index.html  Spears and Shields of Discourse in the Political Battlefield:
Israeli and Turkish Accounts of the Gaza Flotilla Raid



Dr. Zeynep Cihan KOCA HELVACI

University of Dokuz Eylül







Discourse, which in general terms means language in use, provides us with a grid through which  perception, signification, production and interpretation of communicative practices happen. As Benveniste (1995)stated ‘reality’ is reproduced by language and ‘discourse’ is the usage of language by a Subject who undertakes the production and transfer of a message to the recipients. Instead of intersubjectivity, there is interdiscursivity which means that apart from the concrete reality, the subjects are experiencing the world the discourse constructed for them. As Subjects of discourse, we produce texts and talks to inform, give a message, persuade or manipulate the other subjects within the intertwined web of other discourses. Political discourse as a field of intrigue power plays, argumentation, persuasion and manipulation requires an exhaustive analysis now that the politicians use intricate and subtle discursive strategies to influence and sometimes manipulate the masses by presenting carefully shaped and generated discursive  versions of  objective realities. In this study, two versions of  ‘the Gaza Flotilla Raid on 31.05.2010’ will be studied on two political texts; one by the Israeli  Deputy Foreign  Minister  Daniel Ayalon and Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. The speeches of both politicians will be studied by means of  the principles  of Critical Discourse Analysis and the discursive strategies considering  positive-Self and negative Other presentation, legitimation, de-legitimation will tried to be found out by means of an in-depth look at the syntactic, lexical and semantic configurations.





          Language is not a simple tool for reflecting and representing the world but as Eliot (1996) stated it is a domain in which we perceive, understand, think and communicate with the others. While ‘language’ is the shared linguistic structures and devices of a specific society for communication, ‘discourse’ which is the language in use is the employment of the abovementioned linguistic system by individuals for self- expression, informing, persuading or manipulating the Others. Discourse can only  be produced within the limits of language, society and ideology; in other words discourse production is dependent upon the commonly shared linguistic structures as well as the cognitive and conceptual dimension it provides to its users (Çotuksöken, 2002:166). Discourse is concerned with the language practice processes in which identity markers, ideology, power plays, knowledge and features of social class operate. A person’s social, political, psychological standing can be understood with a careful analysis of his/her discourse production.


           A close study of discourse not only refers to the content of the message but it also points to the  circumstances of discourse production such as the context, intention, authority and discursive strategies of the sender and the position of the recipient. The founder of the Enunciation Theory Benveniste (1995:30) stated that language is the common shared ground whereas discourse is a vehicle for  both conveying messages and influencing the recievers. The enunciator puts forth a message comprised of coherent supra-segmental practices by which he/she aims to arouse a definite type of change on the recipient.  In other words, discourse not only has  expressive or informative aspects but it also has persuasive, argumentative and manipulative features as every sender has a specific aim on his/her mind while shaping and transmitting his/her message. Every lexical, syntactic and semantic choice made in the construction of discourse is strategic and intentional as these preferences will pave the way of perception and understanding in the course the Sender aims. 


            Discourse, ideology and the other social practices such as politics are delicately interlaced and they are all interdependent on one another. According to Gee (1999), language use boundless of time and place has political implicatures as language is under the siege of the ideologies of the social world around. Ideology constructs discourse and its side- products such as gender or national identity as well as social schemata. The external reality is consciously transformed into subjective realities that are evaluated and categorized by a specific society and then shape the individual’s opinions and attitudes. The way we perceive, interpret and communicate  the external and objective reality is closely  linked to the ideologies adopted and internalized by the society we live in. Societal norms, values and other ideological aspects construct ready-made mental models and attitudes to be adopted by the group members. The  generation and  transfer  of these mental models and attitudes can only be actualized via discourse. Even though the individuals may create their discourse independently, they can’t do this by stepping out of the borders of the dominant discourse which represented itself in the mental models and attitudes the society enforces us to internalize. Discourse  is an indispensable vehicle of politics now that it helps to maintain and reproduce the status quo  as well as  contributing to its transformation which means that there is an interactive and interdependent link between discourse and society (Fairclough& Wodak 1997:258). Briefly, the dominant discourse of a society, nation or an era is both shaped by and helps to shape the signification system. Subjects produce and comprehend discourses in a social discursive web and discourse is a system of communicative practices that are integrally related  to wider social and cultural practices and that help to construct specific frameworks of thinking which in other words is the dominant ideology (Macdonald, 2003).



