Ironically, Ottoman Jews were better tolerated than their Turkish successors
Reader comment on item: Is Turkey Going Rogue?
Submitted by Jon Ozdamar (United States), Oct 3, 2011 at 09:38
There is no doubt that Turkish Jews were oppressed in the early years of the Republic. However, this oppression was a slap in the wrist compared to what happened to Jews in the first half of the 20th century. Turkey was one of the few countries that helped Jews in the holocaust. (http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ASInt_13/4730_13.htm) Modern politics is pushing Israel into alliance with Greece and Bulgaria, even though both countries enthusiastically gave up their Jews (who they saw as unwanted vestiges from the Ottoman era) to the Nazis
You are obsessed with Dhimmitude, so let's set the record straight:
Ottoman Jews were classified as Dhimmis, and as such were legally inferior to Muslims. (This class distinction was however eliminated by Sultan Abdülmecid I in 1856, whose reforms made all Ottoman subjects legally equal regardless of their religion. The Sultan, also the Caliph of Islam, in effect directly contradicted the Koran by freeing all non-Muslims from the Jizya poll-tax).
In contrast, Turkish Jews are an official minority and ostensibly have rights equal to any other citizen of Turkey.
Iskender, you will not find a single example of violence against Jews instigated by ethnic Turk in Ottoman history. It can be argued that all Jews were universally abused as second-class Dhimmis. However, relative to what Ashkenazi Jews had to endure in Europe and the abject humiliation Mizrahi Jews faced in Morocco and Iran, Sephardic Jews in the Ottoman Empire were tolerated and sometimes even prospered.
An example: The Ottoman city of Salonika (modern day Thessaloniki, Greece), was the only city outside of Israel in history that had a Jewish-majority population. This demographic was entirely a product of Ottoman migrations; Salonika did not have a substantial Jewish population before the Ottoman era, and after passing to the Greeks her Jews were erased from history. Salonikan Jews prospered in the classical Ottoman era (even though they were officially classified as Dhimmis). The ornate textiles of the Janissary corp., the elite division of the Ottoman Military, were exclusively woven by the Jews of Salonika. Their prosperity however gradually diminished in correlation with the disbandment of the Janissaries in 1826.
You abuse the term "Dhimmi" because Jews in fact were better tolerated in the Islamic Ottoman Empire than in the secular Republic of Turkey. It is painfully ironic.
Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".
Reader comments (150) on this item
Comment on this item
Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes