As with the Jew everywhere, the lot of the Turkish Jew is closely related to prevailing conditions in the land. And since the material status of the country has for many reasons become considerably worse of late, the Jews of Turkey have also been gravely affected in many instances much more so than the Moslem population.
Much of the Jewish population is engaged in trading, which has been hard hit by the tendency to create government monopolies and export and import control.
Those who are subjects of other countries find it particularly difficult to earn their living since a special law forbids them to engage in various trades or to deal in monopoly articles. This law went into effect in July and left more than a thousand Jewish families with no means of earning a livelihood.
LOADED WITH DEBTS
This general impoverization of the Jewish population and the increased number of bankruptcies of Jewish merchants are naturally reflected upon the Jewish institutions, most of which are struggling under heavy debts. And yet they are being called upon to render a great amount of service, not only to their own Jews.
For Turkey, and Istambul especially, have become important transit points for German refugees passing through Asia Minor and Syria on their way to Palestine. Most of them have no money, and the Jews of Istambul have been providing them with railroad tickets, visa fees and clothing.
By now the treasuries of most of the Jewish organizations are empty and the Turkish Jew has no way of helping his German and other East European fellows.
THRACE EXILES PROBLEM
On top of all this, the Jews of this city, the greatest in Turkey, were called upon last July to come to the aid of a new type of emigrantâ€”the refugee from Thrace, European Turkey. Four thousand of these victims of the outrages reported upon at the time they occurred suddenly appeared on the streets of this city, carrying their children and their bundles of bedding.
Although protests brought official government communications denying all complicity, the fear of the refugees was not allayed. They still believe the Thracian expulsion was centrally organized and they refuse to go home. They have lost faith in the government, and even staying in Istambul, where they feel safe, because of the large foreign population, is distasteful to them. At the first opportunity they hasten to leave the country to which their forbears came 400 years ago.
Naturally the future of the Turkish Jew is problematical. The government employs every means to assimilate them and quench every national spark. Economically their life is difficult. And now they suffer physical distress: they are beaten, their women tortured, their homes razed. The first thought of most of them is to go away. Some are drawn to Spain, because they know Spanish and because Spain is now a liberal country.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.