1.Political Discourse



            While nearly all discourse types have political aspects as there is struggle for  power, conflict, control and domination in every domain of life, political discourse necessitates special attention as being dominant and hegamonic in the modern world’s political arena is possible only by means of carefully produced political discourse. Instead of fighting with swords and spears in the battlefields, politicians today exploit language as a weapon to defend, attack, legitimate  their goals or delegitimate the others’ targets. The urge and  struggle for power and dominance over the crowds still go on whereas the methods of power preservation and struggle have changed remarkably throughout history. Political wars which once used to be won with military tactics and  now are won with carefully applied discursive strategies in the relatively safer milieu of democratic platforms. As Orwell explained in ‘Politics and the English Language’(1969) the nature of the political discourse is manipulative and the political speech is generally the defense of the indefensible before public. What differentiates political discourse from the other types of discourse is its context, circumstances, participant roles, aims and strategies. Political scientist Murray Edleman (1971) draw attention to the symbolic manipulation of reality for the achievement of political goals. No matter what their political views and aims are, every politician uses the same linguistic system and discursive strategies to persuade the masses. They share the same lexis, grammar and semantic system but they convey different messages about  the same subject. What differentiates these political discourses from one another is their ideological background and aims. The discourse producers in politics employ discursive strategies and structures to serve their political and ideological goals. While framing their discourses, political actors may benefit from the mental representations, socially and culturally shared beliefs, attitudes, norms and values related to the in-group and out-group duality.  In more specific terms, rather than topic or style, political discourse is characterized by who speaks to whom, as what, under which circumstances and with what goals(Van Dijk, 1997). Election campaign speeches of two opposing parties  may have the same constituent characteristics such as handling the same problem, using the same linguistic units and devices. Nevertheless, they will construct their  texts in such a way that they will communicate two different versions of the situation as their goals and ideological backgrounds are contrasting.


            Discourses are interrelated to one another synchronically and diachronically making allusions to the past, present and future discourses. Likewise the other discourse types, political discourse is dialogic and multivoiced as it is in interaction with the other discourses. Political speech is constructed by awareness of, and reaction to the speech of others. For instance, the political monologues given in the election campaigns occur as though there was a dialogue between two people; in which the second person is omitted but the existence of her/his speech is still felt.


The second interlocutor is invisibly present, his words are absent, but the profound traces of those words determine all of the first interlocutor’s words. Although only one person is speaking, we feel that this is a conversation, and a most intence one at that, since every word that is present answers and reacts with its very fibre interlocutor , it points outside itself, beyond its own borders to the other person’s unspoken word ( Bakhtin 1973:164).



            In the analysis part of this study, the dialogic relation between Davutoğlu’s and Ayalon’s speeches will be easily detected as they both constructed their discourses on each other’s past and present statements as well as future presumptions. Although they presented their texts at different settings, the traces of their discourses could be felt in each other’s texts especially while they were attacking or defending.


            Foucault suggested the examination of political discourse for its ‘tactical productivity’-what it accomplishes in terms of power and knowledge and for its ‘strategical interpretation’ - what circumstances and rules give rise to its use in particular circumstances (Foucault, 1981:101-2). Politicians take advantage of their positions as members of the society, political actors and owners of authority; thus they base their discourses on the amalgam of the various positions they have in the society. To address the masses, politicians make use of the cultural and group cognitions which serve as the basis of personal knowledge and opinions as stored in mental models. Interpretation, understanding and production of text and talk cannot be seriously analyzed outside a cognitive framework (Van Dijk and Kintsch, 1983). Power plays happen through the  language use in discourse in which the producers aim at sending implicit messages with certain social cognitive models. Social memory and representations which are shaped by ideologies as attitudes and opinions about other groups strategically control the construction of mental models and also shape one’s production and understanding of discourse.


    ‘the general goals of manipulative discourse are the control of the shared social representations of groups  of people because these social beliefs in turn control what people do and say in many situation and over a relatively long period’ ( Chomsky, 2004 ; Sidel, 2004).



While shaping our interpretation of the world, discourse and actions by means of deciding what to include or exclude in the discourse, politicians benefit from group knowledge and attitudes organized by fundemental group ideologies which are shared in mental models (Van Dijk,2002). These models construe the mental basis of all social practices including discourse production and comprehension.

            Since ideology, discourse, politics and social cognition are intertwined, the ideological implications of discourse requires attention as well. Various definitions of ideology have been given by eminent scholars; however in short ideology is the whole body of fundemental social cognitions that reflect the basic aims, interests and value of groups. Ideology consists of group-defining elements such as identity/membership activities, goals, norms and values, social positions and resources (Van Dijk, 1995 a, 1995 b). Through discourse ideology provides the group members with a schemata, by means of which individuals form their social judgements, firm their positions in opposition to the Others. John B Thompson argued (1990:7):


    ‘…. The concept of ideology can be used to refer to the ways in which meaning serves, in particular circumstances, to establish and sustain relations of power which are systematically asymmeterical- what I shall call ‘relations of dominance’ . Ideology, broadly speaking, is meaning in the service of power.


