Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism in Turkey: From Ottoman Rule to AKP by Efrat Aviv (review)
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Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism in Turkey: From Ottoman Rule to AKP, by Efrat Aviv. London: Routledge, 2017. 232 pages. $145.

This is a very timely work given that anti-Semitism appears to be on the rise in many countries. How does one distinguish these sentiments or actions from anti-Zionism? Efrat Aviv states emphatically that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism; however, it does become so "when ideological references are made which denounce not only the Zionist Jews' deeds but also stereotyped negative characteristics such as being evil, greedy and [engaging in] deviousness …" (p. 2). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and many officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP, from the Turkish Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) have been quite critical of Israel's policies toward Palestinians, but, at the same time, his government has been funding the renovation of synagogues and sites of historical value to Turkey's Jewish community as well as providing security against possible attacks from sympathizers with the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) or other extremist groups.

Manifestations of anti-Semitism in Turkey are usually verbal and unsystematic, appearing most often in newspapers (especially Islamist or ultranationalist) and, most recently, on social media networks. While anti-Semitism in Turkey had grown throughout the 1990s, it appears to have been given legitimacy during the tenure of Erdoğan and the AKP. Aviv attributes this to heightened anti-Israel rhetoric and Erdoğan's manipulation of public opinion, either directly or indirectly, which tends to encourage those who engage in blatant anti-Semitic expression. There are Turkish Jews who generally feel uncomfortable in the current political environment; some choose to emigrate, some attempt to demonstrate their "Turkishness," while others try to keep a low profile. Still others in the community either claim that they are not as affected or that the problem is manageable. [End Page 686]

Despite the subtitle of this book, emphasis is given to the period of AKP rule, which occupies three out of five chapters and almost 150 pages. The first chapter concerns itself with the Ottoman Empire when non-Muslims, though maintaining their own separate respective communal autonomies, officially had a lower sociopolitical and legal status than Muslims and were generally tolerated and protected by the state. While there were stereotypes of Jews expressed in popular culture, most troubling to the community were blood libels, usually committed by Christians, during the 19th century, though anti-Semitism was far worse in European countries. The second chapter deals with developments from 1923 through the 1990s. Under President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1923–38), the Republic of Turkey became a unitary state and nation with a process of "Turkification," facilitated through educational policies. Atatürk was also a militant secularist, and while Jews were the most accepting of all minorities of his reforms, they still encountered discrimination and sometimes violence as was the case of nationalist riots in 1934 in Edirne and other cities in eastern Thrace. Anti-Semitic publications had become more readily available around this time. During the Second World War, the Turkish government in the face of economic difficulties implemented a tax that discriminated against non-Muslim businessmen. Following the war, Turkey became more democratic, Jews were allowed to serve in the military and police, and a couple of Jewish deputies were elected to parliament, but anti-Semitic publications increased especially after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and became more aggressive in nature over time.

Chapters 3, 4, and 5 concern the rise of the AKP, Israeli military operations and their impact on antisemitism, and an examination of the expression of that discriminatory sentiment in the Turkish media, respectively. Aviv asserts that Anadolu'da Vakit ("time in Anatolia," known since 2010 as Yeni Akit, or "new contract"), a newspaper that has published many anti-Semitic articles, including Holocaust denials and accusations of Turkish Jews being "agents" of Zionism or Israel, was given legitimacy by being part of the press corps accompanying Erdoğan on his travels. Despite that, during his first few years as prime minister, the Turkish leader had "close relations" with the Anti-Defamation League. However, beginning...


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