ISTANBUL (JTA) — Turkish Jewish leaders say they are taking action after students at Istanbul’s Üsküdar American Academy reportedly performed the Nazi salute during a soccer game against Istanbul’s sole Jewish day school.
The students from the American school, considered one of Istanbul’s most elite, delivered the gesture at the game on Tuesday as a taunt following goals by the Ulus Jewish School team, according to reports on Twitter and in Avlaremoz, a Turkish Jewish media outlet.
Turkey’s official Jewish communal organization condemned the incident. The Jewish organization said that it was in contact with the American school’s board and that “necessary initiatives will be taken,” though it did not specify what those initiatives might be.
The American school is also investigating what unfolded at the game, according to a statement it issued on Wednesday.
“We would like to emphasize that we stand against all kinds of discrimination in accordance with our institutional and educational philosophy.” the statement said. “We have urgently contacted the school officials of Ulus Private Jewish High School, conveyed our regrets and initiated the necessary investigation.”
The incident has sent shockwaves through Istanbul’s Jewish community, which includes families with connections to both schools.
“As a Üsküdar American High School graduate, I do not want to believe this behavior of my school’s students towards the students of my son’s school.” one Jewish graduate, Roki Levent, wrote on Twitter. “If it is true, I condemn it and I am deeply saddened to see my school come to this.”
Üsküdar American Academy was founded in 1876 by an American Christian missionary organization operating in the Ottoman Empire. The school teaches mostly in English and boasts that its graduates largely attend leading foreign universities. It does not have an affiliation with the U.S. government, as some other American schools abroad do, according to a spokesperson from the U.S. consulate in Istanbul.
Antisemitism is far from unheard of in Turkey. The Anti-Defamation League found in 2015 that 71% of adults held antisemitic views, according to an index the group developed. But public incidents of antisemitism in recent years have largely stemmed from Islamist and Turkic nationalist factions, rather than secularist bastions like Üsküdar American Academy. To some, the school’s Western orientation made the antisemitic gestures at the soccer game stand out.
“This Üsküdar American Academy is considered the second-most prestigious in Turkey,” Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, a Turkish studies scholar at Tel Aviv University, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “The level of education is very high, the children who are getting educated there are from the highest segment of society, or they are very clever and got scholarships to get into the school, or they are children of strong families, suggesting they are the children of the Turkish elite.
“It’s a Western type of education and you would not think that antisemitism would germinate there,” said Yanarocak, who graduated from the Ulus Jewish School and serves as an official advisor there for students who are considering Israeli universities. “The fact that this antisemitic incident took place in this spearheading institution instead of an ordinary school highlights the new low for antisemitism in Turkey.”
Antisemitic incidents at sporting events have been recorded around the world, including during professional soccer games in Europe and during high school sports events in the United States and beyond.
Betsy Penso, a graduate of Üsküdar and a Turkish-Jewish journalist at Avlaremoz currently living in Israel, told JTA that during her time at the school, from 2006 to 2011, there were occasional tensions between Jewish and non-Jewish students over current affairs but no incidents like the one at the soccer match.
“I could hear ‘anti-Israel’ or ‘pro-Palestinian’ rhetorics but I cannot recall any incident [in which the] Holocaust was used as a humor mechanism at school,” Penso said. “I could have expected this happening in a different school but not mine. I could have expected this to happen in a different context but not against the students of a Jewish school.”
Now, she said, she and her fellow graduates are watching closely to see how their school handles the incident — and she hopes for swift and severe action.
“I was frustrated, I am still frustrated.” she said. “All of the alumni were shocked but of course Jews took it more personally for various reasons.… I really want these students to get expelled from the school. I also want a transparent communication and want to understand what, how and why this incident happened.”
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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