Vandals, Anti-Israel Protesters Assail Istanbul’s Largest Synagogue (VIDEO)
Unknown vandals posted a note reading “To be Demolished” on the doors of Istanbul’s main Neve Shalom Synagogue on Friday, according to a local newspaper.
A young male in his teens, wearing a Turkish flag on his back, posted the note, a local source, who requested anonymity due to the unsafe atmosphere, told The Algemeiner on Monday.
Neve Shalom, Istanbul’s largest synagogue, was empty and closed at the time of the incident, which apparently took place after Friday evening Sabbath services.
After checking out the vicinity for possible bombs, security guards removed the note.
“Today the Jewish community tweeted a thank-you note to the Turkish police saying: ‘we Turkish Jews who become the target of unacceptable abuse after every incident in the Middle East, we thank our police for its assistance to us and to our synagogues,'” the source said.
Shortly after the incident, Omer Celik, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, tweeted, “Any kind of provocation against our Jewish citizens and synagogues shall not be allowed or tolerated.”
As well, MHP (nationalist party) vice president Tugrul Turkes also tweeted, “we invite our nation to be vigilant against provocation against our Jewish citizens,” the source said.
On Sunday, a local nationalistic youth group, Alperen OcaklarÄ±, marched on Neve Shalom to protest recent Israeli police clashes with Arab rioters on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
“About 100 members of the group chanted anti-israel slogans and ‘takbir’ (a proclamation of the greatness of God),” according to the source, until police stopped them before they entered the street where the synagogue is located.
Holding banners, the demonstrators declared “Israel you will pay for what you do. Once again we are warning the Zionist and bloodsucker Israel that we, the Alperens, we see all Muslim blood as our own, every soul as our own.
“And we proclaim to the world that we will not permit any fait accompli,” under the mistaken presumption that Israel planned to divide the Al Aqsa mosque into two and permit Jewish worshipers, as well.
“Al Aqsa Mosque must be protected by Turkish soldiers,” the protesters said, reading from a press statement.
The banner in a photo (above) provided to The Algemeiner says “the nonbelievers that surrounded al-Aqsa must know that the grandsons of Sultan Abdulhamit Han are still alive and we can surround all of your temples, suddenly in one night.”
Neve Shalom, built in the 1930’s, has experienced several attacks in recent history.
On November 15, 2003, a car bomb was detonated outside the structure, one of four throughout the city, in an attack “at least coordinated with international terror organizations,” according to Israeli security sources.
On Wednesday, Turkish Jews plan to commemorate the victims of the 2003 attack.
In 1986, 22 worshipers were killed when a Palestinian terrorist affiliated with Abu Nidal opened fire during services.
The latest incident has aroused intense indignation among Turkey’s 20,000 Jews, according to the local Salom Jewish newspaper.
In September, a Turkish pundit writing for Yeni Akit, a major publication aligned with President Erdoğan, called for the country’s Jews to be taxed to pay for reconstructing buildings damaged in Gaza during Israel’s recent Operation Protective Edge.
Faruk Köse said that the “Gaza Fund Contribution Tax” should apply to Turkish Jews as well as foreign Jews doing business in Turkey and any Turkish nationals with commercial ties to the Jewish state.
In July, as IDF forces entered Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, violent riots broke out around Turkey threatening the local Jewish community and Israeli institutions.
Many Israelis, in the past year have been reconsidering plans to visit Turkey – a once-favored destination for tourists – after crude anti Semitic remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan, warnings by Turkish Jews to watch their backs, insults during hotel bookings, and harassment by Istanbul airport employees.
“People are not happy but nobody is deciding to make Aliyah,” [emigration to Israel] the source said, when asked what effect the hostility had in the community.
“It is not an easy decision,” the source said. “Don’t forget that there is no physical harm until now and hopefully there will not be. It is true that we think about our future in this country and if we have a future in this country. And this is also true for secular Turks as well.”