Saturday, February 7, 2015

Jews in Turkey: Unending Discrimination - Uzay Bulut

by Uzay Bulut

The Jewish homes in Israel are not an obstacle to peace. The only obstacle to peace is the hatred of Israel's neighbors.
Many of us in other countries in the Middle East see Israel as the only light of freedom and democracy in the midst of darkness, terrorism and hatred in the region.
The concept of real freedom and democracy seems foreign to anti-Semites. From here, it looks as if many of these self-proclaimed liberals have a self-congratulatory concept of what is right and wrong as closed-minded, un-free and un-democratic as that of the most rigid tyrant.
When people show solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas, or with those who jail, try or flog people for free speech, it just further proves Israel's rightfulness and legitimacy.
You would defend yourself against incoming rockets; why shouldn't they? Israel has nothing to apologize for.

It is really hard to please the Jew-haters.

When Jews cannot protect themselves because they do not have a military, they are "cowards" and are persecuted in Turkey and worldwide. When they do protect themselves, thanks to their military, they are "oppressors."

To anti-Semitic or anti-Israel people, Israel is the problem.

Many of us in other countries in the Middle East, on the contrary, see Israel as the only light of freedom and democracy in the midst of darkness, terrorism and hatred in the region.

Just recently, on January 12, Mahmoud Abbas, a Holocaust denier and terrorism glorifier, met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

Before that, on December 29, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal spoke to the congress of the ruling AKP and said "Inshallah we will liberate Palestine and Jerusalem again in the future."

The crowd in the congress shouted slogans "Mujahid Mashaal," "Hamas, I [am ready to] lay down my life for you" and "Down with Israel!"

The problem is: the concept of real freedom and democracy seems foreign to anti-Semites. From here, it looks as if many of these self-proclaimed liberals have a self-congratulatory concept of what is right and wrong as closed-minded, un-free and un-democratic as that of the most rigid tyrant. When people refer to Israel as "the problem," they imply that the existence of Jews is the problem.

When people show solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas, or with those jail, try or flog people for free speech, it just further proves Israel's rightfulness and legitimacy.

When people in this region say, "Down with Israel" it really means: We do not want democracy; we do not want equality. We want our own state to be supreme and we want Jews to be stateless and defenseless. We do not want the wisdom or knowledge of Jews. We just need more darkness, arrogance and enmity. We are as ignorant as can be and we are happy this way. And if possible, we want another Holocaust, just as Hamas calls for it. At the same time, we definitely want peace. And this is our understanding of peace.

Israel is where the ancestors of the Jews lived, learned and toiled. Jews need to be there not only to be safe from further massacres but also to learn in the light of their ancestors -- who brought what are among the first laws of social justice to the word after Hammurabi. It is right there, all you have to do is read it. Pay the day-laborer by sunset. Do not cook the lamb in the milk of its mother. Do not steal. Do not murder. There are books more of them. These are the genuine messages of freedom.

Jews are Israel's indigenous people and they have extended their hand in peace to both Palestinians and others many times -- and been rejected. You would defend yourself against incoming rockets; why shouldn't they? Israel has nothing to apologize for.

There is a popular belief that anti-Semitism had not been promoted in Turkey until the current Islamist Justice and Development Party [AKP] took power in 2002. However, taking a closer look at the lives of Jews in modern Turkey makes it clear that this was just a myth. The truth is that to be a Jew in Turkey seems to mean having been exposed to more than 90 years of systematic discrimination including pogroms, forced assimilation, and prohibitions against the use of their native language.

On November 21, 2014, MEMRI [Middle East Media Research Institute] published a must-read special dispatch entitled, "Anti-Semitism Hits New High In Turkey: Threats Against Turkish Jews, Expressions Of Admiration For Hitler, Calls For Jews To Be Sent To Concentration Camps; Jews Should Pay A 'Special Tax'."

"At the same time that President Erdogan was denying, in his September 22, 2014 speech at the Council of Foreign Relations, that he or his government were in any way anti-Semitic," the dispatch read, "members of his party back home were tweeting praise for Hitler, and shops in Istanbul were displaying signs reading "No Admittance To Jewish Dogs."

As MEMRI points out, it is obvious that under the AKP government, anti-Semitism in Turkey has been hitting new high. But these gruesome realities are not the product only of the Islamist AKP, nor are they first in Turkey's history.

Jews in Turkey were already sent to forced-labor battalions in 1941-1942, required to pay a special tax in 1942-1944, and exposed to forced assimilation in Turkey. They were systematically subjected to hate speech in the Turkish press, which also played a role in the 1934 anti-Jewish pogrom in Eastern Thrace. With the enforcement of the surname law, Jewish children had to change their names and surnames and adopt Turkish sounding names. Ladino, the language of Turkey's Jews, was also banned by the Turkish regime. Since 1923, when the Turkish Republic was established, Jews have systematically been discriminated against (as well as all other non-Muslim communities), and Jews have been deprived of their freedom of movement at least three times: in 1923, 1925 and 1927.
The Turkish republic had been founded by the so-called "secular" Republican People's Party [CHP], now the main opposition party in Turkey's parliament.

Although anti-Semitism during the AKP's rule has been widely reported by the media, anti-Semitism during and after the establishment period of the Turkish Republic has been largely overlooked.

In Turkey, anti-Semitism has a long history among state authorities, opinion shapers, political circles (both right- and left-wing), Islamist and non-Islamist groups, and particularly in the media. Not a single Turkish university has a Jewish- or Holocaust-studies department. The reestablishment of the Jewish state in 1948 just turned anti-Semitism into anti-Zionism, which seems to be an implicit, disingenuous kind of anti-Semitism.

