Being Jewish in Turkey, before and after the Mavi Marmara (part 1 of 2)

During a brief trip I recently took to Istanbul, I had the chance to interview two members of the local Jewish community, which is one of the largest and most cohesive Sephardic communities in the Jewish diaspora. My primary interest was in how Jewish life has changed in Turkey since Israel’s deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara, but we also discussed the social characteristics and history of Turkish Jews.

Numbering around 26,000, Turkey’s Jews are guided by a constant focus on self-preservation. The community generally eschew collective political engagement and, in sharp contrast to the country’s Kurdish and Armenian minority groups, avoid mounting any challenges to the Turkish state. “All we ask for is equal treatment and living well,” said one of my interviewees. Though they are generally secular and liberal, intermarriage is considered out of bounds — even marrying an Ashkenazi Jew is suspect. Like other Sephardic communities throughout time, Turkish Jews have survived and prospered by relying on a simple formula of cultural assimilation and ethno-religious exclusivity.

The factor that most complicates Jewish life in Turkey (at least judging from my interviews) is Zionism. By now, most of the Jews who planned to emigrate to Israel have done so, either for ideological or economic reasons. Turkish Jews may privately support Israel, but unlike Jews in the United States, they make absolutely no show of it. However, both of my interview subjects told me that Israel’s behavior has impacted their lives in an entirely negative fashion.

Turkish Jews experienced unprecedented levels of anxiety during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008 and ’09 and after Israel’s killing of 9 passengers on the Mavi Marmara in 2010. After the Mavi Marmara incident, the Turkish Chief Rabbi issued a statement mildly condemning the Israeli raid. My interviewees told me that despite Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s declaration that “looking upon hatred at the Jews is…unacceptable,” (which they considered helpful) extremists scapegoated local Jews. Though the reactionary mood has dissipated, the trauma of shrinking from public view for several days was an experience my interviewees have not forgotten.

Neither of my interview subjects objected to my opinion that Zionism imperils Jews around the world, and especially outside the West. Indeed, their testimonies were proof of the crisis Israel has created in Jewish diaspora life. At the same time they displayed a complete lack of interest in engaging with the situation, either by examining the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, understanding the occupation, or developing a clear position on the issue. While Israel’s actions — and the reactionary tendencies of radical elements inside Turkey — undermine their sense of security, the Jewish state remains a distant abstraction that has only the most fleeting connection to their identity. And the Palestinians do not even merit a second thought.

My interview subjects both insisted I conceal their identities out of fear of upsetting their employers. Both are women in their late 20′s who studied at Western universities and speak nearly fluent English. Like many Turkish Jews, they are upper middle class, however, I can hardly present them as representatives of the entire community. On the other hand, neither of them knew one another, but they expressed a remarkably similar outlook. My friend Duygu, who arranged the interviews, occasionally chimed in. Here is the first in the two part series, an interview with “E,” a public relations consultant living in Istanbul:

MB: It seems like Jews in Turkey try to blend in or stay below the radar as much as they can, unlike American Jews who often advertise their Jewish identity.

E: I sort of disagree. On the one hand, we give our kids Jewish names but we also do our best to blend in. Our mentality is, yes, we are Turkish, but we have some differences.

MB: Is there any level of political engagement or lobbying on the part of Turkish Jews?

E: We are not political here. Not at all. We are scared to do it. In fact a lot of Jews voted for AKP [the Islamist party of Recep Erdogan] because they thought it was good for the economic situation. Ever since Ottoman times the Jewish community acted for the good of the community and never asked the government for anything. Which is completely different from other minority groups. All we ask for is equal treatment and living well.

MB: How much is the apolitical attitude driven by a survival instinct?

E: As a small community we try so hard to keep together. That’s the way we survived for so long. It’s our history. They teach it to us so much that the only way to survive is to stick together that we are almost programmed to believe it. We gather around marriages and holidays and slowly you start to develop a mindset where you want to preserve the culture. I’m really secular but I like the culture, the gatherings — it’s about getting together and celebrating. Also when we get together it’s an opportunity to gossip. Even in Turkish there’s an expression to describe people who gossip a lot: “Like a Jewish synagogue.”

