İstipol Synagogue in İstanbul’s Balat neighbourhood has been sprayed with graffiti reading: “Terrorist Israel, there is Allah!” The incident took place after the synagogue was used for the first time in 65 years on 8th January and the graffiti has now been painted over.
The synagogue is surrounded by tall brick walls topped with railings topped with barbed wire. Balat is historically a Jewish neighbourhood in İstanbul. There are nine synagogues in the area but only two of them are currently active. Today, certain areas of the neighbourhood are covered with spray-painted Turkish nationalist symbols, such as wolves and three crescents. Turkish nationalist symbols are prevalent in the Balat neigborhood, which used to be a home to many local Jews. Recently the Turkish Jewish community has increased its visibility including the first public menorah lighting in İstanbul’s Ortaköy Square, the first such public celebration of Chanukah in Turkey.
İvo Molinas, the editor-in-chief of the Jewish community’s weekly newspaper, Şalom, expressed his frustration in an interview with Today’s Zaman: “Writing anti-Israel speech on the wall of a synagogue is an act of antisemitism. There is widespread antisemitism voiced in Turkey and it gets in the way of celebrating the richness of cultural diversity in this country.”