From the time of the founded of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, until 1950, when the first national elections took place, these practices were carried out by the non-Islamist governments of the Republican People's Party [CHP], which established the Turkish state.

It is impossible to mention all the anti-Semitic incidents in Turkey in one article, but a short chronology of the most important developments relating to Jews would help one realize what kind of a life Jews were forced to live in Turkey for decades.

Traditional Anti-Semitism in Turkish Media

The historian Ayse Hur, based on the comprehensive writings of independent scholar Rifat Bali, recounted some of the anti-Semitic campaigns of the Turkish press during the first decades of the Turkish Republic.[1]

In January 1923, the Turkish Voice (Türk Sesi) and Burnt Land (Yanık Yurt) newspapers, published in the province of Izmir, called on Turkish traders to struggle against "the immoral and sordid Jewish threat." The pieces claimed that the Jews were the breeding ground for germs in Turkey and especially in Izmir. Then Akbaba, a satirical magazine, joined the chorus, publishing a series of pieces which featured titles such as "haven't you heard that you should not do business with the Jews," and "Shall we allow these germs to live with us?"

In December 1925, after the rumors were spread that at least 300 Jews sent a telegram to the celebrations of the 435th anniversary of Columbus' discovering America, an anti-Semitic campaign was started in mainstream newspapers. The published pieces referred to Jews as "ungrateful" and as "leeches who cling on the back of the country," and suggested that they be exiled as a solution. Some people provoked by those writings killed a young Jew and attacked the synagogue in the town of Kuzguncuk.[2] Whether such a telegram was ever sent remains unknown.

In January 1937, the fascistic and national-socialistic waves of Europe arrived in Turkey: A German Information Office was opened in Istanbul. Türkische Post and Cumhuriyet (The Republic) newspapers started to repeat Nazi propaganda.

In August 1938, the government issued decree No.# 2/9498, which read: "The Jews who are exposed to pressures in terms of living conditions and travelling in the states of which they are nationals are forbidden to enter and live in Turkey regardless of their current religion." Twenty six Jewish employees of the Anatolian News Agency, then the only official news agency of Turkey, were dismissed. There was a massive increase in the number of articles and cartoons in newspapers and magazines that held minorities, especially Jews, responsible for the problems that Turkey was going through.

On December 28,1939, a powerful earthquake hit the province of Erzincan in Turkey, killing tens of thousands of people. Upon hearing that, Jewish communities in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Buenos Aries, New York, Geneva, Cairo and Alexandria collected money and clothes among themselves and sent them to Turkey. Instead of appreciating this act, articles and cartoons ridiculed it and suggested bad intentions.

In 1948, when Jews wanted to go to the newly-founded State of Israel, Turkey's state and state-directed media, which had done everything in their power to make the Jews flee Turkey, now referred to those wanting to emigrate as "traitors."

Ancestry Codes of Armenians, Greeks and Jews

Research by the daily newspaper Radikal and interviews with officials has revealed a century-long saga of discrimination in Turkey. According to Radikal's findings, Turkey has been secretly assigning codes its Armenian, Greek, Jewish, Syriac and other non-Muslim minorities ever since the establishment of the Turkish Republic. The Population Directorate of Turkey codes Greeks using the number 1, Armenians 2 and Jews 3.

"This is obviously a scandal that should shake Turkey to its core, but the country is so busy with its own agenda," wrote Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a human rights lawyer and columnist in his column on Al Monitor.
"Given Turkey's history, which is full of unfair practices toward non-Muslims, perhaps the significance of this scandal can best be understood through comparison. For a moment, imagine that Jews in Germany today were secretly being identified through coding by the German government and that this was exposed. It would register as a political earthquake big enough to shake the German political system down to its roots. In contrast, the scandal in Turkey remained in the news only for a few days in a few newspapers."

Laws that excluded Jews and other non-‎Muslims from certain professions

Even in the beginning of 1923 and 1924, foreign companies and banks were required to employ only Turkish-Muslim citizens and to dismiss non-Muslims. Greeks, Jews and Armenians were dismissed in groups without being paid.

On January 24, 1924, "being Turkish" became the requirement for working as a pharmacist in accordance with a new law relating to pharmacists.[3]

On April 3, 1924, in accordance with the law of lawyers, 960 lawyers were evaluated as to whether they had good morals. As a result of the evaluation, work permits of 460 lawyers were cancelled. Thus, 57% of Jewish lawyers, and three out of four Greek and Armenian lawyers, lost their jobs.[4]

In the 4th article of the 1926 law on civil servants, it was stated that only "Turks" could work at public institutions. The law included all employees in public institutions, from tramway drivers to harbor workers. Due to this law, thousands of non-Muslims lost their jobs.

During 1928, new laws about requirements for carrying out certain jobs were enacted. According to these laws, only "Turkish" citizens could be doctors, dentists, midwives, nurses and so on.

The "Turkish citizens" in these laws referred only to "ethnic Turks." So to carry out these jobs, one had to be not only Muslim but an "ethnic Turk."

On April 22, 1926, after a law was enacted that made Turkish the only language of commercial correspondence, non-Muslims who were working in administrative bodies and did not have a full command of written Turkish, were dismissed.

On June 11, 1932, the Turkish parliament enacted law #2007, which prohibited foreigners from many jobs. The law read[5]:
The jobs and services mentioned below can be carried out by Turkish citizens alone. It is prohibited for those who are not Turkish citizens to carry out these jobs and services:
A.) being a peddler; musician; photographer; hairdresser; compositor; estate agent; dress, hat and shoe manufacturer; stock trader; seller of products which are under state monopoly; translator; guide; working in construction, iron and wooden works; working permanently or temporarily on public vehicles; working in the fields of water, lighting, central heating, mailing and telecommunication sectors; loading and commissioning [in ships];working as a driver and turnboy; doing assistant works in general; being a watchman, janitor or headwaiter at all kinds of companies, businesses, hotels and firms; working at hotels, motels, public baths, cafes; being a waiter at clubs, dance halls, or pubs, dancer or singer at pubs.
b.) Being a veterinarian and chemist.
This "law of occupations" was the most extreme law of the Kemalist government after the proclamation of the new Republic in 1923.

