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'Be Prepared for Mass Aliyah of Turkish Jews'

Many of the 20,000 Jews living in Turkey are considering moving to Israel. MK Danon says Israel must prepare for mass immigration.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 9/7/2011, 9:28 AM

Bodrum, Turkey
Bodrum, Turkey
Flash 90

Many of the 20,000 Jews living in Turkey are considering moving to Israel, and Knesset Member Danny Danon said Wednesday that Israel must prepare for massive aliyah of Turkish Jews.

MK Danon, chairman of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption committee, has asked the Jewish Agency and the Foreign and Immigration ministries to prepare the groundwork for a massive aliyah of Turkish Jews.

“Turkey is working to harm Israel, and we have to be prepared for a further deterioration in relations that can be negative for Turkish Jews,” he said. “We must open up a support line to them to enhance their Aliyah."

Avraham Lego, head of an organization of Turkish Jewish expatriates living in Israel said, told Arutz Sheva, “I have contacts with friends from my childhood, and they have difficulty with the deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel. They are Turkish, but they feel very close to Israel.”

He added that the Jewish community is not in any danger. “Most of the Jews there are businessmen, merchants, accountants and lawyers," he explained. "There is more nationalism among Turks, but the relations between the man on the street and the Jewish community are fine.

“The Jewish community has a strong tradition of going to synagogue and celebrating the Jewish holidays. Here and there, assimilation crops up, but generally, the situation is good."

However, Lego is thinking twice about his plan to visit in the near future. “I visit there quite often during the holidays, but now I don’t know what will be. The situation is not clear, and my plans are up in the air," he said.

Turkey's Istanbul synagogues were the target of twin terror bomb attacks on a Sabbath morning in 2003, which left 23 dead and over 300 wounded. At the time, then-Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called on Turkey's Jews to "come home". At least 30 other Jews, including the Israeli Consul-General and the manager of the El Al office,had been killed in terrorist attacks in Turkey over several previous decades. In 1986, terrorists entered the N'vei Shalom Istanbul Synagogue towards the end of the Sabbath services, murdering 22 Jews, including two Israelis.