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The Meanings of Apology - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Once again, this honorable man, Raceb Tayeb Erdogan does it. He struck a living example of the importance of leaders taking courageous and dignified stands. The respect awarded to him by his people is only the result of his concern for the dignity of his country and his people. The dignity he showed when he left the Davos debate became a model of not fearing anything or anybody when taking the right position. The position was in defense of the people of Gaza; but there is no doubt that it was an expression of Erdogan’s respect for his national identity and dignity. And this is exactly what the world understood from his stance.

Erdogan’s movements, language and facial expressions left no doubt that this is a national leader who is keen on protecting the dignity of his country and the same way he protects his family. Is there anyone in the world who does not respect a leader when he lives his principles, identifies completely with the causes of his nation and truly and honestly represents his country in the best possible way?

Once again, a few days ago, Erdogan taught the Zionist entity, whose crimes no Western government dared criticize even mildly, a lesson in apologizing, something the Zionist authorities had insisted they would never do. He gave them a few hours to do that after which their apologies will not be accepted.

The criminals of the Zionist entities have exceeded every limit with their arrogance and impunity; yet, Western officials dare only repeat parrot-like phrases like “commitment to Israel’s security”.

Despite all the crimes Israeli war criminals have committed for a hundred years, including massacres, torture, settlement, siege, the segregation wall, using internationally-banned weapons, they never had to apologize to the Arabs, simply because they have never been asked to apologize in the first place, and were never given deadlines after which their apologies will not be accepted.

The Erdogan principled model, characterized by national dignity and pride, is based on popular support not the support of foreign powers and oppressive state apparatuses. That is why Erdogan’s Turkey refused to help its old ally in invading Iraq, and that is why it voiced its support for Gaza instead of taking part in the blockade with its former ally.

These are lessons to the Arab official system on more than one level. First, that Turkey, which built extensive relations with Israel publicly voices it support to Arab states by deed not by word.

Second, the distinguished relations Turkey built, at a certain time, with Israel did not prevent it from condemning its crimes publicly.

Third, that all the Arab good-will initiatives and confidence-building measures are futile with an arrogant and racist enemy, and that the only language it understands is the language of power which corners it and forces it to apologize for the arrogance of its tyrants. At a time that Zionist propaganda used to create the illusion in the public’s mind that the Turkish army needs the Israeli military industry, and that Israel is doing Turkey huge favors by having relations with it, here are the leaders of the Zionist entity acknowledging that they need Turkey and that Turkey does not need them. That is why they had to apologize for the behavior of an arrogant and careless racist. This type of Israeli behavior is typical in their treatment of Arabs to the extent that they thought it normal and that everyone should accept this kind of behavior; until they discovered that a man with dignity and pride forced them to swallow their tongues and apologize for their hideous behavior.

Fourth, behaving with dignity and pride is the only behavior that this entity accepts, that all attempts at appeasing it will not work and will not restore rights to their owners and that volunteering to suppress Arab resistance will only fuel this enemy’s arrogance and tyranny.

Fifth, the daily killing of Palestinians, the blockade imposed on them and depriving them of freedom is not caused only by the Israeli occupation but also by the weakness of the Arabs and their inability to coordinate their positions, unify their visions and stand united against any crime committed against any Arab in any Arab country.

Hence, the greatest looser as a result of this Arab condition are Arab citizens, who are of course responsible for observing this reality, dealing with it and trying to change it in a manner that protects their dignity and freedom and achieve their legitimate aspirations. The clear lesson from the Erdogan model is also that working seriously for the cause of Palestine is no longer limited to Arabs alone simply because the victims of this hideous occupation are Arabs. Are not the positions taken by Erdogan, in defense of Palestine and in support of the Palestinians more assertive than the positions taken by some Arabs? Are not such positions immeasurably more viable than those adopted by some Arabs in appeasing, not provoking and building confidence with Israel in order to restore Arab rights?

Turkey has made tremendous efforts in support of the Viva Palestine convoy; and Turkish people made generous contributions and donations to their brothers and sisters in Palestine. A Turkish ship full of supplies sailed to Gaza. The Arabs and the world realize today that the Turkish street responds minute by minute to the tragedy of the Gaza people. Can anyone deny all this simply because the Turks are not Arabs, for instance, and condone the lack of Arab effort, or sometimes the loss of direction in dealing with the enemy? This weakens the position of our sisters and brothers in the great prison in which the tyrants of Israel imprison the Arab people of Palestine. Can anyone ignore the holocaust survivor who went on a hunger strike in Cairo in order to go to Gaza? Can anyone ignore the thousands of young people and women who came from all parts of the world and tried to get to Gaza on Christmas and New Year’s Eve in solidarity with its people?

Does not the same thing apply to Iran which closed the Israel embassy and opened instead an embassy for Palestine and supported its cause, since the fall of the Shah, Israel’s ally?

Today, India is building a beautiful embassy for Palestine; and the cause of Palestine receives unprecedented enthusiasm from young people in India who inherited the love of justice from their great inspirer, Mahatma Gandhi. Can anyone say that there is no need for Turkish, Iranian, Indian or any other support for our causes on the pretext that it is not Arab support, even when Arab support has declined in certain aspects because of different visions or methods for achieving the higher goal.

The Israeli apology to the Turkish nation has a great significance. It is another link in a series of cases where Israel is exposed for the arrogant, racist and criminal entity it is before the whole world. This is despite the fact that Western governments have closed their eyes and ears to these crimes and still repeat the parrot statements about Israel despite the fact that the real essence of this entity has been exposed to the whole world in recent years.

Times have changed, and non-Arab parties have become more influential, effective and enthusiastic in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. That is why the Palestinian people should not remain prisoner to official Arab methods which have proven to be ineffective in this struggle. It should, instead, hold on to any possibility that serves the goals of their freedom and dignity.

Palestine has become a cause of international justice in which actors from different religions – Jews, Christians and Muslims – play a new and important role, and non-Arab parties also play a vital and welcome role since it serves Arabs and their freedom and dignity and the future of their countries.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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