Israel’s hopeless quest for respect

Israel’s hopeless quest for respect

As Israeli-Turkish relations hit a new low with the threat that Turkey might withdraw its ambassador, Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said he expects Israel to be treated with “dignity and respect” by Turkey.

The sign of respect Lieberman is looking for would be for the Turkish government to censor Turkish media by banning a TV show that depicts Israeli soldiers as war criminals. Israel’s war on free speech continues on many fronts without much success — other than in America.

The slide in relations between the two major regional powers began with Israel’s war on Gaza. In Davos, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stood up for Turkish dignity by refusing to be silenced after Israeli president Shimon Peres launched a bombastic tirade in defense of Israel’s right to wage war.

Though in the eyes of the Western media the Davos incident was seen as a “spat”, much more importantly in Turkey and across the Middle East, Erdogan was seen as a national leader unwilling to countenance disrespect from an Israeli leader — however much the latter might act out, used as he is to being coddled by the West.

Now we have Lieberman, whose diplomatic talent has been shaped by his experience working as a nightclub bouncer, endorsing a plan that was designed to teach Turkey a lesson. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon seemed to think that if the Turkish ambassador was forced to look up to him — literally — humiliation would deliver in its wake, respect.

This is how the meeting unfolded where the Israeli minister conveyed to Turkey’s ambassador Oguz Celikkol how offensive Israel finds “Valley of the Wolves”.

During the photo-op at the start of the meeting, Ayalon reportedly told the photographers in Hebrew: “Pay attention that he is sitting in a lower chair and we are in the higher ones, that there is only an Israeli flag on the table and that we are not smiling.” Celikkol’s associates told Israeli Army Radio on Tuesday that the meeting with Ayalon was the most humiliating event he had experienced in 35 years as a diplomat.

Those in Israel who understand something about the way diplomacy works know that Ayalon made a huge blunder. He now faces criticism even from inside his own party, Israel Beiteinu.

“He is finished politically,” an Israel Beiteinu official told The Jerusalem Post. “This ruins his reputation as a diplomat. It is a stain that cannot be erased. He damaged Lieberman and first and foremost himself.”

Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said: “The respect for Israel is not judged by how you humiliate an ambassador; humiliation doesn’t help, it only harms.”

While Ben-Eliezer and others indicate that political realism still exists in Israel, Ayalon’s mistake was less that of pure error of judgment than that of representing an Israeli mentality too faithfully.

Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador to Turkey, facetiously told Israeli Army Radio that “a new sort of diplomacy” had been invented, and that Lieberman had “made up a new way of reprimanding.”

“This time, they made him sit on a low chair, next time maybe they’ll make him crawl, and who knows, maybe the time after that they’ll beat him up at the entrance,” Liel said.

The former Israeli ambassador’s intention might have been to mock Lieberman, but the idea that contempt generates respect serves as a foundation stone for Zionism. Israel’s struggle to pacify its opponents has since 1948 been a relentless effort to demonstrate who stands above and who must crouch below.

Israel has placed all its bets on the effectiveness of coercion — an investment from which it is difficult to move away. There is no easy road that leads from contempt to mutual respect. Indeed, in those whose nature it is to treat others with contempt there is an underlying assumption that respect is something which will never be freely conferred.

What Danny Ayalon and those Israelis who are cast in the same mold repeatedly and unwittingly display is their own lack of dignity. They have no idea how profound a difference there is between demanding respect and being worthy of respect.

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4 thoughts on “Israel’s hopeless quest for respect

  1. Helena

    The Israelis ask for respect, but why don’t they also start treating the Palestinians with respect? Check out the interview with CARE’s Martha Myers, here.

  2. Philip Dennany

    The Israei government would do well to deserve any respect at all. Most common people I have met are shamed by the unending tyranny, lies, and manipulations of virtually all truth that does effect the US well being as well. When have they treated their neighbors, such as the Palistinians with any real respect? They even have censorship inforsed throughout EUROPE and every western country I know of. Any that object are branded as anti-semite. When they are caught in a lie, they simply cencor these that attempt to tell the truth. Was there really really a 6 million Jewish Holocost? There is very much that makes it very difficult to even show a large fraction of that number. Besides, wasn’t Hitler a Jew? Why not doubt? Anyway they must stop their terror, oppression and aggression if they truly want respect.
    Me thinks they only want folks to fear them?

  3. Bert Nowak

    Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

    The blood lust Zionists had planned for, since the beginning is nearly complete. Palestine and it’s people are all but destroyed, ground into the dirt while the world watches.
    That puny nation has run up a cost so high that the world’s cowed folks won’t forgive them as the darkest clouds amass against them.
    They have again chosen the idol of gold. It’s not that all Jews are Zionists but they have fallen prey to them. Live by the sword as they want to do now is not and never was the right answer for such a puny nation. The humanity within them had so much more to offer.
    The judeocide of the Second World War,
    carried out by the political-military-industrial complex of German
    imperialism, was one of the worst crimes of the twentieth century, but
    not the only one. The Belgian massacres in the Congo had led to
    between 10-12 million deaths before the First World War. The
    uniqueness of the judeocide was that it took place in Europe (the
    heart of Christian civilization) and was carried out systematically—
    by Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, French and Italians— as
    if it was the most normal thing in the world. Hence Hannah Arendt’s
    phrase, ‘the banality of evil.’ Since the end of the Second World War
    popular anti-Semitism of the old variety declined in Western Europe,
    restricted largely to remnants of fascist or neo-fascist organisations.

    In Poland, a country where virtually all the Jews were killed, it
    remained strong, as it did in Hungary. In the Arab world there were
    well-integrated Jewish minorities in Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus.
    They did not suffer at the time of the European judeocide.
    Historically, Muslims and Jews have been much closer to each other
    than either to Christianity. Even after 1948 when tensions rose
    between the two communities throughout the Arab east it was Zionist
    provocations, such as the bombing of Jewish cafes in Baghdad that
    helped to drive Arab Jews out of their native countries into Israel.

  4. DE Teodoru

    I wish US/EU-ers would understand the Israeli obsession with mensch-hood. They know well that their fetus of a state lives by din of Diaspora Zionist noise making and influence peddling in the Diaspora. How is it to justify itself then as the STATE OF THE JEWS when it exists solely as the state by the obsession of Diaspora Jews and the generosity of goyim? And so, where they can, they do crazy things so they don’t have to stay up at night wondering how a state that is bleeding Israelis faster than it is absorbing Diasporics can claim to be a reality? So they play stupid games with Turkey because as an East Euro ganov FM Lieberman knows that Turkey is too desperate about joining EU to really slam the Israelis. It’s too bad that Israel doesn’t take its rightful place as the guide from darkness for the Middle East. Alas, the old Israelis that stay play the ego games of mensch-hood oppressing Palestinians and the young just leave for normal lives abroad.

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