A Turkish daily affiliated with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
has called on the country's Jewish community to apologize for the Palestinian casualties
of the Israeli operation in Gaza.
"You came here after being banished from Spain," Yeni Akit correspondent Faruk Köse wrote Wednesday in an open letter to Hakham Bashi, the chief rabbi of Turkey's Jewish community. "You have lived comfortably among us for 500 years and gotten rich at our expense. Is this your gratitude – killing Muslims? Erdogan, demand that the community leader apologize!"
In the right-wing newspaper's editorial, Ali Karahasanoğlu wrote: "After the barrage of missiles which hit the capital city of Tel Aviv, Israel has been pushed into a corner and is crying out for a ceasefire, which at the moment only serves Israel and the United States.
"The IDF is using forbidden weapons, intentionally killing children and murdering Muslims for the sake of murdering Muslims. Hamas is unprepared to accept dictations from Israel and the US, and will only lay down its weapon after its understandings are accepted.
"While all this is happening, the journal of the Jewish community in Turkey, 'Shalom,' is referring to the murder of children in Gaza as 'taking care of terrorists.'"
Turkish child urinating on Israeli flag
Erdogan, who was slated to sign a reconciliation agreement with Israel soon, likened Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked of the Bayit Yehudi party to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler this week.
Referring to Operation Protective Edge, the Turkish prime minister accused Israel of "systematically committing horrors and acts of terror" against the Palestinians since 1948.
"There is a Knesset member who says repeatedly, 'The Palestinians are our enemies,'" Erdogan said of Shaked, adding that this mentality was no different from that of Hitler. "If these words were said by a Palestinian, the entire world would condemn it."
Erdogan, who is seeking to replace Abdullah Gul as Turkey's president, asked in his weekly address to his party's supporters, "How long will the world keep silent in light of the terror committed by Israel?"
He denied that Turkey was about to restore its relations with Israel and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government of committing "a massacre against the Palestinian population."
But Zaman, one of the leading newspapers in Turkey which has an Islamic political alignment, accused Erdogan himself of acquiescence to Israel's policy in the operation.
"Behind the aggressive rhetoric, the regime is fully cooperating with Israel at the Palestinians' expense," wrote Ali Bulaç. "Don't let the prime minister's words fool you – the economic cooperation between Israel and Turkey has never been better. And who is paying the price? The poor Palestinians."
IDF soldiers on Gaza border (Photo: EPA)
Meanwhile, on the backdrop of the fighting in Gaza, Turkish initiatives to boycott Israeli goods and Jewish-owned businesses are gaining momentum on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Under the hashtag #zulmesessizkalamam ("I will not keep quite in light of the persecution"), Turkey's residents are urged to boycott products such as Coca-Cola (as one of its owners, Warren Buffett, supports Israel by investing in companies like Iscar) and are provided with explanations on how to spot Israeli products in local supermarkets.
"I have never felt as threatened as I have in the past year," says Linet, a textile importer. "The government is inflaming the hatred and anti-Semitism and we are simply living in fear.
"Many of those who have not left yet – and the vast majority of Jews immigrated to Europe and Israel a long time ago – are weighing their options," she adds.