The Times article places Turkish President’s criticism of US billionaire George Soros in anti-Semitic context in direct contradiction to Turkey’s recent reforms to improve rights of Turkish-Jewish community
On 28 November 2018, The Times published an article written by David Aaronovitch and titled “Soros hatred is the new face of antisemitism”. The author alleged that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks about US billionaire George Soros are an example of the medieval Christian fable of the Wandering Jew, a cursed character doomed to live until the end of the world because he taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion. The related part of the article reads as follows: “Anyone with any knowledge of the 19th and 20th-century history of the Jewish people will recognise Erdogan’s association of the Jew with the shattering of nations.”
The article plainly attempts to establish a connection between the widespread anti-Semitism in Europe in the last two centuries, which culminated in concentration camps and the Holocaust, and the Turkish President’s criticism of George Soros.
However, as a matter of fact, President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which has been ruling the country since 2002, has spent great effort to improve the rights of non-Muslim communities in Turkey, including the Jewish community.
Here are some crucial examples of the democratic developments that concern the Turkish Jews:
- The Great Synagogue of Edirne in Turkey, or Kal Kados Ha Gadol, was reopened after 46 years following a five-year government-sponsored restoration in 2015. The synagogue hosted its first wedding ceremony one year after reopening. To watch the ceremony, please click here.
- Turkish government paved the way for the free allocation of worship places such as synagogues and churches to non-Muslim foundations in last July.
- In 2015, Turkey for the first time hosted a commemoration event for Jews killed in Struma ship disaster of 1942, bonding with the Jewish community in the country over “shared pain” according to a government minister at the event. The commemoration event continued to be officially issued in the following years.
- The Turkish government approved a law in 2008 to return properties confiscated in the past by the state to non-Muslim foundations.
- When President Erdogan received representatives of the Turkish Jewish Community in 2016, the Chief Rabbi of Turkey, Isaak Haleva expressed his gratitude for the positive steps taken in recent years regarding the rights of non-Muslim communities in Turkey.
In addition to these democratic achievements, on 31 July 2018, Turkey’s non-Muslim community leaders, including Turkey’s Chief Rabbi Isaak Haleva, issued a joint declaration which said they enjoy religious freedom in Turkey and denied claims that Turkish non-Muslims are under “pressure”.