Employment bans were also big obstacle for refugees exiled from Germany. They were trying to find jobs that had not been banned, or to make use of legal loopholes. Some of them -- particularly women -- received residence permits for marriages with Turkish men. If Turkish authorities learned that the marriages were "fake," women were faced with the danger of being deported.[6]

"Citizen, Speak Turkish!" Campaign, Prohibitions against Ladino and Forced Assimilation

On January 13, 1928, the student union at the Law School in the Ottoman University (today's Istanbul University) launched a campaign to prohibit the use in public of all languages other than Turkish.

The campaigners placed posters in many cities across Turkey with the slogan "Citizen, speak Turkish!" Some other signs proclaimed, "We cannot call a Turk those who do not speak Turkish" or "Speak Turkish or leave the country!" Hundreds of people were harassed in public, given fines or arrested, with full support of the government.[7]

Isil Demirel, a Turkish anthropologist, examined the process by which Turkish replaced Ladino as the mother tongue of Sephardic Jews in Turkey.[8] "The Jews were exposed to great pressures during the attempts of spreading Turkish in 1920s," Demirel wrote. "Since Turkish was starting to be used among Jews instead of Ladino, cultural differences emerged between the old generation, who used Ladino as their mother tongue, and the young generation who were raised with Turkish. Ladino, which is a dying language in Turkey today, is used only by Jews older than 50, and embodies a rooted and long-running culture."

Demirel quoted a Sephardic Jew who experienced the "Citizen, Speak Turkish!" campaign: "When you spoke two words of Spanish (Ladino) back then, they immediately raised their hands. 'Heeeeyyy Madame, Monsieur! Citizen, speak Turkish!,' they shouted or they had sticks behind them and shook them at you."

In another forced-assimilation campaign, in November 1932, every Jew in the province of Izmir was made to sign an agreement in which they promised "to embrace the Turkish culture and speak the Turkish language." This was followed by the Jews in the provinces of Bursa, Kiklareli, Edirne, Adana, Diyarbakir and Ankara. Newspapers were filled with reports of Jewish (and Armenian) girls who were converting to Islam in groups.

1934 Anti-Jewish Pogroms in Eastern Thrace

The pogroms, in June 21- July 4, 1934, occurred in the provinces of Tekirdag, Edirne, Kirklareli, and Canakkale in Eastern Thrace, and were initiated by articles written by Pan-Turkic authors Cevat Rıfat Atilhan and Nihal Atsız. The pogroms began with a boycott of Jewish businesses, and were followed by physical attacks on Jewish-owned buildings, which were first looted, then set on fire. Jews were beaten, attacked and some Jewish women were reportedly raped.

In terror, more than 15,000 Jews fled the region. Anti-Semitic pressures on the Jewish communities at schools, markets and state institutions, even after the pogroms, lingered on. A "confidential" circular sent by the headquarters of the ruling CHP to its local branches in Eastern Thrace also revealed that the government had at least condoned the pogroms.

Turkey during the Holocaust

During the Holocaust, Turkey opened its doors to very few Jewish and political refugees. The attempts of many famous people or Jewish organizations to make Turkey accept more Jewish refugees bore no result. That is the reason Turkey is not in the statistics of countries to which Jewish refugees fled.[9]

In 1937, Turkey took measures to prevent Jewish immigration. When the number of Jewish refugees increased rapidly in 1938, Turkey enacted two laws that prohibited people with no passport or citizenship documents from entering and settling in Turkey. These laws were not openly related to Jews. But behind them was the reality that Germany and other countries had stripped Jews of their citizenship rights. On 29 August 1938, the Turkish government issued a policy letter preventing "Jews whose rights had been limited in their countries" from entering Turkey.[10]

Tragedies of Jewish Refugees

The historians Corry Guttstadt and Rifat Bali reported the tragedies of Jewish refugees who were trying to escape Nazi persecution and reach Israel, their historic homeland, during the Holocaust.[11]

On August 8, 1939, the ship, Parita, had to dock in the province of Izmir, due to some problems it had experienced while carrying 800 Jewish refugees from Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia to the land of Israel (then, under the British mandate, called Palestine). The Jewish refugees sat for a week off the coast of Izmir with no coal, water or food. The ship was denied a berth in the port and the captain was finally forced, after threats from the Turkish police, to sail on.

Turkish satirical magazines such as Karikatür and Akbaba ridiculed the Jewish refugees who sought refuge throughout the world in vain. The caricature on the cover of the Akbaba from August 24, 1939, referred to the Jewish refugees on the Parita. The caption had one of the Jews saying: "We are hungry and out of money. For God's sake, allow us to disembark for five minutes to get rich." After the ship had left the coast of Izmir, the semi-official daily Ulus wrote, "The Jews who have been roaming around here have finally left."

On December 6, 1940, a ship named Salvador, traveling to the land of Israel from Varna, in Bulgaria, arrived in Istanbul with 327 Czech and Bulgarian Jews aboard it. The Salvador was forced out to sea on December 12, despite bad weather, only to sink same day during a heavy storm off the coast of Silivri, on the Sea of Marmara. As a consequence, 204 people drowned, at least 70 of them children.

