Turkey President Recep Tayyip erdogan..
(photo credit: REUTERS,JPOST STAFF)
Anti-Semitism is the most common racial or religious prejudice in the Turkish media, according to a recent study by the Hrant Dink Foundation.
The study, which tracked derogatory coverage of over 30 different groups in media reports between May and August, found that Jews and Armenians were the subjects of just over half of the recorded incidents in a media landscape filled with “biased and discriminatory language use.”
Jews led the pack with 130 incidents, followed by Armenians (60), Christians (25), Greeks (21), Kurds (18) and Syrian refugees (10).
The report further noted that during coverage of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, some in the Turkish media did not differentiate among Jews, Israelis and Zionists, using words like “Jew” to refer to all of them indiscriminately.
One example of the conflation of Diaspora Jews and Israelis during the war was an article by journalist Faruk Köse in Yeni Akit, a pro-government newspaper in Istanbul, calling on Turkish Jews to issue a communal apology on behalf of Israel.
During the conflict, Jewish leaders harshly condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for calling Israel a “terror state” and accusing Jerusalem of perpetrating a “systematic genocide” against the Palestinians.
Also during the conflict, the head of Insani Yardım Vakfı (IHH), the group responsible for the 2010 Gaza flotilla, reportedly told Turkish television that “Turkish Jews will pay dearly” for Operation Protective Edge.
According to a poll that the Anti-Defamation League released in the latter half of 2014, 69 percent of Turks harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. Asked if Jews were more loyal to Israel than to the countries in which they lived, 69% of respondents replied affirmatively, and 70% of those surveyed agreed that Jews only cared about “their own kind.”
Over half agreed that Jews were responsible for “most of the world’s wars,” and 61% said that people hated Jews due to their behavior.
The Turkish Jewish community did not respond to an email request for comment regarding the media survey.
For the most part, Turkey’s Jews part kept a low profile during the conflict, as they have a policy of silence when it comes to the press. Some Turkish emigrés have accused Ankara of pressuring communal bodies to toe the party line.
Over the summer, a group of Turkish Jewish intellectuals unconnected with the official communal body did write an open letter to Erdogan, denouncing Israeli actions in Gaza but also decrying the president’s demands that they make such a declaration because they were Jews.
“In the same way the people of Turkey cannot be held responsible for the barbarity of what Islamic State does because a number of Turks are among its fighters, the Jewish community of Turkey cannot be held responsible for what the State of Israel does,” they explained, stating that it was impossible for a community of 20,000 to offer a unified opinion on any matter.
After this reporter visited an Istanbul synagogue in 2013 and published an article on the local community’s preparations for celebrating Israel’s Independence Day, the community requested through an intermediary that the article be taken offline, in an apparent bid to avoid being linked to Israel in the media.
“The Turkish Jewish community will prefer to keep their mouths shut because of their public safety, and they are right to do this,” one emigré explained to the Post afterward.
At the end of December, Turkish Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva spoke at a gathering of Orthodox rabbis in Jerusalem despite the tensions between his country and Israel.