MB: Do you see any discrimination against Jews by the state?

E: The discriminatory laws were all related to the Kurdish situation and the Muslim minorities. They never really applied to us. At the same time we are often seen as strangers, even in Istanbul. I sometimes will be asked, “Are you Turkish or not?” People would call my grandmother, “Madam,” which is how you refer to a foreigner in Turkey, instead of calling her by the Turkish way, which is “Lady.”

Another way discrimination plays out is through building laws. There was a rule — I’m not sure if it’s still in effect — against building non-Muslim places of worship. So all the synagogues we have come from the Ottoman times. And if we fill up a Jewish cemetery the state will seize it on the grounds that it is no longer usable. So the Jewish community here never lets its cemeteries fill up. To get buried in one you have to pay 25 thousand liras. But that law seems to have changed — I’m not really sure.

MB: What about the relationship of Turkish Jews to Israel? Are they pro-Israel?

E: They are basically pro-Israel and believe Israel’s side of the story, that Israel is defending itself and that the Palestinians use terror and provocations. But they don’t like the trouble Israel causes them. When there were protests at the Israeli consulate [after the Mavi Marmara incident], I felt really scared. I worked right next door and I was sitting at my desk all day thinking, “What if they found out I was Jewish and killed me? Maybe they are angry and ignorant. What will they do to me?” People from the office were joking with me that they would throw me to the protesters — they meant it in a friendly way of course.

MB: What do you think motivated the protesters? Did they have any legitimate grievance as far as you could tell?

E: They were really a bunch of extremists. And their protest was not normal for Turkish culture. They were out there for days, all day, and for the Palestinians! Palestinians are the best friends of nobody. They fought against us during the Ottoman Empire.

The government even made people in the state schools pause for one minute to show respect to the Palestinian people. I don’t understand why Turks care about Palestinians who used to be their enemies. Turkish people and Arab people are not usually friends. The relationship was always about profit. I don’t see the direct relationship. Palestinians don’t have money and Turkey doesn’t want their land.

MB: But you can’t understand why people feel angry about the way Israel treats Palestinians?

E: I understand they feel bad about the treatment of Palestinians. People in the world see us creating a Jewish nation that only benefits us at the expense of others. Sometimes I wonder why we can’t be accepted as normal in the world.

MB: How has life been for Turkish Jews since the Mavi Marmara?

E: After the flotilla things got a lot worse here. The average level of hatred [for the Jewish community] increased. Between 1 and 5 it the level of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel feeling used to be 2. Now it’s 4. It was really getting scary for a lot of us here after the Marmara [incident]. People were scared to go out for a few days. Outside the consulate there were fires, the burning of Israeli flags, lots of screaming. But [Recep] Erdogan made an important statement that the Turkish people are not against Jews; their problem was with the Israeli government.

We had another scary time in 2004 when Al Qaida placed bombs outside synagogues around Istanbul. All my friends were inside all day. When we heard the bombs go we actually thought the explosions were the sounds of celebrations at Bar Mitzvah parties. Now people are still afraid, but that doesn’t stop them from going to these places. There are several levels of security in our synagogues today beginning with a security check at the beginning and then people come and ask you questions.

MB: What about you? Do you feel like Israel is part of your Jewish identity?

E: I don’t see Israel as a holiday place like other Jews do. It’s too much trouble and the food is horrible. I’m from here, I’m pretty much comfortable being Turkish, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be willing to cry out, “I’m Jewish!”

DUYGU: Do you think you could ever marry a non-Jew?

E: I dated Christian and Muslim men but parents want me to marry a Jew. An Ashkenazi Jew would be better than a non-Jew but they’re not Sephardic and it really comes down to preserving our culture. The community is so small that a lot of people are having trouble finding someone to date. So a lot of them are going to the US or Israel to find someone.

