Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie


Erdoğan Exploits the Temple Mount Crisis to Foment Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism: Dr. Efrat Aviv, BESA, July 29, 2017— In May 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke at the opening ceremony of a two-day conference in Istanbul called “The International Forum on al-Quds Waqf.”

Turkey: Erdogan's New Morality Police: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 2, 2017— Their number is just 17,000 in a population of 80 million (0.02%).

An Increasingly Autocratic And Islamic Turkey Is Scaring Its Jews: Tia O'Brien, Forward, May 5, 2017— Numbers paint a stark picture for the future of Turkey’s steadily shrinking Jewish community.

Is Turkey Becoming Another Iran?: Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute, July 20, 2017— Turkey has recently been in the news for various developments that include, among other matters, its record number of jailed journalists…


On Topic Links


The New Turkish State: Robert Ellis, Jerusalem Post, August 9, 2017

Jews in Turkey Under Attack Over Temple Mount Crisis: Itamar Eichner, Ynet, July 23, 2017

Anti-Semitic Academics: Where is the Outrage Against Turkey?: A.J. Caschetta, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 5, 2017

The Kurds’ Treatment In Turkey Is Indefensible: Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, Jerusalem Post, August 9, 2017




Dr. Efrat Aviv

BESA, July 29, 2017


In May 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke at the opening ceremony of a two-day conference in Istanbul called “The International Forum on al-Quds Waqf.” He condemned “Israeli crimes against the Palestinians” and called on Muslims to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount as frequently as possible. “As a Muslim community, we need to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque often,” he said. “Each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.”


On July 20, 2017, responding to increased security measures on the Temple Mount following the murders of two Israeli policemen there at the holy site, he said: “Any restriction on Muslims entering the al-Aqsa Mosque is unacceptable…The protection of the Islamic character and sanctity of al-Quds [Jerusalem] and al-Haram al-Sharif [the al-Aqsa Mosque complex] is important for the whole Muslim world…The Muslim world cannot remain silent.”


In his capacity as term chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Erdoğan condemned Israel’s supposed prevention of Muslims’ performing Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque. While extending condolences to those killed during the violent clashes in Jerusalem, he assailed the use of “excessive force” by Israeli security forces against those who had gathered for Friday prayers.


“The OIC was founded in 1969 during an attack on al-Haram al-Sharif, and today the Islamic world stands with our Palestinian brothers with the same spirit of unity and solidarity,” Erdoğan claimed. He said efforts to remove “restrictions on access to the al-Aqsa Mosque” would continue in coordination with the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Jordanian King Abdullah II, whom he phoned on July 24 to discuss the matter. At a press conference, the president’s spokesman İbrahim Kalın asserted, “al-Aqsa Mosque is not alone. It’s not for Israel. It belongs to the Palestinians and to all Muslims.”


Significantly, Erdoğan referred to the three Palestinians killed in clashes with the police over the Temple Mount security measures as “Şehitler,” or “shahids” (“martyrs”) – though ever since the establishment of modern Turkey, that term has been reserved for Turkish soldiers and policemen who fall in the line of duty. It thus carries a nationalistic-secular connotation. Furthermore, with regard to al-Aqsa, Erdoğan often uses the term “Muslims” instead of “Palestinians.” And at the AKP meeting on July 25, Erdoğan declared that Israel’s legal capital is Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, which is sacred to three religions. All these assertions, together with Erdoğan’s earlier call for Muslims to “take responsibility” for Jerusalem, endanger Israel’s legitimacy on the Temple Mount.


Erdoğan’s call to world Muslims to flock to Jerusalem, and his warning that “the Muslim world cannot remain silent”, were accompanied by vociferous protests at two Istanbul synagogues, Neve Şalom and Ahrida. (Though the protests almost took on the proportions of sieges, no damage was caused at either location.) On July 20, one of the protesters at Neve Şalom said, “If you obstruct our freedom of worship there [Jerusalem], we will obstruct your freedom of worship here.” Attacks on synagogues by Turkish Islamist-ultranationalists are unfortunately not a new phenomenon in Turkey, and include terror attacks at Neve Şalom in 1986 and 2003.


