What will surprise those who may already be surprised about the Dönmeh connection to Turkey, is the Dönmeh connection to the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia.
An Iraqi Mukhabarat (General Military Intelligence Directorate) Top Secret report, “The Emergence of Wahhabism and its Historical Roots,” dated September 2002 and released on March 13, 2008, by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in translated English form, points to the Dönmeh roots of the founder of the Saudi Wahhabi sect of Islam, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab. Much of the information is gleaned from the memoirs of a “Mr. Humfer,” (as spelled in the DIA report, “Mr. Hempher” as spelled the historical record) a British spy who used the name “Mohammad,” claimed to be an Azeri who spoke Turkish, Persian, and Arabic and who made contact with Wahhab in the mid-18th century with a view of creating a sect of Islam that would eventually bring about an Arab revolt against the Ottomans and pave the way for the introduction of a Jewish state in Palestine. Humfer’s memoirs are recounted by the Ottoman writer and admiral Ayyub Sabri Pasha in his 1888 work, “The Beginning and Spreading of Wahhabism.”
In his book, The Dönmeh Jews, D. Mustafa Turan writes that Wahhab’s grandfather, Tjen Sulayman, was actually Tjen Shulman, a member of the Jewish community of Basra, Iraq. The Iraqi intelligence report also states that in his book, The Dönmeh Jews and the Origin of the Saudi Wahhabis, Rifat Salim Kabar reveals that Shulman eventually settled in the Hejaz, in the village of al-Ayniyah what is now Saudi Arabia, where his grandson founded the Wahhabi sect of Islam. The Iraqi intelligence report states that Shulman had been banished from Damascus, Cairo, and Mecca for his “quackery.” In the village, Shulman sired Abdul Wahhab. Abdel Wahhab’s son, Muhammad, founded modern Wahhabism.
The Iraqi report also makes some astounding claims about the Saud family. It cites Abdul Wahhab Ibrahim al-Shammari’s book, The Wahhabi Movement: The Truth and Roots, which states that King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, the first Kingdom of Saudi Arabia monarch, was descended from Mordechai bin Ibrahim bin Moishe, a Jewish merchant also from Basra. In Nejd, Moishe joined the Aniza tribe and changed his name to Markhan bin Ibrahim bin Musa. Eventually, Mordechai married off his son, Jack Dan, who became Al-Qarn, to a woman from the Anzah tribe of the Nejd. From this union, the future Saud family was born.
The Iraqi intelligence document reveals that the researcher Mohammad Sakher was the subject of a Saudi contract murder hit for his examination into the Sauds’ Jewish roots. In Said Nasir’s book, The History of the Saud Family, it is maintained that in 1943, the Saudi ambassador to Egypt, Abdullah bin Ibrahim al Muffadal, paid Muhammad al Tamami to forge a family tree showing that the Sauds and Wahhabs were one family that descended directly from the Prophet Mohammed.
At the outset of World War I, a Jewish British officer from India, David Shakespeare, met with Ibn Saud in Riyadh and later led a Saudi army that defeated a tribe opposed to Ibn Saud. In 1915, Ibn Saud met with the British envoy to the Gulf region, Bracey Cocas. Cocas made the following offer to Ibn Saud: “I think this is a guarantee for your endurance as it is in the interest of Britain that the Jews have a homeland and existence, and Britain’s interests are, by all means, in your interest.” Ibn Saud, the descendant of Dönmeh from Basra, responded: “Yes, if my acknowledgement means so much to you, I acknowledge thousand times granting a homeland to the Jews in Palestine or other than Palestine.” Two years later, British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour, in a letter to Baron Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Zionists, stated: “His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people . . .” The deal had the tacit backing of two of the major players in the region, both descendant from Dönmeh Jews who supported the Zionist cause, Kemal Ataturk and Ibn Saud. The present situation in the Middle East should be seen in this light but the history of the region has been purged by certain religious and political interests for obvious reasons.
After World War I, the British facilitated the coming to power of the Saud regime in the former Hejaz and Nejd provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The Sauds established Wahhabism as the state religion of the new Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and, like the Kemalist Dönmeh in Turkey, began to move against other Islamic beliefs and sects, including the Sunnis and Shi’as. The Wahhabi Sauds accomplished what the Kemalist Dönmeh were able to achieve in Turkey: a fractured Middle East that was ripe for Western imperialistic designs and laid the groundwork for the creation of the Zionist state of Israel.
Deep states and Dönmeh
During two visits to Turkey in 2010, I had the opportunity of discussing the Ergenekon “deep state” with leading Turkish officials. It was more than evident that discussions about the Ergenekon network and its “foreign” connections are a highly-sensitive subject. However, it was also whispered by one high-ranking Turkish foreign policy official that there were other “deep states” in surrounding nations and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria were mentioned by name. Considering the links between Ergenekon and the Dönmeh in Turkey and the close intelligence and military links between the Dönmeh-descendent Sauds and Wahhabis in Arabia, the reports of close links between ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and the Binyamin Netanyahu government in Israel may be seen in an entirely new light… And it would explain Erdogan’s support for Egypt’s revolution: in Turkey, it was a democratic revolution that curbed the influence of the Dönmeh. The influence of Wahhabi Salafists in Libya’s new government also explains why Erdogan was keen on establishing relations with the Benghazi-based rebels to help supplant the influence of the Wahhabis, the natural allies of his enemies, the Dönmeh (Ergenekon) of Turkey.
