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‘Jews not allowed’: As Erdogan praises Hamas, antisemitism rises on the ground in Turkey

ISTANBUL (JTA) — “Jews not allowed,” read the sign in English and Turkish above Rağman Şahaf, a used book store next to Istanbul University and not far from the city’s famed Grand Bazaar.

Even after the sign was taken down on Friday, the store’s owner said he stuck by the message.

“I do not want to buy anything from Jews right now, I do not want to sell anything to Jews right now, this is how I tell them,” Ozkan Mustafa Küçükkural told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“Maybe it should have said Zionist or Israeli, but I was angry and emotional,” he added. “My brothers in Palestine are dying.”

Anti-Israel banners and graffiti, along with Palestinian flags, have become commonplace across Istanbul, as many of its citizens fume over Israel’s response to the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7 that left over 1,400 dead. Images have also circulated of taxis with signs saying that their drivers would not serve Israelis.

Antisemitic incidents have taken place beyond Istanbul, too. In Izmir — a city once home to tens of thousands of Jews now in the midst of a small-scale Jewish revival — a synagogue was defaced with graffiti that read “Murderer Israel” on Saturday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has had an up and down relationship with Israel over the course of his 20 years as Turkey’s head of state, has come out firmly defending Hamas’ actions on Oct. 7, calling the terrorist group a “a liberation group.” In response, Israel recalled its diplomats from Turkey on Saturday.

It has all amounted to a tense atmosphere for Turkish Jews, who now number around 15,000 and descend mainly from Sephardic families but also include Ashkenazi, Romaniote and Mizrahi communities. That number was close to 80,000 in the founding year of Turkey’s republic in 1923 — exactly 100 years ago on Sunday.

Antisemitic rhetoric has spread throughout Turkish politics, too. A day after a hospital in Gaza was hit by rocket fire on Oct. 17, a politician from Turkey’s ruling AKP party, Süleyman Sezen, representing a small municipality called Atakum in the Black Sea city of Samsun, said at a public hearing that he was praying for the soul of Hitler, adding that the world will find peace when it is cleansed of Jews and that the Holocaust was “unfinished.” Evidence showing that the explosion was likely from a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket has not nullified such outbursts.

“The Hitler rhetoric is not new in Turkey,” said Turkish-Jewish publisher and author Rifat N. Bali, who has written about political Islam’s portrayal of Jews. “I cannot say that it comes from ultranationalist political fractions… Why? Because they are fed day in, day out, pictures of ‘babies killed by IDF.’”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a rally in solidarity with Palestinians in Istanbul, Oct. 28, 2023. (Efekan Akyuz/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images)

On Oct. 10, Huda-Par parliamentarian Şahzade Demir addressed the Turkish parliament, calling to revoke citizenship for Turkish Jews if they volunteer for the Israeli military. Days later, Yeni Akit, a far-right media outlet, called for Turkish Jews to be denaturalized, under the false claim that they all have dual Israeli citizenship. (The Hrant Dink Foundation, a Turkish NGO devoted to minority issues in the country and named after a murdered Armenian-Turkish Journalist, has called out Yeni Akit as among the most prolific publishers of hate speech in Turkish media.)

“This fear scenario is not new. It was also brought up during the Mavi Marmara controversy, and the issue of citizenship of Jews who are citizens of the Republic of Turkey and who served in the Israeli army was brought to the agenda,” said Serdar Korucu, who writes a column on antisemitism in Turkey for the Jewish site Avlaremoz. He was referencing a deadly clash between the Israeli army and a flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists from Turkey in 2010. “There has never been such a practice in the history of the Republic of Turkey. The harshest sanction would be to prevent them from doing military service in the future.”

Several large pro-Palestinian protests have taken place in Istanbul since Oct. 7. In one demonstration, Turkish protesters briefly breached the fence of the Israeli consulate before being dispersed by Turkish police.

Erdogan, who had warmed to Israel in recent years, has regularly met with leaders of Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and most Western powers. His foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday that it rejects the idea that its rhetoric on Israel has been antisemitic.

“We reject the baseless accusations of anti-Semitism, and the slander and insults against our President and our country,” read the statement released on Sunday. “It is known to everyone that Türkiye’s track record on this issue is spotless — unlike many countries that support Israel unconditionally today.

“It is a truth acknowledged by all historians that Türkiye has been a safe haven for all those who were oppressed throughout history, including the Jews,” it added.

In 1492, the Ottoman Sultan, Bayezid II, sent ships to Spain to ferry exiled Spanish Jews to his empire, resulting in the country’s large Sephardic community of today. But Turkish Jews have also faced several periods of oppression, including an infamous tax in the 1940s and pogrom in the 1950s which have become the subject of a popular Turkish Netlfix series.

The local Jewish response to the situation has not been all shock and dismay. Jacob Behar, a Turkish Jew who owns a shop around the corner from the Istanbul shop that had the “Jews not allowed” sign, expressed disappointment at the sign but said it didn’t make him feel insecure.

“It doesn’t represent the general ideals of Turkish society,” he told JTA. “My family has been here over 500 years, we wouldn’t still be here if we didn’t feel safe. Of course, there are individual things, but there are also individual things in Israel.”

The post ‘Jews not allowed’: As Erdogan praises Hamas, antisemitism rises on the ground in Turkey appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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UN Committee Says Not Enough Evidence to Declare a Famine in Gaza

Egyptian trucks carrying humanitarian aid make their way to the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, at the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel, May 30, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The United Nations Famine Review Committee (FRC), a panel of experts in international food security and nutrition, has cast doubt on the notion that the northern Gaza Strip is suffering through a famine.

