As the dust settles following the Israeli Defense Forces’ brutal attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, news has emerged of the deaths of nine activists who were aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara. Eight of the people killed were Turkish nationals, the other a nineteen-year-old Turkish-American dual citizen named Furkan Dogan. Dogan, who is stated to have resided mostly in Turkey, was shot a total of five times, four in the head at close range.
Jim Buie, an American blogger who resides in Kayseri, Turkey, the same town in which Dogan is from, writes this of his background:
Furkan Dogan, the 19-year-old Turkish-American citizen killed by Israeli soldier(s) aboard the flotilla is from Kayseri. It's so difficult to imagine a “terrorist,” the label Israelis put on the activists who joined the flotilla and allegedly attacked the solders — someone sympathetic to Al Qaeda — emerging from this environment. Moderation, prudence and conformity are bywords in the culture here. Kayseri, the hometown of Turkish President Abdullah Gul, has been enormously friendly and welcoming to me, my wife, and son in the eight months we've been here…
…This young man obviously was a respected member of the community. He was studying at a private high school in Kayseri, similar to the one I teach at, and hoped to become a doctor. He was a neighbor of a student of mine.
For many Americans, the subject of the day is the United States’ relationship with Israel. On Twitter, @hughsansom notes the United States’ track record in responding to American deaths at the hands of Israel:
Key to any discussion of U.S.-Israeli relations is the amount of money the United States provides the Israeli military in aid, an estimated 3 billion USD per year. American blogger PoliticalMonkey2010 advocates for the United States to end that relationship:
Five bullets? Five bullets for an unarmed person? Were these bullets paid for by the USA? Were these bullets funded by your tax dollars? Did these bullets have inscribed on them “to our special friends, love the USA”? Bullets used on American citizens.
Let me be clear, all of the loss of life on this flotilla is horrific. No one's life is any greater than another, each of those people who died were somebody’s family and friend. I am focusing on Furkan because he was an American, I am an American, I don’t care where he lived. He was an American.
It is time to end our “special relationship” with Israel. The only thing our relationship with this country does is cost us, it costs American lives, American money, American influence. If this were a business deal, one would look at it and say, cut it loose, you can’t afford it it any more. America cannot afford a friend like Israel.
Muslim-American blogger Hijabmaster picks apart the media reports, which have often referred to Dogan as a “Turkish citizen with an American passport.” Of the distinction, she says:
Now there are only two kinds of people that can have a US passport. A US national and a US citizen. ALL U.S. citizens are US nationals but all US nationals aren't US citizens. U.S. passports issued to non-citizen nationals contains the endorsement code 9 which states: “THE BEARER IS A UNITED STATES NATIONAL AND NOT A UNITED STATES CITIZEN.” on the annotations page.(read Nationals who are not US citizens). Furkan Dogan's passport did not contain that annotation and therefore is an AMERICAN CITIZEN. Most likely a dual citizen and choosing to say a Turkish citizen was killed is better than saying AMERICAN CITIZEN.
Stephen Saperstein Frug, whose blog is called Attempts, rejects the Israeli version of events that claimed IDF gunfire was in self-defense. Referring to Dogan's death, the blogger writes:
If confirmed, it will certainly put the lie to any claim of self defense by the shooter. A bullet in the chest might well be self-defense (by an aggressor, of course — the Israelis shouldn't have been on that ship in the first place, and they were the ones attacking — but nevertheless understandable). A bullet in the head at close range… possibly, probably not but possibly, that's self-defense too.
Three more? That's murder. And calls into question the entire rest of the scenario.
Finally, Richard Silverstein, an American who writes the popular blog Tikun Olam (a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world”), wonders aloud if President Obama will do the right thing in response to Dogan's death:
Barack Obama, do you let U.S. citizens be murdered in cold blood by the IDF? What will you do about this? If this were any other country I’d know what to expect: protest, redoubled efforts to end the Gaza siege, engagement with Israel, possibly withdrawing the U.S. ambassador. That’s what Britain would likely do, as it’s already had the moxie to demand an end to the siege, something our government hasn’t had the courage to do. This incident should bring our policy a lot closer to Turkey’s as we clearly now have shared interests. But will it?
But given the timidity of this government, I don’t know what they’ll do aside from murmuring a bit about it. Face it, our policy is shameful. Dogan’s dead body serves as physical witness to this. Will it spur Obama on to do the right thing–or anything? Your guess is as good as mine.