The collapse of Granada was the beginning of the Jews' movement towards “The Ottoman Empire”
Some combine the Turkish-Israeli relations with the pragmatic aspect and the realistic dimension in international relations, which is part of the truth and part of what the facts monitor. However, Turkish-Israeli relations are too deep and complex to be confined to the escalations of the twentieth century and the consensus of political leaders.
In this context, over centuries, the Jews had feelings of cordiality and recognition towards the Turks, whose Ottoman ancestors were credited with preserving the Jewish race from extinction after they rescued them from the “furnaces of death” that were set up for them in the Middle Ages, especially when the extreme Christian Right (Extremist Christian political faction) managed to extend its sovereignty over Europe .
This Christian extremism considered the Jews as a serious threat to the religious authority of the Church in view of the Jews’ treatment of science and philosophy, which was considered at that time a threat to the religious identity of Europe. This political and doctrinal coercion was added to the historical and religious accumulations that held the Jews responsible for killing Christ – peace be upon him – and crucifying him in priestly rituals that contributed to stopping the call of Jesus, the Prophet of Allah, whom Christians place in a rank that exceeds any chosen Angel or prophet sent to be God, Lord, Father and Son.
In the face of this religious persecution and the inability to integrate into society, the Jews were forced to search for a new land and a secure system that would protect them from the oppression of the Christian community, which intensified the abuse of the Jews, especially after the collapse of Granada in 1492 AD, when King Fernand announced the expulsion of 300,000 Jews from Spain and Portugal. After that, they lived scattered, and this is considered a historical “curse” associated with the Jews.
The failure of the Turks to rescue the Muslims of Andalusia and leaving them face their fate on their own was at the same time when the Ottomans welcomed the Jews because they were skilled in the fields of money, trade and business. These were the activities that the Ottomans desperately needed, given that they were at the beginning of the era of expansion and spread, which required obtaining financial funds capable of financing the Ottoman campaigns to the west and south.
The Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II realized the added value that the Jews could bring to the Sultanate. Therefore, he hastened to send those who invited them to the Anatolian peninsula. Had it not been for this, the Jews would not have dared to “immigrate” to a Muslim country, but the strong guarantees provided by the Sublime Porte to protect them and protect their freedom to live, spread, and practice their religious rites made them do so.
Bayezid II worked to reassure the Jews by issuing a firman that required the Ottoman officials to do everything in their power to ensure the smooth entry of Jews and to live in freedom and dignity within the borders of the Ottoman Empire. He also threatened that he would impose the most severe penalties against anyone who would obstruct their interests or treat them badly.
The Jews would not have found a better country than the Ottoman Empire and its sultans in terms of generosity and prestige, so that they would strive to return the favor. Therefore, they contributed to supporting the Ottoman Empire with the money it needed to build ships and finance war campaigns, and some worked hard to give it interest-free loans. Some even facilitated the entry of the Ottoman forces into the areas in which they lived, as happened with Hungary, where they handed over the keys of the city to the new invaders as a kind of recognition of the Turks’ benevolence on them.
If the era of Bayezid II was “The Era of Salvation” for the Jews, then the era of Suleiman I was “The Golden Era” of the Jewish presence within the borders of the Ottoman Empire. Suleiman maintained Bayezid II’s approach in dealing with the Jews and added to this that he helped them obtain high leadership positions, which made them influence the political decision-making, especially since they showed absolute loyalty to the Sultan. They did not have any separatist or revolutionary ambitions, unlike some ethnic groups, which were a source of inconvenience and a threat to the unity of the Sultanate.
Perhaps it is inaccurate to consider the Ottoman Sultan’s treatment of the Jews is under the concept of respecting freedom of belief and defending the rights of minorities. Rather, his defense of them was purely pragmatic, given their role in supporting the economic movement within the Sultanate. The evidence for this is what Sultan Suleiman I did when Pope Paul IV burned alive a Jewish woman and twenty-four Jewish men in February 1542 A.D, a few years after Apulia was subjected to the papal rule, on the grounds of accusations of infidelity and apostasy. Sultan Suleiman I sent a strongly worded letter to the Pope, in which his reasons for defending the Jews and the materialistic mask of the Ottoman sultans were revealed.
In the letter of the Ottoman sultan, it was stated: “The Jewish subjects grieved, the treasury incurred losses estimated at 4000 ducats and the income decreased due to the actions of the Pope towards the Turkish Jews. The Maronites of Ancona, who are Turkish subjects, must be released immediately”.
After this incident, the Jews invested all their money inside the Sultanate and transferred the rest of their projects to it, which contributed to the recovery of the Ottoman economy and the financing of military campaigns that aimed to take over the Arab and Islamic world, the European continent and part of Asia.
The study of history aims to conclude that systematic projection on the current strategic environment, taking into account some distinctions that do not affect that historical process in international relations. Perhaps the tracker of Turkish-Israeli relations has become convinced that there is harmony and agreement on the strength of relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv. These are the relations that remained strong despite the political piety that the political Islamic movement in Turkey tried to express, which aimed at winning over the feelings of the Turks as a prelude to win their votes.