Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Turkish Jews fear reprisals (updated)
Turkey's Jews fear reprisals against them as a result of anti-Jewish remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister, Besir Atalay, blaming the 'Jewish diaspora' for fuelling recent government unrest, Haaretz reports (with thanks: Eliyahu):
Update: Turkish deputy PM denies remarks: "I am upset that the statements I've made about Gezi Park have been deliberately distorted by a (news) agency. An accusation regarding the Jewish lobby or Jews is out of the question," Atalay was quoted as saying by the local media. World Jewish Congress president Ron Lauder has called for Atalay to have 'the decency to apologise'. (Arutz Sheva)
Turkey’s Jewish community expressed fears on Tuesday following remarks by a deputy prime minister who linked the “Jewish Diaspora” to recent anti-government unrest. The comments could make them targets of popular anger, they said.
Besir Atalay, one of four deputy prime ministers, on Monday accused foreign powers, the Jewish Diaspora and international media of triggering the demonstrations that have wracked the country over the last few weeks.
"World powers and the Jewish Diaspora prompted the unrest and have actively encouraged it," he said.
"We are trying to obtain information about the meaning, the scope and details of Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay's statement about the 'Jewish Diaspora being behind Gezi protests,'" the Turkish Jewish Community and chief rabbinate said in a joint statement on the community's website.
The Turkish Jewish Community, which represents most of Turkey's estimated 23,000 Jews, said Atalay's remarks could lead to reprisals against its members in a mostly Muslim country of 76 million.
"(Because) Turkish Jewish citizens, as well as other Jewish people living all around the globe, may be affected and pointed (out) as a target of such a generalization, we wish to express our concerns and share our apprehension and worry of the consequences that such perceptions can cause."
Turkey's Jews, most of who trace their roots here to the 15th Century when their ancestors found refuge in the Ottoman Empire from the Spanish Inquisition, have in recent years faced pressure as relations between Israel and Turkey soured.
In a letter to Namik Tan, Turkey’s Ambassador to the United States, the Anti-Defamation League called on the Turkish prime minster and other government officials to “publicly and vociferously reject Mr. Atalay’s statement.”
“The anti-Semitic nature of this conspiratorial statement would be disturbing if uttered by anyone in Turkey,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “It is all the more outrageous and harmful coming from such a high ranking member of the Turkish government. We share the concerns expressed by the Turkish Jewish community about the possible consequences of this rash remark.”
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Jewish plot behind Turkish protests