NEW YORK -- Israel’s decision in May to drop commandoes onto a flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists was brutal. The killing of nine civilians by those commandoes was a terrible consequence. Israel’s blockade of Gaza and occupation of Palestinian territories on the West Bank, not to mention the road blocks, destruction of homes, and other daily torments of the Palestinians, are also a form of institutionalized inhumanity.
Nevertheless, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s description of the Israeli raid on the activists’ boat as “an attack on the conscience of humanity,” which “deserves every kind of curse,” and as a “turning point in history” after which “nothing will be the same,” seems hysterical. Whatever one thinks of various Israeli governments (and I don’t think much of the current one), reactions to Israeli government-sponsored violence tend to be much fiercer – not just in Turkey – than to crimes committed by the leaders of other countries, with the exception perhaps of the United States. But then, in the minds of many critics, the two countries are often conflated.