D: So being half-Jewish is not acceptable then?

E: It’s really not convenient to wind up with a non-Jew. It would be terrible for a child to be only half Jewish. They would have no community.

MB: Why couldn’t they just belong to humanity?

E: Humanity? Humanity doesn’t exist when you’re a teenager!

D: But in our group of friends we just see you as people who pray in a different language. So it seems that you see yourselves as more foreign than we see you.

E: Well we are the ones who have to keep our community together, not you.

6 thoughts on “Being Jewish in Turkey, before and after the Mavi Marmara (part 1 of 2)

  1. Henk

    Mr. Blumenthal, you state here your belief that “Zionism imperils Jews around the world.” However, it seems clear to me that the root cause of anti-Jewish hostility in the Arab/Islamic world is not Zionism but the doctrines of Islam. This Muslim cleric quotes directly from the Qur’an and the Hadith to support his argument that Muslims should still hate Jews even if Israel never existed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X8dhrzQCHY. In the video, he quotes the famous hadith in which Muhammad calls on Muslims to commit genocide against the Jews: “The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews” (Sahih Muslim, Book 041, Number 6985).

    A recent survey carried out by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion reveals that 73% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza agree with the above genocidal hadith: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=229493. This indicates to me that a virulent hatred of Jews rooted in the teachings of Islam would still exist in the Arab/Islamic world even if Israel ended the occupation and acquiesced to all Palestinian/Arab demands.

    Sephardic/Mizrahi Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa were historically much better off than Ashkenazi Jews in Europe. However, they were not treated well and they were certainly not regarded as equals to Muslims. As “dhimmis,” they were forced to pay a special (and often financially devastating) tax known in Arabic as the “jizyah”; they were often confined to ghettos and forced to wear distinctive clothing (the yellow badge originated in Baghdad not Nazi Germany); they were not allowed to construct new houses of worship; their existing houses of worship could not be higher than any mosque; they could not bear arms; they could not ride horses; they could not testify against a Muslim in court; they could only pass a Muslim on the left side; they were absolutely forbidden from marrying Muslim women (although Muslim men could take dhimmi women as wives); and they were subjected to the occasional pogrom.

    The historical treatment of Jews (and other dhimmis) in the Arab/Islamic world constituted true apartheid; Israel’s current treatment of the Palestinians (while by no means perfect) does not even come close. The treatment of dhimmis was rooted in the teachings of Islam just as Islamic Jew-hatred is rooted in the teachings of Islam (and not Zionism).

  2. chayma100

    @Henk,

    This Muslim cleric quotes directly from the Qur’an and the Hadith to support his argument that Muslims should still hate Jews even if Israel never existed

    How influential is that cleric? how many followers does he have? Besides he wasn’t singling out Jews, he was also talking of Christians, polytheists and infidels.

    That Hadeeth you mention, is a weak one, and it doesn’t mean what he says, it’s not an injunction, and that prophecy (the Hadeeth is an allegory) has come to pass already. Islam has it’s fair shares of Rabbi Kahane and Dov Lior type extremists, that use religous rhetoric to fire up the masses. I do not for a minute believe you did not know that.

    Next time quote direct from respectable sources, not from MEMRI, a source exposed by the Guardian’s Brian Whittaker, as one that falsifies translations for the benefit of far right Zionism. Yygal Carmon the founder of MEMRI is an ex Mossad, far right extremist.

    The woman interviewed above, who gave the reasons for Turkish hostility, didn’t cite the reasons you gave. Jew hatred is not enshrined in the Quran, it’s a modern phenomena rooted in Nazism, Mattius Gunzel’s article below sheds more light,
    Islamic Antisemitism And Its Nazi RootsBy Matthias Küntzel
    http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/islamic-antisemitism-and-its-nazi-roots?print=y
    and even Daniel Pipes who is an Islamophobe concludes:

    The Politics of Muslim Anti-Semitism
    http://www.danielpipes.org/161/the-politics-of-muslim-anti-semitism
    The Nazis also did much to familiarize Muslims with anti-Semitism. Exploiting Middle Eastern resentment against the Allied government in the 1930s and 1940s, they established close bonds with leading political elements in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere. Nazi sponsorship of anti-Semitism made it a live ideology in the Arab world; ex-Nazis then held important positions in ‘Abd an-Nasir’s government during the 1950s.

