Terror Attacks in Istanbul
The Jewish People Under Fire

Saturday’s terrorist attacks in Istanbul upon Jewish worshippers in the Neve Sahalom and Beit Yisrael synagogues were perpetrated by enemies of Israel and haters of peace. The Jewish people in the Diaspora are under fire. Terror strikes, not only in Israel, but also at Israelis in Kenya and Jews in Tunisia, Morocco, and now – in Turkey.

Many Jews in Europe are the victims of violence in the street, in synagogues and in schools. Jews everywhere are exposed to hostile propaganda, slurs and false accusations. Numerous universities worldwide have been transformed from sanctuaries of academic freedom to hotbeds of pseudo-intellectual, anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel terror.

Over the last few years, Jews around the world have become a target for the haters of Israel, the haters of the United States, and the haters of the entire West. Moreover, they have become the targets of the hatred towards Jews that was relatively covert after the Shoah, and which now rears its ugly head with renewed vigor. For someone born after the Holocaust, it is sad to see how deeply anti-Semitism has been lodged in the hearts of individuals and nations, religions and cultures. Even the monstrous outcomes of anti-Semitism during the Holocaust has not brought about its extermination. Hatred bubbles, like boiling lava, in the innermost hearts, searching out ways and means, causes and excuses to explode into scalding venom. In this global reality, anti-Semitism takes on global expression. The remarks of a Muslim clergyman in one place, or the instigation of pseudo-intellectuals somewhere else, lead to expressions of hate, violent outbursts and terrorist attacks everywhere.

The Jewish people, together with the State of Israel must jointly combat these new expressions of anti-Semitism the world over. We must ensure that governments protect their Jewish citizens, and pursue their persecutors. We must launch an international public campaign for the righteousness of the Zionist cause and against the haters of Israel. We must provide a warm, enveloping cloak of Jewish solidarity for every Jew in the world: no Jew in the world, no Jewish community should feel alone. We are all responsible one for another. And above all, we must remember and remind others how important it is that the Jewish People has a state.

Points to Ponder

The horrific, simultaneous, Shabbat morning terror attacks on the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel synagogues in Istanbul were no coincidence - they were deliberately planned, and designed to create maximum death and destruction, horror and trauma. Echoes of previous attacks on Jewish communities and Israeli citizens come to mind - in Istanbul, Argentina, Africa, London, Paris…

Is there an Equation?

These acts yesterday, together with the night-time arson of a Jewish school in the northern Paris suburbs, combine to raise ethical questions as to:

How blurred have the lines become between hatred, destruction of property and attacks on innocent people?
What are the best means of countering this escalating threat, in Europe and the world?
Yet, each time these questions arise, it seems that spokespersons and officials are thrown into disarray, with disclaimers that these acts - in Istanbul, Argentina, London, Paris or Mombasa - are not intrinsically linked to one another, nor to any particular atmosphere or policy in the liberal world. The net result is confusion, because any interpretation goes; a total absence of strategy, under an ineffective leadership.

De-constructing the Interpretation

From the different media and political statements, it is possible to see how various interests mythify and eventually respond to these threats and acts of terrorism.

The way in which the two synagogue explosions have been interpreted appears to be split into two major divisions, along two different axes:


1a. That the targets were ostensibly Jewish, but these were attacks against Turkey and innocent Turkish citizens, whatever their religion 2a. That the targets were ostensibly Jewish, but these were attacks against Turkey's pro-US alignment / against the West / for radical Islam
1b. That the targets were deliberately Jewish, and these were therefore acts of Antisemitism in a tolerant country, whoever the perpetrators 2b. That the targets were deliberately Jewish, because the Jewish community is de facto identified with Israel, and these were therefore acts of hatred against Israel and the Jewish people together.

Activity: Discussion in Four Corners

In a discussion group, each participant rates the plausibility of each statement on a scale from 1 (lowest) - 5 (highest), so that the collected tallies give some indication of where the group feels the most and least likely interpretations lie.

Four speaker teams are then asked to analyse separately on what each position is based and to substantiate and present one of the arguments (5-8 minutes' preparation). What is the comfort level with the other arguments?

After all the presentations in sequence, without any questions, the groups are allowed to ask each other questions about their position, following which they are asked to rate the positions from 1-4: least likely to most likely explanation.

Review: Can some of these interpretations be true simultaneously; if so, why?

De-constructing the Response

It may sound cynical, but a response policy and strategy are inevitably linked to the accepted wisdom about the cause and nature of these terror attacks. A government, or community may choose only that interpretation with which they feel comfortable, and commonality with others who have suffered similar attacks may therefore be reduced.

Only where Antisemitism and hatred of Israel are openly understood as linked phenomena - and where incitement is viewed as the pretext to acts of hatred, will people and governments take action to change this situation.

Activity: Who's Where?

In a discussion group, participants recall different terror attacks against Jews or Israelis around the world and the different media explanations and official responses to them, to the best of their ability.
Can they type them, using the definitions above?
What kind of definition does Sallai Meridor give in his article, and what kind of action does he propose?
Can participants suggest the kind of response that is dictated by each definition?
Can they suggest the kind of response that is dictated by the ranking the group gave for the attacks in Istanbul?
What is Israel's role, according to this view?



World leaders condemn attacks on Istanbul synagogues

Relations with Turkey 'excellent'

Analysis / Bombs shatter interfaith coexistence

Turkish Jews insist: Attack was aimed at all of Turkey






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26 Aug 2007 / 12 Elul 5767 0