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Celâl Nuri

(244 words)

Author(s): İlker Aytürk
A well-known intellectual, journalist, and statesmanof his times, Celâl Nuri (İleri) (1882–1938) was born into an Ottoman bureaucratic family. He was educated at the Lycée Galatasaray and the Istanbul Law School, graduating from the latter with a doctorate in 1908. Giving up a career in the Ottoman diplomatic corps, Celâl Nuri became an eminent journalist of the late Ottoman era, both as a founder of and contributor to numerous journals and newspapers. One of them, Le Jeune Turc, an Istanbul daily in French, is known to have been secretly funded by the World Zionist Or…

Struma Affair

(245 words)

Author(s): İlker Aytürk
The Struma was a ship chartered by a group of 769 Romanian Jews in 1941 to take them to Mandatory Palestine. Although not at all seaworthy, the Struma sailed from Constanza on  December 12, 1941. Three days later its engine died and it was towed to Istanbul. None of the passengers had permits to enter Turkey, and only a handful had British visas (expired) for Palestine. The Turkish authorities refused to let the passengers disembark and rejected proposals by Jewish organizations to move them to Jewish-funded camps on Turkish soil. Protracte…

Bedel-i Askeri

(330 words)

Author(s): İlker Aytürk
The  bedel-i askeri (military exemption tax) was a revamped version of the Ottoman poll tax ( cizye, Ar. jizya; see Taxation and Dhimma) that was adopted during the Tanzimat period. Until the modernizing reforms of the nineteenth century, non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman Empire were not allowed to do military service in the army, which was considered to be a Muslim institution, some important exceptions notwithstanding. The Islahat Fermanı (Reform Decree) of 1856, however, provided legal equality to all Ottomans regardless of religion and br…

Aliya to Mandatory Palestine and Israel

(939 words)

Author(s): İlker Aytürk
From Hitler’s rise to power in Germany to the end of World War II, Turkey provided a safe haven for Jews fleeing Europe. The Turkish government invited and employed German scientists and scholars of Jewish origin who had been sacked by German universities. As a nonbelligerent, Turkey was an island of stability at a time of chaos and turmoil in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus, and this explains why very few Turkish Jews left the country for Palestine during those years. According to the 1945 census, the total number of Jewish citizens of Turkey was 76,965. Althoug…


(12,562 words)

Author(s): Norman A. Stillman | İlker Aytürk | Steven Uran | Jonathan Fine
1. Traditional anti-Judaism in the Islamic World A historical survey of Islamic attitudes toward and treatment of Jews must take into account the facts that Islam is (1) a religion with a corpus of doctrines, beliefs, and practices that have evolved over fourteen hundred years and have been subject to widely varying manifestations and interpretations; (2) a body politic, united at first, but becoming more divided over time; and (3) a civilization that despite local and regional differences has neverthe…