Thursday, February 17, 2011
Jews in Turkey fear attacks
After Hezbollah's threats shut down missions, Jewish residents of Istanbul afraid to leave homes
Turkish Jews expressed fear Thursday of a retaliation scheme by Hezbollah, which has threatened to avenge the death of one of its commanders, Imad Mughniyeh, on the third anniversary of his death.
Earlier this week Israel temporarily shut down a number of its diplomatic missions in the world due to fears of an attack, and a local Turkish paper revealed Thursday that these included the Israeli consulate in Istanbul and the embassy in Ankara.
But local Jews still harbor anxiety, especially since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rise to power. "As we speak now, we are being heard because there is wire-tapping here," a Jewish merchant from Istanbul told Ynet over the phone, asking to remain anonymous.
"In Turkey there is no knowing what will happen tomorrow. So much goes on here. What guaranteed the separation between religion and state was the army, but unfortunately the generals who maintained this in the past are no longer around."
The merchant added that indictments against 200 military officials recently filed in the country "demonstrates the threat against us all".
"Turkey is a dictatorship. They attack newspapers and there are raids against anyone who dares speak out against the government. Those who talk too much find themselves under investigation," he said.
"Friendships are being developed here with states hostile to Israel. This concerns us, because we don't know if we will be protected as before. Though police guard all Jewish institutions, we still don’t really feel safe."
The merchant added that many of those belonging to the Jewish community refrain from going out to public places in which Jews gather.
"It's better to keep a low profile. Anything I say can make me a target, so I prefer to stay silent. There has always been a threat here, but apparently it has gotten worse because of the lack of cooperation between Israel and Turkey," he said.
Jackie Angel, also from Istanbul, was not afraid of revealing his identity. He said he had found it odd that the Israeli missions in Turkey were shut down without giving prior notice, and that it was the first time such a thing had occurred, to his recollection.
But Angel says he is not afraid. "It's not scary, but we are certainly being a lot more careful. Right now we try to sit at home a lot more, we go out less, but I work as usual," he said.