Memorial Meetings Held for Victims of Istanbul Terrorism (from Combined JTA Wire Services)
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Memorial Meetings Held for Victims of Istanbul Terrorism (from Combined JTA Wire Services)

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Memorial meetings were held in cities across the country Wednesday for the 21 Jews murdered by terrorists while at worship in the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul last Saturday.

In Washington, D.C., the Turkish Ambassador to the United States said his government will do everything possible to find those responsible for the terrorist attack. “The Turkish government for its part, has vowed to take all necessary measures to apprehend and punish those who were involved in this wanton attack,” Ambassador Sukru Elekdag told some 500 persons attending a memorial service at Adas Israel Synagogue.

“With profound grief and sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives as a result of this heinous act in a place of worship, I, on behalf of my government vehemently condemn this dastardly act,” Elekdag said.

“During the darkest periods of Jewish history in both the 15th and 20th centuries, Turks have opened their arms to Jews, irrespective of their place of origin, when doors elsewhere were closed to them.”

At noon Wednesday, about 50 persons attended a service led by Protestant, Catholic and Jewish leaders at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks at the Istanbul synagogue and on the Pan American plane in Pakistan.

The interfaith service was organized by the church, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington and was timed to coincide with the funeral service in Istanbul.


Addressing a memorial service in New York, Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, took sharp issue with former President Jimmy Carter and the Rev. Paul Moore Jr., the Episcopal Bishop of New York, for attributing the Istanbul synagogue massacre to “lack of progress in the Middle East” and “the frustration of Third World persons.”

“Bishop Moore is no anti-Semite, nor is Jimmy Carter, but their attempt to find excuses for those who slaughter innocents gives us pause,” Schindler told the assemblage at UAHC headquarters.

Carter, who spoke at Oachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., following the synagogue attack, said failure to achieve Middle East peace was responsible for terrorist acts. “The origin of this terrorism, including the dastardly actions in Pakistan, is the lack of progress in the Middle East” and the situation “will not improve until the question of the rights of the Palestinians is addressed,” Carter said.

Bishop Moore said in a statement after the synagogue massacre and the hijacking of a Pan Am plane in Karachi, Pakistan, that he does “not condone terrorism of any kind but some of the reasons behind it have to do with the frustrations of Third World persons. I don’t think we are doing enough to try to understand what it is that causes this rage.” Responding to those views, Schindler said: “One must wonder at their failure to understand that Arab terrorists don’t want peace in the Middle East. Palestinians who evince even a minimal interest in some form of accommodation with Israel are quickly cut down. Arab terrorism is not the consequence of any failure to attain peace in the Middle East. It is, rather, the principal cause of the failure to move toward negotiations and a resolution of Arab-Israel differences.”

A special service was held in Chicago, where Dr. Steven Nasatir, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation/Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, read a cable from the Chicago Jewish community to Chief Rabbi David Asseo of Turkey.

It said: “We join in your grief for the 21 of our people who died al Kidush Hashem last Shabat …. We reflect bitterly that so many of our people must die before the world and the nations rise up and say no to terrorism as an acceptable means of political expression.”

The Federation/JUF offices closed in the afternoon to allow Board members and staff to attend the service. A guest speaker was Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem, who asserted that the world has not taken adequate steps to stop terrorism. Kollek is in Chicago to receive the Torch of Peace Award of the Albert Einstein Peace Prize Foundation, which was presented to him by Zvi Brosh, Israel’s Consul General for the Midwest.

Richard Wexler, Federation president, said that until terrorism is stopped, no one is safe. Rabbi Mordecai Simon, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, led the assemblage in reciting the 27th Psalm. The Mourners Kaddish and El Mole Rahamim were chanted by Cantor Joel Resnick.


In other responses to the Istanbul tragedy, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, president of Liberty Federation, said in a statement to the JTA: “The entire world community should condemn harshly the barbarous conduct of the Arab terrorists who bombed the synagogue in Istanbul. From Moscow to Washington, from Cairo to Amman, all decent peace loving persons should call for the capture and speedy prosecution of these murderers. All men and women of faith should likewise join in prayer for all of the affected families.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, in a statement issued from his National Rainbow Coalition headquarters in Washington, D.C., said that the “horrendous act of terrorism” that killed the Jewish worshippers in Istanbul “shook the hearts of millions of people throughout the world. This latest example of mindless, heartless massacre reminds us of the fragility of life and of the depths of racist and anti-Semitic feeling that still exist and which must be overcome for our world to live in peace.”

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