    To a large degree anti-Semitism followed political hostilities with Israel – it did not cause them. This is an important distinction: while it was anti-Zionism (that is to say, a horror of Jewish sovereignty over lands once belonging to Muslims) which impelled the Arab states to fight Israel originally, anti-Zionism alone cannot account for the extraordinary role played by Israel in Arab political life since then. Credit for that must go to anti-Semitism. The Arab obsession with Israel during the past thirty years depends for its sustenance on the fund of anti-Semitic ideas imported from Christian Europe. Without this ideology, the Arabs could not have sustained their opposition at such fever pitch. (Even at the height of the Algerian war, Arabs did not vilify the French people as they do the Jews, though that was a far more protracted and brutal conflict against a much more powerful enemy.) While hostility to Israel has indigenous roots, its transformation into the single overriding Arab cause has depended on the availability of an anti-Semitic ideology. Having no such ideology of their own, the Muslims borrowed the one invented by Christians.

    they were often confined to ghettos and forced to wear distinctive clothing (the yellow badge originated in Baghdad not Nazi Germany);

    You omit to mention that Christians wore a blue badge, though some historians challenge these assertions of yellow and blue badges. The point being, the Jews were treated no differently to other “ahl al dhimmi” covenanted people.

    they were not allowed to construct new houses of worship; their existing houses of worship could not be higher than any mosque; they could not bear arms; they could not ride horses; they could not

    The Pact of Umar is where these laws came from. These laws are not enshrined in Sharia, nor are they in the Quran, nor binding for all time. They were the personal whims of rulers, and by the standards of the time they were tolerant.

    Pact of Umar II
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pact_of_Omar
    Academic historians believe that the Pact of Umar in the form it is known today was a product of later jurists who attributed it to the venerated caliph Umar I in order to lend greater authority to their own opinions.
    A. S. Tritton (1930). The Caliphs and their non-Muslim Subjects: a Critical Study of the Covenant of `Umar.

    The Prophet Mohammed neither practiced these nor endorsed them. The Constitution of Medina which he wrote and which governed his own rule over can be seen here:

    Constitution of Medina
    http://www.constitution.org/cons/medina/con_medina.htm

    Henk, you are using classic Islamophobic tricks, you take the behaviour of certain Muslims and pretend they are doing what Islam mandates, and that what they did is applicable for all times, with no different versions or interpretations, and also pick out the most intolerant acts/times and pretend they were mainstream. Or to put it another way, what Muslims do and what Islam dictates are two different things, and the two do not necessarily represent each other uniformly.

    How do you explain the anti semitisim in the secular Baathist, Marxist regimes in the Middle East which are more anti semitic? Sami Kuntar is a Druze, and George Habash a Christian. How does this fit in with your Islamic Jew hatred?

    Your’s is a classic trick used by far right Zionist extremists to deglegitimise the Palestinians right to state by pretending that Islam is the enemy.

    The Messiah’s landing pad being cleared out for your “salvation”, is no reason for us to tolerate this BS and lies. One has to wonder at the odious ideology, whose opportunisitic allies think demonising Islam or degligitmising Palestinians will bring about their salvation.

    Rest assured we will fight it all the way,

  3. chayma100

    My interviewees told me that despite Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s declaration that “looking upon hatred at the Jews is…unacceptable,” (which they considered helpful) extremists scapegoated local Jews.

    Erdogan could have done more to combat the anger about the Mavi Marmara, spilling out onto the local Jewish population. The Turkish media propaganda against Israel, included out and out lies. Some which even the Palestinians spoke out against. Even some Palestinians were left wondering “With friends like these…”

    Neither of my interview subjects objected to my opinion that Zionism imperils Jews around the world, and especially outside the West.

