Less than six months have passed since Israel officially apologized to Turkey, but the gesture can already be defined as a huge mistake. The Israeli government knelt before Ankara and asked forgiveness for a sin it did not commit, and in exchange it received mainly spits in the face.
Prime Minister Erdogan continues to pester us, to despise us publicly and make false accusations against us. He did not release even one conciliatory glance towards us since we admitted - while bowing, as though we were defendants in a public trial – that we were to blame for the Marmara affair.
“I do not believe Erdogan will continue to attack Israel as he did before,” National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror told Channel 2 on the night of the apology, but Erdogan did continue. As soon as he received the apology Erdogan kicked off a public humiliation festival, and last week he accused us of being behind the coup in Egypt, an accusation which embarrassed even our traditional enemies.
Contrary to its prior commitments, Ankara has yet to return its ambassador to Israel, but it benefits from the thousands of Israeli tourists who returned to Antalya. At this juncture, Turkey can be considered Israel’s most bitter enemy in the region after Iran.
What does this prove? That in contrast to the familiar mantra, sometimes it is more important to be right than to be wise. The Israeli instinct to sacrifice values and assets for the sake of good relations with the neighbors is leading it from one failure to another. Netanyahu and Amidror relinquished our honor for the sake of peace, but in the end we were left with neither honor nor peace.
Erdogan interpreted their apology as an act of weakness and concluded from it that he can continue his assault on us. Now one can only hope that we too will reach some conclusions of our own. The apology to Turkey cannot be withdrawn, but we can still take a tougher stance with regards to the European boycott of the settlements. For example, the government can take a deep breath and declare that it is banning the “Horizon 2000” program as long as Europe continues to ban Israeli projects in Judea and Samaria. Europe will think twice before declaring another boycott. It may even cause Erdogan to rethink his attitude towards Israel.