On December 15, 1941, the Struma ship, in an effort to save 769 Romanian Jews from the German extermination, had left Constanza harbor to carry them to the land of Israel, and tried to dock in Istanbul. Not only was the ship completely overloaded but it was also not seaworthy because of a defective engine. A banner which read "Save Us" was fastened to the ship. For 70 days during the winter months of 1941-1942, Turkey did not allow it to dock; those on the ship struggled against disease and deaths off the coast of Istanbul, near Sarayburnu. The ship's anchor finally was cut, and the ship fastened to a pilot boat, to be drawn away to the Black Sea.

With no motor, fuel, food, water or medicine, the Struma was abandoned to its fate and was towed into the open sea. On February 24, 1942, it was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine at 2:00 a.m. Only one person survived. After the incident, then Prime Minister Refik Saydam said: "Turkey cannot become the home of those who are not wanted by anyone else."

Labor Battalions of Non-Muslims (1941-1942)

On April 22, 1941, 12,000 non-Muslims, including Jewish men between the ages of 27 and 40, were sent in extreme hot weather as soldiers to camps with no infrastructure and a shortage of water, which were infested with mosquitoes, dampness, mud -- all of which spread malaria. Those soldiers, also known as "the Twenty Classes," were not given guns. They were forced to wear the clothes of garbagemen and to work endless hours, and were insulted and ridiculed as "infidel soldiers." Even blind and physically disabled persons were conscripted. They were made to work under terrible conditions at places such as tunnel constructions in Zonguldak and in the construction of the Youth Park in Ankara. There was hard labor, such as rock crushing and road construction in the provinces of Afyon, Karabuk, Konya, and Kutahya. The "Twenty Classes" were discharged on June 27,1942.[12]
"Due to the poor conditions during the service there were deaths and diseases among the conscripts," reported the Turkologist Ruben H. Melkonyan.

The prevailing and widespread point of view on the matter was that, wishing to participate in World War II, Turkey gathered in advance all unreliable non-Turkish men regarded as a potential "fifth column", wrote Melkonyan.

The Law of Wealth Tax (1942-1944)

On November 11, 1942, the government, led by then PM Sukru Saracoglu, enacted a Wealth Tax law, with the stated aim of overcoming the economic problems that had emerged during World War II. 87% of tax payers, however, were non-Muslims.

"The real reason for the Wealth Tax was the elimination of non-Muslims from the economy, wrote Basak Ince, an Assistant Professor of political science.[13]

Taxpayers were divided into four separate groups according to their religious background:
  1. M, for Muslims,
  2. G, for non-Muslims,
  3. E, for foreigners,
  4. D, for converts.
The amount of taxes to be paid by Armenian traders was 232%, by Jewish traders was 179%, by Greek traders was 156%. Only 4.94% of Turkish Muslims had to pay the wealth tax. So those who suffered most severely were non-Muslims such as the Jews, Greeks, Armenians, and Levantines; it was the Armenians who were most heavily taxed.

The Turkish researcher Ridvan Akar refers to the wealth tax as an economic genocide against minorities. [14]

The law was also imposed on poor non-Muslims, such as drivers, workers and even beggars, whereas their Muslim counterparts were not required to pay anything. Non-Muslims had to pay their taxes within 15 days, in cash. People unable to pay were sent to forced labor camps in eastern Anatolia.

"And those unable to pay were packed off to a camp at Askale, near Erzerum -- an area cooler than Moscow in the winter -- where they were put to work breaking stones," reported the author Sidney Nowill.[15]

The historian Corry Guttstadt, in her book Turkey, the Jews, and the Holocaust, wrote that "Although the law stipulated that people over 55 years old were exempt from labor service, 75 and 80 year old men and even sick people were dragged to the train station and deported."

These taxes ruined the lives and finances of many non-Muslim families; there were a number of suicides of non-Muslims in Istanbul. "Some people committed suicide in despair," Guttstadt wrote.

Of the people who were sent to the labor camps, 21 died there; the Turkish government confiscated their assets and sold them to Turkish Muslims at low prices.[16] "The Wealth Tax was withdrawn in March 1944, under the pressure of criticism from Britain and the United States," Ince reported.

Murders and Unjust Trials

On August 17, 1927, Elza Niyego, a 22-year-old Jewish woman, was stabbed to death by Osman Ratip Bey, a married man, age 42, who had proposed her but was rejected. The dead body of the young woman was left out for three hours in the street. Elza's mother was not allowed to cover her daughter's dead body, an order that aroused a great reaction among the Jewish community. Masses who joined the funeral on 18 August shouted, "We want justice!". After the funeral, attended by crowd whose number was estimated to range between 10 to 25 thousand, the Cumhuriyet (Republic) newspaper started an intense anti-Semitic campaign. The Cumhuriyet and other newspapers featured headlines which referred to Jews as "the ungrateful" or "the arrogant."

At the end of the trial, the murderer Osman Ratip Bey was sent to a mental asylum, but not to prison. Nine Jews and a Russian witness of the murder, however, were brought to court for "insulting Turkishness," and four were imprisoned. And once again, the freedom of movement of Jews across Anatolia was denied by the government, as of 29 August 1927.

On January 30, 1947, all members of a Jewish family, which consisted of seven people, were found dead in the Kendirli neighborhood of the province of Urfa. The Jewish community of Urfa was held responsible for the murder, and all Jewish men in the city were arrested. Throughout the trials, the people of Urfa boycotted Jews. The Jews who were arrested were released after three years but the Jews of Urfa had to leave the city.

Jews in Turkey Today

Jews in Turkey, even under Kemalist, non-Islamic governments, were exposed to severe and systematic discrimination for decades. Today, under an Islamist government, they are feeling unsafe and threatened again. Many people from Turkey's Jewish community are leaving the country or planning to, a prominent businessman from the community wrote in a December 2014 article for the Istanbul-based Jewish newspaper, Salom. Mois Gabay, a professional in the tourism industry, wrote, referring to the murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink in 2007: "We face threats, attacks and harassment every day. Hope is fading. Is it necessary for a 'Hrant among us' to be shot in order for the government, the opposition, civil society, our neighbors and jurists to see this?"

