Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pushing Western Alliances

EU Chief Negotiatior Egeman Bagis called on NATO to help end what he characterized as an illegal the Israeli imposed blockade of Gaza, even suggesting that it send a fleet of ships to protect the safety of Palestians and Israelis. Though Turkey has not made such a request in the formal framework of NATO, the call, combined with Bagis' characteriation of EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton's response to the flotilla incident as a "joke," is unlikely to win Turkey many friends in NATO or the European Union.

In other flotilla-related news, see Ha'aretz's report on the work of Medi Nahmyaz and Nathalie Alyon, two Israeli citizens of Turkish descent who were called to translate for Turkish citizens detained by Israel during the flotilla affair. According to the two translators, the majority of Turkish citizens on board the flotilla were unaware of the military blockade. The women reported that most were uneducated, came from pious backgrounds, and most significantly, thought that everything had been arranged for their safe arrival in Gaza. from the report:
Many passengers spoke of coming "to help children in Gaza, orphans, hungry children," or "to bring humanitarian assistance." Alyon and Nahmyaz got the impression that many of them believed before they left Turkey that everything had been arranged and they would reach Gaza. They also did not seem to have broad political knowledge or a distinct ideology.

The medical team was very nice, say the interpreters, and people almost apologized for feeling unwell or saying it was hard to breathe. "That's very Turkish," says Alyon. "The doctor is such a big and important man, who am I to bother him?" The activists from Western Europe were blatantly different. They spoke loudly, demanded their rights and refused to talk until their representatives arrived.
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