Moreover, during Israel’s military confrontations with the Palestinians since the rise of AKP, placards have been raised against Jews rather than against Israel. The Islamist newspaper Yeni Akit, which responded angrily to Ashkenazi synagogue officials in Istanbul who justified IDF operations in Gaza in 2014, called for an organized rally against synagogues. Following this call, social media networks announced an “egg protest.” On July 22, 2014, a group gathered in front of Ortaköy Synagogue carrying anti-Israel posters and threw eggs at the building.


The Turkish government occasionally condemns these incidents but does nothing to prevent them. Nor, ominously, does it distinguish between Israel and the Turkish Jewish community. Quite the reverse, in fact: in Turkish society, Jews and Israelis are essentially synonymous, as are anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. This way of thinking is substantially Erdoğan’s doing. In a 2012 poll, 46% of Turks surveyed claimed that Erdoğan’s anti-Israel statements had bolstered their own anti-Semitism. The president’s half-hearted denunciation of synagogue attacks and seldom-expressed concern for Turkish Jews are mere lip service to an insincere attempt to draw a line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. When Israel is condemned as a terrorist state, Turkish Jews and Jews in general are labeled as Turkish targets.


Yet religion is not the Turkish government’s only calculation in its agitation against Israel. Ankara has a great interest in creating pro-Turkish sentiment among Palestinians. Its objective is to oust Jordan from its position as patron of the Temple Mount and gain support on the Palestinian street at Jordan’s expense. This would be in order to spread Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas ideology and strengthen Turkey’s regional hegemony.


This objective is manifested by the organization of cultural and religious events, as well as the establishment and/or sponsoring of charity organizations, women’s organizations, youth movements, and so on. These activities are orchestrated by the Turkish consulate in east Jerusalem and by Turkish organizations like TIKA (Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency), which started operating in east Jerusalem in 2005.


In this context, every security or military incident in which Israel is involved serves as another brick in the Turkish political and religious wall against the Jewish state. As threatening as Erdoğan’s words are to the legitimacy of Israeli rule in Jerusalem, his vile anti-Israel/Jewish rhetoric further inflames Arabs and Muslims and strengthens anti-Semitism inside Turkey. For Erdoğan, so it seems, Israel is but a useful tool for promoting his ambitious neo-Ottoman vision.    




Burak Bekdil

Gatestone Institute, Aug. 2, 2017


Their number is just 17,000 in a population of 80 million (0.02%). They are full Turkish citizens. Most come from families living for centuries in what today is modern Turkey. They pay their taxes to the Turkish government. Their sons are conscripts in the Turkish army. Their mother tongue is Turkish. When someone asks them where they are from they say they are Turkish — because they are Turkish. Nevertheless, the Turks think of them as "Israelis" — not because they are not Turkish, but because they are Turkish Jews.


The members of Alperen Hearths — a bizarre name for a youth group — are also Turkish. They speak the same language as Turkish Jews and they carry the same passport that proudly sports the Crescent and Star. The members of this group, however, think that they are Turks but that Turkish Jews are not. The Alperen group fuses pan-Turkic racism with Islamism, neo-Ottomanism, anti-Western and anti-Semitic ideas. It promotes an alliance spanning Central Asia to the Middle East based on "common historic [read: Turkish] values".


In April, the Alperen group announced that it would support highly controversial constitutional amendments granting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan new sweeping powers narrowly accepted, with 51.4% of the national vote, in a referendum. They are, in a way, Erdogan's willing army of young Ottoman soldiers.


