Friday, December 21, 2012

Turkish Jews Express Fear Amid Reports That Intelligence Service Spied On Their Community


Turkish Jews Express Fear Amid Reports That Intelligence Service Spied On Their Community


Zach Pontz


Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: wiki commons.

The relationship between the 30,000 or so Jews living in Turkey and the rest of the Turkish population has become tense ever since the deteriorating relationship between Israel and Turkey began shortly after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010.  Anti-Israel sentiment is high in the country, and anti-Semitism has also been on the rise at the encouragement of Turkey’s Islamist government. A report in Al-Monitor quotes several Jews who fear a backlash against their community.

“As a Jew, I can attest to you there is a difference between being a Turk and an Israeli,” Ediz said. “But whenever there is fighting between Israel and the Palestinians, the atmosphere in Turkey turns against us, and people start acting as if we committed a crime.”

Leri, another Turkish Jew, told Al-Monitor that the media is also to blame. “The media is painting such an image that many won’t even consider us human.”

According to the Al-Monitor article, the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul that tried Israeli soldiers in-absentia for their role in the Mavi Marmara incident asked the Turkish National Intelligence Service (MIT) for a listing of Turkish Jews who traveled to Israel two weeks before and after it occurred. These people were put under surveillance. There are also allegations that  the MIT identified five Jews in Turkey as suspicious, and that they expanded surveillance in Istanbul and Izmir — where the majority of the country’s Jewish population lives.

While Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has made appeals to Turkey’s Jewish population to help mend the relationship with Israel, there’s a sense among Jews in Turkey that he has put them in a difficult and compromising position.
Rafael Sadi, a member of Israel’s Turkish community as well as a childhood friend of Erdogan questions the Turkish President’s motives: “If he really believes that Turkey’s Jews had so much influence [over politicians], why didn’t he listen to our warnings before the Mavi Marmara set sail toward Gaza? Why did he make such a special effort to sever the ties between Israel and Turkey? The Turkish Red Crescent was then delivering the humanitarian aid to Gaza and it still does. If the issue is the lifting of the Gaza blockade, then he should have found a way to control and prevent the free flow of arms into Gaza.”

Zali De Toledo, chairman of the Association of Turkish Jews in Israel, told Al-Monitor she strongly agrees, and argues that the Erdogan government intentionally took steps to harm the relationship with Israel. “It’s Erdogan who really needs to apologize to us for breaking the long-lasting friendship between our two countries.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2012/12/19/turkish-jews-express-fear-amid-reports-that-intelligence-service-spied-on-their-community/