Thursday, January 9, 2014

Turkey: Jews fear Erdogan's legacy of anti-Semitic conspiracy-mongering may outlast his rule

For at least the past decade, the narrative around Turkey’s Jewish population has been that they are leaving, often because of political or social alienation owing to Erdogan’s rhetoric against Israel. It’s become a familiar headline which, for the congregants wiping pogaça crumbs from their laps and plotting their ferry rides home, seems like a less-than-subtle push out the door.

Of course, not all of Turkey’s Jews plan on leaving, and many emigrate for reasons having nothing to do with politics or religion. But those who stay see ties between a rise in casual anti-Semitism and Erdogan’s habit of conspiracy-mongering, and they worry that the longer Erdogan remains in power, the more deeply ingrained and reflexive the impulse among Turks to blame Jews for the country’s problems will become—even after Erdogan leaves the stage. “I’ve heard things like when someone owes a Jewish person money,” a young Jewish artist, Sibel Horada, told me, “they give them half and say, ‘Yeah, I donated the rest to Gaza.’ ”

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