The Istipol Synagogue in Istanbul’s historically Jewish Balat neighborhood was sprayed with hate a few days ago, according to a report Tuesday in the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman.
The grafitti, “Terrorist Israel, there is Allah!” was found slathered on the outside walls around the synagogue, in white paint, on January 8. It has since been painted over.
The vandalism occurred after a one-time prayer service was held at the synagogue – the first in 65 years – a rare event that given the response, may not be repeated for some time.
There are nine synagogues in the area, but only two remain active at this point, according to the newspaper.
Ivo Molinas, chief editor of the weekly Jewish Salom newspaper, was interviewed about the anti-Semitic attack by the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman.
Molinas noted that the Turkish Jewish community has nothing to do with Israeli domestic or foreign policy. He expressed exasperation at the automatic connection made by gentile Turks between Turkish Jewry and the State of Israel.
“I don’t know what to think, other than that people insist on connecting us to Israel. Of course there are some connections between our community and Israel; members of our community have family that live there and might have emotional connections but we have nothing to do with their political policies,” Molinas explained in a phone interview with Today’s Zaman.
“Writing anti-Israel speech on the wall [outside] of a synagogue is an act of anti-Semitism. There is widespread anti-semitism voiced in Turkey and it gets in the way of celebrating the richness of cultural diversity in this country,” he added.
This hatred is not new.
About 18 months ago, a conservative columnist known for his ties to the AKParty led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote a piece calling on the Turkish government to tax the country’s Jews in order to rebuild Gaza.
Writing in the Yeni Akit, Faruk Kose wrote that Turkey should impose the “Gaza Fund Contribution Tax” on Jews having anything whatsoever to do with Israel, or on anyone tied in any way to Israel.
The columnist said that Turkish Jewish citizens, any corporation, company or business that has any connection or maintains a partnership with a Turkish Jew – in short, anyone with any tie or connection with a Jew anywhere, or with Israel – should be taxed. Failure to pay the tax should lead to revoking one’s business license, and seizure of the offender’s property.
“The reconstruction of Gaza should be paid for by Jewish business owners,” Kose wrote.