The Disappearing Jews of Edirne

Dec. 16 2014

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 When Turkey’s chief rabbi protested, the governor apologized, and the plan to shutter the synagogue was retracted.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.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel, Turkey, Turkish Jewry

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela