Ivo Molinas: “They Never Saw Us as Turkish, Therefore We Always Felt Like a Minority.”Melike Çapan from Independent Turkish spoke to our newspaper Þalom’s Editor in Chief, Ivo Molinas, on antisemitism, a concern to many people including the politicians and a specific group among the society.
Translation by Janet MITRANI
Today, Turkish Jewish Society’s school doors, synagogue doors, newspaper doors are tightly locked. Their security measures are at the highest level due to the likelihood of a probable attack. A society is protecting itself in their own country behind iron doors, in order not to die again...
Ivo Molinas, while talking about Jews in Turkey being targeted also due to wealth, said, “In the social memories of Jews it is coded as: Since you are living in Diaspora, you have to excel above others in order to stay alive, meaning you have to get a good education. When you get a good education, you work your way up, and when you are one of the few most successful people in the community, it is harder to be anti-Semite towards you. It’s a whole other story if you’re evicted but if you want to live with your head held high, there is a tradition since the beginning of the Torah; to study, to be educated. The tradition of reading the Torah then led to secular studies meaning improvement of the education quality. Therefore, most of the Jews in the world are well educated. What does a good education yield? Success. What are the criteria for success? To advance in arts, politics, plus to be rich. So, Jews’ excelling in the community with their education can cause various kinds of jealousy.”
Molinas saying “An English, an American or a Turkish Jew has nothing to do what Israel does”, added that “I wouldn’t have an involvement with the Israeli government. Nevertheless, they see us all as children of Israel. Of course, there are sociological reasons for this; a superior Jewish identity disturbs the diaspora community Jews live in. This is what lies beneath anti-Semitism.”
Ivo Molinas, answered Melike Çapan's questions for Independent Türkçe.
“They are not aware that they are being racist.”
Molinas stating that there isn’t anti-Semitism on the street, at the universities, in bureaucracy added:
“This definitely has to be seen. I am saying this clearly against some speculations from other countries, and defending it on behalf of my country. However, what I’m criticizing is the anti-Semitism in the social media and press. You can see that we are 4th in the Media Watch on Hate Speech Report prepared for the last 4 months. Normally we are first in hate speech. We are down to 4th due to some other developments in foreign policies.”
Ivo Molinas asking “The ancient question is; why does antisemitism exist?” is answering his question, saying “There are sociological and political reasons. There are no criminal sanctions in Turkey. There is and there isn’t. They are not practiced. Take the editorial published in Akit newspaper last week. There is something called press prosecution. It can press charges, but it doesn’t. When you look at it, most of the media making anti-Semite publications are the national media. And 95% of the national media are government supporters.”
Molinas who stated that they encoded themselves not to fight or have problems with the state, ever since the republic was established, said:
“Therefore, the community became an archaic, closed community saying ‘Let’s stay secluded, let’s not interfere with their issues, let’s not be interested and they wouldn’t touch us’. Doors started to be opened in the last 15-20 years, especially thanks to Bensiyon Pinto. With the government, with the state... We are reaping the benefits. Our communication is strong but the old system I talked about still goes on. We don’t talk about our problems with the government openly in the public like other minorities do. We are executing an approach of trying to solve our problems through one on one relations at the community level.”
All throughout the interview, Molinas emphasized that the mainstream media is publishing anti-Semite stuff and added, “We have a President Tayyip Erdoðan. Each time like Islamophobia, he’s saying “I’m opposed to anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism is a crime of humanity.” I don’t understand how government-sided press can publish anti-Semite stuff in a country where the president is saying this. The people doing this don’t even feel a bit of remorse.”
Molinas pointed out that some people are saying anti-Semite stuff unaware, and said “They are not aware that they are being racist. They have such an internalized prejudice for ethnic societies... Sometimes when you point out that what they are doing is racist, 50 percent would say ‘I can’t be racist, I even have Jewish friends.’ I see a pure good intention in this. Some amend themselves, some don’t. Especially in the Islamic segment, it is the reflection of the alienation teachings that have been injected into their brains since their childhood. When we tell this is not true through our newspaper and social media, they take a step back saying ‘no I can’t be racist’. However, I’m expressing the same thing once again; I cannot understand how government-sided press continues what they do, despite all this.”
“They should not get away with it”
Molinas stated “We haven’t seen an obvious anti-Semite attitude from the government, in the last one or two years. Once the Governor of Edirne had done something. A non-governmental organization had the billboards put up, but they took them down in 24 hours. This in fact points out to an unawareness. We can talk about a group that doesn’t know it is racism, hate speech or that they are alienating people. If the billboards are taken down in 24 hours, I can explain this with illiteracy and ignorance.”
Molinas claiming that criminal sanctions should be applied for hate speeches, added:
“In fact, anti-Semitism is not something that can be improved with criminal sanctions but at least the person who does it should not get away with it.”
Photo: Fatih Öztürk - Independent Türkçe
Schools, synagogues, the newspaper... Their doors are secured. Security measures are at the highest level in case there is an attack.
Molinas, when asked the question “How can you, until when can you live with this fear and restlessness?” answered:
“A correct question. I can go to another country but I don’t want to. This is my country, I love it. There is no getting over that fear. I am telling the government to apply criminal charges. Let’s teach Holocaust at schools.
There is such a thing as Holocaust education but we cannot do it yet. They should at least teach the Holocaust. We are talking about a society of 6 million people of which 1.5 million were kids, who were killed by Hitler; let’s at least teach this. Let alone giving objective news about Israel; we already gave up on that...
For the last 15 years, about Israel, there are only manipulative and distorted news. Whenever Israel bombs Gazze it’s on the news, but they never say why they are attacking Gaza. The missiles sent from Gaza on top of people may be real or not. People are dying, they have to stay in shelters for 24 hours.
At least they can write the attack was started by Hamas Islamic Jihad and that Israel hit them back with disproportionated force. They are only saying Israel bombed Gaza. Therefore, in a country with so much disinformation, wouldn’t you be a Jew-hater?”
Molinas said, “While 6 million Jews were being killed in Europe, there was no one to help, neither America nor Vatican. Everyone including God turned away from Jews. Nobody was concerned. America photographed the Auschwitz death camp from above in 1942. If they had intervened maybe it would have been a wrong strategy. Because the right strategy was Germans’ first going to Russia and snap because of the cold and America’s attacking after that... However, at least 4 million Jews were killed between the years 1942 and 1945. That means that human life does not matter the least to governments. So, Jews said nobody helped me when I founded this country, I am the only one who can help me. In any attack, they think they have to retaliate with even more force to stay alive. They are saying we built this country after 2 thousand years; we won’t let anyone crush us. They have such a state psychology. I call this survival instinct. This has to end now. You are only alienating in the world by using a disproportionated force.”
Ivo Molinas described being a minority in Turkey as such:
“They never treated the minorities equally. During the Ottoman Empire, if the Jews paid their tax, they would live comfortably. During the Republican era, only Atatürk was the one to say ‘Happy is the one that says he/she’s Turkish (Ne mutlu Türk’üm diyene)’. He saw us as equals, tried not to discriminate. After Atatürk’s death, the state’s old habits were revived. Trakya incidents were one of these. They happened in Atatürk’s time but he couldn’t intervene because he was told late. That is another unknown in Turkish history. Wealth Tax for example; You are Muslim, I am Jewish, we have the same asset; they assign you the tax as one, me as one thousand. Why; because I am seen as a foreigner. I had the money, they said ‘we should take his money and give them to the Muslim’. They transferred wealth. They never saw us as Turkish, therefore we always felt like a minority.”