We have gotten used to hearing Iran and the eager Arab countries threatening Israel whenever there is a glimmer of a threat to Lebanon or the Palestinians, saying “we will not be silent” and repeating the slogan “we will not stand idly by.”
We have been driven to despair from this; these slogans have been exhausted and we have never seen – not even once – any application of this on the ground to the point that some people believe that the objective of these slogans is to revive the conflict, rather than deter Israeli aggression.
Now Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has entered the fray, announcing that from this moment forward his country will not tolerate any Israeli attack. He made this statement in Lebanon, where thousands of people came out to welcome him, in recognition of his brave words against Israel.
However we are worried that the frustrated Arabs who cling to any hope with regards to confronting Israel will be fooled again. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated such slogans many times but did not lift a finger when Lebanon and the Gaza Strip were attacked. Statements such as these have a long history that date back to the era of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, who made such statements the heart of his policy but in the end was frustrated and failed to achieve anything in this regard.
If Erdogan means what he says, and will mobilize his forces to confront any Israeli aggression then we will gladly stand by him because we know that Israel will think twice before attacking – and even if it does attack this will be costly – due to the danger of confronting Turkey. More importantly than this, the Turkish military cover will create a new reality for the Arabs that will force the current hard-line Israeli leadership to accept negotiations. This is something that previously occurred with regards to the Camp David [negations], and [a reality such as this] was enforced upon Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and most recently Yitzhak Rabin.
However unfortunately, I believe that Erdogan means what he said literally. He said “we will not be silent” and this means that the Turks will verbally denounce and criticize Israel. We are not in need of more talk, for this is precisely what everybody else is doing, and that includes the smallest and weakest Arab countries. So what’s the point?
Let me tell you what the price is for this verbal support; it encourages more adventures, and results in huge loses for the Arab side, from the Palestinians to the Lebanese, and their supports. This is something that we must reject, whether it is from Turkey or elsewhere.
Turkey is a great military power that is capable of confronting Israel, it should either say well and good and place its [military] forces in a position to fulfill these promises or remain silent. The Arabs are tired of promises and exploitative propaganda. The Arabs are tired of visitors coming to see its destroyed homes, hospitals full of the injured, and its cemeteries and graveyards. They need someone to help them, either in peace or in war.
The Arabs, particularly the injured – including the Palestinians and the Lebanese – are not in need of expressions of solidarity and encouragement but rather full engagement with them. Many Arab politicians and others have exploited such slogans in order to strengthen internal and external leadership.
Why has Turkey made this promise and threat? Turkey previously threatened Israel after 8 of its citizens were killed by Israeli forces in international waters, but in the end it did nothing, and this clearly shows that Turkey – despite its sympathy towards the Palestinian cause – will not lift a figure in the event of any Israeli attack.
Therefore we say, don’t believe [in such slogans] so you won’t be taken in by them.