On February 27, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a conference in Vienna, “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.” His calling the Jewish nationalist movement that built the state of Israel a “crime against humanity” prompted widespread criticism, including from U.S. secretary of state John Kerry.
On March 19, Erdogan announced, “I stand behind my remarks in Vienna.” Nonetheless, on March 22, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the long-awaited apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident. His statement made it clear “that the tragic results regarding the Mavi Marmara were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life. In light of the Israeli investigation into the incident, which pointed out several operational errors, Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation.”
My take: Erdogan’s government has mastered the art of provocation and is being rewarded for it. The Israelis should not have apologized but should have demanded an apology from Ankara for its support of the terrorist-connected group that undertook this aggressive act.
Now that the deed is done, can we expect a change in Turkish policy toward Israel, an end to its aggressive statements and support for its enemies? That would surprise me. Rather, I expect the AKP government to pocket this apology and use it as a building block for its neo-Ottoman empire.