< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://bokertov.typepad.com/ btb/" >

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Life of chief rabbi of Istanbul threatened

Must've been seen wearing a kippah
JPost: The life of Istanbul's chief rabbi is being threatened by the same terrorist organization, which claimed responsibility for the Istanbul bombings on Thursday and on Saturday.

The Islamic Great Eastern Raider's Front group said it looked forward to eating halva at the funeral of Rabbi Isak Haleva, in a communique released on Channel 2 News Thursday night. Halva is traditional mourning food in Turkey.

The message wished the "Dirty Jews a peaceful Shabbat." It blamed the Jews for destroying Islamic society, saying they have poisoned Muslim culture with corruption and prostitution.

The communique's release followed Thursday's attacks in Istanbul Thursday.

Haleva could not be reached for comment. Executive vice president of the Turkish Jewish Community Lina Filiba had not heard of the threatening message, but gasped when she heard of it from The Jerusalem Post by telephone.

Filiba said she is not surprised that an extremist group like the Eastern Raider's is anti-Semitic, but emphasized that they do not represent the larger Turkish community.

She had already called the Post earlier, upset about the way the Israeli media and officials have portrayed the twin synagogue bombings, particularly articles and comments talking about the need to bring Turkish Jews to Israel in light of the attack's anti-Semitic nature.

"We appreciate our ties with Israel but we are citizens of Turkey," Filiba said.

They welcome, Filiba said, the visits by Israeli officials and the assistance offered by groups like the Jewish Agency, but do not appreciate when their remarks crossed the line into exploitation.

She accused Israelis and the press of manipulating the situation. "They are using us as PR. We have the feeling – the very serious feeling – that we have been exploited. By making those remarks they are also raising anti-Semitic feelings in the Turkish population.

"By focusing overwhelmingly on the Jewish aspect of the tragedy, it separated the Jews out from an event that in Turkey was seen as joint tragedy. As people who have suffered from separatism we should not make same remarks," said Filiba.

From the start, the Jewish community in Istanbul accepted Saturday's twin synagogue bombings for what they were — an attack on Turkey's open and liberal society. Thursday's attacks only proves that their sentiments were correct, said Filiba.

"We are not downplaying it [anti-Semitism], but on the whole the majority of the country, does not have this kind of misinterpretation," Filiba said.
When synagogues are bombed, it is hard not to "focus overwhelmingly on the Jewish aspect." Besides, Al Qaida obviously and definitely had its evil eye on that "aspect" when it chose synagogues as targets.

I think Israel was completely right, and not necessarily exploitative, to call for Turkish aliyah. The question is, as always, do the people think of themselves as Jewish Turks - or Turkish Jews? It's an extremely relevant and provocative question that only they can answer. The same goes for American Jews ~ Jewish Americans . . . and all the rest.

Aliyah is inevitable.