Young Turkish Jews Emigrating Due to anti-Semitism, Tensions With Israel

A senior member of the Turkish Jewish community in Israel tells the Hurriyet Daily that young people back home feel targeted by the Turkish government and bothered by the experience of being 'othered.'

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Hundreds of young Jews are leaving Turkey for the U.S. and Europe because of increased perceptions of anti-Semitism and Ankara's tensions with Israel, a senior member of the immigrant community in Israel has told Hurriyet Daily News.

Nesim Güveniş, the deputy chairman of the Association of Turkish Jews in Israel, told the newspaper that the mass exodus was a response to the actions of the Turkish government, including remarks of leaders against Jews for the waning relations between Turkey and Israel and the worsening of conditions for the nearly 15,000 Jews living in in the country.

"Look at the environment of Turkey at the moment. We are uncomfortable with being 'othered'… I am more Turkish than many. But we couldn't make them believe it," Güveniş described, according to Hurriyet.

Güveniş himself immigrated to Israel in 1981 because of the political tension in Turkey during the 1970s and the effect it was having on his children. "They didn't want to go to university where leftists or other groups were putting pressure on them to take sides at school… The first two years in Israel were difficult, and we had to learn the language. But I don’t regret it," he explained to the Turkish paper.

An incident at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, where Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israeli President Shimon Peres of "knowing well how to kill," aggravated the diplomatic tension between the two countries even further, the report stated.

In the past, Israel and Turkey shared a friendlier bond, Güveniş pointed out. Now Israeli businessmen are not so enthusiastic to make new investments in Turkey, he said.

Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday July 9, 2003

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