Turkey boosts security for Jewish residents amid protests
ANKARA - Daily News with wires | 6/2/2010 12:00:00 AM |
Turkey boosts security measures at synagogues, Israeli consulates and Jewish residences, including 20 locations in Istanbul alone, as tensions increase over Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla. Some Jewish residents remain concerned about the community's safety despite assurances from Turkish officials that they will not be the target of protests
Turkey has beefed up security to protect its Jewish minority and Israel’s diplomatic missions in response to increased tensions over Israel’s deadly raid on an aid ship dispatched by a Turkish NGO.
Security has been stepped up at 20 points in Istanbul alone, where there are several synagogues and centers serving 23,000 Jewish residents, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. He added that measures have been taken at residences, consulates and places of worship in the city.
The move came as hundreds of Turks protested against Israel for the third day Wednesday. The interior minister said no harm had been done, or would be allowed to come, to any Jewish person during demonstrations staged in Turkey, the Anatolia new agency reported.
Turkish resentment of Israel has risen dramatically since Monday’s killing of nine people, including as many as seven Turks, on the aid ship. Following the deadly incident, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and scrapped planned war games with Israel.
Israel, meanwhile, ordered families of its diplomats to leave Turkey as relations between the two countries sank to a new low. Israeli media reported Wednesday that the foreign ministry ordered the families of its diplomats in Turkey to leave because of the uproar over the deadly raid by the Israeli navy. The diplomatic mission itself would remain in Turkey, said Israel Radio and other stations and newspapers. The ministry would neither confirm nor deny the reports.
Hostility against Israel increases throughout the world, not just in Turkey, when it commits such an act, said Roni Margulies, a Turkish citizen of Jewish origin and a columnist for daily Taraf. “In some circles, a clear distinction between hostility against Jews and Israel may not be made,” he said. “We know this is so in Turkey – not in general, but in some circles.”
In one such incident Monday in the northeastern province of Tekirdağ, a Turkish man punched a Jewish cyclist. The fact that the assailant turned out to be a lawyer is “something unique to Turkey,” according to political analyst Cem Oğuz.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has launched a series of harsh verbal attacks on Israel since Monday’s raid. More than 20,000 people demonstrated in Turkey after the attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla, many of them burning Israeli flags.
“But the prime minister also said Tuesday that he was against anti-Semitism. He says it during each crisis but he repeated it yesterday,” said Ivo Molinas, the editor in chief of the Istanbul-based weekly publication Shalom, which has a circulation of around 5,000. “Both him and the leaders of the opposition have said that all of this will have no effect on the Jews of Turkey.”
Despite the reassurances, the Jewish community in Turkey is definitely worried, Molinas said, noting that the anger in the country could turn very easily to anti-Semitism. “The rhetoric used by the prime minister has been very radical,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse.
According to Taraf columnist Margulies, there were similar concerns when Israel invaded Gaza two years ago but no hostile action was taken against Turkish Jews. “I hope it will be so this time, too,” he said.
Margulies added that he finds it very positive and necessary that Erdoğan said in his speech that Jews in Turkey should not be targets of anger toward Israel.