U.N. gets it right (practically)

U.N. gets it right (practically)

Over the years, this paper, indeed much of the Jewish world, has criticized the United Nations for its one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — that is to say, its relentless and, at times, downright ingenuine criticism of Israel.
So it seems only fair to note when the international body shows a modicum of fairness to the Jewish state.
Such was the case last Friday, when the United Nations released the long awaited findings of its investigation into last year’s boarding of the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara.
Nine Turkish citizens died in clashes with Israeli commandos boarding the ship May 30, 2010, part of a pro-Palestinian flotilla trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Israel has expressed regret over the deaths and agreed to pay compensation for those killed, but Turkey has demanded an official apology, which Israel has refused to give.
The report on those findings, known as the Palmer report, accurately concluded that Israeli commandos acted in self-defense when attacked.
It deemed the level of force the commandos used to be “excessive and unreasonable,” which defies logic given the very public evidence.
But, most importantly, it concluded that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was legal.
Clearly, this report is not everything Israel wanted. One need only look at the videos of the boarding, which are all over the Internet, to see that passengers and/or crew were well armed and waiting for the Israeli commandos to repel onto the deck before attacking them. That was a fierce battle, and the commandos were right to use whatever means they had to fight back, including killing their enemy.
But neither is the report what Turkey wanted — far from it. Israel’s right to blockade Gaza, which insists on making war on Israeli civilians even after the 2005 withdrawal of Jewish residents there, has been upheld, and it acknowledges that Israeli commandos were attacked.
So how did Turkey respond to the report? Like an unruly child that doesn’t get its way.
First, it expelled Israel’s ambassador to Ankara (no big deal since the ambassador’s term was coming to an end), it downgraded its official relationship with Israel, then it vowed to pursue legal action against commandos involved in the raid — a tough point to make since the U.N. report doesn’t adequately back its case.
While Israel’s action in the Mavi Marmara incident arguably has been justified, there is no cause for celebration. Relations with Turkey are disrupted, not a good thing at time when relations with Egypt also are souring. Many political observers, including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, say Israel should step up efforts to mend ties with Turkey.
Israel, however, can’t do it alone. Turkey must show signs of accommodation, especially now since the U.N. report did not go its way. So far, it has not, and complete capitulation by Israel — i.e., an apology — is no option.
Israel has historically good relations with Turkey. To lose that status would be regrettable. But to quote an oft-mentioned metaphor, the ball is in Turkey’s court.