On the question of Jewish citizenship
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OpinionLetter

On the question of Jewish citizenship

(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

The opinion article “Expressions of gratitude beyond ‘Thank you for your service’” by Leon S. Malmud, M.D. (Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, Nov. 8, 2019) was an excellent presentation.

But the statement “the United States is the first nation in post-biblical history to have granted equal citizenship to Jews upon its founding in 1776” may be subject to discussion.

Ottoman Turks not only generated and maintained a refuge to hundreds of thousands of Jews fleeing oppression they faced in Western Europe in general and Spain in particular during 14th and 15th centuries, but also granted them equal citizenship, as the Jews were skilled and productive people along with demonstrating loyalty to their new home. They were appreciated by the Sultans then ruling the lands, whereas the Jews were discriminated and oppressed by the previous rulers of different empires.

We, of course, may discuss the concept of citizenship within the perspective of its being understood today, as the people in the previous centuries have been more likely to be the subjects of their rulers rather than constituents of their governing leaders. However, provided one associates citizenship with equality, then the given equality had been granted to the Jews through Ottoman Sultans some 300 years prior to Washington’s submitting a letter to American Jews, written in 1790, stating that they were free to practice their religion in the way they deemed necessary.

Mehmet Fuat Ulus, M.D.
Pittsburgh

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