The Mavi Marmara set sail for Gaza in 2010. Bülent Yıldırım, president of the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), association that organized the trip, said the goal was to set the agenda. But before the ship could reach Gaza, Israel raided it and killed eights Turks and one Turkish-American.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government have frequently used this event, which led to a crisis in relations between Turkey and Israel, in domestic political wrangling. Erdoğan worked hard to score political points by making mention of the Mavi Marmara event in city squares. But he did not target only Israel; he also took aim at anyone who defended taking a restrained approach toward the Israeli attack. He also tried to prevent talk of how much trade relations between Turkey and Israel had improved during this period, as well as of the shipment of goods from Israeli ports carried by his son's ships.
Following the Dec. 17 and 25 corruption and bribery operations, Erdoğan, who took aim at the Hizmet movement, accused the Community of being the pawn of Israel and the US. To back up his claim, he pointed to Fethullah Gülen's words regarding the Mavi Marmara incident -- namely, that “permission should have been obtained from the authorities.” These words were strongly criticized by Prime Minister Erdoğan and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) supporters. As an example, at a rally held in the run-up to the presidential election, Erdoğan said the following: “You know the traitorous gang in Pennsylvania; without permission from the authorities, without instructions, you can't do anything. In the Mavi Marmara incident, didn't they side with Israel?” At another event, he said the following in criticism of Gülen: “Israel, because of the Mavi Marmara event, harbors hate for this humanitarian group. Pennsylvania, for the same reason, harbors hatred for this humanitarian group. What does it say? ‘Permission should have been obtained from the authorities,' it says.”
However, in recent days, at a meeting of the AK Party provincial heads, speaking as if he had never made these statements, the prime minister said: “We have brought close to 30 of our Gazan brethren to Turkey; they are receiving treatment in our hospitals, and [more] will continue to come. We only need to secure permission from Israel, and we'll bring them to our country. We will continue with this fight [to save more lives].” These words of his have made it to both social and print media.
Isn't it interesting that the words for which Gülen was criticized yesterday, and for which he was accused of having ties to outside forces, are the same words which are today being shown as the correct course of action?
Published on Today's Zaman, 18 August 2014, Monday