Qesher Book Club: "A Sephardi Turkish Patriot"

Tuesday, February 20

USA 12:00 pm PT / 3:00 pm ET

UK 8:00 pm / France 09:00 pm / Israel 10:00 pm

The talk will last approximately 60 minutes

About this talk

A Sephardi Turkish Patriot explores the life of Gad Franco (1881-1954), a prominent Sephardi journalist, then a lawyer and a jurist, who worked relentlessly for the Jewish community's acceptance as part of the national Turkish polity. This historical biography, written by his grandson, takes the reader from Izmir to Istanbul and beyond, tracing his footsteps, including his opposition to Zionism which he considered a threat to assimilation.

The world of Sephardi Jewry, the convulsions and conflicts of the late Ottoman Empire, and the birth, ruthless consolidation, and promising reforms of the young Turkish Republic, provide the context to his intriguing life story. 

Inflamed by ethno-nationalism, cleavages between the Muslim majority and Turkey's ethnic minorities deepened in the 1930s, leading to their harassment during World War II. By then a wealthy, respected jurist, Jewish community spokesperson, and friend of the government, Gad Franco was expropriated of all his assets and deported to a labor camp.

As its belonging to the nation had been so dramatically denied, half of the Turkish Jewish community migrated to Israel in the 1950s, putting an end to Gad Franco's hopes of its integration and acceptance.

For more information about the book, see:

About the Author

Anthony Gad Bigio was born in Italy to a British father and a Turkish mother, both Sephardi Jews with deep family roots in the Ottoman Levant. Brought up in a secular and cosmopolitan environment, he became an architect and urban planner and soon embraced international development as his calling. He practiced extensively in the Arab world and in Africa before joining the World Bank in Washington DC, where he served for two decades as senior urban specialist. He was then a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and professor at George Washington University's master's program of sustainable urban planning, and now works as an urban advisor to international development agencies. His long-standing interest for the history of Sephardi Jews in the Ottoman Levant and for his own family trajectory has led him to the extensive research and writing resulting in this book.