    Unfortunately incidents like the Mavi Marmara, and the Israeli attacks on Gaza, always lead to attacks on Jews everywhere. Anti semitism sky rocketed in Europe during Operation Cast Lead.
    I’m not sure that painting Zionism with a broad brush is justified though. The extremist version one can reject, but if Zionism means a homeland for Jews, it can reform itself to something acceptable, by ending the occupation or declaring a one state solution with equal rights for all it’s citizens. Why does it have to mean the extremist version?

    Indeed, their testimonies were proof of the crisis Israel has created in Jewish diaspora life. At the same time they displayed a complete lack of interest in engaging with the situation, either by examining the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, understanding the occupation, or developing a clear position on the issue.

    Regarding diaspora life, many Zionists want these diasporia Jews to return to Israel, and so even welcome their suffering at worst, and at best are indifferent.

    Case in point, Israeli extremists happily cheer on the likes of Palin, and Bachman, not for what they can do for the USA, but that they think they will support their goal of encouraging the Messiah to land swiftly (Armegeddon). The Palestinian threat of annihilating Israel is just the excuse they use, because the world will not accept these Messiah fantasies to become the basis of a solution to this conflict. They even chide liberal Jews for being liberals, and voting Democrats, because anyone who doesn’t support their extremist version of Zionism is seen as a traitor to Israel, even though many liberal Jews support Israel. Their support however is called being “anti Israel”.

    I’m not even sure the problem lies in Israel. The settlements are funded primarily out of the USA, as you yourself have documented in the past too.

  4. Henk

    @chayma100

    ‘How influential is that cleric? how many followers does he have? Besides he wasn’t singling out Jews, he was also talking of Christians, polytheists and infidels.’

    I honestly don’t know exactly how influential Muhammad Hussein Yaaqoubi is. He does, however, have some degree of influence as he has his own show on Arabic satellite television (I remember seeing him on television during my time living in Morocco). I also remember seeing DVDs of his sermons being sold on street stalls in Morocco. He is certainly not the only Muslim cleric who has spoken in this manner, as these videos demonstrate:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng4_VuxGVY4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFAkmsszTD8
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4XH6R8G4Mw&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac7w_tlNUqc&feature=fvwrel
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-fukddJfSs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBJOR3B54IU
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8OiN0ddH2A
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puMgQOKor9o

    That he continues to maintain his television show indicates that Arab Muslims generally don’t find his views offensive or un-Islamic. If they did consider his views outrageous or anti-Islamic, then he would certainly be inundated with death threats and put in fear of his life, as has happened to Salman Rushdie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Geert Wilders, Kurt Westergaard and others, who must live under constant security protection because of what they have expressed regarding Islam.

    ‘That Hadeeth you mention, is a weak one, and it doesn’t mean what he says, it’s not an injunction, and that prophecy (the Hadeeth is an allegory) has come to pass already. Islam has it’s fair shares of Rabbi Kahane and Dov Lior type extremists, that use religous rhetoric to fire up the masses. I do not for a minute believe you did not know that.’

    Please tell me what theological authority you are basing these claims on. This hadith is certainly not “a weak one” as it can be found multiple times in both of the “Sahih Muslim” and “Sahih Bukhari” collection of hadiths. According to this source, “Sahih Muslim” and “Sahih Bukhari” are the most reliable and respected collection of hadiths: http://www.uga.edu/islam/hadith.html. There is no reason to believe that it is allegorical–none of the above Muslim clerics seem to think that it is. Also, how can it be about an event “that has come to pass already” when it refers to the “last hour,” which obviously has not come yet?

    ‘Next time quote direct from respectable sources, not from MEMRI, a source exposed by the Guardian’s Brian Whittaker, as one that falsifies translations for the benefit of far right Zionism. Yygal Carmon the founder of MEMRI is an ex Mossad, far right extremist.’

