Excellent commentary and analysis from Huwaida Arraf and Norm Finkelstein. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales interview two giants in the Democracy Now report: As Turkey Freezes Israel Ties, Critics Decry “Whitewashed” U.N. Report on Gaza Flotilla, Blockade. [partial transcript below]
AMY GOODMAN: But the fact that this report did find that Israel’s use of force was excessive and unreasonable, and the significance of Turkey expelling the Israeli ambassador?
HUWAIDA ARRAF: Definitely. Well, it’s kind of funny that Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador today after the release of this report, because the whole point of this report was to reach a political compromise and to repair the relation between Israel and Turkey. And we’re glad that Turkey has taken the position that it has taken. And in fact, Turkey’s foreign minister has said that it’s time that Israel paid a price. And it’s true, because Israel does not pay a price for any of its human rights violations. It continues to act with impunity. And even the fact that this report did say Israel acted using excessive force, it doesn’t—it doesn’t go enough to—money or paying compensation is not—is no kind of justice for the families or for the people that—for the victims of Israel’s actions. And that’s what we want to see. We want to see some kind of accountability. And that’s different from the U.N. report that was issued last September by the independent fact-finding mission, which recommended that human rights abusers be held accountable. And that’s what we’re waiting to see. So, this report, the Uribe-Palmer report, pays some lip service to the victims, but its main—again, its main goal, to repair relations, and we’re glad to see that Turkey is not falling for that.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I’d like to say—
JUAN GONZALEZ: Norman, if we can, we just have a little bit of time.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Sure.
JUAN GONZALEZ: If you could just briefly talk about the implications of this report coming out now and the continuing schism between Turkey and Israel, as we head into the United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, actually, many Israelis worried that this would be Pyrrhic victory for the Israeli government, because being so stubborn about refusing to make an apology—there are two of consecutive words that just don’t translate into Hebrew. The two words, consecutive words, are “excuse me.” They can’t comprehend that. And the Israeli—many Israeli officials were saying, “Make the apology, because we need Turkey. Turkey is our—has historically been our strongest ally in the Muslim world. Things are now turbulent with our other main ally in the Arab world, Egypt. Make the apology, and move on.” But there were members of the Netanyahu government—in particular, Mr. Lieberman, the foreign minister, and his party—who refused, because they said if they made the apology, Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, would run with it and would embarrass the Israelis, and Israelis would be humiliated. But they didn’t think it was a wise move. And actually, I don’t think it is, either. Losing the military relationship with Turkey, suspension of diplomatic relations, and now you know Turkey, when the state issue—statehood issue comes up in September, they are going to be in the forefront now, because Erdogan has been humiliated by this report. It was a complete spit in the face of the Turks, what this report said.
So I think, from a moral point of view, it was a disgrace. But from a political point of view, it will probably end up helping the Palestinians. You have to remember the whole point of the report. It described the killing of the nine members of the—on the—passengers on the Mavi Marmara. You know the phrase they used? It was a “major irritant” to diplomatic relations. Killing nine people is an “irritant.” And they said, “We have to get over this irritant, so that Israel and Turkey can restore diplomatic relations.” That’s their moral level.
Fair use prevents us from publishing more of the transcript but it’s hot! Finkelstein rips the report, says he was “dumbfounded……because it was so shocking, so morally debased” and Arraf shines clear and rational as always. Don’t miss them both dress down Uribe (“extrajudicial killings and assassinations” “complete disdain for human rights defenders”). Naturally I recommend watching the interview in its entirety.
(Hat tip commenters Kathleen and Pabelmont)