            As dominant decoding of events, ideology and discourse are inseparable from each other. Analysis of political discourse will reveal socio-political cognitions in other words ideologies of groups( Lau and Sears, 1986). With an ideologically defined objective on their minds, politicians manipulate the linguistic structures and meaning as they want. Their carefully designed text makes them sound righteous, powerful and justified.

            Political actors aim at influencing the large numbers of recipients and they make use of any discursive device to achieve their political targets. While distorting the material reality and manipulating the masses as they want, the politicians give their own versions of reality by in a newly created context. Recontextualising the material reality involves transformation of the truth in the course of political goals, values and interests (Van Leeuwen and Wodak; 1999:96). Now that the masses have limited access to the truth, politicans may represent the the reality via their political perspectives. However, while doing this politicians have to employ the discursive tactics to be persuasive and influential on the masses. In the second part of the study, these strategies will be discussed in detail.



2. Critical Discourse Analysis


            Discourse must  be studied exhaustively with a critical examination of the surface structures such as lexis and syntax as well as the deeper structure ‘meaning’ to reveal the ideological forces behind its production. With the methodology of Critical Discourse Analysis, the rules and strategies that underlie the production and comprehension of  discourse can be obtained. Critical Discourse Analysis is dominantly used to scrutinize the media texts and political discourse as these are heavily loaded with ideological concerns.  As an eclectic methodology Critical Discourse Analysis doesn’t investigate the text in isolation but evaluate it within the framework of social, historical and interdiscursive context making the implications, presuppositions, connections, strategies explicit. 


          ‘ A stylistic analysis of surface structures – the study of variation in the expression of underlying meanings and reference of utterances- can reveal both cognitive and social functions of language choice’  (Van Dijk, 1983: 30)


            As political discourse is the focal point of this study, the strategies will be exemplified within political contexts. Political texts are not simply description of the concrete facts but they are reformulation of reality according to the norms and values of a specific society. Taking advantage of their position, politicians control the minds of masses  by controlling the information and context.  There can be various numbers of reconstruction of a fact dependent on the ideological background and goals of the producer as political texts are not merely representations of the facts. Manifestation of the power plays is also the focal point of Critical Discourse Analysis as discourse is one of the principal domain through which ideology and power is circulated and reproduced (Foucault, 1972). Power which is the control and dominance of one subject over the other is not enacted by force any more in today’s world. Instead of the overt exercise of power in actions, the politicians test their power in the linguistic and cognitive domain. They persuade, dissumulate or manipulate the masses, control their minds by diverting their opinions to the course of their interests with their discourses. How these small groups called as power elites by Mills (1956) enacted their power in discourse is the main interest of Critical Discourse Analysis.

            *how power is enacted or exhibited in discourse

            *how audiences are influenced and persuaded (which discursive strategies are used in this process)


            Examination of the linguistic forms such as grammatical, lexical choices made instead of others are sourced from the manipulative and ideological worries of the message senders. Lexical items are chosen carefully and intentionally describing the Self with positive adjectives, words and connotations while depiciting the Others with negatively loaded pejorative terms. In addition to this, friends and allies are defined in positive terms while outgroups and enemies are prescribed in negative ones. The deliberate choice of words imply positive or negative evaluations and mental models  for the objects of description. To use Halliday’s term(cited in Bloor&Bloor, 2007), words have meaning potential which is realized in text, a right wing politician may define ‘headscarf’ as the freedom of women while a left-wing and secular politician may depict it as the oppression of women. The same objects can be referred to with clashing terms in different discourses produced by ideologically different senders. For instance, the people on the Gaza Flotilla were described as terrorists with destructive intentions by the İsraelis while the Turkish referred to them as volunteers with humanitarian goals. Syntactic variations are also at the disposal of the discourse producers who can use active or passive voice as well as nominalizations to emphasize or de-emphasize the Subject. While transactivity structures of sentence syntax helps to mention negative agents in prominent and topical positions, they can also the put stress on the authority of the agent by forming an active sentence. In addition to this, the choice between active and passive voice also reveals the hidden aims of the Sender.


            1.The demonstrators destroyed the shops.

            2.The shops were demonstrated.

            3.The destruction of the shops caused chaos.