Erdogan’s desire to set the historical record straight by restoring history purged by the Kemalists and Dönmeh has earned him vitriolic statements from Israel’s government that he is a neo-Ottomanist who is intent on forming an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab countries. Clearly, the Dönmeh and their Zionist brethren in Israel and elsewhere are worried about Dönmeh and Zionist historical revisionism, including their role in the Armenian and Assyrian genocide, and their genocide denial being exposed.
In Egypt, which was once an Ottoman realm, it was a popular revolution that tossed out what may have amounted to the Dönmeh with regard to the Mubarak regime. The Egyptian “Arab Spring” also explains why the Israelis were quick to kill six Egyptian border police so soon after nine Turkish passengers were killed aboard the Mavi Marmara, some in execution style, by Israeli troops. Dönmeh doctrine is rife with references to the Old Testament Amalekites, a nomadic tribe ordered attacked by the Hebrews from Egypt by the Jewish God to make room for Moses’s followers in the southern region of Palestine. In the Book of Judges, God unsuccessfully commands Saul: “Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, and infant, ox, and sheep, camel and donkey.” The Dönmeh, whose doctrine is also present in Hasidic and other orthodox sects of Judaism, appear to have no problem substituting the Armenians, Assyrians, Turks, Kurds, Egyptians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Iranians, and Palestinians for the Amalekites in carrying out their military assaults and pogroms.
With reformist governments in Turkey and Egypt much more willing to look into the background of those who have split the Islamic world, Ataturk in Turkey and Mubarak in Egypt, the Sauds are likely very much aware that it is only a matter of time before their links, both modern and historical, to Israel will be fully exposed. It makes sense that the Sauds have been successful in engineering a dubious plot involving Iranian government agents trying to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington in an unnamed Washington, DC restaurant. The Iraqi intelligence report could have been referring to the Zionists and Dönmeh when it stated, “it strives to . . . [the] killing of Muslims, destructing, and promoting the turmoil.” In fact, the Iraqi intelligence report was referring to the Wahhabis.
With new freedom in Turkey and Egypt to examine their pasts, there is more reason for Israel and its supporters, as well as the Sauds, to suppress the true histories of the Ottoman Empire, secular Turkey, the origins of Israel, and the House of Saud. With various players now angling for war with Iran, the true history of the Dönmeh and their influence on past and current events in the Middle East becomes more important.
Dönmeh (Turkish: Dönme)refers to a group of crypto-Jews in the Ottoman Empire who, to escape the inferior condition of dhimmis, converted publicly to Islam, but were said to have retained their beliefs. The movement was historically centred in Salonica. The group originated during and soon after the era ofSabbatai Zevi, a 17th-century Jewish kabbalist who claimed to be the Messiah and eventually converted to Islam in order to escape punishment by the SultanMehmed IV. After Zevi's conversion, a number of Jews followed him into Islam and became the Dönmeh. Since the 20th century, many Dönmeh have intermarried with other groups and most have assimilated into Turkish society.
The Turkish word dönme is from the verbal root dön- that means 'to turn', i.e., "to convert", but in a pejorative sense. They are also called Selânikli"person from Thessaloniki" or avdetî "religious convert" (Arabic: عودة ‘awdah 'return'). Members of the group refer to themselves simply as "the Believers" in Hebrew (Hebrew: המאמינים ha-Ma'aminim), or "sazanikos," Turkish for "carp" in honor of the changing outward nature of the fish. An alternate explanation of this self-nomenclature is the prophecy that Sabbatai Zevi would deliver the Jews under the sign of the fish.
Despite their conversion to Islam, the Sabbateans secretly remained close to Judaism and continued to practice Jewish rituals covertly. They recognized Sabbatai Zevi (1626–1676) as the Jewish Messiah, observed certain commandments with similarities to those in Judaism, and prayed in Hebrew and later inLadino. They also observed rituals celebrating important events in Zevi's life and interpreted Zevi's conversion in a Kabbalistic way.
There are several branches of the Dönmeh group. The first is the İzmirli, formed in İzmir, Turkey (Smyrna). This was the original sect, from which two others eventually split. The first schism created the sect of the Jakubi, founded by Jacob Querido (ca. 1650–1690), the brother of Zevi's last wife. Querido claimed to be Zevi's reincarnation and a messiah in his own right. The second split from the İzmirli was the result of claims that Berechiah Russo, known in Turkish as Osman Baba, was truly the next reincarnation of Zevi's soul. These allegations gained following and gave rise to the Karakashi (Turkish), or Konioso (Ladino), branch, the most numerous and strictest branch of the Dönmeh. Missionaries from the Karakashi were active in Poland in the first part of the 18th century and taught Jacob Frank (1726–1791), the alleged heir of Russo's soul. Frank went on to create the Frankistsect, another non-Dönmeh Sabbatian group in Eastern Europe. Yet another group, the Lechli, of Polish descent, lived in exile in Salonika (modern Thessaloniki, Greece) and Constantinople.
