By VICTOR SHARPE, FAMILY SECURITY MATTERS—
The notorious flotilla that sailed towards the Gaza coast in 2010 with the intention of breaking Israel’s legal blockade of the Hamas occupied Gaza Strip and infiltrating the borders of the Jewish state was headed by a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara.
On board that vessel was an assortment of Israel haters. They claimed that they were non-violent “peace” activists hoping that by breaching the blockade it would lead to many more ships laden with vast supplies of weapons and missiles able to reach the Gaza coast. If they succeeded, it would immensely increase the lethal volume of deadly missile and mortar fire that Hamas and other Palestinian and Muslim terror gangs were already inflicting upon Israeli civilians from Gaza.
Most of the ships making up the so-called “Free Gaza” flotilla were boarded without offering violence or aggression and towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod where non-lethal cargoes were unloaded and subsequently delivered to Gaza. But it was a different situation that met the Israeli commandos, astonishingly armed primarily with mere paintball guns, who landed on the Mavi Marmara. They were greeted by mostly Turkish thugs armed with iron bars, axes and guns who proceeded to assault and wound the Israeli troops. In the event, and in order to protect their very lives, the members of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) were obliged to defend themselves and fire back killing nine of the violent “activists.”
Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has transformed secular Turkey into an Islamic and hardline state, has made inflammatory and insulting remarks against Israel and against Zionism, the Jewish people’s own national liberation movement. He also sees himself as the putative future head of a restored Islamic caliphate competing with the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who vows to exterminate Israel with an Islamic nuclear bomb.
Erdogan has for several years demanded an apology from Israel for the deaths of the criminals who attacked the Israeli soldiers on the Mavi Marmara. Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, categorically refused the outrageous demands but for some inexplicable reason did make an apology to Turkey during President Obama’s recent visit to Israel. Whether the uncalled for apology by Netanyahu was by his own volition or because of pressure from the White House remains unclear.
Talks between Israel and Turkey over the amount of compensation to be paid by Israel were to have commenced on April 22, 2013 but have been postponed by the Turks. Meanwhile the so-called activists on the Mavi Mamara will not discuss compensation until, as they say, the Israeli blockade of Gaza is lifted. Also they will not withdraw lawsuits against Israeli military commanders despite Netanyahu’s agreement to apologize. By the way, Israel did not impound any of the ships from the “Free Gaza” flotilla but let them all return to Turkey.
That the Turks have no right whatsoever to expect either justice, an apology, or any compensation for the thuggery they exhibited on the Mavi Marmara should be crystal clear. And that Turkey expects a million dollars for each of the miscreants who came at the soldiers with guns, axes and iron bars is deplorable and unconscionable.
However, let us consider where a million dollars in compensation for individual victims of earlier Turkish inhumanity is eminently justified, overdue, and indeed called for. I refer to the horrific Turkish treatment of Jewish refugees fleeing in a waterlogged hulk of a ship from Romania during the terrible dark days of the Holocaust.
It was in the winter of 1941 and 1942, as the Nazi juggernaut of death swept over Europe, trapping and massacring millions of hapless and helpless Jews, that a ship, the Struma, a former cattle barge on the Danube river, escaped from the Romanian port of Constanta and entered the ice cold waters of the Black Sea. The hope of its nearly 800 Jewish refugees on board was to seek safety and join their coreligionists in British occupied Mandatory Palestine.
The leaking hulk, with an engine that was constantly breaking down, managed eventually to reach Istanbul in the hope of obtaining repairs and allow the passengers to reach safety ashore. But it was not to be. The British, among whose numbers were many anti-Semitic officers, officials and Arabists who controlled Mandatory Palestine, would give no permission for the Struma to sail on to the Palestine coast.
At the outset of the Second World War and as the Holocaust was growing more terrifying by the day, the British Government, bowing to violent Arab pressure, had issued the infamous 1939 White Paper severely limiting Jewish immigration into Mandatory Palestine. Thus the suffering Jews of Europe found the gates of their ancestral and biblical homeland shut to them. For more on Britain’s role in the Struma outrage, click here.
The Turks reluctantly only allowed food and supplies provided by the local Jewish community to be ferried out to the suffering passengers. This outrageous state of affairs went on for two months and in all that time, the Turkish authorities rejected pleas from the passengers to leave the rotting and unsanitary ship.
Finally, the Turkish authorities sent a tug to tow the abandoned Jews on the Struma out into the frigid and dangerous waters of the Black Sea where it lay at anchor, wallowing helplessly, some ten kilometers from the Turkish coast. Apparently, a Russian submarine subsequently torpedoed it and the ship began to sink. But no help came for the survivors as they slipped one by one under the surface of the freezing waters of the Black Sea.
All the Jews on board, including all the children and babies, perished. Only one young man managed to survive.
Here, then, is an historical atrocity and example of Turkish inhumanity (let us also not forget the Armenian Massacre of an estimated one million Christians by Turkey and its aggression against the Kurds) which cries out for justice and compensation.
Some 768 Jews needlessly were martyred by Turkey and it is their living relatives, not the Turkish brutes on the Mavi Marmara, who must be given compensation and finally receive justice – why not a million dollars for each Jewish man, woman and child who drowned, thanks to Turkish cruelty in the dark, ice cold waters of the Black Sea?
Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer and author of several books including The Blue Hour, a collection of short stories, and Volumes One, Two and Three of Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.