Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Turkel Report on the Mavi Marmara and the Valley of the Wolves

After over seven months since the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, when nine Turkish protestors were killed after battling with Israel soldiers who forcefully boarded the ship, the event once again has taken the headlines in Israel and Turkey, and even in Europe.

First of all, earlier in the week the Israeli government investigative commission headed by retired Israeli Supreme court judge Y. Turkel released its findings (hereafter: Turkel Report). Well, to make a long story short, the report cleared Israel of any real wrongdoing and even went further to clarify that Israel had every right to board the ship even if it was in international waters, and that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip is not illegal and is not an act of collective punishment. Where Israelis have produced self-critical reports in the past, it was clear from the outset that this would place the blame on the IHH, the Turkish organization sponsoring the flotilla. Clearly, if the Turkish protestors had remained passive, like the hundreds of other protestors arriving on other ships wishing to break the Israeli blockade, it is apparent that incident would have ended relatively peacefully. Few would deny that the IHH provoked the situation. Nevertheless, the Turkel report expressed its worries over the lack of Israeli intelligence concerning what awaited them on board.

The conclusion of most Israeli analysts was that the commission in some sense was not necessary since all it did was strengthen the opposing sides’ previous stances. However, the fact that Israel released such an in-depth report should at least receive a more serious response than Turkish PM Erdogan’s, who immediately discarded it as biased. Especially, due to the fact that two international members served as observers and signed onto the report, one being Lord David Timble, a Nobel Peace prize recipient. Also, it needs to be pointed out that the second part of the report which will scrutinize the failings of the Israeli chain of command will be released in the next few months, a place where we will hopefully see a greater deal of internal criticism. For now, we will need to wait and see what the reaction of Turkey and Israel will be to the upcoming investigation of the incident by the United Nations. What will Israel have to say if this report finds that Israel violated international law (something the United Nations Human Rights Council already declared in September 2010)? Or, even more interesting, what will happen if the UN finds that the IHH and the Turkish protestors also played a part in the violence and with a little wisdom could have prevented the sad death of 9 of its members? Will, the Turkish government also claim this is biased? Sadly, even if I declared originally Israel as the guilty party, claiming that they should have taken other steps to stop the ship, it is clear that the incident happened first and foremost due to the fallout of Israeli and Turkish diplomacy, and leaders who allowed their soldiers and activists to act as mere pawns in a greater strategic chess game.

Well, the report was not the only reason the Mavi Marmara has made the headlines. This week was to be the official European debut of the Turkish film The Valley of the Wolves-Palestine. Well, it first shocked German parliamentarians once it was made known that this film was to be released on January 27, the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Even if this was an honest mistake of their advertising agent, the Valley of the Wolves film series, which has constantly been criticized in Turkey due to its extreme violent film scenes, has also been accused of being anti-Semitic. Sadly, I do not doubt the claims; however, to be completely honest I simply cannot stomach watching two hours of action packed scenes of Turkish hit squads slaughtering Israeli forces as revenge for the Mavi Maramara incident (this is despite the fact that I had access to the DVD before its release in Turkey). I have already have had my dose of Turkish Israeli bashing/hate films when last year I watched two episodes of the poorly produced and borderline anti-Semitic program Ayrilik*, which was scandalously aired on Turkish state TV channel TRT. These shows only hurts Turkey's image and happily many in Turkey know how ridiculous these films are.

Well according to the latest headlines the film now will be screened in Germany for viewers over 18 years of age. This was after it ran the risk of being permanently postponed. However, I am sure for those dying to see the film the producers have most likely uploaded it on Youtube. And, as a token of my sincerity I will even post a link for you to tap on to see the trailer (as a result of my New Year’s resolution to make my blog more technologically friendly).

You Tube Link to Valley of Wolves Trailer

Link to Turkel Report
Link to article on Film Postponement
Link to one of my former blogs on the Mavi Marmara Incident
Link to one of former blogs concerning the Ayrilik program

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