Turkey Jewish leader denies snubbing gay Israeli envoy
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Turkey Jewish leader denies snubbing gay Israeli envoy

Consul in Istanbul reportedly complained that community failed to invite him to events or call him up to Torah in synagogue

Members of Turkey's Jewish community pray at Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul on October 11, 2004, during a ceremony to mark the official reopening of the synagogue (AP/Murad Sezer)
Members of Turkey's Jewish community pray at Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul on October 11, 2004, during a ceremony to mark the official reopening of the synagogue (AP/Murad Sezer)

Leaders of the Jewish community of Turkey denied complaints by an Israeli homosexual diplomat serving in Istanbul, who said they ignore him because of his sexual orientation.

Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, the president of the Jewish Community of Turkey, responded in a statement Thursday to the complaints leveled at him by Yossi Levi Sfari, Israel’s consul in Istanbul, who moved there with his life partner, Ronny Goldberg, six weeks ago. Levi Sfari said the community failed to invite him to events and does not acknowledge his presence during synagogue services.

Yossi Levi Sfari. (Courtesy)

“We treat the consulate and consul with the utmost respect and do not involve ourselves in anyone’s personal life,” Ibrahimzadeh was quoted as saying by the Finansgundem daily. “We respect all in the same way that we expect them to respect us as a community that is committed to halacha and the rules of the Torah. We have nothing against the man or Israel and its envoys, whom we will continue to respect as we maintain good relations with Israel. I do not need to be a close personal friend of the man.”

Ibrahimzadeh’s statement follows an article published Thursday in Yedioth Aharonoth in which Levi Sfari complained that the community is giving him the cold shoulder, including by not inviting him to read the Torah as is customary in services attended by a senior Israeli envoy. He also said the community has invited Israel’s ambassador in Ankara to attend events in Levi Sfari’s stead.

According to Yedioth Aharonoth, the community urged the Foreign Ministry to not post a homosexual man to Turkey when Levi Sfari’s nomination was announced but not yet confirmed.

The daily also reported, quoting unnamed sources, that the Foreign Ministry instructed its employees to sever communications with Ibrahimzadeh over his alleged treatment of Levi Sfari.

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