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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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December 24, 2013 0

Muslim Brotherhood Rabaa TV Starts Broadcasting From Istanbul

The Egypt­ian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood launched a new tele­vi­sion sta­tion on Decem­ber 20, 2013, in Istan­bul, Turkey. The new sta­tion, Rabaa TV, will broad­cast news about the Mus­lim world in Ara­bic and claims it will be a “plat­form for freedom.”

rabaa-tv-muslim-brotherhood

Rabaa TV logo

To kick off the net­work, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the rad­i­cal Mus­lim Broth­er­hood ide­o­logue and out­spo­ken sup­porter of ter­ror­ist groups, made an appear­ance on the station’s inau­gural broad­cast. Qaradawi, has been vocally opposed to the mil­i­tary takeover of Egypt in July, call­ing the inci­dent a “coup that raped the office of the Egypt­ian president.”   

The network’s name, Rabaa, refers to the name of the Cairo mosque where pro-Brotherhood demon­stra­tors were faced with vio­lence by secu­rity forces after weeks of protests. Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan, who wel­comed the Brotherhood’s ascen­sion to power fol­low­ing the 2011 rev­o­lu­tion, has been out­spo­ken in his sup­port for for­mer Broth­er­hood leader, Mohamed Morsi.

The com­ing days will tell if the chan­nel will embrace pre­vi­ous anti-Semitic nar­ra­tives fea­tured in other Mus­lim Broth­er­hood media outlets.

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