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Turkish Jews open doors to confront antisemitism

Aykan Erdemir
10th November 2017 - Quoted by Nick Ashdown - The Jewish Chronicle

Turkey’s small Jewish community got a rare chance to showcase its culture in Istanbul on Sunday during the European Days of Jewish Culture event.

“Our target is non-Jews who want to know more about us,” said Nisya Isman Allovi, director of the Quincentennial Foundation Museum of Turkish Jews that organised the event, which was attended by about 1,300 people.

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Aykan Erdemir, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former opposition member of the Turkish parliament, said the AKP’s mixed record on religious minorities was the result of self-serving policies.

“Erdogan understands well the electoral benefits of scapegoating and smearing Jews and Christians in Turkish domestic politics,” he wrote in an email.

“At the same time, Erdogan also has a keen awareness that symbolic benevolent acts toward Jews and Christians help improve his tarnished global image. So, there have been well-choreographed positive steps.”

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Mr Erdemir added that ultimately it was the minorities themselves who would be most effective in fostering better relations with the rest of Turkish society.

“The most important change in the prospects of Jews and Christians in Turkey will not result from government hand-outs but from religious minorities’ growing willingness and courage to engage the country’s Muslim majority,” he said.

“Public outreach events and civic engagement are the best antidote to government-sponsored hate and bigotry in Turkey.”

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Tags

antisemitism, turkey