“God forbid we apologize…National pride is not just something people just say on the street, it holds strategic significance”. Former Israeli Minister for strategic affairs, Moshe Ya’alon
The official apology issued by Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu to Turkey a few weeks ago caught me by surprise while I was sitting in what is a fairly ironic setting to receive such news: a conference about honor in the Middle East in Ottoman and contemporary times. And even though most debates and papers presented by my peers dealt with 19th century honor in imperial politics of the old Levant, they could have been easily written about current events thus enhancing the notion of the concept’s enduring resonance.
To those of you who do not follow Middle Eastern news feverishly (shame on you!) this long Turkish-Israeli saga would probably seem like something out of a “The knights of the round table” legends. Nevertheless, it is a true story – one that has affected the strategic relations in the Middle East for the last three years and demonstrates that even today, honor can serve as an influential factor in international politics, even when this goes against pre-defined national interests of regional actors.