Constantinople (Mar. 10)
(By Our Constantinople Correspondent, Mare Regenstreif)
The recent reorganization of the Grand Rabbinate in Turkey so that it has lost all its power and the present intention of the Jewish leaders here to renounce the minority rights of the Jews, are not mere unrelated incidents. They are due regrettably to a change in the traditional policy on the part of Turkey to its Jewish citizens and reflect in general the anti-Jewish sentiment which has reached at last even this country where the Jews had enjoyed for centuries all rights and privileges.
The first definite stage in the new policy was the order of the Turkish government, following soon after the separation of religious and secular matters in the Jewish community, that all instruction in the elementary Jewish schools should be given in the Turkish language only. Then came another development, supplementary to the regulation about instruction in the Turkish language and of an equally serious nature, namely, an order making it compulsory for private schools to have seventy-five per cent of their staff Turks. When the government says Turks it means Moslems. The question therefore arises: what will the Jewish children do when they are grown-up? They will know no language but Turkish and as Jews they will be debarred from employment in practically every field, for the regulation about seventy-five per cent of the private school employees being Turks applies to all other undertakings, including business firms, as well.
In addition to this the economic policy of the government has been such that, although it may not be directed especially at the Jews, it has nevertheless hit the Jews most. Thus the general economic position of the Jews in Turkey is deplorable. Engaged in commerce and small trade they have suffered greatly from the monopolistic policy of the Government. The Turkish Government has in this respect followed the example of Russia with which it recently concluded a treaty and has monopolized practically everything: petrol, oil, matches, sugar, tobacco, cigarettes, paper, slaughter-houses, beer, alcohol, ice are already monopolized and it is expected that many other branches of commerce will have to follow suit. In addition to this forcible exclusion of the Jews from the commercial life of the country the taxes levied on property are exorbitant and numerous and quite out of proportion to the earning capacity of the Jews.
Concurrently with this policy of the government a wave of anti-Semitism has passed recently over the whole country, filling the Jewish communities with dismay and despair. The movement began as far back as December 20th, when an anti-Shechita agitation was set on foot in a number of Turkish newspapers. The papers contended that since the slaughtering of animals was now carried out under the best of sanitary and humane conditions there was no further need of Rabbis in the slaughtering houses to supervise the slaughtering of animals. This first indirect anti-Semitic move was soon followed by a direct violent attack on the Jews in almost every Turkish newspaper in the country on the alleged ground that the Jews had sent a message of loyalty to the Spanish king. While it is known by all well informed persons that this charge is false, the incident indicates the trend in Turkey today.