At his blog, Barry Rubin gives a great background on the flotilla that Israel’s special forces intercepted and for which Israel’s government has just “apologized.” Only, as Rubin points out, the Israelis didn’t really apologize. He also does a great job of explaining why Israel did what it did and pointing out some drawbacks. As with almost everything Prof. Rubin writes, it’s a must-read.
Respectfully, though, Prof. Rubin misses the key problem with Israel’s non-apology: it might as well have been an apology.
Every newspaper in the world carried Israel’s “apology” this weekend – only without the quotes around “apology.” As we reported in yesterday’s Daily Dispatch, there are billboards in the Turkish capital of Ankara reading “Israel apologized, thank you Erdogan.” And the fact that Israel is financially compensating the families makes the non-apology protestation ring more than a bit hollow.
Why does this matter? As Prof. Rubin reports, the Turkish demands were threefold: Israel must apologize, Israel must compensate the families, Israel must change its Gaza policy. Erdogan doesn’t care about his own people or the people of Gaza – at least not beyond any propaganda use he can get out of them. But he very much cared about that apology – because it makes him a hero in the Muslim world. Whether or not they think they did, Israel gave Erdogan exactly what he wanted; or, at least, the ability to claim they did.
We’re not normally in the business of second-guessing the Israeli government and we won’t do it now. Prime Minister Netanyahu has our confidence and total support. But let’s not try to fool ourselves that the Israeli non-apology wasn’t an apology: in the only way that really matters, it most certainly was an apology. And it was more than a little disheartening.