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July 31, 2014 0

Anti-Semitism in Spain

Over the past week, anti-Semitism has come to the fore­front in Spain with three sig­nif­i­cant events.

Anto­nio Gala, a lead­ing colum­nist for El Mundo, a major Span­ish daily news­pa­per, wrote on July 24 that Israel’s mil­i­tary oper­a­tion in Gaza showed why Jews “have been so fre­quently expelled.”  He con­tin­ued, “What is sur­pris­ing is they per­sist.  Either they are not good, or some­one is poi­son­ing them.”

At an anti-Israel rally in Ceuta, Spain, a speaker made bla­tantly anti-Semitic com­ments and threats against Jews.  The demon­stra­tion was held last Fri­day after­noon at 7pm, just 50 yards from the Ceuta syn­a­gogue, which felt com­pelled to can­cel Shab­bat ser­vices.  The speaker said, “The Jews, for decades, for thou­sands of years, have wanted to exter­mi­nate the prophets and every­one on the face of the Earth who is not a Hebrew.  Mus­lim broth­ers, Allah-hu akbar!  In the Torah of the Jews, it says that they are the cho­sen peo­ple, that they are the cho­sen peo­ple.  I swear to G-d that we will put fear into you until Judg­ment Day.  Allah-hu akbar! Allah-hu akbar! Allah-hu akbar!”  Though sev­eral local politi­cians were in atten­dance, none appear to have voiced any condemnation.

The cumu­la­tive effect of inci­dents such as these has caused anguish in the Span­ish Jew­ish community.

The for­mer pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­a­tion of Span­ish Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ties, Jacobo Israel Gar­zon, wrote about his dis­il­lu­sion­ment with Span­ish soci­ety in a July 29 op-ed in another major news­pa­per, ABC.  In an emo­tional arti­cle, enti­tled, “Dis­ap­point­ment and Sad­ness,” he laments the anti-Semitism he sees in Spain and pon­ders whether Jews in Ger­many felt the same in the 1930s.  He asks him­self how he could have been so blind, hav­ing stud­ied in Spain, mar­ried in Spain, raised chil­dren and wel­comed grand­chil­dren in Spain, worked all his life in Spain, con­sid­ered Span­ish his lan­guage and Spain his coun­try, and yet, after sev­enty years, to not have seen how many of his neigh­bors and coun­try­men judge him – and hate him – for who he is and not for what he does.

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July 31, 2014 4

Anti-Israel Demonstrations and Anti-Semitic Imagery at Protests Continue Across Latin America

At a demon­stra­tion in Mex­ico City, Mex­ico, a sign of the Israeli flag with a swastika was seen as well as a large ban­ner read­ing “We Are All Pales­tine” with a swastika on the Star of David.

In Con­cep­ción, Chile, Juan Hazbun Readi, leader of the Pales­tin­ian Com­mu­nity of Con­cep­ción said at an anti-Israel rally that:

“We are con­cerned with what is going on in the Mid­dle East. I would like to say to all the Chilean peo­ple (…) that this Holo­caust has been going on for more than 66 years, it should end some­day. It is not pos­si­ble for Israel to fight against a defense­less peo­ple, with no army. They are accus­ing the Pales­tini­ans of launch­ing mis­siles, but this is a lie. Pales­tini­ans have never come to this. They blame the most pow­er­ful army in the world to attack­ing civil­ians, they killed more than 100 peo­ple in 2–3 days. The world needs to under­stand that the Pales­tini­ans were invaded by Israel 66 years ago, and not just being invaded but Israel brought peo­ple from all over the world to occupy their land, to destroy their places, to take charge of their des­tiny, destroy their schools and in the end to kill every­one. I don’t under­stand (…) the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity falls because Inter­na­tional Zion­ism has a lobby, not just the media but money, all of the world trade goes through their chan­nels and that’s why the world does noth­ing, plays igno­rant, stupid…”

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July 30, 2014 0

Erdogan’s ‘Reassuring’ Words to Turkey’s Jews Are Anything But

foxman1by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared in The Huff­in­g­ton Post.

When it comes to the safety of the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in Turkey, Prime Min­is­ter Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan seems to think he can have it both ways.

On one hand, he makes clear that the Jew­ish com­mu­nity should feel safe in their own coun­try as pas­sions have erupted into street demon­stra­tions and vio­lence over the Gaza con­flict. “Jews in Turkey are our cit­i­zens,” he told the Turk­ish daily news­pa­per Sabah recently. “We are respon­si­ble for their secu­rity of life and property.”

On the other hand, Erdo­gan believes the Turk­ish Jew­ish com­mu­nity has an oblig­a­tion to toe the government’s hos­tile line toward Israel, and has urged them to issue a state­ment con­demn­ing the Jew­ish state’s mil­i­tary action in Gaza.

“I talked to our Jew­ish cit­i­zens’ lead­ers on Thurs­day, and I stated that they should adopt a firm stance and release a state­ment against the Israeli gov­ern­ment. I will con­tact them again, but whether or not they release a state­ment, we will never let Jew­ish peo­ple in Turkey get hurt,” he said.

Implied in his words, and those of other gov­ern­ment lead­ers, is that the Jew­ish com­mu­nity would be bet­ter off — and safer in their own coun­try — if they con­demned Israel’s actions outright.

This is where things get dicey. Ask­ing the Jew­ish com­mu­nity to speak up about Israel reeks of anti-Semitism.