In 2016, the Alperen threatened violence against an annual gay pride march in Istanbul. Alperen's Istanbul chief, Kursat Mican, said: "Degenerates will not be allowed to carry out their fantasies on this land…We're not responsible for what will happen after this point … We do not want people to walk around half-naked with alcohol bottles in their hands in this sacred city watered by the blood of our ancestors." The Istanbul governor's office later banned the march. The Alperen can also sometimes be generously amusing. In December 2016, a group of Alperen youths celebrated Christmas and New Year's Eve in Turkey by holding a man dressed as Santa Claus at gunpoint. Burak Yasar, a provincial head of the group, said: "Our purpose is for people to go back to their roots. We are Muslim Turks and have been banner-bearers of Islam for a thousand years".


The Alperen were at the heart of a new anti-Semitic Turkish show recently, apparently inspired by Erdogan. This time, Erdogan's incitement against Israel themed around the Jewish state's control of security at the entrances to the Temple Mount site in Jerusalem. The Turkish president warned that Israel could not "expect the Islamic world to remain unresponsive after the humiliation Muslims suffered with the restrictions at the Noble Sanctuary" — a reference to the new security measures briefly instituted by Israeli officials at the entrances to the Temple Mount, which were removed after a few days. Muslims may worship at the al-Aqsa mosque, but there should be safety precautions to protect both them and the mosque. It was the Muslims, not the Jews, who were telling Muslims not to enter the Temple Mount.


The Alperen, however, were immediately with Erdogan. They protested outside one of the most significant synagogues in Istanbul, to denounce Israel's security measures following a deadly attack at the Temple Mount that left two Israeli police officers dead. "If you prevent our freedom of worship there [at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque] then we will prevent your freedom of worship here [at Istanbul's Neve Shalom Synagogue]," a statement from the Alperen said. "Our [Palestinian] brothers cannot pray there. Putting metal detectors harasses our brothers". Some Alperen youths kicked the synagogue's doors and others threw stones at the building.


Eren Keskin, a human rights lawyer and activist, said that none of the Alperen members has been prosecuted for preventing prayers at the synagogue or for acts of violence in front of it. "This [group] is evidently being protected by the government … It must be viewed as a violent group… What they do is to frighten the whole Jewish community".


It may sound absurd that a violent bunch of young Turkish men attacked a prayer house attended by other Turkish men and women in order to protest security measures announced in a foreign country. There were no protests in front of Israel's diplomatic mission buildings in Turkey. The protest was directed at full Turkish citizens just because these full Turkish citizens belong to a faith other than the majority's. To paraphrase George Orwell, "Some Turks are more equal than others." Just as with the Egypt's Copts — the indigenous descendants of the pharaohs; or the Yazidis in Iraq; or the Armenians, Greeks and Kurds in Turkey, the Jews are Turkey's "foreign" Turks, outcasts in the land where they and their ancestors wore born.




ISLAMIC TURKEY IS SCARING ITS JEWS                                                             

Tia O'Brien       

                                                Forward, May 5, 2017


Numbers paint a stark picture for the future of Turkey’s steadily shrinking Jewish community. Forty percent of the population is preparing a possible exit route from a land that has harbored Jews since Ottoman times. Over the past 15 months — a stormy political stretch culminating in a disputed vote to expand President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s already substantial executive powers — close to 4,700 Turkish Jews applied for or received passports from Spain, Portugal and Israel. When children of applicants to Spain are added in, the number balloons to over 6,200.


The number is cause for concern in a community that totals just 15,500, a remnant of hundreds of thousands of Jews who lived in the region during Ottoman times, when the sultan gave refuge to thousands of Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. While there is no mass exodus underway, several forces are motivating Turkish Jews to take out an insurance plan on their future.


“Turkey is more authoritarian, less liberal, less democratic and more Islamic,” explained Yoram Zara, an attorney who moved to Israel from Turkey and specializes in Sephardic citizenship. “I think most of the younger generation understand they have a problem if they want their children to grow up Jewish.” Zara pointed to the weakening economy as another reason Turkish Jews, especially the younger generation, are seeking citizenship abroad.