    Yigal Carmon is not ex-Mossad; he was a member of Israeli Military Intelligence, which is not the same thing. There is no reason to believe that he is a far right extremist, but even if he were, how is that relevant? As Norman Finkelstein says in this video, “a rational person…doesn’t care about the background of the person” delivering the message but only about the validity of the message itself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfbS2nubivI. The only thing that is relevant is whether the above translations carried out by MEMRI are accurate or not. If there are inaccuracies in them, then provide the evidence.

    ‘Jew hatred is not enshrined in the Quran, it’s a modern phenomena rooted in Nazism’

    The Qur’an contains many verses that express contempt not only for Jews but also for Christians and all unbelievers. Here are some of them:

    Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, “We are Christians”: because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. (Qur’an 5:82)

    O Messenger! let not those grieve thee, who race each other into unbelief: (whether it be) among those who say “We believe” with their lips but whose hearts have no faith; or it be among the Jews,- men who will listen to any lie,- will listen even to others who have never so much as come to thee. They change the words from their (right) times and places: they say, “If ye are given this, take it, but if not, beware!” If any one’s trial is intended by Allah, thou hast no authority in the least for him against Allah. For such – it is not Allah’s will to purify their hearts. For them there is disgrace in this world, and in the Hereafter a heavy punishment. (Qur’an 5:41)

    And when ye said: O Moses! We are weary of one kind of food; so call upon thy Lord for us that He bring forth for us of that which the earth groweth – of its herbs and its cucumbers and its corn and its lentils and its onions. He said: Would ye exchange that which is higher for that which is lower? Go down to settled country, thus ye shall get that which ye demand. And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah’s revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully. That was for their disobedience and transgression. (Qur’an 2:61)

    O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust. (Qur’an 5:51)

    And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they! (Qur’an 9:30).

    And well ye knew those amongst you [Children of Israel] who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: “Be ye apes, despised and rejected.” (Qur’an 2:265).

    Islamic Jew-hatred is not a modern phenomenon; it has existed since the very earliest days in Islam, ever since Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula rejected Muhammad’s claim to be a prophet. chayma100, have you not heard of the Jewish tribes of Banu Qurayza and Banu Qaynuqa and the Jews of Khaybar and how they the men were massacred and expelled and the women and children taken as slaves and their possessions looted? These Tunisian Islamists (who are shouting the genocidal Islamist chant: “Khaybar, Khaybar, Oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return!”) have certainly heard of them, as have the Turkish flotilla activists:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXr9Crc_RLc
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3L7OV414Kk

    The Muslim fanatics who meted out the same treatment to the Jews of Fez, Morocco in 1033 were not influenced by Nazi propaganda: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1033_Fez_pogrom. Neither were the zealots who carried out the 1066 Grenada massacre: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1066_Granada_massacre.

    ‘You omit to mention that Christians wore a blue badge, though some historians challenge these assertions of yellow and blue badges. The point being, the Jews were treated no differently to other “ahl al dhimmi” covenanted people.’

    I specifically stated that not only Jews but all dhimmis were subjugated and humiliated under Islamic theocratic rule.

    ‘The Pact of Umar is where these laws came from. These laws are not enshrined in Sharia, nor are they in the Quran, nor binding for all time. They were the personal whims of rulers, and by the standards of the time they were tolerant.’

    No, the inspiration for these laws came from Book 019, Number 4294 of Sahih Muslim (http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/muslim/019.smt.html#019.4294) and verse 9:29 of the Qur’an: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” These scriptural passages comprise the theological justification for the historical treatment of dhimmis as second-class citizens. The doctrines of Islam mandate that non-Muslims under Islamic rule be treated as inferiors.

    ‘Henk, you are using classic Islamophobic tricks, you take the behaviour of certain Muslims and pretend they are doing what Islam mandates, and that what they did is applicable for all times, with no different versions or interpretations, and also pick out the most intolerant acts/times and pretend they were mainstream. Or to put it another way, what Muslims do and what Islam dictates are two different things, and the two do not necessarily represent each other uniformly.’

