Gideon Levy : Deal with Turkey can only do Israel good, but don't tell the Israelis - Opinion

Even if the agreement with Turkey included a generous financial grant to the naval commandos of Shayetet 13, the majority of Israelis would be against it.

Suddenly everyone is Avera Mengistu. Until recently nobody could pronounce his name, and suddenly his fate touches every Israeli’s heart. Oh, the humane, compassionate Israelis, isn’t it exciting? One nation. The protest encampment has already been set up, the yellow ribbons will soon be tied and the petitions are on their way.
Suddenly Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin have been brought back to life and everybody’s talking about “the fate of the children” (who are dead). Not many were interested in them, either, until a week ago. But when cynical use can be made of their fate, to undermine one more chance for some agreement, Israel enlists en masse. Israel will pull the wretched Mengistu out of oblivion and resurrect Shaul and Goldin, only to sabotage the agreement with Turkey. Broadcasters will distort their faces with feigned pain, politicians will grandstand with pathos.
It’s as though Israel has no other national, cathartic, intoxicating mission like it has in objecting to every diplomatic agreement. The people want rejectionism, always rejectionism, only rejectionism in the State of No. You can count on the media to inflame and the politicians to incite. Most Israelis will be against. They’re no suckers.
If a suggestion was made to bombard Istanbul, to destroy the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, never mind for what reason – one may guess many Israelis would be all for it. Even if the agreement with Turkey included a generous financial grant to the naval commandos of Shayetet 13, the majority of Israelis would be against it. After all, never has there been a war, an invasion or an attack, unnecessary and despicable as they might be, which didn’t have a large majority in advance. War will always be the Israelis’ first choice. War, why not? But an diplomatic agreement?
Even the peace with Egypt wouldn’t have been accepted today. Immediately the horror scenarios would be trotted out, the “experts” would explain the dangers and dark motives of the other side, the national head would be raised high and the majority would say “no.”
So it is with the agreement with Turkey, which can only do Israel good and not an iota of damage. Instead of rejoicing, Israel has on a sour expression. A belated act of rectification for violent, brazen and foolish behavior is portrayed as a concession. But concession doesn’t exist in the we’re-no-suckers dictionary. A state that acts like a corpse dealer, whose ministers compete over which one will abuse the bereaved Palestinian families more, dares to talk about the cruelty of Hamas, which holds two Israeli bodies. A state whose policemen practiced extreme violence against Ethiopian immigrants is suddenly concerned about an Israeli of Ethiopian descent in Gaza. Records of hypocrisy are being broken.
The agreement with Turkey should have made every Israeli happy. The prime minister should have gone to Ankara and signed it with pomp and circumstance. A Muslim state reconciliating with Israel? What more could we ask? But no. Avigdor Lieberman is against it, so Naftali Bennett is too. Isaac Herzog has already announced he’s against it.
And the surveys? They’re bulging with opposition. Those pumping it up know what they’re doing. They don’t care about Turkey. Or about Israel, in fact. They’re marking territory and launching a threat into the atmosphere: Look how difficult it is to get an agreement with the Turks accepted here, so it will be impossible to make an agreement with the Palestinians. That’s the real subtext of the opposition.
It’s their right to object. The herd has a right to stampede blindly toward isolation. Even the possibility of returning to Antalya no longer appeals – rejectionism comes before everything. It’s also too much to expect the Israelis to feel anything in their hearts about the goings on a short drive from their homes, in the biggest cage in the world, where a mass experiment on human being is being conducted.
But the rejectionist Israeli, the one whose basic instinct is always to say “no,” must also be asked: What will you say “yes” to? What in hell will you say “yes” to?


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