Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Turkey, Israel and Kurdistan?

By Murat Cem Menguc

The leaders of the European Union must be grateful that they never allowed Turkey to join. The recent crisis between her and Israel could have easily transformed into something humiliating for the conservative governments of France, Germany, Italy and United Kingdom, which is pretty much the Europe that would have mattered. Imagine what would have happened if the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi sent the Israeli envoy back to Tel Aviv and stated that from now on the Italian army will escort aid flotillas to Gaza. Or better, try to visualize him visiting first Cairo, and then crossing the border into Gaza to shake hands with a few members of the Hamas. It was about to happen in the Turkish case and right before the United Nations is going to vote on recognizing Palestine as a state.

During the recent scuffle between Turkey and Israel, one thing became clear; Turkey is a regional asset far bigger than even it could have imagined. Its stable economy puzzles and generates jealousy among the European states who are struggling with serious monetary crises, like Greece, Portugal and Spain. Its blunt unilateral relations with the US are one of kind among the Muslim nations, making many envious and infuriating Israel. Its democratically elected government’s capability of dictating its will on the historically arrogant Turkish Military invokes admiration and discontent, both at home and abroad.

Who would have thought that once its secret service aiding Turkey to capture the leader of the Kurdish insurgency, today Israel could draft a Plan C to aid the Kurdish insurgency and destabilize Turkey, so we all can return to the previous epoch of friendly alliance? Who could have thought that Kurds, despised by Turks at all levels, still fighting to express themselves in their own language, still fighting to name its own children in its own language, and considered a nuisance to the political establishment of the entire region burning with revolutionary upheaval deliver Israel what it needs? Who could have thought in the grand scheme of things, the Israeli Foreign Ministry would pull the Kurdish card so it can “normalize” its relations with its strongest regional ally? In all honesty, only a schmuck like the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman could have imagined such fantasy. Surely, all our old friends whose houses we set on fire return to us as friends again.

One of the major lessons of the Hebrew Bible appears to be lost to Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu’s lot: times change and one must adapt to change. Israeli conservative political elite, having grown used to considering itself beyond the influence of history, is ignoring what is happening at their door step. The Middle East is no longer what it used to be. The same can be said about Europe and the US. The economic system which drives our daily lives, which used to rely and support the well-established local and international meritocracies, is in trouble. Even the top practitioners of capital accumulation are disillusioned with the world we live in today. The unequal distribution of wealth is grotesque, and everything in the news suggests that the masses are discontent. Everyone wants to live in a better world, where there is affordable food, housing, education, healthcare and natural environment. Enter Israel, where an out-of-date political elite is perpetuating a dangerously out-of-touch vision. One wonders if Netanyahu really thinks the Arab spring is a uniquely Arab phenomenon. Is the irony of the recent protests wholly lost on the Israeli conservative elite, that a nation, which is illegally occupying the land of another nation, was protesting that it cannot afford its own homes? More terribily, what was the Plan D? What were they planing to do if using the Kurds wouldn't work?


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