    You use the word “Islamophobia,” which is a fake word that has no validity. A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike for something. Pointing out the violent, supremacist and intolerant doctrines of Islam is not being phobic–it is being honest. There is nothing irrational about fearing or disliking the doctrines of Islam. Should you be labeled a “Zionophobe” for disliking Zionism for the same reasons? Unfortunately, Islam is not a religion of peace and the jihadists who carry out violence in its name are not distorting the teachings of the religion.

    ‘How do you explain the anti semitisim in the secular Baathist, Marxist regimes in the Middle East which are more anti semitic? Sami Kuntar is a Druze, and George Habash a Christian. How does this fit in with your Islamic Jew hatred?’

    The anti-Semitism of the above figures and movements may have been based on ethnicity and nationalism, but I believe that the roots of it are the anti-Semitic theological doctrines that have been indoctrinated into the minds of children for centuries and that are ingrained into the culture and the mentality of the people. I also believe that the roots of Nazi anti-Semitism can be found in the centuries-long religiously-based demonization of the Jews on the part of the Catholic Church and certain Protestant churches.

    ‘Your’s is a classic trick used by far right Zionist extremists to deglegitimise the Palestinians right to state by pretending that Islam is the enemy.
    The Messiah’s landing pad being cleared out for your “salvation”, is no reason for us to tolerate this BS and lies. One has to wonder at the odious ideology, whose opportunisitic allies think demonising Islam or degligitmising Palestinians will bring about their salvation.

    Rest assured we will fight it all the way’

    You know nothing about me, and yet you state with certainty that I am a member of the Evangelical Christian religious right who supports Israel for theological reasons. I am actually an agnostic atheist and I view religion in general as superstitious, divisive and an unnecessary cause of conflict and hatred in the world. I support Israel not for religious reasons but because I believe it possesses the moral high ground in its conflict with its enemies. Christianity and Judaism also contain doctrines and practices that are immoral and problematic, and pointing them out is not ‘Christophobic” or “Judeophobic.” In my opinion, Islam is, unfortunately, more violent and intolerant than any other world religion. What has happened to this poor Palestinian kid would never happen in Israel or any other Western nation:http://edmundstanding.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/palestinian-atheist-arrested-for-insulting-the-divine-essence/

  5. luizhaker

    As a Jew born in Turkey and living in Israel I feel the obligation to add some facts to your article (which I enjoyed). The Jews in Turkey are in a position that they have to decide whether they will assimilate completely (to-day almost 30% of the marriages are mixed marriages Jews-Muslims) or leave Turkey. They are even afraid to talk in the phone; in case they are being bugged or tapped. They have Muslim names so that they will be unnoticed in schools-army- government offices- public places. But still “think” that they have a wonderful and happy life. It reminds me of all the stories no so long ago; about the Jews in Germany. Mavi Marmara is a symptom and not a cause. It is not a turning point that changed the ideology or political approach of Tayip Erdogan. He is very anti-Jew and anti-Israel, he never hides it and let’s not fool ourselves. He has a very cleverly planned vision and he will achieve it bit by bit.
    Zaramart-kippot

  6. Hanka

    Let me figure out what the problem is?

    “Turko-Moslems” are marrying too many Jews?
    30% they say.
    Definite proof of intolerance there. Outright annihilation and genocide.
    They’re smothering Jews with love.

    I get the feeling that the only difference between Istanbul and Los Angeles….is that the Zionists CAN’T manipulate Ankara, as well as Washington. They can’t really OWN Istanbul the way they “own” New York.

    Jews have been an integral part of Anatolia and Istanbul for centuries. It’s only NATURAL and normal, that they should be very integrated and chez soi…in that country.
    What must we do? in order to make Ethnocentric Zionists happy? Start building ghettos? Erect walls?