Gabay added that increasing numbers of Turkish Jews are making plans to move abroad with their families: "Around 37 percent of high school graduates from the Jewish community in Turkey prefer to go abroad for higher education ... This number doubled this year compared to the previous years."

It is not only students who have begun to think about building a life abroad for their families and children, Gabay wrote, but also young business people: "Last week, when I was talking to two of my friends on separate occasions, the conversation turned to our search for another country to move to. That is to say, my generation is also thinking more about leaving this country."

When anti-Semitism turns into anti-Zionism

If there had been a Jewish state while all this persecution had been taking place, Jews could have gone there in time of need.

Had there been such a state before the Holocaust, European Jews could have sought refuge. Had they had a military, they could have defended themselves from the Nazis.

After all this persecution and discrimination against Jews, the anti-Semitic tradition of Turkey still continues. In 2005, Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, became a best seller in Turkey after it was published by 13 publishing houses.

Jewish homes being built in Israel are not an obstacle to peace. The only obstacle to peace is the hatred from Israel's neighbors.
Uzay Bulut, born a Muslim, is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara.

[1] Hur, Ayse , 8 February 2009, "Isolated (!) Incidents of Anti-Semitism." Taraf Newspaper.
Bali, Rifat (1999). Turkish Jews in the Republican Years - An Adventure of Turkification (1923-1945). Iletisim Publishing House.
Bali, Rifat (2001). The Children of Moses, The Citizens of the Republic. Iletisim.
Bali, Rifat (2004). The Jews of the State and the "Other" Jew. Iletisim.

[2] Ibid
[3] Hur, Ayse, 22 January 2012, "The 'minority report' of the Republic." Taraf Newspaper.
[4] Ibid
[5] Yabancılara Çalışma Yasağı
[6] Ibid
[7] Bali, Rifat (1999). Turkish Jews in the Republican Years - An Adventure of Turkification (1923-1945). Iletisim Publishing House. Ince, Basak (2012). Citizenship and Identity in Turkey: From Atatürk's Republic to the Present Day. I. B. Tauris.
[8] Demirel, Isil (2011). "Ladino: Turkey is Forgetting a Language." Atlas Magazine.
[9] Türkiye'de Sürgün
[10] Ibid
[11] Guttstadt, Corry (2013). Turkey, the Jews, and the Holocaust. Cambridge University Press. Bali, Rifat (2004). The Jews of the State and the "Other" Jew. Iletisim.
[12] Bali, Rifat (2008). The Twenty Classes: The Episode of Military Service of Non-Muslims during the Second World War. Kitabevi Publishing House.
[13] Ince, Basak (2012). Citizenship and Identity in Turkey: From Atatürk's Republic to the Present Day. I. B. Tauris.
[14] "Report: The law that coveted the 'wealth' of minorities," by Zeynep Ozakat, Milliyet newspaper, 15/12/2009.
[15] Nowill, Sidney E. P. (2011). Constantinople and Istanbul: 72 Years of Life in Turkey. Matador.
[16] Ince, Basak (2012). Citizenship and Identity in Turkey: From Atatürk's Republic to the Present Day. I. B. Tauris.

Uzay Bulut, born a Muslim, is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama’s Surrender to Iranian Nukes - Morton A. Klein and Dr. Daniel Mandel

by Morton A. Klein and Dr. Daniel Mandel

The fact is that President Obama has a six year record of indulging and conceding to Iran, without having achieved anything to prevent it becoming a nuclear power, which he’s repeatedly and publicly proclaimed he would do “everything, everything” to prevent.

Last week, 10 Senate Democrats who had persistently expressed concern over President Barack Obama’s concessionary policy to Iran over its nuclear weapons program, announced via a letter to the President that they would desist from seeking to pass new legislation to reimpose sanctions in the event of a failure in nuclear talks. Under reportedly enormous pressure from the White House, the senators said that they would await the March 24 deadline for a negotiated framework for an agreement with Tehran, despite their doubts that any such agreement would be forthcoming.
This delay is a serious mistake, because one of the few things that might induce Tehran to agree to terminating its nuclear weapons program would be the certainty of renewed tough sanctions if it didn’t. Now such pressure is absent and the chances of Iran agreeing correspondingly reduced.

But this is only the latest blow to diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear threshold power. The fact is that President Obama has a six year record of indulging and conceding to Iran, without having achieved anything to prevent it becoming a nuclear power, which he’s repeatedly and publicly proclaimed he would do “everything, everything” to prevent.

Obama could have availed himself of the huge demonstrations in Iran following the rigged 2009 presidential elections that confirmed the genocide advocate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power to concert international pressure on the regime. He could have even called for the regime to step aside –– as he did in 2011 when American ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was similarly assailed by mass protests. Instead, he refused, saying that it was “not productive” to be be “meddling … in Iranian elections.” 

Obama has a disturbing record on Iran sanctions. For over a year after entering office, he prohibited a Congressional vote on new sanctions. Moreover, the 2010 UN Security Council sanctions regime he eventually supported included huge exemptions for numerous countries, like China, which has huge contracts in Iran’s energy sector developing oil refineries, and Russia, which supplies S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran. 

In 2011, Obama sought to torpedo or weaken new and stronger Congressional sanctions on Iran, even after these had been softened at his request, leading Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), then Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to publicly and angrily criticize the Administration.

