Jerusalem – A nervous Rabbi recently appeared at The Bulletin’s bureau in Jerusalem and related that the small Jewish community in Turkey feels threatened by the new Islamic resurgence and by the new Turkish alliance with Iran.

As a result, there is a a significant increase in the number of Jews leaving Turkey and immigrating to Israel.

One hundred and thirty five immigrants from Turkey have made the journey this year, compared with 108 in 2008.

The Jewish Agency predicts that, by the year’s end, some 200 immigrants will have come, nearly twice as many as in previous years.

The assessment is based on the fact that, for the first time in many years, Jewish Agency representatives are being swamped with calls. As of now there is a 100 percent increase in those expressing interest in immigrating to Israel, inquiring as to their rights and obligations – and for the first time, a long list of Jews hoping to relocate their businesses from Turkey to Israel.

Most of those asking to register as new immigrants explain that this is due to the new extremist attitudes towards Jews in Turkey.

One of those who have registered, a 39-yard-old father of four who did not give his name, is the owner of a large and prosperous shop in the capital. The man decided to sell his business and move to Israel.

“We are being harassed, Turkey is no longer the same Turkey. They listen to the words of the prime minister and refrain from setting foot in Jewish shops. Turkey is falling into extremism,” he explained.

He said that many of his Jewish colleagues were leaving for the West, not only to Israel, and others were considering doing so.

“We anticipated that the number of people interested in moving to Israel was going to rise, but we didn’t anticipate that there would be such a large number of people who wanted to immigrate and so swiftly,” said a senior Jewish Agency executive. He said that 600 Jews were expected to immigrate to Israel from Turkey in 2010, which is an unprecedented number.

Eli Cohen, the director of the Aliyah Department in the Jewish Agency, personally oversees the immigration of Turkish Jews told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper that “2009 is going to be a very successful year in terms of Aliyah – immigration to Israel – mainly from Turkey. We are pleased with this and have been operating to absorb them across Israel in the best way possible.”

Mr. Cohen said that there has been a 20 percent rise around the world in immigration to Israel, after years in which interest had declined, and that interest in Turkey was significantly higher than that.

“That proves that Israel is the home of the Jewish people. We serve as a safe haven for Jews. We do everything we can to improve the methods of absorption and to give the new immigrants a sense of belonging,” said Mr. Cohen.

Three Jewish families that came from Turkey not long ago currently live in an absorption center in Ashdod. One of the families explained yesterday that the reason they decided to immigrate to Israel was the sense that the Turkish public was taking the statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan into action.

“I was born in Turkey, I grew up in Turkey, I know the Turks, and they’re tolerant of Jews. Regrettably, in the past year there has been a shift that has hurt the Jews. Curses, anti-Semitic comments, radicalization on the street – all of that left me with no choice. I took my family and immigrated to Israel. Some of my extended family intends to immigrate to Israel or to uproot for America,” said one woman who recently moved to Israel from Turkey.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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