JERUSALEM – Yahya Turk, from west Istanbul, is a unique voice in the war-torn Middle East. While Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan was calling Israel’s operation in Gaza ‘worse than the Nazis’, Turk chose to contact an Israeli rabbi and express his support for Israel.
Writing to Rabbi Baruch Efrati, a resident of Efrat in Judea, Turk shared that: “I want you to know that I love Judaism and the Jewish people.” He does not mince words when relating to Turkey’s prime minister: “In Turkey we have a bastard Prime Minister who has been rude to Israel, and I want to apologize to you for his words and actions;he is rude to us secular Turks too.”
Turk heard about Rabbi Efrati when he read an article of his on YnetNews where the rabbi described the Islamization of Europe as a positive development because of the religion’s moral values. “I was amazed and pleased that a rabbi would call the Islamization of Europe a good thing. Likewise I believe an all Jewish Europe would be a great thing too,” Turk told Tazpit News Agency. “I showed the article to my family and they all fell in love with him.”
His drive to write the letter was the advent of violent Islamism in the Middle East: “I felt a desire after seeing the horrors ISIS are committing in Iraq and Syria, along with years of negative media coverage on Muslims that I had to speak up, and Rabbi Efrati was the one to contact.” Turk expressed anger at radical Islam for giving Islam a bad name, as “they don’t talk for us, only their own terrorist group.”
Raised in what he defined as a typical secular Muslim middle class family in Istanbul, where he was taught that the greatest Turk ever was Ataturk and that Secularism is the only way forward for Turks, Turk looks back at that period as better times: “Remember the Ottoman Empire saved Jews from the idol worshiping Christians and again in World War Two, taking in refugees. Our eternal Leader Ataturk praised the Jews and I love you and your people.”
Concluding his message, Turk calls for the Muslims and Jews to unite: “Us God-fearing Muslims and Jews should unite because the God of Abraham is our one true God.”
Responding to his extraordinarily warm words, Rabbi Efrati wrote that he was “glad to read Turk’s words” and noted the unique historical period in which he and Turk are currently living in: “We live together in a world that seeks a deeper identity, meaning and spiritual direction. The wars you mentioned are part of that search; the creator allows it in order to give to the world a free will, to find the truth and right on its own… But we should not lose hope, everything is part of a great progress towards the light and the truth, lead by God, and the wars and difficulties are part of this long journey.”
Relating to Erdogan, Efrati writes: “It is indeed a shame that a great part of Turkey disconnects the heritage of this honest man [Ataturk], and connects to radical Islamic fundamentalism. I’m glad to hear that you oppose the president of your country, who is anti-Semitic, narrow-minded, and does not represent at all the cultural orientation of Ataturk.”
Concluding with words of friendship, Rabbi Efrati states:” These days we are fighting for our right to live as free people in our land; we do not stand alone, with us are many people like you, who support our righteous cause. Together we will win the darkness and illuminate light of faith and hope.” .