Sunday, May 08, 2005

turkish anti-semitism

Anti-Semitism in Turkey

By: Amed Demirhan

May 2, 2005

Historically anti-Semitism all most always has been related to general intolerance, racism, and xenophobia. In modern Turkey this elements have the main ingredients of foundation of the Turkish Republic. In republican era there have been up and down with anti-Semitism and some times high-ranking government officials have been speaking positively about Jews and Israel and even claming to be protectors of the Jewish minority in Turkey. However, in recent years anti-Semitism and racism become very dangerous, and not just targeted to small minority of Jews in Turkey but to the “Donme” the Jews that were converted about 300 years ago to Islam and “Turkism”, and to Jews in general.

In the past Jews were forced to relocation in 1924, forced to pay higher taxes or forced to bankruptcy by force of government, for example in 1942 infamous “Wealth Tax” that directed to non-Muslim minorities. In 1955 they were targeted in Istanbul together Greek and Armenians. In late 1980s and in 1990s Jewish or “Donme” business people were subject of “Ulkucu Mafia” a state sponsored extreme rights group was taking money from Jews by force and illegally. Some Jewish businessman had to move to the USA and Israel.

However, recent anti-Semitism is more dangerous, in the past it was limited to small marginal leftist, Marxist, Islamist, and fascist groups, and all most of them were controlled by the state; now anti-Semitism is becoming a mass movement like 1930s Europe. Some people seemed surprised to see Hitler’s book become best seller, in reality there are many more anti-Semitics books and articles recently have been published and they are more dangerous than Hitler’s book. For example, the Dr. Yalicin Kucuk a former Marxist his book titled “Tekelistan” about Jews and specifically about donme, it has more conspiracy in it than Hitler’s book. This book become so popular he had to write several other books and among many other Pan-Turkist/Pan-Islamists become Dr. Kucuk’s main readers. In addition Yalcin Soner’s book about “Done” was one of the best seller in Turkey for long time. Mr. Soner’s book is comparable with Dr. Kucuk’s book. All major newspapers are daily full with anti-Semitic remarks. These conspiracies includes Jews or “hidden Jews” been in charge of the Turkish state, been behind separatist movements, Islamist movements, been in charge of America, or Israel Zionist conspiracy to take over South Eastern part of Turkey. The type of conspiracy dependent to the ideology of the writers, for example if an Islamist write like Sevket Eygi he will claim Turkey’s ethnic conflict is invention of the Jews, Kemalist-nationalist will claim Jews are in charge of America and they try to divide Turkey, and so on. Fighting against ant-Semitism is as important as fighting against Nazism, neo-Nazism or any totalitarian regime or ideology. One of the important ways fighting against anti-Semitism in Turkey is defending freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of assembly, and Western pluralistic democracy.



Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

I could not agree with you more. And thank you for your expose on this subject.

It was shocking to me, when my husband and I read in the newspaper last week, that a book promoting anti-semitism was the number one selling book in that country.

Jew hatred is not unique, and we have been sought out to be persecuted for more than 2000 years.

There are certain words that press my buttons: Nazi is one of them. Even the mention of this new Pope having a Nazi past, means something to me. He will have to prove himself to be a friend to Israel and supporter of the Jewish people, before I will trust him.
As you can surely tell, a truly emotional issue for me.

7:06 AM  
Blogger B.a.D said...

A past is exactly that... a past.

Everybody's got one.

5:18 PM  
Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...


Sadly, the past of the Jews has been one filled with hatred, persecution and contempt. We have been kicked out of just about every country where we have lived, from Poland, Russia, Spain, and surprisingly Iraq, where at one point a very large Jewish population was florishing.

Our past is tied up with persecution, hatred, and murder, based solely upon who were are.

Why is there Jew hatred? There are some many reasons, but some suggest it is rooted in the Jews being the 'chosen' people. Chosen, had meant to carry out the word of God and the Torah, but it seems as if we were more chosen for persecution and hatred! Would you want to be chosen for such a thing?
Desite of all of these hardships, we have florished.

And a past is not just that a past. It is rooted in longstanding beliefs, actions and behavior, and for the Nazis, these added up to pure and simple evil.

11:06 PM  
Blogger yochanan said...

It is still in the present anti-semitic attacks are on the rise in Euroland.

A few years back one of my sons was shot at by a neo-nazi for being jewish. It was part of a string of shootings in which 5 jews were wounded one almost died. Later the same shooter murdered one Asian and one black man.

7:02 AM  
Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

You are right yochanan: I should not speak of anti-semitism as if it was something that existed at one time. It is still something very fresh for us today.

I am sorry to hear about your son's personal experiences with such hatred.

Isaac Bashavis Singer, the beautiful Yiddish and prolfic writer used to say, that he would never leave his home without hundreds of dollars pined inside the waist-bands of his pants or stuffed inside of his shoes, with two eyes knowing and a mind wondering if we would, as Jews, be subjected to the time when we would be kicked out of yet another country once again!

7:10 AM  
Blogger yochanan said...


12:11 PM  
Blogger yochanan said...

The main difference is that today we can and do defend our selves. That is the lesson for others.

Hopefully the day will come when the Kurdish people have there own state so they don't have to ask permision to protect there people.

Jews, Armeanians, & Kurds have all been oppressed in the middleast. Jews and Armeanians have there states it is long past time for the Kurdish people to have theres as well.

12:19 PM  
Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Even having our own state, as you know, is not a guarantee to freedom, nor peace nor escape from persecution for Jews. But it does help, and at least for today, it is a great blessing.

12:31 PM  

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