            In the first sentence, the demonstrators are positioned as the agents of the vandalism while in the second sentence the agents are suppressed and hidden. The third sentence explains the event as something naturally happened on its own. If the politicians want to prove their rightness about a subjector clarify their objectives, they use simple and short sentences. The use of pronouns are striking as well, a politician can use ‘we’ to refer to his party, parliament or nation.


            1. We will liberate headscarf in schools.

            2. We will discuss the new legislation

            3. We are expecting an apology from Israel.


            Linguistic devices such as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, euphemism, irony or hyperbole must be  carefully searched in the text as they present mental models which make manipulation easier. People’s emotions can be stimulated by using rhetorical devices such as hyperboles or metaphors. At the semantic level, politicians address the patriotic instincts, prides, fears and  traumas of the masses by presenting mental models in accordance with their political aims and interests.


            In addition to discursive structures, politicians also mould their discourses with by using specific tactics for being victorious and righteous. As binary oppositions such as Good/Evil, Right/Wrong are inherent to the signification and cognition, these dualities are frequently used in political discourse. Ideological polarization is the first and foremost ploy in which the Self/We/Us are connotated with undeniably positive terms while the Other/They/Them are presented as devils, enemies. Throughout the image-making process, the good and mighty actions and deeds of the Self are emphasized and overrated whereas the aims and deeds of the Others are distorted and negatively described in opposition to the Self-glorification. Politicians emphasize their authority, power and status while de-emphasizing the authority of the Others. Generalization can be used to transfer concrete specific examples with a great impact on mental models to more generalized attitudes ( Van Dijk, 1993). The terrorist attacks on 9/11 have been transferred to wider contexts and the Muslim population seemed as a threat to the whole Western world. Polical actors can legitimate their objectively wrong decisions and deeds while finding ways to delegitimize and falsify the objectively good acts of the Others. One nation can use violence as a means of self-defense of sovereignty; however, if the Others use violence, it is defined as terrorism or illegal use of force. Argumentation and perspectivation strategies are also used to emphasize the Self/Other dichotomy, topoi of advantage/usefulness, danger/threat, law/right can be employed for giving an ideologically shaped mental model to the masses. For instance, Western politicians can use the topoi of danger and burden for defining the refugees and immigrants.  Politicians can present incomplete or vague data about an event to prevent counter-arguments as the Iraqi invasion of America was legitimated with a suspicion of nuclear armaments. In addition to being economical with the truth, politicians can also base their arguments on undeniably and uncontroversibly fundemental  norms, values and ideologies that form the society. ‘Democracy’ was the key term when the American politicians wanted to persuade the public for the necessity of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. In order to make their argumentations accepted by the public, politicians also exploit the emotional vulnerability and traumas of the masses.



3. Analysis of Selected Political Texts on the ‘Gaza Flotilla Raid’


            Critical Discourse Analysis focusses on how political  texts are socially and ideologically organized to achieve their goals; here the cognitive processes behind identity management, ideological polarization, rationalization and justification should be taken into consideration. In addition to this, argumentative organization of  political accounts about the same event; in other words the  processes at work in the construction of the alternative versions of social reality must be examined as well (Augoustinos & Every, 2007:235). While the  people witnessing  the same event will reproduce their own versions of the reality as a result of their distinctive social, political and ideological background, the number of reality reconstructions will inevitably   increase when they are getting the information from other second- hand resources.


 ‘Subjective mental models of events account for the fact that, people form their own personal representations of an event, with their own perspective, interests, evaluation, emotions and other elements based on their unique personal history or their current subjective experience’ (Van Dijk, 2009:6)


            Politicians witnessing or participating the same event will reproduce their own versions of the event as their position, political standing and ideological concerns influence their information processing and transferring. As authoritized orators of the public discourse, the political actors will take every ideological, social and political aspect into consideration while re-shaping and re-presenting reality to the public.  As Sperber (1997: 73)stated ‘the human mind has an ability to hold representations as beliefs’ ), the political orators exercise any discursive strategy to engrave their representation of reality to the group schemata. Political discourses are generally based on the in group and outgroup polarization; that is to say the discourse producer positioned himself/herself as the righteous Self weaving his/her text in diaologic relation to the disapproved nature of the Other. The dialectic relation between the  Self/ the  Other is crucial for addressing the social cognition. Teun van Dijk (1995c) suggested a list of questions to uncover the ways meaning manipulation with in-group favoritism and out-group derogation:


                 1.Who are We? Who do (do not) belong to Us?

                 2. What do We do? What are Our activities? What is expected of Us?

                 3. What are the goals of these activities?

                 4. What norms and values do We respect in such activities?

                 5.To which groups are We related: Who are Our friends and enemies?

