Israeli Faults: A Turkish Perspective

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When the Israeli permanent representative of the UN Dan Gillerman was asked his assessment in CNN about the assassination of the leader of HAMAS Abdulaziz Rantisi by the Israeli government, he replied: “A dangerous terrorist has been killed and war against terrorism is on its successful path. ...

When the Israeli permanent representative of the UN Dan Gillerman was asked his assessment in CNN about the assassination of the leader of HAMAS Abdulaziz Rantisi by the Israeli government, he replied: “A dangerous terrorist has been killed and war against terrorism is on its successful path. The attempts to kill Rantisi like terrorists must continue.” Sharon administration prepared a target list in which the leaders of certain groups whom they perceive as terrorists are specified to be killed. It appears that Israel will sustain its attacks not only in the Palestinian lands but also in foreign territories.

The security of Israel depends on making peace with Palestine, becoming a permanent legitimate actor in the region and changing the aggressive and unlawful Israeli image in international system. Looking from this point of view, it is evident that assassination of Sheikh Yasin and Rantisi can make no contribution to the security of Israel. The problem appears to be that Israeli administration does not want security in the region, or their understanding of security is rather different. There are indeed certain ideological and diplomatic bases behind Israeli policies.

Ideological reasoning

What is being observed in Israel on ideological level is in fact a similar pattern of intellectual breakdown seen on the whole of the Middle East. There are two main schools of thought, one advocating the maintenance of Cold War style national security formations and the other favoring deeper global integration and restructuring according to the necessities of the new order. Sharon administration generally represents the former school because it is strictly obsessed with national security state understanding and endeavors to isolate Israel from the external world. According to the Sharon administration, security of Israel can be achieved only through power, war, military intervention and geo-political formations. In order to sustain the popular support behind this policy, some kind of instability and chaos is warranted inside and outside of Israel. Peace and security is the greatest enemy of this national security state apparatus. Peace initiatives lead them to question their perception of the situation, which is shaped by military means and power configurations. Reactions coming from the EU, in this sense, condemn the provocative nature of Israeli government.

Palestinian problem has been one of the fault lines of the international system. 9/11 attacks, generating a systemic impact on the international system, led to the redefinition of this problem. The effect of American war against terrorism on the Palestinian case has been the consolidation of the view that Palestinians are terrorism promoters. Thus, there is nothing wrong in combating with them. America’s unilateral hegemonic policies overwhelmed the Arab countries, and contrarily, Israel is portrayed as a rightful and necessarily active actor. The Middle East Arab system, which started to decline in the second half of the 20th century, has gone underground at the moment. Arab leaders even fail to come together to discuss their basic problems, let alone dealing with the serious challenges they faces after September 11. In this regard, isolation of Palestine, which has started after 1991 Gulf crisis, has reached to its peak.

Sharon government is exploiting the systemic effects of 9/11 attacks, which paved the way for further American support to Israel. The interesting issue here is the embarrassing situation of Britain which has decided with its European partners to limit the actions of Israel. Unviable suggestions such as the “Sharon Plan” are used to dissemble this radical behavior. On the other hand, silence against Israel’s assassination attempts is insinuating the way the “terrorist” groups will be dealt in Great Middle East Initiative. Israel is exploiting its diplomatic superiority to justify its expansion towards the Palestinian territory in the name of war against terrorism.

Intellectual exile in the Middle East

The Palestinian problem residing at the center of the contemporary Middle East has caused with a series of other problems to an exile psychology within different layers of the Middle Eastern populations. Those who cannot escape from the Middle East feel themselves in the exile at their homes. Israeli population is also experiencing this escape and exile psychology. The feeling of superiority formed by religion and tradition and the problem of integration with the geography in which they live generated an exile mood for Jewish communities.

The exile syndrome in the Middle East is not only restricted to the individuals. It can be observed on the state level as well. Endeavors by Syria and Iran to establish relations with EU and their positive attitude about Turkey’s membership are related with this escape syndrome. European system is perceived as an opportunity to escape from the chaotic, unstable and backward nature of the Middle East. Israeli administration is seeking protection by relying on America on the one hand, and trying to build a security wall against its near abroad.

Military and political cooperation between Turkey and Israel was considered as a natural development in 1990s as the two states were the only democratic states in the region. Since then, Turkey has become more democratic owing to its western orientation, and with its targeting of economic development and stability, Turkey made clear that it catches the spirit of time and world realities.. Successful fights against the PKK and Hezbollah and its determination to solve the Cyprus problem displays that Turkey is a peace seeking state in its region. Israel, on the other hand, is drawing an image of favoring security at the extent of democracy. It keeps behaving within the Cold War parameters.

The recent “deep” crisis between Turkey and Israel was partially a result of this differentiation. Israeli administration and security experts pay attention to Turkey’s policies concerned with the regional problems and combating of terrorism. Prosecution of Abdullah Öcalan and destruction of Hezbollah in Turkey is full of lessons for Israel.

Peace: an elusive butterfly?

The peace has been an elusive butterfly and peace dove is flying under the shadows of weapons, through dust and mist without being captured in the Middle East. American hawks assert that they will bring peace to the region. Israeli administration cannot attain peace and stability by building a security wall around with a national security state mentality. It cannot hold on in the region with a constant state of war with its neighbors. Israel is first and foremost responsible for the provision of peace and security as a legitimate state in the region. We think that living in a psychosis of intellectual exile is not the faith of the Middle Eastern people. Although Israel shows great effort and willingness to exclude itself from history, physically it shares the same time and geography with other Middle Easterners. Therefore, if it removes the security wall around itself before remaining under it, it will be a great contribution for the peace and security of the whole region and the world. Such an expectation from the people of this geography, who have had enormous contributions in the formation of world civilizations, would not be an unrealistic one.

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