In 2013, Obama quietly lifted financial pressure on Tehran, stopping the blacklisting of entities and individuals assisting Iran’s evasion of international sanctions. He also damagingly publicized Israeli preparations to deal militarily with Iran, including Israeli use of Azerbaijan airfields.

Then came the biggest subversion of the cause of keeping Iran nuclear weapon-free: the Geneva Interim Agreement with Iran, which gave Tehran vital sanctions relief totaling some $20 billion (not the $6-7 billion originally conceded by the Administration) while permitting Iran to retain intact all the essential elements of its nuclear weapons program:
  • Continued construction of its Arak plutonium plant
  • Continued uranium enrichment to 5% (which, with 19,000 centrifuges, can enable swift enrichment to weapons-grade level, allowing Iran to become a break-out nuclear state in a matter of months)
  • Continued research and massive upgrading of centrifuges, enabling Iran to achieve a nuclear breakout in a mere two months
  • Continued nuclear research at military installations like Parchin, which remain off-limits to inspectors
  • Continued intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programs, whose only purpose is carrying nuclear warheads and which, according to U.S. intelligence, will enable Iran to strike the U.S. itself by 2015
Iranian aggression is also met with silence. Tehran’s Syrian ally, Bashar Assad, continues to murder and maim across Syria in a conflict that has already claimed 200,000 lives. Iran continues funding of the radical Islamic terror group, Hezbollah, which helps keep Assad in power. Iranian-supported rebels have just toppled Yemen’s pro-American government. Iran has increasing hold in large swathes of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Silence.

So, too, with Iranian threats to the U.S. and Israel. Statements continue to be made by Khamenei and other senior Iranian figures, publicly calling for destruction of U.S., the “Great Satan,” –– like  the Iranian Defense Ministry recently declaring that “the Iranian nation still sees the U.S. as the No. 1 enemy.” Iran has been quietly expanding its reach in Latin America, courtesy of friendly regimes. Silence.

Instead, Obama fights proposed sanctions, which will only be imposed if there’s no nuclear deal, and is outraged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts an invitation to address the Congress on the subject, a record which even led Senator Menendez to declare, “the more I hear from the Administration … the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”

Perhaps Obama believes a nuclear Iran will be a source of stability. Perhaps he thinks an America that cannot threaten a nuclear Iran is good news. But what cannot be argued is that Obama intends to stop Iran becoming a nuclear threshold state.

Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).  
Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Hamas and the Nexus of Global Jihad - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been a major player, indeed, arguably the key player in the jihadist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that threatens to destroy the political, economic and military viability of the Egyptian state. The declared purpose of the insurgency is to overthrow the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and integrate Egypt into Islamic State’s “caliphate.”

Hamas-CC-photo-from-Wikimedia-CommonsOriginally published by the Jerusalem Post

On Wednesday, Hamas leader in Gaza Mahmoud Zahar called on Hamas terrorists in Lebanon and Syria to attack Israel “to help us liberate Palestine.”
At the same time, Zahar denied that Hamas has been involved in the terrorist insurgency in Egypt. As he put it, “Our guns are always trained on the enemy,” that is, Israel.

The Egyptian regime was not impressed by Zahar’s protestations.

Last Saturday, an Egyptian court upheld an October 2014 decision by the Egyptian government to outlaw Hamas’s terrorist shock forces Izzadin Kassam, and designate it a terrorist organization.

Both the government’s initial designation and the court’s decision were in some sense, watershed events. They represent the first time an Arab regime ever defined any Palestinian terrorist organization as a terrorist group.

But in truth, Egypt had no choice. Despite its insistent protestations that the Jews are its only enemies, Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been a major player, indeed, arguably the key player in the jihadist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that threatens to destroy the political, economic and military viability of the Egyptian state. The declared purpose of the insurgency is to overthrow the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and integrate Egypt into Islamic State’s “caliphate.”

Last week saw yet another devastating terror assault against Egyptian security forces and civilians in Sinai and in cities around Egypt. Thirty- two people, mainly soldiers, were killed in a coordinated, multifaceted attack that included Hamas’s three signature modes of operation – mortars, rockets and suicide bombings.

Last week’s assault, like almost all previous ones, was credited to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a jihadist group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State and declared Sinai a province of its “caliphate.”

According to a report by Yoram Schweitzer from the Institute for National Security Studies, Hamas members were among the original founders of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. The Egyptian government views Hamas-controlled Gaza as the rear headquarters of the group. In founding the group, Hamas cooperated with local Salafist Beduin and with al-Qaida terrorists who escaped Egyptian prisons during the January 2011 uprising against then-president Hosni Mubarak.

From the outset, Egyptian security forces alleged that Hamas terrorists conducted the prison breaches. Among the other Islamists released during the jail breaks was Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi reportedly used Hamas terrorists as his regime’s Praetorian guard. They were charged with protecting the Muslim Brotherhood regime from protesters who opposed his moves to rapidly transform Egypt into an Islamist state and the spearhead of the Brotherhood’s sought-for global caliphate.

From an ideological perspective, there is no distinction between the Brotherhood and Hamas. From an organizational perspective, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood branch has no difficulty integrating its forces seamlessly into the wider Muslim Brotherhood operational structure to serve what it views as their common ends.

And this brings us back to the insurgency in Sinai. In addition to claiming that Hamas enables Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Cairo accuses Hamas of having directly carried out several mass casualty terror attacks against its security forces. The most recent one, carried out in late October 2014, killed 31 soldiers. It precipitated Cairo’s decision to expand its security zone between Gaza and Sinai from 1 to 2 kilometers and begin emptying the Egyptian side of the border-straddling city of Rafah. It was also the catalyst for the government’s decision to label Izzadin Kassam a terrorist group.

The timing of last week’s attack indicates the close coordination between Hamas-Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and the Muslim Brotherhood. As The Washington Free Beacon reported, two days before the attacks the Muslim Brotherhood issued a call for “a long, uncompromising jihad” in Egypt.

