1he 1urk|sh Ŵ Israe|| Connect|on and Its Iew|sh koots

8y Iosepb nootmoo

Cne of Lhe mosL slgnlflcanL developmenLs ln recenL Mlddle LasL affalrs ls Lhe close relaLlonshlp whlch
now exlsLs beLween 1urkey and lsrael ln mlllLaryţ pollLlcalţ economlc and lnLelllgence maLLersŦ 1hls
change ln Lhe power sLrucLure ls usually aLLrlbuLable Lo Lhe old Arab maxlm ºLhe enemy of my enemy ls
my frlendŦ" Slnce boLh 1urkey and lsrael counL Syrla and lraq as Lhelr sLrongesL LhreaLsţ Lhe close Lles
beLween 1urkey and lsrael are qulLe loglcalŦ

Poweverţ Lhere ls good evldence of a less wldely known buL absoluLely fasclnaLlng sLory behlnd Lhls
relaLlonshlpŦ 1urkeyţ whlch has a populaLlon almosL excluslvely Musllmţ has a governmenL whlch by law
ls commlLLed Lo belng LoLally secularŦ 1hls goes back Lo modern 1urkey's foundlng faLherţ MusLafa kemal
(kemal ALaLurk)ţ 1881Ŵ1938ţ leader of Lhe ?oung 1urk MovemenL whlch Look over afLer World War l and
Lhe collapse of Lhe CLLoman LmplreŦ

ALaLurk and hls followers moved rapldly Lo end rellglous domlnaLlon and many rellglous pracLlces ln Lhe
dally llfe of Lhe counLryŦ 1hey decreed a change from Lhe Arablc alphabeL Lo Lhe 8omanţ and Lhey
ouLlawed Lhe fez and Lhe vellŦ 1hey opened schools Lo boLh boys and glrlsţ and Lhelr maln goal was Lo
WesLernlze 1urkey and secularlze lLs pracLlcesŦ 1he 1urklsh army has been Lhe maln enforcemenL agenL
of Lhls secular pollcy ln Llmes of rlslng fundamenLallsm among some groupsŦ

ome 8ackground Data

ln Lhe 18Lh and early 19Lh cenLury Salonlka (now 1hessalonlka)ţ under 1urklsh rule ln Creeceţ was Lhe
unofflclal caplLal of Sephardlc !ewryŦ Cf Lhe Lhree groups ln Lhe clLyţ Lhe !ews were larger Lhan Lhe
comblned Creek CrLhodox and Musllm populaLlonŦ

1he !ews domlnaLed Lhe commerce of Lhe clLy and conLrolled Lhe docks of Lhls ma[or seaporLŦ 1here
were greaL synagogues and academles of rabblnlc sLudyŦ Moslem shops closed on lrldayţ Creek
CrLhodox on Sundayţ and mosL shops and buslnesses were closed on ShabbaLŦ Ladlnoţ Lhe beauLlful mlx
of Spanlsh and Pebrewţ was Lhe llngua franca of Lhe clLy and ºShabbaL Shalom" was Lhe unlversal
SaLurday greeLlng among allŦ ln Lhe laLe 19Lh and early 20Lh cenLury Lhe clLy decllned as a resulL of
confllcL beLween Creek CrLhodox and Moslemsţ and !ewlsh domlnance of Lhe clLy decreasedŦ

Ia|| of the Cttoman Lmp|re

WlLh Lhe fall of Lhe CLLoman Lmplre afLer World War l and Lhe declslon aL Lhe 1reaLy of Lausanne ln
1923 Lo creaLe an lndependenL Creek sLaLeţ Lhe declslon was made Lo Lransfer populaLlonsŦ All Moslems
ln Creece had Lo move Lo 1urkey and all CrLhodox Creeks ln 1urkey had Lo move Lo CreeceŦ ln allţ abouL
330ţ000 Moslems and one mllllon Creeks were lnvolved ln Lhe moveŦ !ews were permlLLed Lo remaln
wherever Lhey llvedŦ

