Last month, the governor of the Turkish city of Edirne, citing the “deep hatred” he harbored toward Jews and Israel, announced that the local synagogue would be turned into a museum without exhibitions. When Turkey’s chief rabbi protested, the governor apologized, and the plan to shutter the synagogue was retracted. But the larger fact is that Edirne, which in 1923 had some 13,000 Jews, now has only two. Its Jews were driven out by persecution long before Israel was created, as Uzay Bulut writes:
In January 1923, provoked by a series of anti-Semitic pieces published in the Pasaeli newspaper in Edirne, residents of Edirne gathered in the city center and shouted, “Your turn to leave this country will come, too! Jews, get out!” After the police were barely able to prevent attacks against Jewish shops, Jews who lived in small towns . . . moved to big cities, such as Istanbul.
Later that year, in December 1923, the Jewish community of several hundred living in Corlu, in eastern Thrace, was ordered to leave the town within 48 hours. Although the decision was delayed at the request of the chief rabbi, a similar order, given to the Jews in Catalca, a district in Istanbul, was applied immediately. The reason for the anger was clear: within the Turkification campaign of the new republic, Armenians and Greeks had been eliminated, but Jews, who were successful merchants, remained.