For decades, attention has been lavished on the Palestinians, bestowing upon this small segment of the Arab world an exaggerated importance. As a result, in media, academic and diplomatic circles, addressing Palestinian grievances was elevated to the status of the most urgent political and humanitarian cause in the Middle East.
At the United Nations, Muslim and European blocs apply a harsh and unfair double standard to the actions and policies of the Jewish state. In 2016, the Human Rights Council (HRC), over which some of the worst human rights abusers preside, passed 20 anti-Israel resolutions and only 6 against all other countries (UN Watch), even as mass atrocities –including the use of chemical weapons - continue unabated just north of Israel's border, in Syria. This lopsided record in 2016 is typical for the HRC. Taking their cue from the Council's agenda, compromised human rights watchdogs, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and numerous media and academics that cite reports produced by these groups, raise a clamor whenever Israel vigorously responds to cross-border attacks by terrorist organizations.
The upheavals that shook the Arab world from one end to the other starting in 2010 should have discredited the erroneous perception of the central role of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the region's problems. Yet, for many observers, events of the past six years have not altered their priorities.
In 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was determined to make restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process the signature achievement of his Middle East policy. In December 2016, after three years of fruitless effort, a frustrated Kerry and President Barack Obama, helped shepherd the United Nations Security Council into passing a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal in what many saw as a parting shot at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Wildly distorted perceptions of the magnitude of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prevail even among those who should know better, like foreign policy officials of the EU and its constituent states. Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the United States, in a speech to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) in April 2016, recounted his dismay to discover that some of his fellow European ambassadors believed the conflict to have cost millions of Palestinian lives, orders of magnitude greater than the actual toll which he estimated at 20,000.
Turkey, where are your Jews?
The Turkish newspaper Milliyet published a news report on March 20 entitled “Synagogues from the era of Byzantium are about to disappear forever!”
“Among the historical and cultural heritage of Istanbul that is on the verge of extinction are Byzantine synagogues which belong to the Turkish Jewish community,” said the report. “Most of the historic synagogues which numbered in dozens in the early 20th century are located in the Balat and Hasköy areas. Many run the risk of disappearing forever”.
“A lot of historic monuments belonging to the Jewish community and built during the Byzantine era are in ruins,” said Mois Gabay, a columnist for the Jewish weekly Salom, and a professional tourist guide. Gabay added that Turkish Jews who lived in the region of Golden Horn, also known by its Turkish name as Haliç "left Turkey a long time ago”.
When there are no more Jewish congregants, it becomes almost impossible to preserve synagogues.
Jews in Turkey are mostly known for being the descendants of the immigrants who moved to the Ottoman Empire after being expelled from Spain. However, Jews have been living in Asia Minor since antiquity. Professor Franklin Hugh Adler explains: “Jews, in fact, had inhabited this land long before the birth of Mohammed and the Islamic conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries, or for that matter, the arrival and conquests of the Turks, beginning in the eleventh century. On the eve of the birth of Islam, most of world Jewry lived under Byzantine or Persian rule in the lands of the Mediterranean basin.
“At the beginning of the Turkish Republic, in 1923, the Jewish population was 81,454. In Istanbul alone there were 47,035 Jews, roughly thirteen percent of a city that then numbered 373,124.”
Today, there are fewer than 15,000 Jews in Turkey, whose entire population is almost 80 million. What happened?