Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom sent a letter congratulating the Istanbul Jewish community on the installation of a Torah scroll in the rededicated Neve Shalom Synagogue, wrecked by a terrorist bomb in November 2003.

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Less than a year ago, on November 14, 2003, terrorists attacked two synagogues in Istanbul causing horrific loss of life, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and much physical destruction. These barbaric attacks underlined the immense challenge facing all peace-loving countries – namely, the need to unite against the global terrorist threat that seeks to destroy our freedoms, our individual and national rights, and our democracy – the very values which constitute the bedrock of both Turkey and Israel.

As soon as I heard the shocking news, I canceled all my previous plans, and traveled to Turkey, in order to express the condolences of the Israeli government and people and to convey our determination to stand together with the Turkish people and the local Jewish community at this time of challenge.

Throughout the ages, the Jewish people has been the target of persecution. Not only have we survived this persecution and continued to develop, but we have also preserved the fundamental values that have sustained us as a people. These values are contained within the Torah scroll, which has found its home once again in the Neve Shalom Synagogue. Thus, the dedication ceremony in Neve Shalom serves as the embodiment of the history of the Jewish people, of our determination to overcome adversity, and to build a better future for our people.

In this context, I wish to mention the historic role played by Turkey, which opened its doors to the Jews following their expulsion from Spain, when they were on the brink of physical and spiritual extermination. Five hundred years have passed since these events took place, yet we have not forgotten Turkey’s kindness. Today, the bonds between our peoples continue to flourish. The warm friendship between the Turkish and Jewish peoples, as well as the close ties between Israel and Turkey, both reflect and reaffirm our historic bond.

I wish to take this opportunity to convey my heartfelt good wishes to the Jewish community of Istanbul, and to assure it of Israel’s continued support and our ongoing commitment to promoting the special ties between Israel and Turkey.

Yours Sincerely,

Silvan Shalom