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Turkish Jews Express Fear Amid Reports That Intelligence Service Spied On Their Community

December 19, 2012 5:21 pm 9 comments

Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: wiki commons.

The relationship between the 30,000 or so Jews living in Turkey and the rest of the Turkish population has become tense ever since the  relationship between Israel and Turkey began to deteriorate shortly after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010.  Anti-Israel sentiment is high in the country, and anti-Semitism has also been on the rise at the encouragement of Turkey’s Islamist government. A report in Al-Monitor quotes several Jews who fear a backlash against their community.

“As a Jew, I can attest to you there is a difference between being a Turk and an Israeli,” Ediz said. “But whenever there is fighting between Israel and the Palestinians, the atmosphere in Turkey turns against us, and people start acting as if we committed a crime.”

Leri, another Turkish Jew, told Al-Monitor that the media is also to blame. “The media is painting such an image that many won’t even consider us human.”

According to the Al-Monitor article, the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul that tried Israeli soldiers in-absentia for their role in the Mavi Marmara incident asked the Turkish National Intelligence Service (MIT) for a listing of Turkish Jews who traveled to Israel two weeks before and after it occurred. These people were put under surveillance. There are also allegations that  the MIT identified five Jews in Turkey as suspicious, and that they expanded surveillance in Istanbul and Izmir — where the majority of the country’s Jewish population lives.

While Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has made appeals to Turkey’s Jewish population to help mend the relationship with Israel, there’s a sense among Jews in Turkey that he has put them in a difficult and compromising position.

Rafael Sadi, a member of Israel’s Turkish community, as well as a childhood friend of Erdogan, questions the Turkish President’s motives: “If he really believes that Turkey’s Jews had so much influence [over politicians], why didn’t he listen to our warnings before the Mavi Marmara set sail toward Gaza? Why did he make such a special effort to sever the ties between Israel and Turkey? The Turkish Red Crescent was then delivering the humanitarian aid to Gaza and it still does. If the issue is the lifting of the Gaza blockade, then he should have found a way to control and prevent the free flow of arms into Gaza.”

Zali De Toledo, chairman of the Association of Turkish Jews in Israel, told Al-Monitor she strongly agrees, and argues that the Erdogan government intentionally took steps to harm the relationship with Israel. “It’s Erdogan who really needs to apologize to us for breaking the long-lasting friendship between our two countries.”

9 Comments

  • B’SD
    Did you know which Jewish Establshment leader honored Erdogan arta recent dinner and gave him an award ?
    Dishonest Abe Foxman of the ADL To see this and more go to the Jewish Defense Organization website http://www.jewishdefense.org .

  • MILINDA RATNASURIYA

    THEY SHOULD HAVE SETTLED IN ISRAEL A LONG TIME AGO !!!

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    Of course they have. Turkish Jews have maybe 5 years left to live as citizens in Turkey. Dhimmitude awaits. Or worse. Typically they start with mysterious claims of “Jewish spies”. Then, well you know how it goes. Erdogan will likely make an official White House visit and present Obama with stolen Jewish artwork.

  • Erdogan is the most dangerous head of state in the region bar none.

  • As in France today I don’t see much of a future for the Jewish community whilst the Muslims in that country, are free to roam around at will attacking Jews, so I also don’t see much of a future for the remaining Jewish community in Turkey while an Islamist government is in office.
    I see a bleak future for most of the Jewish communities in Europe today, which is reminiscent of the beginning of the Nazi era in the Germany of 1933.
    Only when the West get their act together in coming down hard on Muslim Jew-hating Fanatics, will World jewry once again be safe.

  • Complacency is dangerous. My parents were very close friends with a German Jewish couple; the husband was a physician. The families understood one another. The couple and their young daughter had left Germany in 1937 while their relatives who remained all died in concentration camps. My great-grandfather was on especially good terms with the Turkish Sultan, as his cousin was the Ottoman Finance Minister. They thought that because of their prominence, they would be safe. The tide turned quickly. Our family was hunted down like stray dogs and killed. My grandmother and her two infants were in Europe on vacation, so they were spared.

  • Why in the world do they continue to live there?? Gee…it isn’t as if they have to cross an ocean to get here!

  • Correction: Erdogan is Turkey’s prime minister, not president.

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