Washington can brush aside as mere "rhetoric."


Echoing former President George W. Bush's remark, "either you're with us or with the terrorists," Erdoğan said that anyone who tries to justify Israel's bloody operation against a civilian flotilla "would be party to the crime." Around the same time, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told journalists in Washington that the U.S. response to the Israeli operation was "a disappointment for Turkey."


There can be no doubt who Erdoğan's remarks were aimed at - and they come at a time when Turkish-U.S. relations are already strained over Iran's nuclear program. Ankara and Washington remain on very different pages in regard to sanctions against Iran.


The emergency meeting between Foreign Minister Davutoğlu and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday was therefore bound to be interesting - and possibly tense. It appears, however, that the sides arrived at a general understanding of the critical issues, even if they differ on the specifics.


Mr. Davutoğlu's remarks before his return to Turkey on Wednesday clearly reflected this. Statements issued by Ankara and Washington after President Obama and Prime Minister Erdoğan held a phone conversation later in the day also reflected a moderate tone


It was telling that shortly after these conversations, news agencies began reporting that Israel had decided to deport hundreds of detained activists, most of them Turkish citizens, without further questioning or legal action. There's little doubt that the Netanyahu government was forced to do this by Washington.


Particularly after the defiant remarks on the issue from Israel the previous day, it seems that its closest ally presented Israel with some limited options. It's of course no secret that due to a host of practical reasons, America is bound to support Israel come what may.



But it's also clear that Washington's patience is running thin with the current Israeli government, which has the Obama Administration's boat more than once. It can therefore be surmised that discussions between U.S. and Israeli administrations have been somewhat tense since the incident in the eastern Mediterranean.


As Davutoğlu said at a press conference before returning home from the U.S., he had conveyed to the American side the simple fact that if Israel didn't immediately release the activists it held, then Turkey was determined to take all necessary measures to get its citizens back.


He didn't specify what these steps would be, preferring to indicate that subsequent developments had made them irrelevant. But it is clear from the chain of events that the warning registered with the Americans, who clearly applied the needed pressure to prevent an escalation which was bound to get out of hand.


It was also clear from Davutoğlu's determined but reasonable overall tone - especially when compared with Prime Minister Erdoğan's remarks at Parliament, that Secretary Clinton had convinced the Turkish side to calm down and think things over reasonably and realistically before acting.




Le Figaro, France: Israel's Gaza Raid Helps Iran and Ensnares Obama  

The Jeruslaem Post, Israel: Our World – Ending Israel’s Losing Streak  

Debka File, Israel: Mossad: Obama’s ‘Perceived Military Softness Weakens Israel’  

Haaretz, Israel: Propaganda Machine Convinces ‘Only Brainwashed Israelis’  

The Daily Star, Lebanon: Israel’s ‘Logic of the Hammer’  

Le Figaro, France: Tehran Moves Shrewdly with Turkey-Brazil Nuclear Deal  

The Independent, U.K.: Western Leaders ‘Too Cowardly’ to Help Save Lives


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Of course, Washington is walking a tightrope. Up front it must appear pro-Israel, but behind the scenes it will have to work feverishly to calm a situation that has sent shockwaves across the globe - particularly in the Islamic world.


And for the effort to be credible in the eyes of the international community, this will of course involve leaning on the Israeli side more than has hitherto been the case.


After the insult is administered to Washington during Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Israel country last year, there's a perception around the world that Israel can spit in America's eye and get away with it every time.



Obviously, this is not the image American officials want to encourage. President Obama's election triggered waves of optimism across the Middle East and many other parts of the world. At the time, Israel was the only country overtly dissatisfied with Obama's victory. But the way things are going now, this equation could easily reverse itself - to the detriment of U.S. interests.


While Washington may have helped diffuse the immediate Turkey-Israel crisis this week, the real repair work remains. It's obvious that this will also require putting the Middle East peace drive back on the agenda while simultaneously addressing the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza.   



This will demand a much more impartial approach to the region. But when we look at the picture today, it's clear that the image of "Israel and the U.S. against everyone else" is again on the rise. This is Mr. Obama's challenge.


The question is, will he manage to salvage the positive U.S. image he fostered after his election? One might recall that he chose Turkey as one of his first ports of call, sending warm messages of friendship and cooperation to the Islamic world.


He must build on what's left of the positive atmosphere he created before it completely disappears in order to make the world a safer place for all. Inevitably, this will require American leadership.

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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US June 2, 5:49pm]



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