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December 16, 2014 12:07 pm

‘French Effect’ Hits Turkey as Jews Look to Future Outside of the Country

avatar by Ben Cohen

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A sign stating "This Location To Be Demolished" at the entrance to the Neveh Shalom synagogue, Istanbul, November 2014. Photo: MEMRI

The “French effect” – increasing numbers of Jews leaving a country because of anti-Semitic harassment and hostility from the media and radical politicians – is now emerging in Turkey, where a Turkish-Jewish businessman has warned, in an oped for the Istanbul-based Jewish newspaper Åžalom, that a growing number of community members are heading for the exit.

“We face threats, attacks and harassment every day. Hope is fading,” wrote Moise Gabay, a professional in the tourism industry, in an article published on December 10.

In its summary of the article, leading Turkish daily Hurriyet highlighted Gabay’s claim that “around 37 percent of high school graduates from the Jewish community in Turkey prefer to go abroad for higher education … This number doubled this year compared to the previous years.”

Gabay also cited anecdotal evidence of increasing unease among Turkish Jews. “Last week, when I was talking to two of my friends on separate occasions, the conversation turned to our search for another country to move to. That is to say, my generation is also thinking more about leaving this country,” he related.

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Uppermost in Gabay’s mind, though, is the fear of anti-Semitic violence.

“The laws have changed. Hate speech is now a crime, but when is a lawsuit ever opened over hate speech against our community? I don’t blame the government alone for this. The opposition, civil society, unions and the democratic public sphere should be a shield for us. They should monitor these incidents. Are they waiting for the shooting of a ‘Hrant’ among us?” he wrote, in a reference to the murder of Hrant Dink, a prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist, by a teenage nationalist in 2007.

Turkish leaders periodically reassure Jews of their safety and worth – just today, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described his country’s Jews as “the fundamental elements of Turkey” in his greetings for the Chanukah festival which begins tonight – but occasionally soothing words offer little hope in an increasingly hostile environment. Erdoğan himself has described Israel as “worse than Hitler” and, more recently, has lambasted Israel’s “occupation” of the Al Aqsa mosque (located on the same Temple Mount in Jerusalem where, ironically, the Chanukah story took place) as “cruel and barbaric.”

Such sentiments from the country’s authoritarian leader inevitably trickle downwards. As the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) observed in a report on Turkish anti-Semitism issued in September, “Antisemitic incitement by Turkish government officials, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s oft-repeated statements that Israel is more barbaric than Hitler, and antisemitic accusations and threats by the media that support and promote Turkey’s AKP ruling party have fostered an upsurge in antisemitism in the country. A recent survey by Gonzo Insight, the Turkish polling institute, found that in just 24 hours, on July 17-18, 2014, 27,309 Turkish Twitter users sent 30,926 Turkish-language tweets in support of Hitler’s genocide against the Jews.”

MEMRI quoted from several recent newspaper articles inciting outright hatred of Jews, including one by columnist Ibrahim Tenekeci in the pro-government daily Yeni Safak which stated, “It is an instinct of the Jew to do evil to men and to humanity. The Jew cannot live without evil and troublemaking.”

In a separate piece for the Gatestone Institute published this week, Turkish analyst Uzay Bulut placed into historical context the November 21 announcement by Dursun Ali Sahin, the governor of Edirne, a city close to Turkey’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria, that his “huge hatred” of Israel compelled him to turn the city’s synagogue into a museum.

“While those bandits blow winds of war inside al-Aqsa and slay Muslims, we build their synagogues,” Sahin said.

“Anti-Semitism in Turkey and Europe has been around for more than 2,000 years,” Bulut observed. “Hatred of Jews did not start with the re-establishment of the state of Israel. In modern Turkey, it has been promoted systematically for more than 90 years.”

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  • How the mighty have fallen !

    1492, Bayezid 11, Sultan of Turkey ushers IN the Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal. The Sultan is reputed to have exclaimed in amazement that:”Spain and Portugal are expelling their wealth”

    And now, Tayep Erdogan, the increasingly megalomanic Turkish President, with a huge chip on his small shoulders, is following in the footsteps of Ferdinand and Isabella.

