As Turkish PM boasts over apology over unnecessary loss of life on the ‘Mavi Marmara,’ a senior official says if diplomacy does not work, all will see Israel “went the extra mile” to show Jerusalem can be a “team player.”
Jerusalem hopes its apology to Ankara for mistakes that might have led to the unnecessary loss of life on the Mavi Marmara turns the page in relations with Turkey, but if it does not, one official said, everyone will see “that Israel went the extra mile.”
The official’s comments came even as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued to “rub Israel’s nose” in the apology, claiming it now makes Turkey a major player in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
Although the official refrained from specifying who he had in mind when saying that “everyone” would see that Israel did its part to mend fences, the US had for months been pushing for an Israeli-Turkish rapprochement, arguing that this was supremely important to American efforts to cope with the radically changing Middle East.
In addition to US President Barack Obama, who brokered the phone call between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Erdogan, and who expressed support for the efforts at healing the Israeli-Turkish rift, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Netanyahu since Friday to welcome what Merkel called the “understandings” between Turkey and Israel.
One senior diplomatic official said that finding a way to put the Mavi Marmara incident behind Israel and Turkey was an important demonstration to the US that Jerusalem could act as a “team player.”
Cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser downplayed Turkey’s “celebrations” over the apology, saying Wednesday on Israel Radio that this was not important.
“The bottom line is that there was a central interest in taking this issue off the agenda between the two countries in light of the changing realities in the Middle East and what is happening in Syria,” he said.
There is no doubt that proper Israeli-Turkish ties are “not only an interest for the two countries, but it is also an American interest,” Hauser added, saying there was no reason for Israel not to work in coordination with Washington regarding US ties in the region.
Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s diplomatic security bureau, told Israel Radio that the US was very keen that its allies in the region cooperate to help Washington cope with the changing landscape, from Tehran to Damascus.
When asked about Erdogan’s boasts, Gilad said it was important to distinguish between the “foam and the wave.” He said that there had been a clear agreement between Israel and Turkey, and that the focus should be on the agreement, not on Turkish comments about it.
Ankara’s acquiescence to stop legal proceedings against the IDF soldiers was at the “heart” of the agreement, he said.
Israeli officials would not relate to reports of differences in the sum Israel was willing to pay the families of the nine Turks killed on the Mavi Marmara, saying the technical teams set up to discuss the matter had not yet met, and that it was premature to talk about details of the compensation package.
The Turkish daily Hurriyet reported Wednesday that Erdogan had told parliament a day earlier that the Israeli apology changed the overall equation in the Middle East.
“The point we have arrived at as a result of our consultations with all our brothers in Palestine and peripheral countries is increasing our responsibility with regard to solving the Palestinian question and thus is bringing about a new equation,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.”
This swagger was largely dismissed by one official in Jerusalem, who said that while Israel was happy for parties to promote peace, “four hours were spent Saturday night on the Palestinian issue with the Americans, and that is where the focus is. There are serious efforts underway to restart the talks, and the best thing would be to support those efforts.” •
IRVINE, Calif—The Armenian studies lecture series at the University of California, Irvine, continued on February 21 with “Armenia, Armenians, and the New World History,” a lecture by Steven Rapp, professor of history at Sam Houston State University. Rapp’s talk, the first under the newly-christened Vahe and Armine Meghrouni Lecture Series in Armenian Studies, was well-attended by more than 120 students, faculty and local community members.
Before Dr. Rapp’s lecture the audience was introduced to the new dean of the School of Humanities, Dr. Georges Van Den Abbeele. The dean announced the naming of the lecture series and expressed his gratitude for Vahe and Armine Meghrouni and their tremendous support of Armenian Studies and the School of Humanities.
Dr. Vahe Meghrouni spoke briefly on the importance of providing a place where students can learn the history of Armenia and its people. At the end of his remarks Meghrouni announced that he and his wife were giving another $100,000 to the Armenian Studies program.
The Meghrounis, long-time donors to Armenian Studies at UCI, generously donated $50,000 to start an endowment fund in support of Armenian culture, language and heritage in December 2011, and matched their initial gift with another $50,000 in 2012. The Meghrouni Lecture Series is a quarterly series of public lectures on Armenian history, literature and other relevant topics. They offer opportunities for the local Armenian community, and the general public, to learn more. This past year the series included lectures by Dr. Richard Hovannisian on “The Changing Landscape of Historic Western Armenia: Reflections on a Journey into the Past,” Talinn Grigor on “Dolling-up Yerevan Avant-garde Urbanism in Post-Soviet American Politics,” Houri Berberian on “Connected Revolutions: Armenians and the Russian, Ottoman and Iranian Revolutions of the Early Twentieth Century,” and “The Armenian Genocide in Literature, Perceptions of those who Lived through the Years of Calamity” with Rubina Peroomian.
The next lecture in the series will be “Reflections on Early Modern Global Armenian Print, 1512-1800” by Sebouh Aslanian, the Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA, on Monday, April 1. On May 28, Giusto Traina, professor of Roman history at the Paris-Sorbonne University, will lecture on “Tigran the Great, King of Kings.” All lectures start at 6:30 p.m. in Humanities Gateway 1030. Complimentary parking passes can be picked up in Lot 7.
In addition to the lecture series, a course in Modern Armenian History is currently being taught by Dr. Richard Hovannisian, a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer, celebrated Armenian historian and professor emeritus of Armenian and Near Eastern History at UCLA. Undergraduate courses in Armenian history continue spring quarter with Ancient Armenian History.
Established in 2007, thanks to the vision of Sylvie and Garo Tertzakian, Armenian Studies at UC Irvine has continued to thrive. This past December, the Tertzakians hosted their annual fundraiser at and helped secure almost $18,000 in pledges from community members to support future course offerings.
The mission of the Armenian Studies program is to provide intellectual and social space for any student with an interest in these areas of history, but also to provide a cultural framework for students who may be interested in learning more about their own heritage or those of their neighbors.