Rifat N. Bali
” Turkish intellectuals have always taken a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli stance. Islamists associate the “Palestine question” with alleged Jewish involvement in the rise of Turkish secularism. Leftists see Israel as an imperialist state and an extension of American hegemony in the Middle East. Comparable themes are found among nationalist intellectuals.
” Turkish reactions to Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon and 2009 war in Gaza often spilled over into anti-Semitism. Newspaper columnists, some of them academics, belonging to the various ideological streams helped fan popular sentiment against Israel and Jews. Israel was said to be exploiting Holocaust guilt and the services of the “American Jewish lobby” to further its own nefarious aims.
” Turkish approaches to the “Palestine question” rarely venture outside the clichés of Turkish popular culture. Turkish publishing houses providing translated works on the issue are careful not to run afoul of popular sentiment. The net result is that both Turkish columnists and their readers utilize only limited sources on the conflict that are preponderantly anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic.
” Any attempt by the Turkish Jewish leadership to confront Turkish society on combating anti-Semitism is likely to backfire and even further exacerbate the problem. Given the reality, the only options left for Turkey’s Jewish community are to either continue living in Turkey amid widespread anti-Semitism or to emigrate.