                 6. What are the resources We typically have or do not have  (privileged) access to?


            This paper aims to make a critical analysis of two selected political texts produced in the aftermath of ‘The Gaza Flotilla Raid’ which occured on 30.05.2010.  Subsequent to the raid, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu presented speeches and gave their own national accounts of the event. Gaza Freedom Flotilla organized by the Free Gaza Movement and Turkish Foundation of Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Reliefs (IHH) consisted of six ships consisting people from 37 countries carrying aid to  Gaza which has been under the Israeli naval blockade for years. The soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) stopped and seized the flotilla. Nine Turkish activists  were killed while ten IDF soldiers were injured. Both the Turkish and Israeli sides accused each other for the violence. The speeches yielded by the Israeli and Turkish  politicians manifested a nice example of the reconstruction of reality under the influence of ideology and identity. Fifteen sentences from each text are randomly chosen for the analysis and the lexical, syntactic and semantic features employed for the ideological polarization  will be examined via the principles of Critical Discourse Analysis.



3.1 The Israeli Account of the Gaza Flotilla Raid


            The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, as a member of the Yisrael Beiteinu, which is a nationalist political party in Israel, made a speech in a press conference on 31 May 2010. The Minister started the conference with a speech which was followed by a question and answer session. However, no sentences from the question-answer section was chosen so as to provide parallelism between the discourse structures of Mr.Ayalon and Mr.Davutoğlu. The whole text can be reached from the web site of  Israeli Ministry of  Foreign Affairs.


1.                 I want to report this morning that the armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terror organization was a premeditated and outrageous provocation.


2.                 The organizers' intent was violent, their method was violent, and unfortunately, the results were violent.



    Mr. Ayalon functions as an authoritative source of information as he began the sentence with the phrase ‘I want to report ....’. Political discourse is lodaded heavily with metaphors as they straightforwardly address both cognition and feelings. Metaphors structure thought and forcefully push us in certain directions of evaluationg the information (Lakoff and Johnson, 1980). With the metaphor of ‘armada of hate and violence’, the idea of flotilla’s humanitarian intentions were rejected and a connection was established between the Gaza flotilla and fleet of armed ships.  The Other presentation was made with negative words such as hate, violence, provacation, terror. The adjective ‘violent’ was used three times in the same sentence to create a cause-consequence relation between the organizers and the outcome. The use of ‘verb be’ in both sentences shows definition and judgment of the event by the discourse producer.

                3. Israel  regrets any loss of life and did everything to avoid this outcome.

                4. We repeatedly called upon the organizers and all those who were associated with them, through diplomatic channels and any other means   we could,   to stop this provocation.

                5. Had it been for a humanitarian purpose, they would have accepted our offer to deliver all humanitarian supply through the appropriate channels which are used on a daily basis, as   we make sure that   Gaza will not be in short of humanitarian supplies.

                6.We ask them to send this through the appropriate channels, whether it's the U.N., whether it's the Red Cross, whether it's our people, but to no avail.

The 3rd, 4th,5th and 6th sentences were carefully organized with lexical, syntactic and semantic choices for  positive Self presentation and negative Other presentation. The simple and short structure of the 3rd sentence facilitates comprehension while with ‘any loss of life’ the details about the number of the casualties were hidden.The use of the adverb ‘repeatedly’ to describe Israel’s efforts to prevent  the violence via diplomatic channels expressed that Israel was not responsible for the start of all this bloodshed. The humanitarian intentions of the flotilla were refuted by using  inverted form of hypothetical past  in ‘Had it been for humanitarian purpose…’ . Within the framework of positive self-presentation, discursive strategy of  ‘fairness’ was used in ‘..we make sure that Gaza will not be short of humanitarian supplies’. The pronoun ‘we’ and ‘our’ had been used  with positive connotations to refer to the State of Israel wheras ‘they’, ‘them’ and ‘their’  were charged with pejorative terms. Interestingly though, while listing the appropriate channels for sending aid to Gaza, Mr.Ayalon only mentioned the U.N, Red Cross and Israelis excluding the Red Crescent which is an Islamic aid organization.

                7. In fact, what they said was that it's a humanitarian campaign, but they said repeatedly that their intent and purpose was to break the blockade, the maritime blockade, on Gaza.

                8.Allowing these ships to go in an illegal way to Gaza would have opened in fact a corridor of smuggling arms and terrorists to Gaza, with the results, inevitable results, of many   many thousands of civilian deaths and violence all over the area.

