Turkey and the Donmeh

The current hostile role of Turkey and of its President. Recip Tayyip Erdogan. can only be understood in the context of the history of the Donmeh and their influence on Turkish history.

Who are the Donmeh?  This is the Turkish name (meaning converts in Turkish) for a group of former Jews who followed the false Jewish Messiah Sabbatei Zvi in 1666, coming mainly from Spain, but also Eastern Europe (in other words it included both Sefardim and Ashkenazim).  He was leading them to the Holy Land, then under Turkish rule, and he was arrested by the Caliph in Istanbul and given a choice, either convert to Islam or die.  He chose to convert to Islam and most of his followers also converted and formed a group of Muslims of Jewish origin called Sabbateans or Donmeh.  However, a large proportion of them continued to practice Jewish religious rites in secret according to Sabbatei’s teachings, so they became another group of crypto-Jews.  Their numbers were small, but they became wholly integrated into Turkish society and had an influence far above their numbers.  They were not recognized as Jews by the mainstream Jewish society.

Over a period of 400 years the Donmeh increased in number and became an important element in the development of modern Turkey.  They were businessmen and traded with the West and introduced Western concepts and modernization into Turkish society.  They separated into three distinct sects, the Kapansi, the Karakas and the Yakubi.  Their influence came to its height when Mustafa Kemal, known as Ataturk, believed by some to be a Donmeh, became head of the Turkish forces fighting the British forces at Galipoli and won a victory that eventually catapulted him into the leadership of the Young Turks, a group of westernized Turks who overthrew the Caliphate and established the modern Republic of Turkey.  Most of the Young Turks were in fact Donmeh. Under Ataturk they secularized and westernized Turkey (for example replacing Arabic with the Roman alphabet, etc.).

It is important to remember that Turkey lost WWI and was about to be divided into two by the victorious Allies (as Germany was after WWII).  Just as Britain received a Mandate from the League of Nations to control Palestine and Mesopotamia (Iraq), and France to control Syria, the USA was offered the Mandate for Turkey.  But, Pres. Wilson refused, because the US had never declared war on Turkey and also because he did not want to get embroiled in the Middle East.  At that point (1923) Greece invaded Turkey, supported by PM Lloyd George, to recapture Greek territory on the mainland.  But, Ataturk reorganized the Turkish army, defeated the Greeks (massacred many of them) and declared the Republic of Turkey, that was then recognized by the Allies.  So without the Donmeh, the current status of Turkey would have been far, far different.

But, the Islamic leaders of Turkey, who preferred to keep the Caliphate, that after all had for hundreds of years governed a vast Turkish Empire, saw the secularization and modernization of Turkey by Ataturk and his followers as a great defeat.  They have ever since worked to oppose the westernization of Turkey. The policies of Recip Tayyip Erdogan can only be understood in that context, he is still fighting the war against Ataturk and the Donmeh, who are called “Jews” by the Islamist Turks.  So make no mistake, even though the Donmeh were converts and outwardly Muslims, they are still regarded as Jews by the right wing Islamist movement in Turkey.  Only knowing that background can one understand the current anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and anti-Western policies of Pres. Erdogan and his right-wing AKP party.



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