TURKEY

The Media’s trial with “the Jews”

The approach of the media to Turkish Jews as illustrated by the news of the Edirne Synagogue
Mois GABAY
The Media’s trial with “the Jews”

“They said a prayer for Erdoðan at the opening of the Synagogue” Without much time passing, I attempted to understand with an impartial view how this event was covered by the mainstream media. Undoubtedly, as we have recently witnessed in many incidents, some media organisations had succeeded in presenting such a joyous day in a way that was not particularly innocent. Analysing the news in two separate strains of commentary better highlighted the situation. One section of the media, highlighted the “anoten” prayer that we sang to ask that our country and nation be blessed before our President, while the other section of commentary emphasized the unwelcome situation that had recently occurred by making reference to “the synagogue that the Governor had said was to be a museum”. Those who read the subtexts that had been inserted in these articles could most definitely ascertain the messages of “Look, even Jews prayer to him” or “Do not expect much from this opening”.   

Last week during a panel that I attended on minority newspapers, the subject of the mainstream media’s approach towards minorities was brought up. In fact, a journalist friend of ours who was participating in the panel had illustrated that the media’s approach towards the Jews was not always particularly innocent with an example similar to the one above. The newsworthiness of a story regarding the Turkish Jewish Community is directly proportional to the ability of the story to generate an agenda, as much as it is about the importance of the news. While the commemoration ceremonies for the November 15th synagogue attacks – one of the greatest traumas that Turkish Jews have suffered in recent history – are no longer regarded to be as important by the media in most recent years, when the subject is an unfortunate incident that happened to a Jewish businessman, articles were printed that prominently emphasized “Jewish” identity. While the fact that the youth of the community were shifting towards pursuing opportunities abroad due to the recent political and social climate was reported by the mainstream media with concern, some media organisations reported this story with great joy. The same approach was also apparent in the comments such as “If there are no Jews left, why has this money been spent” directed towards the restoration of the Edirne Synagogue.  However, when the subject is Israel, the common antipathy of the media shift further left or right and can give rise to “hostile” language. This is revealed with a wide scope ranging from the biased way that news is reported particularly in the times of war, to the way in which the developments are presented. When the subject is Israel, it is a distant dream that is equally applicable for both sides that the news is presented without any manipulation. Another illness that the media has been unable to rid itself for years is the placing of the phrase “Jew” behind an identity that has been declared to be the enemy by the prominent thought.  Depending on the conditions of the time, while this can sometimes be the “Jewish pawnbroker”, as we have read in recent weeks it can also be frequently featured with accusations such as “agent with bags full of money provided by the Jewish community”. This mentality that searches for Jews behind every unfortunate event, including even earthquakes, tsunamis and interest rates, finds a media apparatus through which it can comfortably express itself in this environment. Do you also believe it to be a coincidence that while the ongoing trial involving the murder of an Armenian citizen in Samatya or the Assyrian community’s Mor Gabriel Monastery problem is not heavily featured in the media, when the news involves a Jew the story is given such prominence? Anti-Semitic sentiment that has become ingrained in the genes of some sections of society and the desire to make the Jew a scapegoat reveals itself in the demand for news stories about Jews. Isn’t the fact that the infamous sayings of one of the best-known anti-Semites Cevat Rýfat Atihlan is featured on the official broadcast channel of our country and the anti-Semitism that is pumped through different broadcasts also products of the same thoughts?

When considered that the manipulation across the media is so strong, the mission that our newspaper has undertaken in recent years becomes more understandable. Both the different voices that we can reach from a wider society and news about both Israel and Turkish Jews that we share despite being faced with negative reactions are highly important for the purpose of truthfully informing people. The experienced authors from this wider society who bravely present their writing within our newspaper only add to our strength. Indeed, the further we proceed in the common goal of solving, not only are own problems but the problems of other minority communities as well, the better we will be able to overcome prejudices. With the hope that a Muslim can protect the right of a Jew, a Jew can protect the right of an Armenian, and Armenian can protect the right of a Kurd and a Kurd can protect the right of an Assyrian in a future where everyone is an equal citizen with equal rights before the law… 

 

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