Writing in Al-Monitor, Tulin Daloğlu—an experienced Turkish journalist and easily that online publication’s best writer—highlights an unfortunate development from Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government is apparently using Turkey’s intelligence service to monitor Turkey’s Jews. She explains:
The deteriorating relationship between Turkey and Israel has generated unprecedented and disquieting accusations against Turkey’s Jews. There is a growing tendency in this country — encouraged by the ruling Islamist government — that demonizes Jews and triggers anti-Semitism, consciously or not… Turkish papers reported that the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul that tried the Israeli soldiers involved in the Mavi Marmara incident asked the Turkish National Intelligence Service (MIT) for a listing of Turkish Jews who traveled to Israel two weeks before and after the Mavi Marmara incident. These were put under surveillance.
Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s MIT, has come to the notice of COMMENTARY before. Separately, many years ago—probably around 2004 or 2005—a senior member of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) wanted to get in touch with me about something I had written. Rather than call the American Enterprise Institute where I work or ask the Turkish embassy to do so, he instead called a random Turkish Jew in Washington, D.C., asking if she could pass a message to me. She tried, but I responded that if the Turkish figure wanted to contact to me, he could do so properly, and reach out to me as an American policy analyst, not as a Jew.
That episode was one of several similar incidents that drilled into me the recognition that the AKP saw almost everything and everyone through the prism of religion. Indeed, with Erdoğan at the helm, such behavior should not surprise. On the few incidents that I met Turkish Jews on trips to Istanbul, several quietly spoke about how bad the situation was getting. Let us hope that Turkey does not go the route of Iran and arrest random members of the Jewish community in order to send a message and intimidate the rest.