Photo Credit: WD
Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan flashes the four-fingered Muslim Brotherhood sign to a crowd. (archive)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a sly swing at the Jewish faith late last week during a speech at an award ceremony organized by the country’s Roma community in Bursa.

The barb came within what started out as a positive comment — as Erdogan’s barbs often do.

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In accepting the “Great Roman” award on Feb. 6, Erdogan mentioned that he grew up in Kasimpasa, a neighborhood in Istanbul that was home to many Roma as well. “I know the Roma culture,” he said, and then began condemning racism, Islamophobia and discrimination, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“I am addressing to those who talk about women’s rights. Why don’t you raise your voice against the Jews who thank God in their prayers that they were not created as women? Was there any other understanding, a logic as demeaning for women as this one?”

The snide remark is a deliberate misinterpretation of one of the morning blessings recited by men — and women (the women’s version states praise to God that they were created as He desired) in recognition of their different roles and responsibilities in Jewish life.

In October 2014, a Haaretz reporter commented in an article that “Turkey, once a safe haven for Jews, now outranks Iran in harboring anti-Semitic sentiment.” An unnamed security coordinator told the reporter that Jews living in Istanbul “try to keep a low profile.”

Haaretz is not a right-wing newspaper. It is a liberal, left-wing news outlet that goes out of its way to “see the other side,” sometimes to the exclusion of noticing that of its country of origin. But one of the Turkish Jews with whom the reporter spoke said, “For the Jewish people there is no life in Istanbul.” Nevertheless, she added that she feels “very Turkish” and still wants “to live here all my life if it’s possible.”

If it’s possible. Once no Jew would have questioned that. Many of the Jews who live now in Turkey are the descendants of those who came to the Ottoman Empire as refugees from Spain in 1492. Others married in after having come to the country as tourists, some from Israel. Most have now fled in fear for their lives.

It was the anti-Jewish riots in the 1930s in Turkey that prodded the first Jews to flee. Political pressures that followed frightened the Jews that remained, and slowly the flood became a steady bleed. As Turkey drew closer to Iran and a more radical Islamic attitude over the past decade, the Jews once more were threatened by those around them. The Sephardic Jewish Center in Istanbul today is secured by multiple locks and hidden other systems; one has to know where to find it and how to access it just to be able to enter its doors.

The threats were aided and abetted by then-Prime Minister, and today President Recep Tayyid Erdogan, whose anti-Semitic bordered on vitriolic during the times Israel was forced to defend herself against Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorists, who are members of the Muslim Brotherhood which originated in Egypt.

The group is beloved by Erdogan, himself a man truly loved by his country and his people, who relate to him as someone from “the neighborhood.” He relates to crowds as one of the people, with a speaking style in Turkish that has a slight edge; it retains that roughness seen among those who didn’t go to Harvard.

It is what has kept him in power for so long.

That same style has also enabled Erdogan to build ties with nearly every terror group in the region and has firmed the bond between Turkey and Iran. It may dim the competition between the two for establishing a new Empire over the fragments that once were powerful Arab nations in the region.

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Rachel Levy is a freelance journalist who has written for Jewish publications in New York, New Jersey and Israel.

99 COMMENTS

  1. Those who have embraced Islam is only because they are too impure spiritually to comprehend Torah. So what do they do, they make their own interpretations, interject their own debased soul and behavior into their skewered perceptions of natural law, and come up with a poor facsimile of Jewish Law. Every act of cruelty is justified to the spiritually self-chosen Muslim. Every day one hears another Fataw justifying every possible crude behavior towards one's own wife, daughters and, of course, infidel whores. The hell Islamic countries are experiencing is proof of its godless ideology.

  2. Sooner or later people will realize just how dangerous this man is. Not to Israel, but to Turks first!
    Single handedly he is busy undoing all that has been done beginning with Ataturk.
    He fancies himself as some Ottoman Sultan. He is nothing but an wannabe Imam in a suit and a tie.

    Arabs have been "springing" forward. He wants to leap back to the 19th, and 18th. Century. Way to go Erdo!

  3. If you are in a Jewish store ask them to not carry any Turkish products. Their apricots can be replaced with California apricots, their figs with Greek or California and all the rest of their Drek can easily be replaced. let them eat their own crap.

  4. I’ve heard other people -not Muslims- who have also made critique of thanking G-d for not being a woman. Too bad that they do not understand why, but their religions cannot appreciate the reason since they hate G-d’s commandments and duties. But since Islam does curtail the rights of women so extensively, Erdogan promotes it more stringently each year to ingratiate himself to more radical Muslims. An educated person can easily see through his comments, actions, and ambition.

