Translation form the original in French found here.
The Jewish community is leaving Turkey slowly, but surely. This religious minority is worried by the increase of violence and by the hardening of the regime. One third of its members have already begun the process of becoming Israeli citizens, but also Portuguese and Spanish. These are two countries who have banished them five centuries ago, but who agree to give them citizenship today.
The nationalist and Islamist pressure of the AKP, president Erdogan’s party, worries the small Turkish Jewish community, mainly gathered in Istanbul. After the increase of violence and anti-Semitism, an important number of 15,000 members of this community are considering leaving their country. The community has already lost 9,000 members over twenty years.
After the coup d’état attempted in July 2016, the repression against the followers of Fethullah Gülen (accused of being behind the putsch) has expanded to the whole Turkish society. 140,000 people have been excluded from the administration: judges, teachers, journalists, academics, police officers, military men, elected members… The Jewish community, discreet and legitimist, is yet not spared by this climate of violence.
Most of all the community fears a new wave of anti-Semitism, which could be instrumentalized by the government or by the Islamic groups. Back in 2003, hundreds of Jews have left the country after the attacks committed in front of two synagogues in Istanbul. The attack, claimed by a Turkish group related to Al-Qaeda, resulted in 43 deaths.
After the victory of Yes in the constitutional referendum, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has full power more than ever. The state of emergency proclamation has already allowed him to silence the opposition and to shut down hundreds of associations, such as the ones known for defending human rights. 47,000 magistrates, military men and police officers have been imprisoned.
This is the harmful political climate from which the Jewish-Turkish community tries to find a way out. 4,000 of its members have begun the process of becoming Portuguese or Spanish citizens. The Portuguese and Spanish parliaments have decided (in 2014) to grant citizenships to the descendants of the Sephardic Jews who have been evicted during the Inquisition. Historians estimate that at least 200,000 Jews were living in the Iberian Peninsula when Isabella the Catholic ordered them to convert or to leave, after years of persecution. The Jews from Spain, who had been living in the country with the Muslims and Christians for centuries, were forced to leave in a couple of weeks and they received an interdiction of coming back. The ones who refused were burned in the public square.
Return to Lisbon
The decisions aim to fix a «historical error» and to also attract a dynamic and resourceful population. The laws of «nationality reintegration» have been voted in 2013 and 2014, during the serious economic crisis which affected the Iberian Peninsula. According to Michael Rothwel, the representative of the Jewish community in Porto, «from the 3,000 nationality demands in Portugal, 500 Jews from Turkey have already received their new Portuguese passports», whereas the other demands are in progress. For the Jewish community of Istanbul, the return to the Portuguese or Spanish nationality is seen as an insurance against the increase of violence. This will also give them access to a precious European passport in these troubled times.
For the Jewish minority in Turkey, political repression which affects large sections of the population is added to the prevailing anti-Semitism. President Erdogan and the Turkish press regularly accuse a sibylline «lobby of interest taxes» for being detrimental to Turkey. The population understands they are targeting the Jewish community…