    Turkey’s loss will be everybody else’s gain.

  • Harut Sassounian

    Azeri-Israeli Propagandist
    Throws Stones at Armenia from Glass House

    By Harut Sassounian
    Publisher, The California Courier
    http://www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

    The JNS.org website (Jewish and Israel news) posted a venomous, anti-Armenian article by Arye Gut with a bombastic headline: “Anti-Semitism in Armenia: A Clear and Present Danger.”

    JNS.org identifies the author as “an Azerbaijani Israeli” who is “a board member of the Israeli-Azerbaijani International Organization, official coordinator of the ‘Justice for Khojaly!’ international campaign in Israel, and an expert in international relations.”

    Dozens of Azeri and Turkic media outlets rushed to reprint this Armenophobic propaganda, stressing that it originated from a ‘popular’ Jewish news source. The article may have been written in Baku, planted in Israeli and Jewish publications, and then reprinted in Azerbaijan to lead readers into thinking that it comes from an objective third party source.

    Gut claims that Armenia’s Jewish minority “shrunk dramatically” after the end of “a more tolerant” Soviet rule! He admits, as an afterthought, that “Armenia’s ongoing economic collapse” is equally responsible for the dwindling number of Jews “from more than 5,000 to just a few hundred.” Gut fails to mention, however, that during the same period over one million Armenians also left their homeland due to abysmal economic conditions.

    The Azeri-Israeli author further accuses Armenians of “cultural violence,” referring to the existence of anti-Semitic books and TV programs. Yet he grudgingly acknowledges that “such unfortunate incidents” occur “in many countries.” If that is the case, why is he singling out Armenia? Could it be that he has ulterior motives? As “official coordinator of the ‘Justice for Khojaly!’ international campaign in Israel,” is Gut a paid agent or doing all this hard work — writing pro-Azerbaijan/anti-Armenia articles — out of the goodness of his heart?

    Gut goes on to defame Armenians, claiming that “around 1.3 million out of 2.2 million adults in Armenia expressed anti-Semitic attitudes.” He misleads readers into thinking that he has personally interviewed 1.3 million Armenians all of whom supposedly made anti-Jewish statements! What Gut is referring to is Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) flawed global survey which reported that 58% of a random sample of 500 Armenians, interviewed mostly by telephone, expressed anti-Semitic views. As Gut’s figure of 1.3 million Armenians comes from ADL’s survey, he should have also mentioned the results of the same survey for his beloved Azerbaijan — one of the worst violators of human rights in the world — which shows that 2.4 million Azeris harbored anti-Semitic sentiments, almost double the number of Armenians!

    Since Gut is concealing Azerbaijan’s figures, let’s expose them to see how they compare with those of Armenia, based on the results of ADL’s 11-question survey:

    1) 3.2 million Azeris and 1.5 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the country they live in.”
    2) 3.4 million Azeris and 1.6 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “Jews have too much power in the business world.”
    3) 3.2 million Azeris and 1.5 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “Jews have too much power in international financial markets.”
    4) 2 million Azeris and 1 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”
    5) 3.4 million Azeris and 1.3 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.”
    6) 2.5 million Azeris and 1.1 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “Jews have too much control over global affairs.”
    7) 2.5 million Azeris and 1.1 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “Jews have too much control over the United States government.”
    8) 2.4 million Azeris and 1.2 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “Jews think they are better than other people.”
    9) 2.3 million Azeris and 0.9 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “Jews have too much control over the global media.”
    10) 2 million Azeris and 0.8 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.”
    11) 2.4 million Azeris and 1.4 million Armenians replied “probably true”: “People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave.”

    ADL’s Global Survey results are even more devastating for Turkey — 34 million Turks out of an adult population of 49 million are found to be anti-Semitic.

    Gut concludes his anti-Armenian diatribe by depicting the so-called “Khojaly massacre” as “one of the worst tragedies of the 20th century,” thereby raising the alleged killing of “613 people” in Khojaly during the Karabagh war to the level of 6 million victims of the Jewish Holocaust and 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide!

    Gut must be unaware of Benjamin Franklin’s famous words: “Don’t throw stones at your neighbors, if your own windows are glass!”

