THE BLOG

Lifting the Veil of Our Perception

Recently Turkey cut all trade ties with Israel, calling it a spoiled child.

It was a bold statement for Turkey given the "powers at be" perpetual allegiance with Israel and its long-standing ambition to join the European Union. However, Turkey's response over Israel's refusal to apologize for the killings on the Gaza bound Turkish flotilla, coupled with its opposition to Israel's Gaza assault back in late 2008 by storming off stage at Davos might well represent for us the emergence of a new trend. Namely: the end of the era of self-entitlement.

It is a trend in keeping with global affairs in general. The deleveraging and the scaling back we've seen going on all over the world in the last three years as a result of the financial crisis aided by the massive debt burden bought on by the war on terror, has catapulted us in a trend towards simplification: A weeding out of the un-sound and un-just to beckon in a new era where the fashion for what is Fair and Just will reign supreme.

The good news is, it's an approach that the world was been hunkering after.

Turkey's treatment of Israel doesn't signal a refusal to be diplomatic, it signals a refusal to put up with the type of spoiled, entitled and arrogant attitude that has always been the bone of contention amongst the extremist Muslim world.

I am reminded of Noam Chomsky's brilliant but alarming commentary "Was There an Alternative?," in which he cites that although we've killed the world's most wanted man "(His) ultimate aim was in fact to drastically alter US and Western policies toward the Islamic world," and in that regard he has largely succeeded."

Look at the Arab uprisings we've seen coloring the world stage in 2011 and Palestine's affirmative quest for statehood -- Could you have imagined such a request one year ago? The answer is No.

In his article Chomsky continues by stating that: "US forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. Concluding as a result that the United States of America remains bin Laden's only indispensable ally. And arguably remains so, even after his death."

The atrocities of 911 make that a comment hard to fathom and certainly to digest. The tragic loss experienced on that day will leaves it permanently etched on our minds forever.

But what doesn't seem inappropriate in considering this unpublicized reality is to ask -- Where in our perceptions could we be falling short?

If we consider the case of Turkey again. The European Union's long-standing conflict with Turkey has been its contention over the supposed rigidity of the country. Having dismissed its entry into the EU predominantly on the grounds that its Islamic law may impose a very credible threat to Western democracy.

And yet if we take a moment and reflect, we will see Turkey acting as the great Mediator. The Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has already has brokered indirect talks between Syrian and Israeli officials seeking a peace deal, discussed with Secretary Clinton how they might help negotiate peace talks with Iran, and most recently in response to Palestine's quest for statehood ratched up pressure on the United States and Israel by telling Arab League ministers that recognition of a Palestinian state was "not a choice but an obligation."

Why, because it is Just and Fair.

Can Turkey succeed at bridging the divide in our perception between two fundamentally opposing mentalities? Helping us navigate a new generation of world politics that sees a new integration of Islam.

There's no doubt that Turkey is a rising power, particularly in its ability to broker Middle Eastern relations. But how ironic that our perception of its religiosity impinging on our Western freedoms results in us turning to them for assistance. This isn't said to over glorify the role of Turkey -- there are still very real bones of contention with Washington over the Armenian and Kurdish disputes.

This is however said, to help us recognize that in doing what is Just and Fair both countries and the world at large is called to let go of its past woes, put aside its outdated beliefs and learn to press the reset button on those previously held perceptions that can no longer play a valuable part in our cultural world ethos. Not at least if we wish to move forward successfully and with a greater degree of world peace.

The time has come to lift the veil of our perceptions.

The positive news is that the younger generation, those men and women in their late twenties and thirties leading the revolutions across the Middle East have vigor and vision, are expansionist and want equality and justice, not just for their nation but the world.

Some members of the young Jewish community feel this. They no longer wish to live in the same closed monologue. They want to have power with, not power over, they want to work together in an open dialogue and co-operative fashion to achieve mutually desirable goals.

It's a shame that there isn't a consortium of young thinkers leading the negotiations between Israel and Palestine now, a fresher voice capable of creating the change oh so desperately needed -- especially at a time when Israel is most in need of a flexible solution.

It isn't about defending your territory, it is about embracing the world entire and defending its barrier. Gone is the era when we camouflage our self-interest behind institutional power and money. No one has any, anymore.