Turkish synagogue tagged with anti-Israel graffiti

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Unidentified individuals wrote a statement accusing Israel of terrorism and praising Allah on the wall of a Turkish synagogue.

The sentence “Terrorist Israel, there is Allah!” was discovered recently on the exterior walls of the Istipol Synagogue in Istanbul’s Balat neighborhood, which earlier this month opened for a prayer service for the first time in 65 years, the Today’s Zaman daily reported Tuesday.

Ivo Molinas, the editor-in-chief of the Jewish community’s weekly newspaper Salom, told the daily: “Writing anti-Israel speech on the wall [outside] of a synagogue is an act of anti-Semitism. There is widespread anti-Semitism voiced in Turkey and it gets in the way of celebrating the richness of cultural diversity in this country.”

He was also quoted as lamenting his community’s being linked to Israel in the minds of critics.

“Of course there are some connections between our community and Israel; members of our community have family that live there and might have emotional connections, but we have nothing to do with their political policies,” Molinas said.

Balat is historically a Jewish neighborhood in İstanbul. There are nine synagogues in the area but only two of them are currently active.

In March 2015, a synagogue was reopened in Turkey’s northwestern Edirne province following restoration. In December, Istanbul’s Besiktas Municipality also held a milestone event with the first public celebration of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah in the history of the Republic of Turkey by lighting a large menorah in Ortakoy Square.

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