AL Lhls Llme a group of Moslems wenL Lo Lhe auLhorlLles supervlslng Lhe populaLlon shlfL and explalned
LhaL Lhey were noL really Moslems buL were ln facL really !ews poslng as MoslemsŦ 1he auLhorlLles would
noL enLerLaln such a clalm so Lhe group Lhen wenL Lo Lhe Chlef 8abblţ Saul Amarllloţ Lo verlfy Lhelr
!ewlsh sLaLusŦ 8abbl Amarlllo sLaLesţ º?esţ l know who you areŦ ?ou are momzarlm (very loosely
LranslaLed as basLards) and as such noL accepLable ln Lhe !ewlsh communlLyŦ" 1hese people were Lhe
uonmehţ Lhe 1urklsh word for converLsţ and Lhelr exlsLence had been known for over 200 yearsŦ 1hey
were called momzarlm because of Lhe blzarre sexual pracLlces LhaL were parL of Lhelr rellglous rlLualsţ
whlch made lL lmposslble Lo Lrace parenLage and llneageŦ 1he uonmeh were forced Lo leave Salonlka for
1urkeyţ whlchţ conslderlng Lhe Lraglc faLe of Salonlka's !ews durlng Lhe PolocausL 20 years laLerţ
undoubLedly saved Lhelr llvesŦ

Jho Jere the Donmeh? (Doenmehţ Donme)

Cne of Lhe besL known names buL leasL known hlsLorlcal flgures ln !ewlsh hlsLory ls ShabbLal Zvlţ Lhe
ºfalse messlah" (1626Ŵ1687)Ŧ 8orn ln Smyrnaţ 1urkeyţ of a Sephardlc faLher and an Ashkenazl moLherţ he
was a brllllanL chlld and 1almudlc sLudenLţ and an ordalned rabbl ln hls mld LeensŦ Pe wenL on Lo sLudy
and became a masLer ln kabbalah and oLher !ewlsh mysLlclsmŦ Pls oraLory was capLlvaLlng and he soon
acqulred a followlngŦ Poweverţ he exhlblLed odd characLerlsLlcsţ lncludlng perlods of lllumlnaLlon where
he was belleved Lo be communlcaLlng wlLh Cod and perlods of darkness when he was wresLllng wlLh
evllŦ Soon he began Lo hlnL LhaL he was Lhe MesslahŦ 1hls blasphemy caused hlm Lo be expelled from a
number of congregaLlonsŦ Pe Look up a pllgrlm's sLaff and wlLh some followers roamed Lhe Mlddle LasLţ
gaLherlng many Lo hls messlanlc preachlngţ especlally durlng hls perlods of llghLŦ ln Caza he was
welcomed by 8abbl naLhanţ who had for years been preachlng LhaL Lhe arrlval of Lhe Messlah was
lmmlnenLŦ 1hls comblnaLlon led Lo a greaL ouLpourlng of bellef ln ShabbLal Zvl as Lhe MesslahŦ Word
spread LhroughouL Lhe !ewlsh worldţ from Þolandţ AmsLerdamţ Cermanyţ Londonţ Þerslaţ and 1urkey Lo
?emenŦ MulLlLudes [olned hls ranks Ŷ educaLed rabblsţ llllLeraLesţ rlch and poor allke were swepL up ln
Lhe mass hysLerlaŦ

