Op-Ed: Apologizing to Erdogan With A Heavy Heart
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no easy job. Surely, he apologized with a heavy heart to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan regarding the Mavi Marmara confrontation. Iran as a common enemy to Turkey and Israel, and other factors contributed to Netanyahu’s decision to resume strategic relations with Turkey.
Netanyahu is no push-over when it comes to Jewish pride and cares intently about protecting Israel from its enemies. Undoubtedly his decision was strategic and in what he believed to be in Israel’s best interest. One doubts anyone can believe Netanyahu in his heart of heats wanted to apologize, but in the world of politics one may never know the whole truth.
There was active dissent to Netanyahu’s apology - The former commander of the Israel Navy, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eliezer Marom, said "I am concerned about possible long-term damage if the soldiers and commanders fail to understand the message.” Avigdor Lieberman said "An apology by the State of Israel on an Israel Defense Forces operation against a terror organization is a serious mistake. The apology hurts the motivation of IDF soldiers, strengthens extremists in the area and hurts Israel's struggle along the righteous path."
Owning a PR agency and having worked extensively with politicians in Israel and elsewhere, I am aware first-hand of the intent pressures people face in politics. As Israel and Turkey continue to negotiate terms, a number of broad concepts have supposedly been agreed to. For sure, there’s plenty which won’t become public as part of these negotiations for many years to come.
As reactions continue, the Chairman of Bayit Yehudi, Naftali Bennett said "it appears that Erdogan is doing everything in order to make Israel regret it, while conducting a harsh and personal campaign at the expense of Israeli-Turkish relations. Just to remove any doubt – no country is doing Israel a favor by renewing relations with it.” And while Israel will pay, and Israelis tourists will undoubtedly return en masse to Turkey imminently, one wonders what Israel’s ideological Zionist forefathers said about apologies.
As history often repeats itself, “Instead Of Excessive Apology” which was written by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1911 is worth reading at this time: “We constantly and very loudly apologize… Instead of turning our backs to the accusers, as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to, we swear again and again that it is not our fault… Isn’t it long overdue to respond to all these and all future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly, coldly and calmly answer with the only argument that is understandable and accessible to this public: ‘Go to Hell!’?
Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over the entire people where the sentence is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. … The situation that has been created as a result, tragically confirms a well known saying: “Qui s’excuse s’accuse.”
"We ourselves have acquainted our neighbors with the thought that for every embezzling Jew it is possible to drag the entire ancient people to answer, a people that was already legislating at the time when the neighbors had not even invented a bast shoe. Every accusation causes among us such a commotion that people unwittingly think, ‘why are they so afraid of everything?’ Apparently their conscience is not clear.’ Exactly because we are ready at every minute to stand at attention, there develops among the people an inescapable view about us, as of some specific thievish tribe.
"We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets, will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are–we do not have anything to hide! This is a terrible mistake. The real gentlemen are the people that will not allow anyone for any reason to search their apartment, their pockets or their soul. Only a person under surveillance is ready for a search at every moment…. This is the only one inevitable conclusion from our maniac reaction to every reproach–to accept responsibility as a people for every action of a Jew, and to make excuses in front of everybody including hell knows who. I consider this system to be false to its very root.
"We are hated not because we are blamed for everything, but we are blamed for everything because we are not loved…
We may apologize only in rare, unique and extremely important moments when we are completely confident that the Areopagus in front of us really has just intentions and proper competence. We do not have to apologize for anything. We are a people as all other peoples; we do not have any intentions to be better than the rest. As one of the first conditions for equality we demand the right to have our own villains, exactly as other people have them.
"Yes, we do have provocateurs and draft dodgers, and it is even strange that we have so few of them under current conditions. Other people have also these kind of 'goods,' and, in addition, they have embezzlers, and pogrom-makers, and torturers–so what– the neighbors live and are not ashamed…. Do our neighbors blush for the Christians in Kishinev who hammered nails into Jewish babies’ eyes? Not in the least,– they walk with head raised high and look everybody in the face; they are absolutely right, and this is how it must be, as the persona of a people is royal, and not responsible and is not obliged to apologize…
We do not have to account to anybody, we are not to sit for anybody’s examination and nobody is old enough to call on us to answer. We came before them and will leave after them. We are what we are, we are good for ourselves, we will not change and we do not want to.”
Ronn Torossian is a philanthropist, entrepreneur and author.