Today’s edition of the Jewish webzine Tablet publishes my essay “Fantasia: Obama’s embrace of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan threatens both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
“Mickey Mouse must have felt a bit like this, midway through the ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ episode of Fantasia. In the remake, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan plays the role of the runaway broom conjured up by President Barack Obama, who wanted a fresh set of allies to advance a 21st-century foreign policy that rejected U.S. hegemony. Now his inventions have taken on a life of their own, and the White House is awash in a flood of trouble,” I wrote.
The essay concludes: “After throwing Israel under the bus in order to bolster the Palestinian Authority, Obama has thrown the Palestinian Authority under the bus in order to placate Erdogan, who is riding a tide of popularity in the Muslim world thanks to his sponsorship of Hamas and its jihadist allies and has threatened to use the Turkish military to force the Israeli blockade. No part of mainstream American opinion can support this kind of open embrace of extremists; even the most fervent advocates of dialogue with Hamas cannot defend turning Gaza into an Iranian port. The president has outraged Jewish voters and has nothing to show for it. Erdogan is the runaway broom of the sorcerer’s apprentice. He cannot be appeased, for he has staked his political future as well as his country’s position in the world on the extremist card. Obama now searches in vain for the magic formula that will put the Turkish broom back in the closet. And the water keeps rising.”
J.W. Goethe’s 1797 verse adaptation of Lucian’s story of magic gone wrong in Philopseudes gave us the tale in its modern form, with the enchanted broom that refuses to stop bringing water. The formula uttered by the sorcerer to end the spell is a masterstroke of rhymed concision: Besen, Besen, seids gewesen! That is short for Besen, sei das gewesene, or, “Broom, be that which you were.” A team of philologists at the National Security Council is now attempting to translate this into Turkish.