Anyone interested in Middle East politics should be aware of two, no, make that three … four very big recent developments involving Israel:
1. Turkey, Israel’s strongest ally in the region, is now openly hostile to the Jewish state, kicking out its diplomatic staff, withdrawing its own, and promising military protection to any vessel carrying supplies to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s naval blockade. In other words, Turkey just said fuck you, bring it on.
2. The Palestinians are seeking an elevation of status in the U.N. to full statehood, allowing them access to resources reserved for nation-states. In other words, Israel’s occupation is about to be challenged in the international arena when the U.N. meets for annual general assembly later this month.
3. The U.N. Secretary General, in response to pressure to stop the Palestinians from moving forward with plans they announced months ago, said, basically, that 20 years of talks have gotten nowhere and the Palestinians therefore have a right to seek statehood.
4. Clashes along the Israel-Egypt border ever since the fall of Mubarek are straining relations to the point that Egyptian protestors are calling for the cancellation of their peace treaty with Israel. Israel can no longer assume that its southern border is safe, a cornerstone of Middle East peace for the past 30+ years.
There is no diplomatic solution, no grand agreement, no way for Israel to coexist peacefully with its neighbors while occupying Palestinian territory and deliberately subjecting them to sub-third world existence. Turkey and the Palestinians have strong arguments supporting their recent actions, and whether right or wrong, they will be heard: the present situation has gone on long enough. It has to change.
To the casual American observer these actions appear hostile toward Israel, but, since the current situation can no longer stand, it’s the next logical step. The current Israeli government headed by Prime Minister Binny Netanyahu has been stalling peace talks while moving forward with colonizing Palestinian territory, bragging to his supporters that he has America wrapped around his finger and can do whatever he damn well wants. The casual observer would not know this, but the Palestinians do, and so do all those world leaders meeting at the U.N. — there’s video on Youtube from Binny’s own mouth.
The reversal of relations with Turkey is the bigger blow for Israel. Turkey, with its economy booming, had close military and diplomatic ties with Israel, and was the one Muslim nation that played the game the way Israel prefers. Black Sea resorts in Turkey are favored by vacationing Israelis. The countries’ military forces conducted war games together and traded technology. Not anymore.
Israel’s refusal to apologize for killing nine Turkish nationals last year inflamed Turkish anger and led to the meltdown in relations. Prime Minister Erdogan in Turkey has purged the military and taken thorough control of the country under a moderate Islamist government, so he has latitude and he’s using it. Like many Muslim leaders, he’s sick of the way the Palestinians are being treated by their Israeli occupiers. For Westerners, imagine a Christian nation taken over by Muslim invaders and occupied for 60 years, subjected to constant warfare, sea and land routes blockaded, people living desperately in a society on the brink of collapse, basic utilities like power and sewage controlled by the occupiers. And when they rise up against these conditions, the occupiers use brutal, overwhelming firepower and thuggish security tactics. That’s modern day Israel in the eyes of the Muslim world.
So, you see, time’s up. A major showdown is brewing that will reshape Middle East politics.