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Yes, Israel apologized to Turkey

Barry Rubin argues that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu did not really apologize to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara incident. He reasons that Netanyahu did not meet the demands Erdogan set forth for an apology.

I’m a fan of Rubin’s work, but in this case his argument rests on a fallacy. The fact that Netanyahu’s statement doesn’t met Erdogan’s specifications doesn’t prevent it from being an apology.

Rubin acknowledges that the word “apology” appears in Netanyahu’s statement, but says “it is notably directed at the Turkish people, not the government and is of the sorry-if-your feelings-were-hurt variety.” Again, Rubin’s analysis is flawed. An apology to “the Turkish people” is an apology.

Rubin erres further in claiming that the apology is of the “sorry if your feeling were hurt” variety. The statement that reflects the oral apology reads:

Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed an apology to the Turkish people for any error that may have led to the loss of life, and agreed to complete the agreement for compensation.

One does not provide compensation for mere hurt feelings. And Israel’s willingness to provide compensation to the families of the terrorist/Israel haters who lost their life, makes it easy to infer that Israel did, in fact, commit an error that may have led to the loss of life. Moreover, Netanyahu reportedly acknowledged “operational mistakes” in the raid.

Indeed, Rubin concedes that Netanyahu’s statement provides a public relations victory to Erdogan, and one that Israel will let him claim. He also doubts that Erdogan will moderate his stance towards Israel, and suggests that President Obama, who encouraged Netanyahu to apologize, “doesn’t understand (or doesn’t care) how deeply Erdogan’s anti-Israel feeling runs.”

Just so. And that’s why Netanyahu’s statement wasn’t just an apology, but also an ill-advised one.

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