Abravanel, the Blog

Jewish life and not only in Greece / Εβραϊκή ζωή και όχι μόνο στην Ελλάδα

Archive for Απρίλιος 2007

Disgusting

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 20/04/2007

DeviousDiva’s blog on Human Rights issues is fairly well known. Apparently it was doing such a good job that ignoble individuals which claim to be nationalistic greeks have searched the internet and found her real name. They posted it on a site of theirs, coupled with DD photos and names of people related to her. They urged to spread the word on this «scoundrel», as they called her.

If someone doubts how twisted is the mind of these people, he has an answer now. I feel pity for these people and they should know that they’re the utter disgrace of Greece – shame for them and those who tolerate them.

My utmost solidarity to DeviousDiva who has been an inspiration to me and shown me that there are causes worth fighting for!

racism-stop it

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Burning jews, niggers and gipsies

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 17/04/2007

Wishing to keep the holiday spirit rolling, I thought that it would be interesting hearing about this. Easter in the christian orthodox tradition has always a far greater weight than Christmas and it’s celebrations are always solemn in churches and joyous in the countryside.

One of the characteristic celebrations is the «Burning of Judas» which is also presented as the «Burning of the Jew» and at least in one place as the «Burning of the Nigger». In the last days of Easter a stuffed doll in humanlike dimensions is being prepared, stuffed with inflammable material and often with fireworks. It is hanged, in some places shot upon and ultimately burned. All this is accompanied by insults, curses but also great joy from the children. In the past it was also a chance for an occasional outburst of the population as various ethnographic and literary sources tell us; the mob set fire to a house or two in the local jewish neighbourhood but usually it was reduced to stone throwing – almost never human casualties were noted but an occasional beating of a jew found nearby, wasn’t completely rare. Of course all these happened where jewish communities were present; lacking jews the «Burning of the Jew/Judas» took a more folkloristic turn with absolutely no physical violence involved and this is the form we find it today.

For details on how it is done and photos one can visit the Akanthou in Cyprus page, a page from Crete containing also anti-jewish carols, pages from Hydra and again from Crete. In the same page one can read the carols that small children sang in Volos cursing jews.

A source from the end of the 19th century tells us about the Burning of the Jew in a village in the greek Asia Minor:

It remains alive in my memory this custom from home, the burning of the jew.. […] I waited with anxiety this day. […] We thought and felt some kind of delight because we were taking revenge […] Friday night before Easter we would light up the fire and then throw the jew and he would be set ablaze and all the kids would yell like victors after a triumph with something wild together. […] The fire would become enormous, the flames would reach high and light ,the beach and the boats in see would see from far away the flames and would know than in Petroumi the christians burn the jew. That day jews would hide in their homes and didn’t dare set foot outside. They kept the children inside and didn’t even go to their shops. The children had such a fury, such hatred that searched a jew to burn him alive».

Centre of Asia Minor studies, Oral Tradition Archive, Karia

This kind of physical violence, which disrupted the public order and the fact that this custom has pagan roots led the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church to condemn it unequivocally in encyclicals in 1891, 1910 and 1918. In these official papers it is condemned and repeated that this tradition: «…incites religious hatred and fosters fanatism.»; also it repeated that: «the observance of these traditions is going against the basis and foundations of our faith». Although these encyclicals were never revoked, modern religious leaders have failed to repeat these concepts and even attended such events, indirectly approving them. On the other hand, persons like the spokesperson of the Holy Synod have recalled them in a recent article and claimed that they remain valid examples of the good nature of the Greek Church. Other local religious leaders like the former Metropolite of Alexandroupolis Anthimos, (who isn’t characterised by feelings of love towards greek jews), have issued similar encyclicals as recently as 2005. In his, independently of his other racist declarations, excellent circular he asks the communities of Chilis and Amphitritis: «Does the burning of Judas, which is wrongfully maintained in your communities, have anything to do with the Resurrected Jesus Christ which we will celebrate in a few days? […] For this I ask you and I urge you and I beseech these two communities of Chilis and Amphitritis to stop this unhistorical, uncivilised and unchristian custom. […] The Holy Synod of Greece has condemned with encyclicals in 1891, 1910 and in 1918 this atrocious custom.»