    If Turkey hadn’t finally stood up for the Palestinians (and that’s “barely”, after decades of prudent silence), we’d never be hearing about Turkish Anti-Semitism.
    Turkey would still be the Zionist darling, Israel’s only friend in the ME, and the only OTHER democracy in the region.

    Fact is….Turks are TIRED of being muzzled and bullied. They’re tired of the Kemalist elite and it’s oppressive nationalism. They’re also tired of pretending they’re French, of having to look down on Arabs in order to feel better about themselves.
    They’re also tired of Israel-produced, directed and inspired Islamophobia. Turkey maybe secular, but Turks are more pious than the Iranians. And they smell the stench of Islamophobia and hatred coming from Israel.

    The Palestinians’ tragedy also reminds them of what could have happened to them….if Ataturk hadn’t kicked some **** in Canakkale.
    In that sense, Turks very much identify with the Palestinians. They realize, that if Ataturk hadn’t salvaged the leftovers of that empire, they’d be collectively worse off than the Palestinians.

    Another thing that the Turks suspect……is Israeli meddling in the Kurdish question. I have no doubts that Mossad has its paws there too.

    Now, don’t think that I didn’t notice Erdogan’s hypocricy . I mean, here’s a country which for decades wouldn’t allow millions of its people to freely speak their native tongues (Kurds, Zaza, Cretan Moslems, Laz, Georgians, Bosnians, Circassians, Chechens)…..Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and their dispossession.
    And yes, I’m aware that about 100 years ago, a bunch of Turks pulled off a similar stunt. But that doesn’t make it RIGHT. Ethnic cleansing, dispossession….ethnic engineering and land theft. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

    But I’m a aware that lot of Jews worry more about ethnic-biological SURVIVAL….you know….lineage, history, thousands of years of Judaism, Holocaust…..
    than they worry about heaven or hell.

    What are we supposed to do? Love them? but not love them? Accept them….but not tooo much? Or they may become assimilated.
    If we reject them. We’re anti-Semites. If we accept them….we have to support Israel First. And never marry Jews. Or we’ll annihilate them with love.

    PS. What’s the matter with a Turkish Jew calling his son Ibrahim instead of Abraham? Isn’t that the same guy we’re talking about?
    Or do we need to extend the Israeli social apartheid to the Bosphorus?
    What about all those Turks named Kaplan? Are they supposed to change their names too?

    Does that mean that Henry (is he really a Heinrich?) Kissinger should formally change his German name, so he can finally became a REAL Jew? Hayim Kissinger? Is that better now?

    Now, one thing that NO ONE here mentions is that while Kemal Ataturk imposed modern Turkish as the absolute and only lingua franca of the new post-Ottoman country, (and suppressed all other languages spoken by the various ethnic groups within the country (all Moslems)),
    Ladino-speaking Jews were relatively free to educate their kids in their own separate schools, in their own language. Armenians as well. Greeks had a much tougher time in Kemalist Turkey.
    Very few Moslems….. Cretans, Bulgarians, Georgians, Bosnians, Circassians, Arabs….in Turkey still speak their ancestral languages. They were not allowed to establish non-Turkish language schools or to foster any non-Turkish language education. We’re talking about millions of people. Turkey is not only Turks, Kurds and a sprinkle of Jews and Armenians. There are many layers of various ethnicities throughout that country.
    I know of a true story of a non-Turkish speaking villager (not a Kurd) who was beaten up when he joined the army, ’cause he didn’t speak Turkish well enough. They shoved his head in a bucket of water until he “talked”.
    That was a while ago.

    |A friend of mine’s mother once said: “It’s very hard to be Jewish in Brazil, my “Hanka”. They don’t hate Jews enough”. She was an Auschwitz survivor who had fled Israel. |”Tired of wars and fighting”, she said.
    Came to mind….after reading these interviews and comments about Jews in Istanbul.
    A while ago, a young Armenian from Istanbul, killed his own sister, because she had had married a Moslem Turk.
    It seems that when a majority culture fully accepts a minority…..that isn’t a good thing either.

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