                 9. After these repeated calls  were not heeded by the organizers, we told them that they will not be allowed to break the blockade, as according to maritime law we have the right to do that.

                10. Unfortunately, they also, people, the organizers upon the ship, did not heed the calls of our forces this morning to peacefully follow them and bring a closure, a peaceful closure, to this event.


            The  conflict  between organizers definition of the campaign and their intention was emphasized in the 7th sentence. By justification of the blockade with legitimate reasons such as the Hamas threat, Mr. Ayalon aimed at disproving any counter- argument about the legality of Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza in sentence 8th . Moreover, emotionally and strongly opinionated mental models about this event was generalized to fears about the safety of the region. There was an apparent Altruistic move in the sentence 8th, in which the necessity of the blockade was stressed with the menace of thousand of civilian deaths and violence all over the area. and this sentence conveys that Israel was acting with empathy and consideration for the interets of the Others. ‘We’ is used as the authority figure in the  9th sentence; ‘we told them that  they will not be allowed to break the blockade’; holding the power to decide whom or what include or exclude. With the use of passive, the pronoun ‘they’ refer to a group who had to be submissive and obedient. The statement of  accordance to the maritime law pointed to the  fundemental rules about sovereignty that can’t be denied. The choice of the verb ‘heed’ which was used twice instead of ‘pay attention’ formalize the tone of the Ayalon’s speech and put a diplomatic distance between them and the organizers. Positive image-formation was firmed with the use of ‘peacefully’ and ‘peaceful’ in the last sentence.

                11. The provocative, violent flotilla that we saw today off the Israeli coast, was not to transfer humanitarian supplies to Gaza but rather, as they themselves said, to break the blockade on Gaza, a legal blockade that is meant to prevent the smuggling of terror means and terrorists into Gaza.

                12. Israel could not allow this flotilla, not just because it harms our sovereignty, not just because it is a provocation and a violation of maritime law, but because such a flotilla would have created a dangerous precedent after which an open corridor would be created for the free supply of means of terror and violence, ammunition and terrorists to Gaza, which would undermine the stability of the entire region and lead to thousands of civilians losing their lives.

                13. And when IDF forces tried to quietly carry out their mission to stop the flotilla, they unfortunately met violence, including from firearms on deck of the ship that were used against IDF soldiers.


        In addition to being  described with negative adjectives such as  provocative and violent, the flotilla was also stated to be invading the Israel’s national domain while vague information was given about the Israel’s sea limits. The emphasis on the legality of the blockade aimed at underlining the fundemental rights of a nation that can’t be discredited. The opening clause of the 12th sentence ‘Israel could not allow this flotilla’ targeted at reminding the political position of Israel and inducing them to accept their arguments.  The clause  ‘…was not to transfer but … break the blockade on Gaza…’ expresses that the organizers were veiling their true intentions under the cloak of humanism.  The conjunctions ‘not just because’ and ‘but because’ enabled Mr.Ayalon to list the legitimate reasons for IDF’s stopping the flotilla. While sequencing the causes;  the clauses starting with ‘not just because’ sounded less important when compared to the clauses starting with ‘but because’ expressing Israel’s concerns about the peace and security in the region. In the thirteenth sentence, self-glorification was made with the adverb ‘quietly’ for describing IDF’s soldiers way of handling the issue and their self-defense was again legitimized as their unfortunate meeting with violence. 

            14. We know that the organizers have close, longstanding ties with agents of international terror, international Islam, Hamas, Al-Qaeda and others, and we also know that the whole intention was to provoke us and engage in violence.

                 15.  We are now treating this event as a local event that occurred due to provocation and violence by the flotilla organizers.

            The use of the phrase ‘We know that .....’ indicates the speaker’s confidence about his claim. The message sender drew attention to the relation between organizers and terrorist groups which resullted in partial and biased understanding. The connection among the organizers, international terror, Hamas and Al Qaeda in the previous sentences was generalized to international Islam as well. All of the negative lexicalization used for describing the organizers was attributed to international Islam and a mental model was created for the recipients to evaluate the whole event in this framework. Treatment of the event as ‘local’ in the 15th sentence proved that the solution is only in Israel’s domain and initiative. 


3.2 The Turkish Account of the Gaza Flotilla  Raid

            The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, as a member of  AK Party, which is a right wing party, made a speech in the United Nations Security Council on 31.May.2010 in New York. The whole text of the speech can be reached from the web site of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

1.           I appear before you today as a result of a very sad and tragic occasion where one state member of this august house has committed a serious crime in total disregard of all the values we have vowed to uphold since the establishment of the United Nations system.