The Dönmeh played an enormous role on the Young Turk movement, a group of modernist revolutionaries who brought down the Ottoman Empire.At the time of the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923, some among the Salonika Dönmeh tried to be recognized as non-Muslims to avoid being forced to leave the city. After the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1922-1923, the Dönmeh strongly supported the Republican, pro-Western reforms of Atatürk that tried to restrict the power of the religious establishment and to modernize society. In particular, the Dönmeh were instrumental in establishing trade, industry, and culture in the emerging Republic of Turkey, which is partially due to the prominence of Rumeli immigrants in general, and of Salonika in particular, in the early Republic years.
An interesting case is the one of Ilgaz Zorlu, a Dönmeh publisher who founded Zvi Publishers in 2000 and sought recognition as a Jew, but a Beth Din refused to recognize his Jewishness without a full conversion. He claimed to have converted in Israel and then filed a lawsuit for changing his religion from Islam to Judaism in his registry records and identification. The court voted in his favor.
Işık University, which is the part of the Feyziye Schools Foundation (Turkish: Feyziye Mektepleri Vakfı, FMV), and Terakkî schools were founded originally by the Dönmeh community in Thessaloniki in the last quarter of the 19th century and continued their activities in Istanbul after Greeks captured the city on 9 November 1912.
The Dönmeh ideology of the 17th century revolved primarily around the Eighteen Precepts, an abridged version of the Ten Commandments in which the admonition against adultery is explained as more of a precautionary measure than a ban, likely included to explain the antinomian sexual activities of the Sabbateans. The additional commandments are concerned with defining the kinds of interactions that may occur between the Dönmeh and the Jewish and Muslim communities. The most basic of these laws of interaction was to avoid marriage with either Jews or Muslims and to prefer relations within the sect to those outside of it. In spite of this, they maintained ties with Sabbateans who had not converted and even with Jewish rabbis, who secretly settled disputes within the Dönmeh concerning Jewish law.
As far as ritual was concerned, the Dönmeh followed both Jewish and Muslim traditions, shifting between one and the other as necessary for integration into Ottoman society. Outwardly Muslims and secretly Jewish Sabbateans, the Dönmeh observed traditional Muslim holidays likeRamadan but also kept the Jewish Sabbath and major holidays. Much of Dönmeh ritual is a combination of various elements of Kabbalah, Sabbateanism, Jewish traditional law, and Sufism.
Dönmeh liturgy evolved as the sect grew and spread. At first, much of the Dönmeh literature was written in Hebrew. Later, as the group developed, Ladino replaced Hebrew as the prominent language and became not only the vernacular language, but also the liturgical language. Though the Dönmeh had branched into several sects, all of them held the view that Zevi was the divine messiah and that he had revealed the true "spiritualTorah" which was superior to the practical earthly Torah. The Dönmeh created and celebrated holidays pertaining to various points in Zevi's life and their own history of conversion. Based at least partially in the Kabbalistic understanding of divinity, the Dönmeh believed that there was a three-way connection of the emanations of the divine, which engendered much conflict with Muslim and Jewish communities alike. The most notable source of opposition from other contemporary religions was the common practice of exchanging wives between members of the Dönmeh.
The hierarchy of the Dönmeh was based in branch divisions. The Ismirli lay at the top of the hierarchy, composed of merchant classes and intelligentsia. Artisans tended to be mostly Karakashi while lower classes were mostly Jakubi. Each branch had its own prayer community, organized into a "Kahal," or congregation (Hebrew). An extensive internal economic network provided support for lower class Dönmeh in spite of ideological differences between branches.
In 1924, Mehmet Karakaşzade Rüştü, a Karakash Dönmeh,[clarification needed] revealed information (= made allegations?) about Dönmehs, branches and wife-swapping rituals to Vakit newspaper. He also accused Donmehs of lacking patriotism and not having been assimilated. Discussions spread into other newspapers including the ones owned by Dönmeh groups. Ahmet Emin Yalman, in the newspaper (Vatan) he owned, accepted the existence of such groups, but claimed that those groups were no longer following their traditions. Then Karakaşzade Rüştü petitioned TBMM, requesting the abolition of some Dönmehs' ongoing immigration from Macedonia by population exchange.
Jump up^Baer, Marc. "Globalization, Cosmopolitanism, and the Dönme in Ottoman Salonica and Turkish Istanbul." Journal of World History. 18. no. 2 (2007): 141-170. doi: 10.1353/jwh.2007.0009 (accessed 6 March 2013).