The aid convoy for Gaza organized in May 2010 was a humanitarian initiative with people from more than 30 countries (including the United States and Israel) in ships sailing under the flags of several nations. While there were private Turkish citizens among participants, the flotilla was not organized or even encouraged by the Turkish government, as Danny Danon conjures without evidence (“Why Turkey should apologize to Israel,” Commentary, Aug. 15). Quite the contrary.
Nine people lost their lives when Israeli commandos used excessive, lethal force and violated all established norms of international law by attacking the convoy in the international waters of the Mediterranean, as the U.N. Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission concluded in its report on the incident. Eight of the nine killed were Turkish citizens, and one was an American citizen of Turkish descent.
As any country - including Israel - would be, Turkey was shattered by the loss of its citizens. We also were shocked that for the first time in our history, our citizens were killed by a foreign armed force during peacetime. What has increased our sorrow is that this deplorable action was caused by a country Turkey has long considered a friend.
Turkey rightly asks for a formal apology and appropriate compensation to the families of those killed. These acts will never fully ease the pain the families and the Turkish people feel, but they are essential to the normalization of relations, from which both Turkey and Israel benefit.
It is meaningful that Mr. Danon, rather than supporting the efforts to leave this incident behind, is appealing to audiences in the United States and that he defines the essential ingredients of normalization as acts of humiliation. He does not recognize that rather than humiliation, these steps represent the cornerstones of civility upon which any strong friendship rests.
Ambassador to the United States
Republic of Turkey