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Turkish Jews

Reader comment on item: Goodbye Ankara
in response to reader comment: "Turkey ... a model of modernity and moderation for other Muslims to follow"

Submitted by BuyukAdam (United States), Oct 22, 2011 at 11:04

Ianus,

With all due respect, your comment is nonsense. I have lived and worked in Turkey and I still have strong Turkish ties. I never found a trace of antisemitism in Turkey, except from extremists of the far left and right. They hate Armenians, Greeks, and Kurds at least as much, so I can't even call their actions true antisemitism. I've talked to Turkish Jews in Turkey and in Israel. Same story no antisemitism. The Turks are nothing like you describe. They are one of the nicest, kindest, and most hospitable group of people in the world. If you Google Turkish Jews you will find the site where the following comes from.

During the tragic days of World War II, Turkey managed to maintain its neutrality. As early as 1933 Ataturk invited numbers of prominent German Jewish professors to flee Nazi Germany and settle in Turkey. Before and during the war years, these scholars contributed a great deal to the development of the Turkish university system. During World War II Turkey served as a safe passage for many Jews fleeing the horrors of the Nazism. While the Jewish communities of Greece were wiped out almost completely by Hitler, the Turkish Jews remained secure. Several Turkish diplomats Ambassadors Behic Erkin and Numan Menemencioglu; ConsulGenerals Fikret Sefik Ozdoganci, Bedii Arbel, Selahattin Ulkumen; Consuls Namik Kemal Yolga and Necdet Kent, just to name only few of them (7) spent all their efforts to save from the Holocaust the Turkish Jews in those countries, and succeeded. Mr. Salahattin Ulkumen, Consul General at Rhodes in 1943 1944, has been recognized by the Yad Vashem as a Righteous Gentile "Hassid Umot ha'Olam" in June 1990. Turkey continues to be a shelter, a haven for all those who have to flee the dogmatism, intolerance and persecution.

You are here: Home / History of the Turkish Jews

History of the Turkish Jews

By Naim Guleryuz

Foreword

On the midnight of August 2nd 1492, when Colombus embarked on what would become his most famous expedition to the New World, his fleet departed from the relatively unknown seaport of Palos because the shipping lanes of Cadiz and Seville were clogged with Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain by the Edict of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain.

The Jews forced either to convert to Christianism or to "leave" the country under menace "they dare not return... not so much as to take a step on them not trepass upon them in any manner whatsoever" left their land, their property, their belongings all that was theirs and familiar to them rather than abadon their beliefs, their traditions, their heritage.

In the faraway Ottoman Empire, one ruler extended an immediate welcome to the persecuted Jews of Spain, the Sepharadim. He was the Sultan Bayazid II.

As we approach 1992, the Discovery year for all those connected to the American continents North, Central and South world Jewry is concerned with commemorating not only the expulsion, but also seven centuries of the Jewish life in Spain, flourishing under Moslem rule, and the 500th anniversary of the official welcome extended by the Ottoman Empire in 1492.

This humanitarianism is consistent with the beneficence and goodwill traditionally displayed by the Turkish government and people towards those of different creeds, cultures and backgrounds. Indeed, Turkey could serve as a model to be emulated by any nation which finds refugees from any of the four corners of the world standing at its doors.

In 1992, Turkish Jewry will celebrate not only the anniversary of this gracious welcome, but also the remarkable spirit of tolerance and acceptance which has characterized the whole Jewish experience in Turkey. The events being planned, symposiums, conferences, concerts, exhibitions, films and books, restoration of ancient Synagogues etc will commemorate the longevity and prosperity of the Jewish community. As a whole, the celebration aims to demonstrate the richness and security of life Jews have found in the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic over these more than five centuries, and show that indeed it is not impossible for people of different creeds to live together peacefully under one flag.

Naim Güleryüz is a researcher and writer, and vice president of the Quincentennial Foundation.

Copyright © 1996 - 2011

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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".

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