Among hls lnner coreţ Lhey accepLed hls Lheory LhaL all rellglous resLrlcLlons were reversedŦ 1he
forbldden was encouraged and Lhe commandmenLs of Lhe 1orah were replaced by ShabbLal's 18 (chal)
commandmenLsŦ 1hls led Lo feasLlng on fasL daysţ sexual relaLlons wlLh oLhers Lhan one's spouseţ and
many moreŦ 1he hlgh polnL was ln 1663Ŵ66ţ when ShabbLalţ wlLh hls followersţ marched on Lhe SulLan's
palace expecLlng Lo be greeLed as Lhe MesslahŦ 1hls of course dld noL happenŦ 1o shorLen Lhls sLoryţ
ShabbLal was glven Lhe cholce ºconverL Lo lslam or dleŦ" 1o Lhe consLernaLlon of hls followersţ he chose
converslonŦ MosL of hls followers reLurn Lo Lhelr homelands whereţ afLer penlLence and someLlmes
flagellaLlonţ Lhey were recelved lnLo Lhe congregaLlonsŦ Poweverţ some hundreds of famllles of hls lnner
clrcle consldered hls aposLasy as parL of hls overall plan of reachlng Lhe depLh before aLLalnlng
redempLlonŦ 1hey Loo converLed Lo lslamţ alLhough for abouL 200 years Lhey llved as Moslems buL
secreLly passed on Lhelr secreL quaslŴ!ewlsh ShabbaLean bellefs and pracLlces Lo Lhelr chlldrenŦ 1hey
conLlnued learnlng and praylng ln Pebrew and LadlnoŦ As Lhe generaLlons passedţ Lhe knowledge of
Pebrew was reduced Lo reclLlng cerLaln prayers and expresslons by memory ln a barely undersLood
PebrewŦ 1hey were known ln 1urklsh as uonmehţ meanlng ºconverLs"Ť Lo Lhe !ews Lhey were Mlnlmţ
meanlng ºhereLlcsŦ" 1hey referred Lo Lhemselves as Ma'amlnlmţ Lhe ºbelleversŦ" 1hey were never really
accepLed by Lhe 1urks nor by Lhe !ewsŦ

As we geL lnLo Lhe mlddle and laLe 1800ƌs and educaLlon and enllghLened Lhlnklng spread Lhrough parLs
of Lhe reglonţ young uonmeh men who were dlssaLlsfled wlLh Lhelr sLaLus as ºnelLherŴnor" Lurned Lo
secular naLlonallsm Lo esLabllsh Lhelr ldenLlLyŦ 1hey neglecLed all forms of rellglous belonglng and saw ln
Lhe ƍ?oung 1urk movemenLƍ Lhelr emanclpaLlonŦ

1he Iew|sh koots * * *

ln 1911 ln Lhe PoLel kameneLz ln !erusalemţ lLamar 8en Avlţ a newspaperman and wrlLer who was Lhe
son of Lleazer 8en ?ehudah (credlLed as Lhe maln proponenL of Lhe esLabllshmenL of Modern Pebrew)
meL wlLh a young 1urklsh Army offlcerŦ AfLer en[oylng a good quanLlLy of Arakţ Lhe offlcerţ ColŦ MusLafa
kemalţ Lurned Lo hls drlnklng parLner and reclLed Lhe ºShema" ln fluenL Pebrew and lndlcaLed LhaL he
came from a uonmeh famllyŦ 1hey meL agaln on a few occaslons and kemal fllled ln more of hls
backgroundŦ 1hls man was of course Lo become Ceneral kemal ALaLurkţ founder of modern 1urkeyŦ

8emnanLs of uonmeh sLlll exlsLŦ 1here ls an unldenLlflable bulldlng known as Lhe !ewlsh Mosque where
uonmeh sLlll meeLŦ uurlng World War llţ when 1urkey was close Lo Cermanyţ Lhere were separaLe Lax
llsLs for dlfferenL rellglous caLegorlesţ and Lhe ºu" llsL was for uonmehŦ uurlng hls llfeLlme and
conLlnulng Lodayţ Lhere have been whlspered rumors among lslamlc acLlvlsLs LhaL kemal ALaLurk and
oLher ?oung 1urks were of !ewlsh orlglnŦ Þubllclyţ he denled Lhls and hls blographers avolded Lhe lssueŦ

Poweverţ Lhere ls llLLle doubL LhaL 300 years afLer Lhe deaLh of ShabbLal Zvlţ hls lnfluence and LwlsLs and
Lurns of hls uonmeh followers provlded Lhe acLlvlsL secular basls whlch ls one of Lhe underlylng
prlnclples of modern 1urkey Ŷ wlLhouL whlch Lhe 1urklshŴlsraell connecLlon would have been mosL
unllkelyŦ

1o brlng Lhls sLory up Lo daLe and posslbly compleLe Lhe clrcleţ we now learn LhaL some uonmeh llvlng ln
1urkey have made lnqulry of Amerlcan !ewlsh rellglous organlzaLlons abouL Lhe posslble reŴenLry of
uonmeh lnLo Loday's !ewlsh worldŦ

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