Turkey's Jewish intellectuals denounce being targeted over Israel's Gaza assault
A group of children wave Turkish flags during a protest against Israel’s deadly operation in Gaza in front of the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul. DHA Photo
A group of Turkish-Jewish intellectuals have denounced being targeted over Israel’s recent operations in Gaza, describing attempts to hold them responsible for Israel’s policies as "racist."
Prominent figures such as scholar and columnist Soli Özel, leftist writer Roni Margulies, economist Cem Behar and former radio host and activist Avi Haligua, stressed their opposition to Israel’s actions in a letter released Aug. 29. However, they also added that no one should expect unity of opinion in a community of 20,000 people, and expressed their wish that their opinion not be interpreted based on their identity.
Here is the full letter:
"Israel’s latest attack on Gaza led, once again, to cries of ‘Why does the Jewish community remain silent?’ A campaign was even launched that claimed that the Jews of Turkey bear responsibility for what Israel does in Gaza.
"No citizen of this country is under any obligation to account for, interpret or comment on any event that takes place elsewhere in the world, and in which he/she has no involvement. There is no onus on the Jewish community of Turkey, therefore, to declare an opinion on any matter at all.
"It is anyway not possible for a community of 20,000 to declare a unified opinion. No human community can be monolithic and the Jewish community is not. Its members include people of all kinds, with a great variety of views.
"In the same way the people of Turkey cannot be held responsible for the barbarity of what the Islamic State [of Iraq and Levent, ISIL] does because a number of Turks are among its fighters, the Jewish community of Turkey cannot be held responsible for what the state of Israel does. It is racism to hold a whole people responsible for the actions of a state and we wish to declare that we are opposed to this.
"We, the undersigned, are children of Jewish families in Turkey. It is incumbent upon us to express an opinion on the attack on Gaza precisely to the same degree that it is on any other citizen of Turkey, no less, and certainly no more.
"None the less, we wish to declare we are opposed to the Israeli state’s policies on Gaza, not because we are of Jewish origin, but because we are human. We may not agree on all matters, some of us oppose all of Israel’s policies, some of us oppose some of them. But all of us are opposed to Israel’s aggression, militarism, expansionism and the violence it brings upon the Palestinian people.”