A sign stating “This Location To Be Demolished” at the entrance to the Neveh Shalom synagogue, Istanbul, November 2014. Photo: MEMRI
The “French effect” – increasing numbers of Jews leaving a country because of anti-Semitic harassment and hostility from the media and radical politicians – is now emerging in Turkey, where a Turkish-Jewish businessman has warned, in an oped for the Istanbul-based Jewish newspaper Şalom, that a growing number of community members are heading for the exit.
“We face threats, attacks and harassment every day. Hope is fading,” wrote Moise Gabay, a professional in the tourism industry, in an article published on December 10.
In its summary of the article, leading Turkish daily Hurriyet highlighted Gabay’s claim that “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.”
Gabay also cited anecdotal evidence of increasing unease among Turkish Jews. “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,” he related.
Uppermost in Gabay’s mind, though, is the fear of anti-Semitic violence.
“The laws have changed. Hate speech is now a crime, but when is a lawsuit ever opened over hate speech against our community? I don’t blame the government alone for this. The opposition, civil society, unions and the democratic public sphere should be a shield for us. They should monitor these incidents. Are they waiting for the shooting of a ‘Hrant’ among us?” he wrote, in a reference to the murder of Hrant Dink, a prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist, by a teenage nationalist in 2007.
Turkish leaders periodically reassure Jews of their safety and worth – just today, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described his country’s Jews as “the fundamental elements of Turkey” in his greetings for the Chanukah festival which begins tonight – but occasionally soothing words offer little hope in an increasingly hostile environment. Erdoğan himself has described Israel as “worse than Hitler” and, more recently, has lambasted Israel’s “occupation” of the Al Aqsa mosque (located on the same Temple Mount in Jerusalem where, ironically, the Chanukah story took place) as “cruel and barbaric.”
Such sentiments from the country’s authoritarian leader inevitably trickle downwards. As the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) observed in a report on Turkish anti-Semitism issued in September, “Antisemitic incitement by Turkish government officials, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s oft-repeated statements that Israel is more barbaric than Hitler, and antisemitic accusations and threats by the media that support and promote Turkey’s AKP ruling party have fostered an upsurge in antisemitism in the country. A recent survey by Gonzo Insight, the Turkish polling institute, found that in just 24 hours, on July 17-18, 2014, 27,309 Turkish Twitter …read more
Source:: The Algemeiner