In 2015, applications for foreign passports began to surge after Portugal passed a law making it easier to establish Sephardic heritage than in Spain. Between March 2016 and December 2016, an estimated 13% of the Jewish community applied for passports. In the same period, Spain approved 2,400 Turkish Jews whose applications were pending. The prize is an E.U. passport that allows Turks to travel, work and live throughout the European Union.


The reasons for pursuing an exit plan vary. But a common thread is fear. Erdoğan, the former prime minister and leader of the ruling Islamic AKP party, is relentlessly consolidating his authority with mass purges and a clampdown on the news media following a failed coup attempt against him by a group of military officers last July.


In April, voters narrowly approved a referendum that grants sweeping new constitutional powers for the president. Erdoğan’s opponents charge that the referendum was rife with fraud, including some alleged instances caught on video, charges Erdoğan denies. The vote leaves the nation deeply polarized between religious and secular Turks and marks a historic shift away from the constitution that created modern Turkey’s secular republic. It essentially cements emergency powers invoked by Erdoğan after the attempted coup.


Those powers have led to the dismissal of more than 130,000 people from their jobs and to the arrest of about 45,000; to the shutdown of independent news outlets and arrests of journalists, and to the injection of religion into secular institutions, eroding the separation of Islam and state. The crackdown continues with regular roundups and decrees, such as the recent blocking of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and a ban on TV dating shows.


These moves are breeding an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, not just for Jews but also for secular Turks, who make up nearly half the population. Many say it’s all too common to discover that friends who lost a job or worry they’ll be rounded up are moving away. And there are trumped-up political threats. Zara recounted how a blackmailer targeted his wealthy, elderly aunt, threatening to turn her over to police unless she paid up. “She paid and fled to Israel,” said the attorney. “People are losing trust in law and order.”


Ask writer Denis Ojalvo about the state of the Turkish Jewish community, and he points to the portrayal of Jewish characters in a historical fiction TV series named “Payitaht,” airing on a Turkish state TV channel. It debuted as the divided nation prepared to vote. Episodes show Jews attempting to assassinate the 34th Sultan Abdul Hamid II, and depict Theodor Herzl, the visionary behind modern Zionism, as tricking the sultan into founding the State of Israel. “The message is that the Jews destroyed the Ottoman Empire,” said Ojalvo, who writes for the Istanbul-based Jewish weekly Şalom. He blamed the series for a spike in anti-Semitic posts on social media. “It’s a way to create ratings for the TV channel. But it poisons public opinion.” He is worried about an ongoing brain drain as more people send their children to study abroad and urge them to stay abroad afterward. “That’s a problem,” Ojalvo said. “We need our sons and daughters.”


Erdoğan insists he’s not anti-Semitic. But polls document a rise in anti-Semitism over the past decade, as his AKP party has grown in popularity and in power. Jewish institutions are heavily guarded, with stepped-up security after the bombing of two Istanbul synagogues in 2003 that left 20 dead. Members of the community live under the radar, and children are taught to ignore harsh criticism of Israel. The average Turk doesn’t always make the distinction between Israel and Jews, and in a country of 80 million, most have never met a Jew, leaving them vulnerable to unfounded attacks and negative portrayals. “Social media reaches millions in a minute. It affects the younger generation,” said one prominent community leader who didn’t want his name used… [To read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]


IS TURKEY BECOMING ANOTHER IRAN?                                                                             

Uzay Bulut                                                          

Gatestone Institute, July 20, 2017


Turkey has recently been in the news for various developments that include, among other matters, its record number of jailed journalists, the destruction of Kurdish towns and forced displacement of thousands of Kurds, the dismissal or suspension of thousands of government employees for political reasons, the arrest of thousands of citizens for allegedly "organizing" last year's failed coup, the creeping conversion of the Hagia Sophia Basilica-museum into a mosque, and the seizure of Assyrian Christian lands, churches and cemeteries by the government.