  • Max

    Anti-semitism in Turkey is nothing new. I should know. I left Turkey, my country of birth, almost 60 years ago. At various times, my family and I were subjected to anti-semitic slurs and discrimination because fighting back was always futile since the Turkish justice system itself was biased not only against Jews but Turkish nationals of Greek and Armenian origin as well. I saw the handwriting on the wall and got out. Unfortunately, many of my friends did not and are now reaping the consequences.

  • Lou VanDelman

    It seems that we as the Jewish people are not as smart as the world makes us out to be. We have not yet learned the lesson of the Holocaust. It is time that we hear what our enemies are saying and start believing in what the say. They want to kill us all and we for our own safety should either move to Israel or any other country that protects Jews from any kind of hatred, vocal or physical. Do it now.

  • REPETITION CAPETIAN KINGS OF FRANCE IN THE 14TH CENTURY EXPELLED JEWS TO TAKE THEIR POSESSIONS.

  • Fred

    Jews live in Turkey on borrowed time. Sultan Erdogan speaks with a forked tongue. Sadly the Hitler doctrine has taken hold of Turkey.

  • John Black

    How true, yet Jews and particularly Israelis still love to visit and do much trade and business in Turkey.
    If they really took to heart the anti-Semitism of the Turks they would stop trade and vacationing there. But money talks, all else walks.
    Good cheap vacations are more important than principles.

    • David

      Actually, over the past year Israelis have been avoiding Turkey like the plague. Thousands of Israelis have cancelled vacations there and hurt tourism in Turkey. The Turks ave always been murderers, whether Armenians or Jews, they cannot be trusted.

    • HaroldT38

      Those Israelis that holiday and trade with Turkey have no moral scruples.

    • Trish

      Not really — unreported is that the majority of “Israelis” going to Antalya for those cheap vacations are Israeli Arabs and Russian Christians of Jewish descent. Jews are staying away in droves. My neighbors, who used to go to Antalya every year (she’s from Turkey originally) won’t go near the place.

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    For the relatively tiny population of Jews still in Turkey, they’re living on borrowed time. That’s no longer a seriously debated point. As Turkey slides deeper into totalitarian fascism Erdogan will persecute the Jews, as well as the usual victims, the Armenians, Greeks and Kurds. We will also see an invasion of Cyprus and Thracian Greece a la Putin’s ‘rescue’ of Russified Ukranians. Turkey will claim they are ‘protecting’ ethnic Turks. It will be interesting to see both NATO and the EU’s complete non-response to these invasions, both of whom are Israeli allies in the region. Expect also for Turkey to demand access to NATO/American tactical nuclear weapons stored in Turkey. The US will refuse, Turkey will demand they are removed from Turkish soil.

    • Eric R.

      “For the relatively tiny population of Jews still in Turkey, they’re living on borrowed time. That’s no longer a seriously debated point. ”

      I agree with you, and in the case of Turkey, whose treatment of Jews over the last 1000 years was arguably better than that of any other old world nation, I say that with much regret.

      “As Turkey slides deeper into totalitarian fascism Erdogan will persecute the Jews, as well as the usual victims, the Armenians, Greeks and Kurds. We will also see an invasion of Cyprus and Thracian Greece a la Putin’s ‘rescue’ of Russified Ukranians. Turkey will claim they are ‘protecting’ ethnic Turks.”

      Turkey already invaded Cyprus in 1974, but Europe has no problem with the Turkish occupation, since the Turks are not us lowly Joooooooooos. They will not have any problem either when the Turks invade Thrace and Bulgaria either, under the pretext of invading Turks.

      “It will be interesting to see both NATO and the EU’s complete non-response to these invasions, both of whom are Israeli allies in the region”

      You are correct, but it is strange to read that, given the Greek’s historically virulent anti-Semitism and pro-Palestinian viewpoint. However, Cyprus in particular must depend now on Israel, rather than the US or UK, especially to protect its offshore gas fields.

    • Robert C Thompson

      E. Pluribus, I agree with your prognostication.
      And let’s not forget what the attack by some young Turkish thugs of a couple of US. Seamen says about the state of things in the country.

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