2.           I am distraught by the fact that the Israeli Defense Forces stormed a multinational, civilian endeavor carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza in international waters, 72 nautical miles off the coast to be exact, killing and wounding many civilians.


3.           In simplest terms, this is tantamount to banditry and piracy



            The origin of the event was pointed out with a cause-effect relation by using the conjunction ‘as a result of’. Davutoğlu also made use of whole-part relation to present his complaints about Israel to the United Nations Security Council. Group identity and consciousness were adressed with ‘this august house’ and the pronoun ‘we’ while ‘one state member’ Israel was referred to as a rule breaker of the general group norms. Emotion is an important factor in political context models (Roseman, Abelsan and Ewing, 1986) and while being evidential with giving exact numerical details such as 72 nautical miles, the second sentence  was started with an adjective  epressing disappointment. The thematic roles which explain ‘who is doing what to whom by what’ can be easily seen in the second sentence .


  IDF (the agent) :        1.stormed multinational civilian endeavor,(patient)

                                               2.kill and wound many civilians  (patient)

                                   3.distraught Mr.Davutoğlu (patient)


            The IDF was pointed out as the responsible and starter of the action while the patients were  referred as the victims and sufferers. Metaphorical representation of the event as ‘banditry’ and ‘piracy’ create models of imagining the whole event. The use of Simple Present form of verb ‘to be’ in the third sentence shows the certainity of truth formulations which are self-evident and undeniable. The connection established between the occasion and banditry and piracy shows categorisation and judgement (Hodge and Kress,1993:9).



4.        A nation state that follows this path has lost its legitimacy as a respectful member of the international community.


5.        The multinational civilian flotilla composed of a few ships and a total of around 600 people from 32 countries, carrying humanitarian aid to the impoverished Gaza was unlawfully ambushed early today.



6.        The sole aim of this civilian mission was to provide much needed relief to the children of occupied Gaza who have been under illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade for years.


7.        The ships carry amenities and facilities such as playgrounds that would remind the children of their childhoods.



            The fourth, fifth and sixth sentences are the definition of the Self /the Other as well as their goals. Cause-effect relation was provided in the fourth sentence with the nominalization in the subject position in the first sentence ‘A nation state that follows this path’ and the rest of the sentence. However, this time Israel was declared both as the agent and patient that was affected from its own wrongdoings. Positive ‘Self’ information was topicalized while negative ‘Them’ information was being emphasized. The civilian and multinational nature of  the flotilla was emphazised with details. The  use of the modal ‘would’ in the seventh sentence emphasized the non-actualization and interruption of the action.


8.     Today we have observed through live coverage an act of barbarism where provision of humanitarian aid has been punished through aggression in high seas, 72 miles from international waters.


9.     The use of force was not only inappropriate, but also disproportionate.


10.  To treat humanitarian aid delivery as a hostile act and to treat the aid workers as combatants is a reflection of a dangerous state    of mind, with detrimental effects to regional and global peace.



                As Mr.Davutoğlu presented his speech in the UNSC, the pronoun ‘we’ refers not only to Turkey  but to the United Nations. Using the verb ‘observe’ in Simple Present Tense with the time expression ‘today’ hinted that the international community couldn’t go one step further than watching the whole event.  Self glorification was made with an emphasis of the moral superiority of the flotilla while the Other was condemned to be the actor  of aggression and  barbarism. Negatively inflected adjectives ‘inappropriate’ and ‘disproportionate’ and the conjunction ‘not only…….. but also’ were used to discredit and delegitimize the use of force. ‘As’ was used twice in the last sentence to make a criticism of  the Other’s rationalization.


      ‘….humanitarian aid as a hostile act’

      ‘……aid workers as combatants’


            Halliday’s argument (cited in Bloor& Bloor,2007) that words have meaning potential in their contexts can be proved with the two phrases above; one side’s ‘aid worker’ is another side’s ‘combatant’. The topoi of  danger/threat was underlined in the tenth sentence and the flotilla crisis was generalized to the wider contexts such as local and global peace.


11.     This unacceptable action was perpetrated by those who in the past had taken advantage of ships carrying refugees and those escaping one of the worst tragedies of the last century.


12.    I am proud to be representing a nation that in the past has helped those in need and escaping extermination.



    The 11th and 12th sentences are making references to the history and historical relations between Turkey and Israel. The relative clause enabled the speaker to make lengthy historical allusions related to the history of the Jewish people. Strong emotions and traumas were alluded to make people more receptive and understanding of the situation. By means of passive voice, the recipients were reminded that the agents were once patients of another crime. The argument was emotionalized by the phrase ‘I am proud .......’ and positive image making was supported with historical references.


