Common sense, despite everything …

For Turkish Jewish Community whose freedom of worship has recently been threatened, there is only one expectation even if at the end of the incidents common sense prevailed: the wish and the hope that these types of incidents shall never happen again. Unfortunately, the long and the short of it is this fact…
Common sense, despite everything …
Protesters banging the door of İstanbul’s Neve Shalom Synagogue

Finally, we have seen this, too. During Mavi Marmara incident, even though there were rumors that there would be protests and demonstrations in front of synagogues, there were no protests or demonstrations. However, this time, following Al-Aqsa Mosque incidents, two separate groups, on two different days held protests and demonstrations which included slight physical disturbance and damage in front of two different synagogues. On July of 2017, 525 years after Jews settled on this land, there has been a threat against their freedom of worship in front of their synagogues where few of the 16-17 thousand Jews left in the country, go to.

We know in detail the developments that triggered the Al-aqsa Mosque incidents, details of who did what or who was “guiltier”. We know the faults of both parties in the incident that was initiated with terror. But, clearly, some people in this country would blame Israel and the “Zionists” collectively and presume by doing that they have solved the problem rather than taking into consideration the facts and details before reaching a solution. However, unfortunately the facts are somewhere else.

We know very well that in this world, no one, especially in times of hot or controlled war, is innocent because war means a fight for survival. Fight for survival means disregarding the other and the reflex of survival depends on the other party’s complete destruction. This is what I’m trying to say: Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are innocent in this war. Until the issue is solved completely, we will desperately continue looking for innocence, in vain. Unless Palestinians recognize Israel and until Israel stops rejecting the founding of an independent state of Palestine, we will listen to more stories of despair and loss of innocence.

So, what is the relevance between this historical issue and the attempt to prevent Jews living here from practicing their faith? What kind of organic connection could the Turkish Jews have with the incidents occurring in the Middle East? Just because Israeli Jews are one of the parties involved in the fight, why would the issue be attributed to the Jews living here? Elaborating this question would only make it more meaningless and absurd. As one journalist pointed out, how would the people who made demonstrations in front of Neve Salom and Ahrida Synagogues react, if hypothetically after an incident initiated by some Muslims in Germany, people would protest in front of mosques in Germany? Would they hide behind the double standard theory and say, “That was different, this is different”? We don’t know.

Fortunately, in the end common sense prevailed in this incident. First, non-Jewish , community –at- large showed their reaction on social media by criticizing and condemning the demonstrations. Then, journalists, both pro-government and dissidents, President of Grand National Assembly of Turkey Human Rights Investigation Commission and various AKP MP’s reacted to the demonstrations. While the leaders of CHP and MHP said that the attacks were wrong, some of the MP’s from CHP and HDP condemned the repugnant incident. The interesting part was that even the political party leader that the group who demonstrated in front of Neve Salom Synagogue affiliates themselves due to their similar political views said that “the act was right, however doing it in front of places of worship was wrong.”


Perhaps this will qualify as an issue to be studied in the field of sociology, but in my opinion, in this country some mistakes and wrongful acts have been internalized so intensely that to raise awareness, to perceive what’s wrong and to accept that it is wrong, maybe we must live the “wrong”.

Apparently, in this geography, some wrongs or mistakes do not ring an alarm.

After this recent incident, Turkish Jews might have felt the same way they did after the deadly terror attacks targeting their synagogues in the last decade as the traumatic memories of those attacks have been committed to their collective memory.  Unfortunately, there is a price.

And of course, the most important reaction was the reaction from state officials. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister and the President of Turkey clearly stated that these types of acts which would damage freedom of worship are not right.

The most encouraging and hopeful reaction was expressed on social media by some of the Muslim friends whom we have never met. In their posts, they have apologized on behalf of the demonstrators.  Yet, why should they have to apologize?

In the final analysis, the existence of these beautiful people is the wealth and the bright hope of this land.

Even if in the end common sense prevailed, for the whole Turkish Jewish Community whose freedom of worship was threatened, there is not much expectation besides the wish and the hope that these types of incidents shall never happen again.

Unfortunately, the long and the short of it is this fact…

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