An activist holding a knife aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship
An activist holding a knife aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship on May 31, 2010. Photo by Provided by IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Text size
AP
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking in Istanbul on May 10, 2010 Photo by AP

A Turkish newspaper editor told the European Jewish Press on Wednesday that Turkey's Jewish community feared that the backlash over Israel's interception of aid ships headed for Gaza earlier this week would provoke anti-Semitism in the Muslim-majority nation.

On Monday, Israeli navy commandos clashed with activists aboard a Turkish ship carrying aid to the blockaded Gaza. The clash resulted in the deaths of 9 activists as well as dozens of injuries, among activists and soldiers alike.

The editor of the Istanbul-based weekly Salom, Ivo Molinas, said Wednesday that "we are definitely worried, because [the anger in Turkey] can turn very easily to anti-Semitism."

"The rhetoric used by the Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] has been very radical," added Molinas, part of the 20,000-member Jewish community residing in Turkey.

Erdogan accused Israel at the Turkish parliament on Tuesday of a "bloody massacre" and declared "now Israel has shown to all the world how well it knows how to kill."

Turkey has recalled its ambassador and Erdogan, charging Israel with "state terrorism", has called for those responsible for the deaths to be punished.

Other activists, who have given harrowing accounts of their ordeal on the high seas, arrived in Istanbul on Thursday to a hero's welcome by thousands of cheering supporters.

"But the Prime Minister also said yesterday [Tuesday] that he was against anti-Semitism. He says it during each crisis but he repeated it yesterday," said Molinas, whose newspaper has a circulation of around 5,000.

"Both he and the leaders of the opposition have said that all of this will have no effect on the Jews of Turkey," he added.

About 26,000 Jews live in Turkey, mostly in Istanbul, where some 20 synagogues are active, according to the European Jewish Press.