Dönmeh Jews

They are a sect that lived in the Ottoman Empire, and had historical roots since the fourteenth century AD. They pretended to convert to Islam, and penetrated deep into the state, thus, they were able to dominate the Ottoman society in various aspects of life.

The Jews themselves have denied the existence of this sect. This is because they happened to use parts of the Torah as Philosophical principles that has nothing to do with the Jewish law. In addition, they attempted to permit what is considered prohibited according to the Torah. Thus, how could the Ottoman Empire accept them while, the Jews, themselves, don’t.

In the general sense, Dönmeh means: (returning), and is used for those who leave their religion and convert to Islam, while ” Dönmeh lake” in Turkey means apostacy. It consists of two parts, “Do” and “Nmeh”, meaning the division based on two types of religions, namely the Jewish type and the Islamic type. The origin of this interpretation is Persian, and this meaning applies to their behavior.

The Ottomans approached the Dönmeh Jews for raising many slogans in the state, including the slogans of nationalism, to revive the old Turkism, so they became a group with a dual culture and dual identity. And the Ottomans also provided them with great assistance under the pretense of religious tolerance.

There is an important position the Ottoman Empire took , that is, this group played an influential role in Turkish society to prove their existence, but the authority, as well as, the Jews of the Ottoman Empire were keen to conceal the activity of that group, and not  to, officially, recognize  them because they are considered outsiders.  The position of the state is not strange as they are among the followers of the person who claimed prophecy , and was punished to prevent other sects from revolting or drawing attention to them.

One of the dangerous roles of the Dönmeh Jews is that the Turks provided them with luxury military support, and the Jews provided them with the mind. Those events resulted in a coup against the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The planning of the Jews was aimed at deposing the Sultan and banishing him. This was carried out in stages so as not to draw attention to them. Having taken what they can from the sultan, they turned to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who used them to organize the Turkish university on modern secular methods. He appointed nearly 40 Jewish professors to work in that university, and the most important specialization of all is the economic one, which was taught by the globally Jewish rich.

The end justifies the means. To explain,  the Dönmeh Jews directed their common religious interests, with the Jewish community – and I have already explained the difference between them – towards reviving the Hebrew language, and documenting the relationship between the Jews of the Ottoman Empire and the Jews of Europe.

Huda Darwish stated in her book “The Dönmeh Jews” that when the new state system was declared in the twentieth century, and the Dönmeh Jews are known to have great love for Ataturk. That is, when he said: “Now, in the twentieth century, we cannot follow a legislative book that talks about figs and olives,” the Jews were the first to accept his thoughts, as they announced through the media, “Now we have handed the country over to our faithful, most supportive Mustafa Kemal,” This is the strongest impact that has emerged from the  Jews, in general, and from the Dönmeh Jews, in particular.

It can be said that the Jews, after their suffering from their diaspora and their desire to gain the Ottoman Porte’s sympathy, got reassured that within their state they shall enjoy security over themselves and their property, and live in complete freedom.