In a report released earlier this month, the committee responded to a claim by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) — a US-created provider of warning and analysis on food insecurity — that a famine was likely underway in northern Gaza. FEWS NET said that northern Gaza began experiencing famine in April and projected that the embattled enclave would endure famine until at least July 31.

The FRC rejected the assertion that northern Gaza is experiencing famine, citing the “uncertainty and lack of convergence of the supporting evidence employed in the analysis.” The panel carries out evaluations of humanitarian conditions on behalf of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), an international famine monitoring initiative. 

The FRC added that there is not sufficient evidence to confirm the existence of a famine within northern Gaza and called for more humanitarian access into the warzone, providing experts an opportunity to give an accurate assessment of the conditions. 

“The very fact that we are unable to endorse (or not) FEWS NET’s analysis is driven by the lack of essential up-to-date data on human well-being in northern Gaza, and Gaza at large,” the report stated. “Thus, the FRC strongly requests all parties to enable humanitarian access in general, and specifically to provide a window of opportunity to conduct field surveys in northern Gaza to have more solid evidence of the food consumption, nutrition, and mortality situation.”

However, the panel warned that Gaza is still enduring “extreme human suffering” and called for the “complete, safe, unhindered, and sustained” transport of aid into the enclave.

The report represents a course-reversal for the FRC, which claimed that Gaza likely surpassed the “famine thresholds for acute malnutrition” in March. The FRC now contends that civilians in Gaza are experiencing improved humanitarian conditions as a result of increased aid flowing into the war-torn enclave.   

“Since the FRC review conducted in March 2024, there seems to have been a significant increase in the number of food trucks entering northern Gaza,” the report read.

“The FEWS NET analysis acknowledges that humanitarian assistance in the area has increased significantly, finding that caloric availability from humanitarian assistance increased from 9 percent in February to 34 percent  to 36 percent in March and 59 percent to 63 percent in April. The opening of alternative routes to the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings, the authorization of commercial truck entry, as well as airdrops, allowed for an increase of food availability,” the report continued.

Several aid agencies, media outlets, and politicians, as well as pro-Palestinian activists, have repeatedly accused Israel of inflicting famine on Palestinians since beginning its military operations in Gaza following Hamas’ Oct. 7 slaughter of over 1,200 people throughout southern Israel. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, accused Israel of using starvation as a “weapon of war.”

Despite these allegations, data produced by the United Nations showed that Israel allowed more than 100 food trucks to enter Gaza per day in March, an increase from the daily average of 70 trucks before the war. Moreover, many trucks transporting aid into Gaza have been hijacked and seized by Hamas terrorists, increasing the difficulty of distributing food to civilians.

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Hundreds rallied outside Toronto school board offices to protest a racism report that doesn’t mention antisemitism

Hundreds of people filled the lawn in front of the Toronto District School Board (TSDB) to oppose a proposed anti-discrimination policy being voted on by trustees that would include recognizing anti-Palestinian racism—while failing to acknowledge rising antisemitism in schools. The report, entitled Combating Hate and Racism: Student Learning Strategy, was received without any amendments by […]

The post Hundreds rallied outside Toronto school board offices to protest a racism report that doesn’t mention antisemitism appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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French President Denounces ‘Scourge of Antisemitism’ After 12-Year-Old Jewish Girl Raped

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference in Paris, France, June 12, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday denounced the “scourge of antisemitism” and called on schools to hold discussions on racism and hatred of Jews after three boys were charged with raping a 12-year-old Jewish girl in a Paris suburb.

The young girl told police that she was approached by three boys who raped and beat her in the northwestern Paris suburb of Courbevoie on Saturday in an incident that French authorities have described as a hate crime. According to French media, the assailants called the victim a “dirty Jew” and uttered other antisemitic remarks during the brutal gang-rape.

A police source told AFP that one of the boys asked the young girl questions about “her Jewish religion” and Israel, citing the child’s statement to investigators.

The boys — two aged 13 and one 12 — were arrested on Monday and indicted on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Macron’s office said the president asked French Education Minister Nicole Belloubet “to organize a discussion in all schools on the fight against antisemitism and racism, to prevent hate speech with serious consequences from infiltrating schools.”

The rape of the unnamed 12-year-old girl has caused outrage throughout France and among the Jewish community.

Elie Korchia, president of France’s Central Israelite Consistory, told BFM TV that the girl was raped “because she is Jewish,” adding, “We have never seen antisemitism that extends so far in all areas of life.”

Courbevoie Mayor Jacques Kossowski echoed that sentiment in a statement released on X/Twitter, saying, “The rape was carried out with antisemitic intent.”

Eric Ciotti, leader of Les Républicains, also condemned the “rise of antisemitism” in France, which he argued was “fueled by the alliance of the far left.” He added that “we must act as a bulwark” against antisemitism.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Rally party, decried the rape on social media. She noted “the explosion of antisemitic acts” in France since Oct. 7.

The recent gang-rape came amid a record surge of antisemitism in France in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. Antisemitic outrages rose by over 1,000 percent in the final three months of 2023 compared with the previous year, with over 1,200 incidents reported — greater than the total number of incidents in France for the previous three years combined.

In April, a Jewish woman was beaten and raped in a suburb of Paris as “vengeance for Palestine.”

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