|Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan makes his address during a meeting with the ‘wise people’ commission in Istanbul April 4, 2013. Erdogan chaired an inaugural meeting of the ‘wise people’ commission, who will be consulted on a peace process with Kurdish militants. The commission is made up of academics, journalists and performing artists, and established by the government to promote the peace process nationwide. REUTERS/Metin Pala|
‘Idiocy’ is how Israeli columnist Uri Avnery described Israel’s behavior towards Turkey, which was once one of Israel’s most vital allies. But idiocy has little to do with it and Turkey knew that well. Israel wished to send strong messages to the Turks, that its strategic and political maneuvering was of no use here and that Israel would continue to reign supreme in the face of Erdogan’s ambitious policies. The real ‘idiocy’ was Israel’s miscalculations, which failed to take into account that such behavior could only speed up Turkey’s political transformation. The fact that the U.S. was losing its once unchallenged grip over the fate of the Middle East had also contributed to Turkey’s sudden rise as a country with far-reaching ties and long-term political vision. Erdogan quickly rose to prominence. His responses to Israel’s provocations and to what was essentially a declaration of war came in the form of strong words and measured actions. He conditioned any rapprochement with Israel on a clear apology over its transgressions, compensations to the victims and the families of the dead, and ending the siege on Gaza. The last condition further highlighted Turkey’s new political priorities.