  5. beware turkey is the gateway to Europe for the future muslim terrorist. turkey seeks admission to the European union, beware o fools of Europe, you have problems now, wait until the gate opens and you are consumed in the rise of the new super caliphate.,courtesy of the likes of erdogan whose on an Islamic ego trip.

  6. If you are in a Jewish store tell them you'll boycott them if they carry Turkish products, I would not patronize the anti-Jewish Greek bastards either!!! Israel exports figs, dates, olives, apricots!!! Buycott don't Boycott Israel!!!

  7. The Ultimate Humiliation, 😉 Even the Horse will not have his ass on his Back. 😉 😉

  8. What the……… Kick these "Turkey's " OUT of NATO > NOW. We do-not need them….. they need us….. When "push comes to shove" on which side do you think the TURKS will be on. We will get a knife in the back just like Israel did who was supplying them with advanced arms -no less.

  9. ISRAEL SHOULD NOT GET IN THE EU.BECAUSE THEY DO NOT RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS OF THEIR CITIZENS! I'M AN ISRAELI/CANADIAN LIVING NOW IN CANADA AND THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT REFUSE TO REALISE THE PENSION OF HER CITIZESNS ?HOW DO YOU CALLE THIS COUNTRY?DEMOCRATY?OR DICTATORY?

  10. Alan Kardon, my goodness we agree twice in one day! BTW, Even though it has been about 10 years I have been to Turkey as a businessman and Istanbul and Izmir are very beautiful cities. However, with what is going on there now, I will not include it on my next vacation with my wife.

  11. More than we respect Human rights we respect the right of our children to live. To live free of rocket falling on them out of the sky.

    Thousands of rockets fired by Hamas are human rights?

    Don't give us lectures on Human rights while rabid Jihadists do their best to annihilate us.

    Today they only kill Jews. Tomorrow they will come for you.

  12. Turkey NEEDS another COUP and a "Secular Military Dictatorship"
    A Return to Kemalism before Er-DOG-an completely removes Secularism like it was removed in Afghanistan & Iran in the 1970s.
    What are Ataturk's Turkish Armed Forces "The Defenders Of Secularism" waiting for?

  13. We must not forget that Turkey is a NATO member, and has nuclear weapons stockpiled there. If Turkey blocks out the West, it can deny access to NATO facilities to recover those weapons. That is all this world needs, a crazy leader equipped with nukes. At the moment, I am more worried about this than North Korea and it's leader.

  14. Its very simple the Ottoman Empire were some of the most hate filled Murderous War Mongers in history and they butchered millions. He comes from a long line of haters… I say tell the students to oust him before he brings war and death and destruction upon them. Turkey is like a plastic toy army compared to Israel…

  15. Dina is not Dina, but some dumb muslim posing!! Obviously!! By her comment that is beyond absurd!! If she is a Jew then she should go to issis and tell them she is a self hating Jew and volunteer to be a test subject in the next devious way they come up with to kill someone!!!

  16. A friend gave me some past. Iit clamed it was made from semolina. It had the Italian flag and said Italian several times. It's Turkish. It's horrid. So as nott to waste food, I'll cook it for the dogs.

  17. The Jews, as I a Muslim from Pakistan, see, are assured to live in this world to the Last Day. That they are a genius race, and once the pride of humanity and exalted by God, is a boon to the whole world, they should be given a fair chance to solve their affairs as best as they can. For Muslims, the only place in Jerusalem is the sacred worshiping place called Al-Aqsa. Why can't we let Jews make Israel a replica of Solomon and interact with the wast Arab world in trade and commerce. The Dome of Rock, holiest of hollies is the Jewish direction of prayers. Let them have it. I propose that we create one each strong and independent Think Tank forums and sort this out amicably in a shared solution.

  18. Anyone who has any knowledge of these prayers knows that this particular blessing has nothing to do with women's rights. It has many interpretations and none of them are anti-woman! In truth, Judaism is very very pro-woman! One should learn the true meaning of their own religion first (ie peace and tolerance not war and hate) before trying to explain the religion of others.

  19. Men are required to do more mitzvot than women because they are at a lower spiritual than women. This is not a new thing – it's in our 2000-year-old oral law. They are thanking God for not making them a non-Jew who only has 7 mitzvot to keep, then for not making them a slave, who has more than 7 but less than a free Jew, then for not making them a woman, who has less mitzvot to do than men because women have more important things to do. I doubt there is any Jewish woman who thinks a man could do her job, and that's what he's really thankful for.

  20. Sher, you should become the PM of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and the rest of the islamic world. I like the way you think. Sadly, you are a very tiny minority in your thinking. Most muslims are filled with hatred towards Jews and Israel, not even knowing where Israel is located. I can go on and on .Slam Alechum Ya Ebni

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