Hamas’s intimate relationship with what has now become the Islamic State affiliate in Sinai may well have facilitated the seeding of Islamic State cells in Gaza and Judea and Samaria, where Hamas terrorists are increasingly declaring their allegiance to Islamic State. Following last month’s massacre of the French journalists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, several hundred protesters in Gaza waved Islamic State flags while burning the French flag in support of the massacre.

In recent weeks, Israeli security forces have arrested several cells of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from Judea and Samaria that sought to establish Islamic State cells.

Beyond its role in both leading and enabling the insurgency in Sinai in concert with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas serves as a bridge between Iran and Sunni jihadists. In the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge last summer, Hamas began rebuilding its ties to Iran. Until the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, when Hamas felt obliged to support the Muslim Brotherhood that was fighting the Iranian-backed regime of President Bashar Assad, Iran had served as Hamas’s primary state sponsor since 2005. Iran never entirely cut off its support for Hamas. But after last summer’s war, it reinstated its formal alliance with Hamas.

On Saturday, in an interview with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television, Hamas’s Zahar called on Iran to increase its aid to the terror group.

He also called on Hezbollah to increase its cooperation with Hamas and send terrorist reinforcements to Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

Two days later, Iranian Brig.-Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, answered Zahar’s call. In an interview with Iran’s Fars news agency on Monday, Hajizadeh said that Iran is “exporting the technology of manufacturing missiles and other equipment,” to “Syria, Iran and Palestine as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah to stand up to and ground the Zionist regime, ISIL and other Takfiri [i.e. fake Islamic] groups.

Hamas’s bridging role between the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic State on the one hand, and between Iran and Hezbollah on the other, shows two things. First, that the Palestinian jihadist group, which the European Union is now trying to decide whether or not to label a terrorist organization, after the previous designation was struck down by an EU court, is about much more than destroying Israel. It poses a threat to people far beyond Israel. And its role in the terror nexus is not that of a bit player, but of a linchpin and a unifying force.

It also shows the unity of the threat of Sunni and Shi’ite Islamic totalitarianism. Egypt recognizes this unity.

According to the Arabic Al-Ahram daily, on Wednesday the head of Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority, Lt.-Gen. Mohab Mamish, said that Egypt will defend the freedom of maritime traffic along the Bab el-Mandab that links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Last month, Iranian- backed Houthi militia overthrew the US-backed Yemeni government. They now exert effective control over the country, and with it, the Bab el-Mandab.

Mamish said that Egypt “will not accept” closure of the waterway which “directly affects the Suez canal and national security.”

In other words, Egypt sees a unity of the terror forces along the Sunni-Shi’ite continuum and believes its national survival is dependent on defeating both.

Israel has been doing everything it can to assist Egypt’s efforts in Sinai. Egyptian commanders have taken the extraordinary step of publicly thanking Israel for its help.

Yet, Israel is in a bind. Even as it seeks to assist Egypt in fighting Hamas and its allies in Sinai, due to US and European pressure, Israel is coerced into enabling Hamas to rebuild its terror infrastructure in Gaza. As the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Research Center revealed in a recent report, even as civilians in Gaza suffer through mass shortages and lack of shelter, Hamas has invested huge sums of money to rebuild its rocket arsenal through domestic production. It has restored much of its tunnel network. And it has used vast resources to train and indoctrinate some 17,000 teenagers in Gaza, and to train thousands of new forces. A new people’s militia has 2,500 recruits. Two Hamas officer courses with 1,060 cadets graduated in December 2014.

As the center’s director Dr. Reuven Erlich told The Jerusalem Post, “Israel will encounter these [forces and installations] in the next round of fighting.”

In other words, Israel’s ability to take effective action against Hamas in concert with Egypt is hampered by the Obama administration that is insisting that Israel facilitate the Hamas’s rearmament – a development that threatens Israel and Egypt alike.

And Israel isn’t alone in its plight. Egypt is also being pressured by President Barack Obama and his administration.

In its war against Sunni and Shi’ite jihadist forces that threaten to destroy Egypt, and among other things, cause mass harm to the global economy by imperiling maritime traffic, Egypt finds itself betrayed by the Obama administration.

Last month, just a few days before the Muslim Brotherhood called for “a long and uncompromising jihad” against Egypt, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood met with senior US officials at the State Department. In response to a reporter’s question about the meeting, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki insisted that despite the Brotherhood’s call for holy war against the US’s closest Arab ally, the administration has no regrets about meeting, and so conferring legitimacy and implying US support for the Brotherhood in its war against the Sisi government.

Opposition leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni have based their electoral campaign against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on blaming him for the crisis in Israel’s relations with the White House. It is hard to think of a more cynical, destructive allegation.

As the administration’s continued embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood despite its full membership in the terrorist nexus that threatens the US and all of its closest allies, along with its desperate courtship of the Iranian mullahs, makes clear, the Obama administration has chosen to appease rather than combat America’s worst enemies.

Perhaps the most sympathetic interpretation of Livni’s and Herzog’s unwarranted and harmful assaults against Netanyahu is that they simply cannot accept that the world has changed.

But the trends are clear. The only responsible thing that Israel can do is to act accordingly.

Today Israel’s closest ally is Egypt. Under Obama, the US is a force to be worked around, not worked with.

Caroline Glick


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama: We're No Better than Islamic State - Raymond Ibrahim

by Raymond Ibrahim

Pope Urban II ordered the first crusade in response to the same kinds of atrocities being committed by the Islamic State today.

Originally published under the title, "Obama: Christianity No Different Than the Islamic State."

