Erdogan, Reuters
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photo by Reuters
Text size

The diplomatic clash between Israel and Turkey may be escalating, but many within Turkey’s 23,000-strong Jewish population insist that it is nothing more than politics for them, with no practical effect on their lives or security.

“In daily life, we don’t fear anything from the Turks,” said Nisya Isman Allovi, manager of the Jewish Museum in Istanbul. But, acknowledging the thick protection her institution and many others in the Jewish community receive, she also said, “Security is, it’s done just to be cautious about everything.”

The targeting of the community over the years by terrorists — albeit by non-Turks — explains the blast-proof doors and X-ray machines found at Turkish synagogues, where outsiders can attend services only after making advanced reservations with the rabbinate. It may also explain the guarded manner in which members of the community responded to questions from the press.

One of those Jews, “Haim,” a 76-year-old retiree, said he doesn’t believe that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an anti-Semite or that he will allow any harm to befall Turkey’s Jews.

“His problem is only with the Israeli government and not the people,” Haim said. “Erdogan won’t let the Jews be hurt, because we’re his citizens, we pay taxes. He’s said this. He just wants to attract Arab support, Arab business and tourism. I don’t believe he hates Jews. It’s politics only.”

Read more on the Forward.