The flotilla crisis has pushed U.S. President Barack Obama closer to having to choose whether he prefers Israel or Turkey as a friend, with the specter of a nuclear Iran hanging in the balance.
The United States “is torn between allies,” The New York Times reported Wednesday. Correspondent Mark Lander wrote, “The deep rift between Israel and Turkey, which had cultivated close ties, puts the Obama administration in a tough spot on two of its most pressing foreign-policy issues: the Middle East and Iran.”
The Los Angeles Times reported, ”The Obama administration has tried to walk a fine line in a part of the world where there is usually little political or physical space for any compromise.”
The president telephoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday to express his “deep condolences” over the deaths of Turkish citizens, most or all of them militants who were part of the terror-affiliated IHH group.
Turkey’s closer relations with Iran have hardened its position on sanctions against Tehran, which President Obama has said are necessary to stop the threat that it will obtain a nuclear weapon.
However, President Obama declined to “condemn” Israel, saying he wanted to wait for all the facts to be known surrounding the clash on the Turkish vessel, the Mavi Marmara. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he was “frankly not satisfied” with the even-handed American response. “We expect full solidarity with us. It should not seem like a choice between Turkey and Israel. It should be a choice between right and wrong, between legal and illegal.”
His rhetoric sharpened the clash between “facts” expressed by anti-Israel leaders and by the Israeli government and armed forces. Even the IDF videos were rejected as being false. The films showed Navy commandos being brutally attacked by the Marmara’s militant passengers before the soldiers landed on the deck of the ship.
Free Gaza organization spokeswoman Greta Berlin told Israel National News, “Of course, the IDF documentation is false. It's edited and doctored as every military video usually is. Why don't you ask them why there is no time stamp on the video?”
On the other hand, pro-Hama activists have shown onboard live video views of Navy commandos shooting at the militants but without a “time stamp” that would have proven the firing was in self-defense after the initial attack that nearly resulted in the death of one of the soldiers. His condition now is determined as moderate.
The "facts” about Israel and Gaza have largely been buried the past several years under an avalanche of biased terms such as “occupation,” “humanitarian crisis” and “war crimes.” The New York Times incorrectly stated in an editorial Wednesday that the “goal” of the Israeli blockade on Hamas “was to quickly turn residents against their new government.” The government, however, blockaded Gaza to prevent the terrorist organization from bringing in weapons and explosives by land and sea, which the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority already had amassed in Gaza.
While the editorial concluded that Israel must lift the blockade, its leading columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that Turkey has blown the blockade out of proportion while Israel should find new approaches to ending the embargo.
“That concern for Gaza and Israel’s blockade is so out balance with the other horrific cases in the region that it is not surprising Israelis dismiss it as motivated by hatred — not the advice of friends," Freidman wrote.
On the hand, he added that “it is overwhelmingly in Israel’s interest to bring more diplomatic imagination and energy to ending this Gaza siege.
"This is a critical moment. Two of America’s best friends are out of balance and infuriatingly at each other’s throats. We have got to move quickly to get them both back to the center before this spins out of control," he wrote.