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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Enlightened: Why Turks And Jews Love Each Other

President Shimon Peres (of Israel) recently paid a visit to Turkey in order to honor Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern day Turkey.

While Atakturk may be unfamiliar to those in the US, his role in Jewish history help cement ties between the Jewish state long before the nation of Israel was reborn.

( Ties between Turkey and the Jewish people go back a long way. Some five-hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire gave shelter to tens of thousands of Spanish Jews who fled from the Inquisition. They settled in Turkey and many European countries which were under Ottoman rule.

More recently, during the rise of the Nazis in the 1930's, Turkish president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk allowed many German Jewish refugees to enter Turkey, despite Ankara's alliance with Nazi Germany. During the Nazi era most of the Jewish communities in Turkish controlled countries of Europe survived the Holocaust. Many of these Jews went on to make their homes in the ancient Jewish homeland of Israel. In fact, Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and the country's second State President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi studied law at the University of Istanbull.

This probably explains why both Israel and Turkey enjoy very close relations with each other, not to mention the fact that Turkey is a primary vacation spot for many Israelis.

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