Erdogan’s recent com­ments about the Jew­ish com­mu­nity of Turkey con­veyed a dan­ger­ous dou­ble mes­sage. First he reit­er­ated the his­tor­i­cal stance of Turkey’s respon­si­bil­ity for their safety and secu­rity. But in call­ing on them to pub­licly stand against Israel at a time when that is Turkey’s pol­icy, he con­veyed to the peo­ple of Turkey that if the Jews in Turkey do not do this, they are not being “good Turks.” The result, iron­i­cally, is to sig­nal yet another long­stand­ing anti-Semitic stereo­type that “Jews are not loyal” to the coun­tries where they live. And it puts the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in a ter­ri­ble posi­tion of hav­ing to choose between the offi­cial hos­tile anti-Israel pos­ture of their coun­try and their own per­sonal feel­ings on a dif­fi­cult situation.

So, we do not believe Prime Min­is­ter Erdo­gan has pro­vided much reas­sur­ance to the Turk­ish Jew­ish com­mu­nity in these try­ing times.

His com­ments sug­gest, among other things, that the Jew­ish com­mu­nity is a mono­lith when it comes to Israel, when in fact there is a diver­sity of views within the com­mu­nity, includ­ing some who do, and some who do not, sup­port the mil­i­tary cam­paign to root out Hamas rock­ets and terrorism.

No Jew­ish com­mu­nity any­where should be asked to pick sides in this polit­i­cal con­flict. Ask­ing them to do so, in an envi­ron­ment where pas­sions are already inflamed over the con­flict in Gaza and where street protests have turned vio­lent, with expres­sions of anti-Semitism and attacks on Israeli embassy and con­sulate build­ings, is enough to sug­gest to some that the com­mu­nity itself is another poten­tial tar­get. In Turkey, there are his­tor­i­cal prece­dents for such beliefs tak­ing hold among the pop­u­lace, and they have not ended well.

Mak­ing mat­ters worse, Mr. Erdogan’s hos­tile views of Israel and Israelis, and his sup­port for the Hamas ter­ror orga­ni­za­tion in Gaza, are well known and shocking.

By pro­vid­ing finan­cial and diplo­matic to sup­port to Hamas, a ter­ror orga­ni­za­tion com­mit­ted to the elim­i­na­tion of Israel’s exis­tence and whose essen­tial polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy actions are deeply anti-Semitic, Erdo­gan has placed Turkey squarely on the side of ter­ror and violence.

Mr. Erdogan’s aid and com­fort to Hamas ter­ror­ists serves to pro­long the hos­til­i­ties and is coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to the efforts of oth­ers seek­ing to end the cur­rent round of fighting.

In recent years expres­sions of anti-Semitism in Turkey have sig­nif­i­cantly increased. This is par­tic­u­larly trou­bling and dan­ger­ous because we know, based on the results of ADL polling on anti-Semitism in Turkey, that anti-Jewish atti­tudes and beliefs are, sadly, held by fully 69 per­cent of the adult Turk­ish population.

This increase is fueled, in part, by harsh com­ments about Jews and Israel made by Erdo­gan, other offi­cials in his gov­ern­ment and influ­en­tial jour­nal­ists. ADL has pub­licly crit­i­cized those com­ments and called on the prime min­is­ter to refrain from mak­ing ref­er­ences invok­ing anti-Semitic con­spir­a­cies and state­ments, which amount to scape­goat­ing the Jews of Turkey by sug­gest­ing they have some respon­si­bil­ity for actions of Israel which Mr. Erdo­gan opposes.

Such com­ments legit­imize anti-Jewish stereo­types and rein­force prej­u­diced beliefs about Jews held by so many peo­ple in Turkey. This is a truly sad turn of events for a coun­try that has in fact served as a safe haven for Jews flee­ing per­se­cu­tion through the cen­turies, includ­ing the Span­ish and Por­tuguese Jews expelled from Spain who were wel­comed into the Ottoman Empire in the late 15th century.

In 2005, ADL bestowed its Courage to Care Award rec­og­niz­ing the efforts of var­i­ous Turk­ish diplo­mats to pro­tect and save the lives of Jews from per­se­cu­tion and death at the hands of the Nazis. The award was pre­sented on behalf of the coura­geous Turk­ish diplo­mats to Prime Min­is­ter Erdo­gan dur­ing his visit to New York.

It was their courage, their human­ity, their dis­play of the best the Turk­ish peo­ple are capa­ble of doing that we hon­ored. At the time the award was pre­sented, Mr. Erdo­gan spoke out force­fully against anti-Semitism and clearly stated anti-Semitism had no place in Turkey.

The more recent com­ments from Mr. Erdo­gan do not change the fact that, dur­ing World War II, Jew­ish lives were saved by Turk­ish diplo­mats who were not infected with the virus of anti-Jewish prej­u­dice, who saw peo­ple in need of pro­tec­tion and acted to save them.

Recently there have been calls by some for us to rescind the honor based on Erdogan’s recent posi­tions toward Israel and his Jew­ish com­mu­nity. But we believe it would be wrong for ADL to with­draw its recog­ni­tion of those diplo­mats today because the cur­rent leader of Turkey is fan­ning the flames of anti-Semitism and sup­port­ing a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion whose essen­tial ide­ol­ogy is anti-Semitic and which seeks to elim­i­nate Israel, the national home­land of the Jew­ish people.

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