One additional trend begging the media's attention is the determined Islamization of the Turkish educational system. Here is a short list of some of the latest developments in Turkish schools and their curricula: Turkey to stop teaching evolution in secondary schools as part of new national curriculum…Evolution will no longer be taught in Turkish secondary schools after being described as a "controversial subject" by the government. The head of the education ministry's curriculum board, Alpaslan Durmuş, said a section on Darwinism would be cut from biology classes from 2019. "We have excluded controversial subjects for students at an age unable yet to understand the issues' scientific background," he told a seminar in Ankara, according to Hurriyet Daily News.


"Jihad" in compulsory school curricula: So the question naturally arises what exactly will Turkish schoolchildren be taught instead. The answer is "jihad." Turkey is in the process of including the concept of jihad in compulsory school curricula. According to a statement issued in January by the Turkish Ministry of National Education, Turkish textbooks will be teaching "jihad" as a "value" in classes at Imam Hatip middle schools (schools that offer an Islamic curriculum to pupils).


At a press conference, Ismet Yilmaz, the minister of national education, explained the details of the new curricula to the press. According to the newspaper Cumhuriyet, jihad will be taught in seventh grade while pupils study the fundamentals of "tawhid" (oneness of God) and wahdat (Islamic unity) civilization." In eighth grade, jihad will also be taught under the title "Struggling on the Path to Allah: Jihad" under the chapter called "Worshipping Allah." 1.5 million Imam Hatip students across Turkey: Under Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), the number of Imam Hatip schools has ballooned from 500 to 3,500, with enrollment surging from 60,000 to 1,500,000 since the AKP first came to power in 2002. The first Imam Hatip schools in Turkey were opened in 1924 during the rule of the Republic's first president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, as vocational schools to train government-employed imams and Islamic scholars.


"All schools shall have masjids (mosques)": The Ministry of National Education has also declared that for schools and other educational centers to be opened in Turkey, they have to have a washroom where people can perform ablution before reciting their prayers [salah] five times a day, as well as two masjids [mosques] — one for males and the other for females.


More Islamic classes, less art and philosophy: The Ministry of National Education has also increased class hours for the mandatory course in "religion, culture and morality" and decreased art and philosophy classes to one hour per week. The Ministry also repealed the "Regulations on Fine Arts Education," which were enacted in 2008 "to give primary and secondary school students with special talents the necessary education to prepare them for the fine arts schools."…

[To read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





On Topic Links


The New Turkish State: Robert Ellis, Jerusalem Post, August 9, 2017—When it comes to Turkey, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is, as he is on so much else, sadly out of touch. In a recent interview, he talks of not letting Turkey slip into oblivion and ignoring the European Parliament’s demand for an end to accession talks. But to judge from the outcome of the high level political dialogue held between the EU and Turkey at the end of July, they have in fact already ended.

Jews in Turkey Under Attack Over Temple Mount Crisis: Itamar Eichner, Ynet, July 23, 2017—Two threatening demonstrations and mounting cases of vandalism against synagogues in Turkey—apparently carried out with the regime's tacit support against the backdrop of the Temple Mount crisis—are raising concerns among the country's Jewish community.

Anti-Semitic Academics: Where is the Outrage Against Turkey?: A.J. Caschetta, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 5, 2017—In Turkey, academics are currently at the mercy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who demands their compliance and threatens dissenters. After last July's failed coup (for which Erdogan blamed an American scholar), a series of emergency decrees have specifically targeted Turkish academia.

The Kurds’ Treatment In Turkey Is Indefensible: Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, Jerusalem Post, August 9, 2017—Given the plight of the Kurds in Turkey and the need to find a solution to the 40-year-old violent conflict between the PKK and successive Turkish governments, I thought it was critically important to respond to Mr. Kurtulus’ criticism of my previous article and bring to light the terrible mistreatment of the Kurds under Erdogan’s reign of terror.