Turkish Jewish leader denies snubbing gay Israeli envoy


(JTA) — Leaders of Turkey’s Jewish community denied complaints by an Israeli diplomat serving in Istanbul that they ignore him because he is gay.

Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, the president of the Jewish Community of Turkey, responded in a statement Thursday to the complaints leveled at him by Yossi Levi Sfari, Israel’s consul in Istanbul, who moved there with his partner, Ronny Goldberg, six weeks ago.

“We treat the consulate and consul with the utmost respect and do not involve ourselves in anyone’s personal life,” Ibrahimzadeh was quotedas saying by the Finansgundem daily. “We respect all in the same way that we expect them to respect us as a community that is committed to Halacha and the rules of the Torah. We have nothing against the man or Israel and its envoys, whom we will continue to respect as we maintain good relations with Israel. I do no need to be a close personal friend of the man.”

Ibrahimzadeh’s statement followed an article published Thursday in Israeli’s Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper in which Levi Sfari complained that the community is giving him the cold shoulder, including by not inviting him to read the Torah as is customary in services attended by a senior Israeli envoy. He also said the community has invited Israel’s ambassador in Ankara to attend events in Levi Sfari’s stead.

According to Yedioth Aharonoth, the community urged the foreign ministry to not post a homosexual man to Turkey when Levi Sfari’s nomination was announced but not yet confirmed. The daily also reported, quoting unnamed sources, that the foreign ministry instructed its employees to sever communications with Ibrahimzadeh over his alleged treatment of Levi Sfari.

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