previous years, most antisemitism in Turkey in 2007 was expressed in
publications, particularly Islamist newspapers, such as Vakit and Milli Gazete, and ultra-nationalist ones such as Yeni
Çağ, as well as in books
published that year. The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a declaration on
January 27, international Holocaust Remembrance Day, stating its resolute
opposition to antisemitism and its determination to make sure that an event
like the Holocaust would never occur again.
the Jewish community
The Jewish community numbers approximately 20,000 out of a
total population of 70 million. Some 18,000 live in Istanbul, 1,800 in Izmir and the rest are scattered throughout the country.
The Jewish community is represented by the
Chief Rabbinate. There are 23 active synagogues in Turkey, more than half of
which are located in Istanbul. Istanbul also has Jewish social clubs, a Jewish
school, two homes for the elderly and a Jewish hospital. The community
publishes a weekly newspaper, Shalom, in Turkish and a newsletter in Ladino.
Political ideologies and parties
The National View (or Milli Görüş, in
Turkish) is an Islamist ideology developed in 1970 by Necmettin Erbakan and continued
today by the Felicity Party. The National View promotes Islamic values and
opposes Israel, Zionism, the EU, the western world, the US and globalization. Although banned several times from participating in
politics, Erbakan is currently leader of the Islamist National View movement and acts as an advisor to the
The ruling Justice and Development Party
(Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – AKP), led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, split from the National View movement in 2001.
While it defines itself as a conservative democratic party its ideology has Islamic
roots and it follows a moderate form of Islam.
The secular ultra-nationalist stream consists
of: the traditional Nationalist Action Party (Milliyetçi Hareket),
left-wing groups (such as the Workers Party − İşçi
Partisi), which oppose the EU, the US and globalization, and various small
nationalist groups. Supporters of these organizations attack the pro-Israel and
pro-US line of the AKP.
The main opposition is the socio-democratic Republican
People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi − CHP), a secular, Ataturkist
party which views foreign and economic affairs though a nationalist prism.
After the July 2007 election, the Nationalist Action Party became the second
opposition party in the parliament.
While the campaigns of the main parliamentary parties for the July
election did not include antisemitic propaganda, Erbakan, in his drive to
garner support for the Felicity Party, made some antisemitic statements,
including the allegation that the Old Testament was
distorted by the Jews and that all their brutality stems from it (for a quote
of this canard repeated in August, see below). The party got only 2
percent of the vote and no parliamentary seats.
No violent antisemitic incident against Turkey’s Jewish
community was recorded in 2007.
However, Turkish police are constantly on the alert and have stepped up security
at Jewish institutions against potential threats, alongside the community’s own
Most antisemitism in Turkey is manifested in publications − newspapers, magazines and
books. Many young
educated Turks, the main readership of this literature, are heavily influenced
by this propaganda and consequently form a negative view of Jews and Israel, although they may never have met either a Jew or an Israeli.
Extremely antisemitic articles appear in the Islamist
newspapers Anadoluda Vakit (Vakit) and Milli Gazete
(semi-official organ of the National View), as well as in ultra-nationalist
publications such as Yeni Çağ. Their rhetoric is unchanging: commentaries attacking Jews
or Judaism directly, for example, by accusing the Jews of distorting the Old
Testament or citing from antisemitic books such as The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion; and virulent criticism of Israeli policies, the state
itself and Zionism.
Conspiracy theories are used by both Islamists
and ultra-nationalists to demonize both Jews and Israel. Turkish-Israeli arms
modernization projects; agricultural projects in southeast Turkey connected to
GAP (the South-East Anatolia Agricultural Irrigation Project), which employ
Israeli experts; mutual visits of Turkish and Israeli officials; and the
alleged role of the Mossad in northern Iraq have all nourished these theories.
Another common notion is that the Jews, the supposed chosen people who consider
themselves superior to others, are trying to take over the world by creating
problems in the countries to which they have spread, thereby destroying them;
some allegations relate specifically to Turkish Jews (see below).
The Donme (followers of Shabtai Zvi, 1626–76),
Jews who converted to Islam in the seventeenth century, are frequently
discussed in the Islamist media. The descendants of the Donme (identified
by their surnames) are accused by journalists such as
Mehmet Sevket Eygi of Milli Gazete and by the leftist Yalçın
Küçük in several of his books of being undercover Jews who
have attained high office in the Turkish administration, which they misuse for
their own hidden agenda.
Another claim often raised by ultra-nationalist papers such as Yeni
Çağ since the war in Iraq is that most Kurds, including leaders
Mustafa Barzani and Jalal Talabani, are of Jewish origin, whose alleged
ultimate goal is to set up another state of Israel in northern Iraq under the guise of a sovereign Kurdish state.
are some examples illustrating the above canards, as well as antisemitic
references to events that occurred in 2007:
On January 5, Yeni Çağ stated: “The government is
selling our land to foreigners. Rahşan Ecevit, wife of ex-Prime Minister
Bülent Ecevit pointed out how Israel had been set up and claimed that a
second Palestinian case might come about in southeast Turkey. Such a state, which will serve the ultimate dream of a Greater Israel – ‘the Promised Land’ – from the Nile to the
Euphrates, will include part of southeast Turkey. This would
explain… why Israel is allegedly buying up
land in southeast Turkey, inter alia, through the agency of Turkish Jews.” The Jewish Community issued a press release, demanding
information about Turkish Jews who were allegedly buying land on behalf of
Israelis. No official answer was received.
