An unprecedented 600 Turkish Jews are expected to flee harrassment and resettle in Israel in 2010, the Jewish Agency has predicted. Taking their cue from the antisemitic pronouncements of Prime Minister Erdogan, Turks are no longer as tolerant as they once were. David Bedein of the Philadelphia Bulletin writes:
Jerusalem – A nervous Rabbi recently appeared at The Bulletin’s bureau in Jerusalem and related that the small Jewish community in Turkey feels threatened by the new Islamic resurgence and by the new Turkish alliance with Iran.
As a result, there is a a significant increase in the number of Jews leaving Turkey and immigrating to Israel.
One hundred and thirty five immigrants from Turkey have made the journey this year, compared with 108 in 2008.
The Jewish Agency predicts that, by the year’s end, some 200 immigrants will have come, nearly twice as many as in previous years.
The assessment is based on the fact that, for the first time in many years, Jewish Agency representatives are being swamped with calls. As of now there is a 100 percent increase in those expressing interest in immigrating to Israel, inquiring as to their rights and obligations – and for the first time, a long list of Jews hoping to relocate their businesses from Turkey to Israel.
Most of those asking to register as new immigrants explain that this is due to the new extremist attitudes towards Jews in Turkey.
One of those who have registered, a 39-yard-old father of four who did not give his name, is the owner of a large and prosperous shop in the capital. The man decided to sell his business and move to Israel.
“We are being harassed, Turkey is no longer the same Turkey. They listen to the words of the prime minister and refrain from setting foot in Jewish shops. Turkey is falling into extremism,” he explained.
He said that many of his Jewish colleagues were leaving for the West, not only to Israel, and others were considering doing so.
“We anticipated that the number of people interested in moving to Israel was going to rise, but we didn’t anticipate that there would be such a large number of people who wanted to immigrate and so swiftly,” said a senior Jewish Agency executive. He said that 600 Jews were expected to immigrate to Israel from Turkey in 2010, which is an unprecedented number.
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