    13.  It seems as if Israel has gone the extra mile in order to negate any positive developments and hopes for the future.

     14.  They have become advocates of aggression and use of force.

                15. They must take steps to reinstate their status as a credible partner and responsible member of the internationalcommunity.


            The opening phrase  ‘It seems...’ in the 13th sentence shows that a common desired perception was addressed. Presuppositions about the future of the region were made with ‘as if’ and Israel was attributed negatively in the 13th sentence. The employment of Present Perfect pointed to a considereably long history concerning Israel’s use of force aggressively. A directive was given to Israel to re-gain its status in the international community while the topoi of warning also operated .



  3.3 A Comparison of the Two Accounts



 IN-GROUP                                                                                         OUT-GROUP

Regretful of life loss                                                                           The armada of  hate and violence

Considerate of the needs of the Others                                         In contact with terror organizations

Peaceful, acting peacefully                                                              Using illegal ways

Acting legally(for everyone’s benefits)                                          Provocative

Soldiers trying to carry out their jobs quietly                                Violent





IN-GROUP                                                                                          OUT-GROUP


Multinational, civilian endeavour                                                   Committing serious crime 

Humanitarian                                                                                      Member of United Nations Security Council

Helping the people in need                                                               Disrespectful

                                                                                                                Banditry and piracy

                                                                                                        Using force inappropriately and disproportinately


                                                                                                        Showing act of aggression

                                                                                                        Blockading  illegally and inhumanely




            While Mr.Ayalon’s in-group definition refers to the nation of Israel, Mr. Davutoğlu’s in-group presentation indicates the people on the flotilla and the Turkish nation. The Israeli Minister refrained from naming Turkey directly in the out-group definition although nine Turkish people died in the raid. However, the Turkish Foreign Minister  appointed Israel  directly as the origin of the international crisis. The in-group favoritism and out-group bias can be seen clearly from the words used for exposition.







            The two figures above perfectly manifest how discourses especially opposing discourses discuss the same concepts and issues. With an analysis of the figures, it can be seen that they made the same issues the object of their discourses. However, their discourses communicate absolutely clashing  messages as different syntagmatic arrangements of the themes were made by the politicians who were under the influence of their identity features and political interests.  In order to analyze the correlation between discourse and ideology, it is significant to find out the lexical items a specific group use to define its own borders as well as the Other’s presence. Mr.Davutoğlu associated ‘the Gaza Flotilla’ with being humanitarian while Israel was attributed to being aggressive and barbaric. Moreover, the Turkish Foreign Minister represented a mental model about the naval blockade of Gaza to be inhumane and illegal. Contrary to this representation, Mr. Ayalon demarcated ‘the Gaza Flotilla’ as being violent, provacative and supportive of Hamas. The maritime blockade on Gaza was rationalized with the worries of security for the  civilians in the whole region. While the Turkish Foreign Minister deemed Israel responsible for the raid and the casualities, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister put the blame on the organizers.



4. Conclusion     


            Ideologies organize social group opinions and attitudes consisting of schematically organized general opinions about social and political issues. The ideological patterns reveal themselves in the political discourses such as the case ‘Gaza Flotilla Raid’ in this study. Collective memory, interests, goals and identity feature of  both groups provide their members with attitudes consisting of schematically organized general opinions about the Middle East, the relations between Israel-Turkey and the Gaza Flotilla Raid. While preparing their speeches, politicians from each group depending on their position make selections from the general cultural repertoire of norms, values and ideologies. There is always at least two sides in a political conflict in which both sides define each other as the origin of the tension and hositility (Stone and Shaffner, 1989:191).  Both Mr. Ayalon and Mr. Davutoğlu tried every possible  means of discursive strategies to prove their sides’ rightness with positive attributions to the Self and negative characterization for the out-group. Their goal-oriented speeches for self-justification and de-legitimation of the Other were grounded on the careful  and intentional lexical and syntactic choices to communicate wanted meanings. By means of Critical Discourse Analysis, in this study it is aimed to unravel how  two different ideologies and interests have affected the reproduction of material reality and what discursive strategies and structures are used in these processes.  In the analysis of the two political accounts of the Gaza Flotilla Raid, it is aimed to find out how language choice is manipulated for specific political effect. For instance, Ayalon’s definition of the flotilla as terrorists on board triggers a group of negative cognitive representation about the organizers while Davutoğlu’s description of the Gaza flotilla as humanitarian aid workers recall positive images in our mental mapping. In conclusion, political discourse with its peculiar characteristics worths detailed study as manipulation of the masses is achieved via the re-construction of reality with discursive tactics.






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