President Obama, speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5
As the world reacts with shock and horror at the increasingly savage deeds of the Islamic State (IS)—most recently the immolation of a captive—U.S. President Obama's response has been one of nonjudgmental relativism.

Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, Obama counseled Americans to get off their "high horse" and remember that Christians have been equally guilty of such atrocities:
Unless we get on our high horse and think this [beheadings, sex-slavery, crucifixion, roasting humans] is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.
There is so much to be said here. First, the obvious: the wide gulf between violence and hate "justified in the name of Christ" and violence and hate "justified in the name of Muhammad" is that Christ never justified it, while Muhammad continuously did.

This is not just a theoretic point; it is the very reason that Muslims are still committing savage atrocities. Every evil act IS commits—whether beheading, crucifying, raping, enslaving, or immolating humans—has precedents in the deeds of Muhammad, that most "perfect" and "moral" man, per Koran 33:21 and 68:4 (see "The Islamic State and Islam" for parallels).

The wide gulf between violence "justified in the name of Christ" and violence "justified in the name of Muhammad" is that Christ never justified it, while Muhammad continuously did.
Does Obama know something about Christ—who eschewed violence and told people to love and forgive their enemies—that we don't? Perhaps he's clinging to that solitary verse that academics like Philip Jenkins habitually highlight, that Christ—who "spoke to the multitudes in parables and without a parable spoke not" once said, "I come not to bring peace but a sword." (Matt. 10:34, 13:34).

Jesus was not commanding violence against non-Christians but rather predicting that Christians will be persecuted, including by family members (as, for example, when a Muslim family slaughters their child for "apostatizing" to Christianity as happens frequently).

Conversely, in its fatwa justifying the burning of the Jordanian captive, the Islamic State cites Muhammad putting out the eyes of some with "heated irons" (he also cut their hands and feet off). The fatwa also cites Khalid bin al-Walid—the heroic "Sword of Allah"—who burned apostates to death, including one man whose head he set on fire to cook his dinner on.

Nor is the Islamic State alone in burning people. Recently a "mob accused of burning alive a Christian couple in an industrial kiln in Pakistan allegedly wrapped a pregnant mother in cotton so she would catch fire more easily."

As for the Islamic "authorities," Al Azhar—the Islamic world's oldest and most prestigious university which cohosted Obama's 2009 "New Beginning" speech—still assigns books that justify every barbarity IS commits, including burning people alive. Moreover, Al Azhar—a religious institution concerned with what is and is not Islamic—has called for the cutting off of the hands and feet of IS members, thereby legitimizing such acts according to Islamic law.

Pope Urban II ordered the first crusade in response to the same kinds of atrocities being committed by the Islamic State today.
On the other hand, does Obama know of some secret document in the halls of the Vatican that calls for amputating, beheading or immolating enemies of Christ to support his religious relativism?

As for the much maligned Crusades, Obama naturally follows the mainstream academic narrative that anachronistically portrays the crusaders as greedy, white, Christian imperialists who decided to conquer peace-loving Muslims in the Middle East.

Again, familiarity with the true sources and causes behind the Crusades shows that they were a response to the very same atrocities being committed by the Islamic State today.

Consider the words of Pope Urban II, spoken almost a millennium ago, and note how well the portions in italics perfectly mirror IS behavior:
From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians [i.e., Muslim Turks] … has invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage and fire; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country [as slaves], and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own religion …. What shall I say of the abominable rape of the women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent…. On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you? You, upon whom above other nations God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage, bodily activity, and strength…
If the crusaders left their own lands and families to come to the aid of persecuted Christians and to liberate Jerusalem, here is Obama portraying them as no better than the Islamic State—which isn't surprising considering that, far from helping persecuted Christians, Obama's policies have significantly worsened their plight.

The true lesson of the Crusades is that Islamic violence has been remarkably consistent, down to its very patterns of persecution. And, according to primary historical texts—not modern day fantasies peddled by the likes of Karen Armstrong—Muslim persecution of Christians was indeed a primary impetus for the Crusades.

As for the Inquisition, this too took place in the context of Christendom's struggle with Islam. (Isn't it curious that the European nation most associated with the Inquisition, Spain, was also the one ruled longest by, and heavily populated with, Muslims?) After the Christian reconquest of Spain, Muslims, seen as untrustworthy, were ordered either to convert to Christianity or go back to Africa whence they came. Countless Muslims feigned conversion by practicing taqiyya and living as moles, always trying to subvert Spain back to Islam. Hence the extreme measures of the Inquisition—which, either way, find no support in the teachings of Christ.
Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, called for the murder of his enemies, incited his followers to conquer and plunder non-believers, and kept sex slaves.
Conversely, after one of his jihads, Muhammad had a man tortured to death with fire in order to reveal his tribe's hidden treasure and "married" the same man's wife hours later. Unsurprisingly, the woman, Safiya, later confessed that "Of all men, I hated the prophet the most—for he killed my husband, my brother, and my father," before "marrying" her.

In short, Obama's claim that there will always be people willing to "hijack religion for their own murderous ends" is patently false when applied to the Islamic State and like organizations and individuals.

Muhammad himself called for the murder of his enemies; he permitted Muslims to feign friendship to his enemies in order to assassinate them; he incited his followers to conquer and plunder non-believers, promising them a sexual paradise if they were martyred; he kept sex slaves and practiced pedophilia with his "child-bride," Aisha.

He, the prophet of Islam, did everything the Islamic State is doing.

If Muslims are supposed to follow the sunna, or example, of Muhammad, and if Muhammad engaged in and justified every barbarity being committed by the Islamic State and other Muslims—how, exactly, are they "hijacking" Islam?

Such is the simple logic Obama fails to grasp. Or else he does grasp it—but hopes most Americans don't.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.