In Milli Gazete
(Jan. 7), columnist Mehmet Şevket Eygi
claimed that the Donme Jews had “two identities. They seem Muslim externally
but are insincere inside. They have become very powerful, a small state within a
state, which they have misused for their own hidden agenda.” On February 3, the paper asked:
“Jewish prayer in Iraq, is it for a Kurdish state in Iraq or for a
Jewish-Kurdish state?” Referring to the visit
of President Shimon Peres to the Turkish Parliament, an editorial (Nov. 13),
said: “A day of shame! What is this man whose only skill is to shed the blood
of Muslim people doing in the Turkish Parliament?”
Milli Gazete (Aug. 12) also reported Erbakan’s reiteration of his Old
Testament canard made during the election campaign: “The Old Testament is
distorted by the Jews. All their brutality comes from it. Jews torture due to
their passion for worship.”
24 and Oct. 27) published articles with headings such as “The Unethical
Mişon” and “Impudent Mişon.” (“Mişon” is a common Jewish first
name for Moses/Moshe). It also branded the mainstream newspaper Radikal
“Radikal the Jew Lover,” after the latter had criticized Vakit for
highlighting the Jewish school in Istanbul as a potential target for terrorists.
After some mainstream newspapers had criticized
the posting of a notice with a Qu’ran verse stating: “Do not make friends with Jews
and Christians” on the door of a tourist mosque, Vakit (Nov. 25) headed its news item, “A Real
Muslim Does Not Take Offense at This Issue.” The notice was subsequently removed. On December 12, Vakit accused
rabbis of distorting the Old Testament by “spreading hate and malice.” A day
later, after Vitali Hakko, a prominent Jewish businessman, owner of the Vakko fashion
chain had died at the age of 94, Vakit columnist Hasan Karakaya wrote:
“Whenever I look at the tissues sold in Vakko, I feel that blood is flowing
Referring to the Anti-defamation League’s (ADL) change in position vis-à-vis
the Armenian tragedy and use of the phrase “tantamount to genocide,” Yusuf Kaplan in Yeni Şafak (Sept. 4) stated:
“With a few exceptions, Jews are never friends of Turks. Jews always hate
Turks/Muslims.” In Milli Gazete, Fahri Güven (15 Dec.) quoted as a
headline the title “The Jew Is Trouble, Armenia Is a Second Israel,” from the
book by M. Ertuğrul Düzdağ and Üstad Ali Ulvi Kurucu, Hatıralar-3
(Memories 3) (Izmir: Kaynak, Nov. 2007).
The mainstream Hürriyet (April 16)
reported that the Israeli soccer player Pini Balili, who plays for Sivasspor) cried
during a match after players of the opposing team called him “a Jewish bastard,”
among other insults.
books in 2007 included Moses’ Kids, about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
and his wife, and Moses’ Rose, about Turkish President Abdullah Gül
(Gül means “rose”). Both books, by Ergün Poyraz, attempted to
show that these Turkish leaders were pandering to Judaism and not seeing to the
interests of the country.
The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion continues to be translated into Turkish and is sold under titles such
as The Mentality of the Jew; it is not very popular, however, and is not
displayed prominently in book stores.
writers promoting Jewish conspiracy theories are the journalist-author “Hasan
Taşkın,” who dwells on the theme of the GAP agricultural project. In
2007, he republished his book, Secret Report about the GAP. Another
journalist, “Hasan Demir” published a collection of articles he had written in
the newspaper Yeni Çağ in a book called Is There a Secret
Israeli State in Ankara [the capital of Turkey]. Both books deal with the
Torah ideals of a Greater Israel, stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates and
including part of southeast Turkey, and the notion that Turkey has to protect
itself from this threat.
book published in 2007 was Blue Imperalism by “Ali
Uğur,” which can be purchased only on the Internet (http://www.kitapyurdu.com/kitap/120251/maviemperyalizm). It claims that the Old Testament has been distorted
by the Jews and demonstrates how the Jews have put some of it into practice, for
example, by killing their enemies, “both man and woman, child and infant,” and their
animals (u254 aya.34/1-3; 1. Samuel 15/2-4).
Attitudes toward the Holocaust and responses to antisemitism
Following Turkey’s signature, together with 104 other countries
in December 2005, of the UN agreement denoting January 27, the date of the
liberation of Auschwitz in 1945, as Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Foreign
Ministry issued a lengthy declaration on January 27, 2007. It emphasized that antisemitism, like all kinds of racism, was a crime against humanity and a
concern common to everyone, and should be combated resolutely. Turkey, it said, was also a signatory to the draft of a Holocaust denial resolution
presented to the UN General Assembly on January 27, 2005. The statement also
underlined the strong ties between Turks and Jews that had existed throughout
history and the rescue of Jews by Turkish diplomats during World War II. It
ended by declaring that Turkey would do everything in its power to prevent the
recurrence of such an event.
In addition, Bilkent University, one of Turkey’s leading academic
institutions, organized a series of Holocaust films at a cinema in Ankara, on January
28-30, called “Turkey and the Holocaust – Commemorating Prof. Stanford Shaw [1930-2006,
formerly emeritus professor of Ottoman and Turkish history at the university
and author of the work Turkey and the Holocaust].” Besides leaders of the
Turkish Jewish community and the Israeli ambassador, representatives of the
Turkish foreign ministry, which supported the event, and academics from the university
were present at the gala evening.
At Bahcesehir University, Istanbul, Ephraim Kaye, an expert on the Holocaust
from Yad Vashem, gave a seminar to academics and graduate students on the
As in 2006, the Independent
Cinema Group, with the support of the Jewish community of Turkey, held a Holocaust cinema week in Istanbul in April, the period of Israel’s Yom Hashoah. Some
leading journalists invited to the gala night wrote about the event in their
columns. An exhibition of photographs from the Holocaust was also held in the Istanbul mall housing the cinema.
No trials of suspected antisemites were heard
in 2007 and there were no further developments in the cases noted in the 2006 Turkish report.