Of course later he also states why, in my humble opinion, really gets him mad:
«It is an insult to the holy Epitaph since it includes the immaculate body of the God of love, to forsake it during the procession and stay back to set fire to Judas! » (exclamation marks follow faithfully the ones in the original).

The antisemitic character of this custom was obvious also to the Catholic Church which in the mixed orthodox-catholic island of Syros forced it’s abolition. We read: «this custom generated anti-Semitic feelings among the Catholics and was therefore abolished by Jesuit monks, despite public reactions».

It isn’t only opinion of the Greek Orthodox Church that this is a custom that promotes hatred, but also of the scientific community. Professor of Modern Greek Language at the University of Thessaloniki F.Abatzopoulou, concurs that the «Burning of Judas» is the «most familiar and widespread manifestation of traditional anti-Semitism in Greece.» Korombokis and Kotinis also state that in Thessaloniki the custom was linked with traditional hatred towards jews based on religious grounds.

A special reference should also be made in the case of Dalmedico Abba who was the delegate of the jewish community in the ottoman held Chania in Crete. Member of the local Assembly in 1875 he proposed and apparently managed to approve the abolition of the «Burning of Judas» though there are doubts if eventually this decision was implemented. In any case it serves as an example of jewish opposition to the custom and it’s obvious antisemitic character through time.

So, in theory we have a situation where the Greek Church, despite local support to this custom, has officially taken a strong stance against it, the scientific community which also talks against it, the local Jewish Community which has protested against it, we are aware of the antisemitic feeling that creates since it’s well documented in literature and folklore and also Human Rights groups like the Greek Helsinki Monitor, each year protest against it. So where is the problem? The problem is that it still continues today since nobody actually wants to actively move against it. Even worse, it gets promoted officially by the Greek State through it’s National Tourism Organization. In it’s site there are several references, (here, here and here) when describing easter customs in various parts of Greece, showing it’s a widespread phenomenon. Unfortunately even some members of the Greek Church chose intentionally to ignore what the same Church has admitted; an example is the Metropolite of the greek island of Hydra. In 2005 the Central Jewish Board sent a letter to the Metropolite asking him to pronounce on this custom on the island of Hydra. Instead the office of the mayor responded, (!), that this custom was «connected with the greek War of Independence» without of course explaining how these two things are connected. The Central Board was not satisfied with this explanation and responded to the mayor; as far as I know it was also repeated this year.

To an extent it is possible to say that how, greek institutions and greek society, deal with this matter it is indicative of how the phenomenon of anti-Semitism and hate speech are treated in Greece. Although it is clear that the phenomenon is linked with antisemitic manifestations, although official sources like the Church of Greece have condemned it, although nobody denies that even today there are racist outbursts during the burning, although there are numerous documented incidents, it is still regarded as a matter of foreign interference! How is this? Even among known members of the greek blogosphere or among the known neo-Nazi groups like Crissi Avgi and LAOS the whole matter only appears when the State Department accuses Greece of anti-Semitism and lists the «Burning of Judas­/Jew» as one of it’s manifestations. The protests of the greek jewish community simply don’t register! Nobody gives a damn about them; only when the americans make a generic statement, which even they don’t really pay attention, the greek society decides to talk about it! And I think it’s indicative the fact that the government member that is called to comment is the vice-minister of Defence as if we were talking about a foreign state and not about insults to greek citizens!

Anyway to complete the picture we need to state that the «guest of honour» during the easter celebrations isn’t only played by jews. In a twisted deviation of the custom in the village of Gastouni the jew is substituted by a black man and the whole ceremony is called literally «The Burning of the Nigger». In other pages we also learn that the Roma are accused of forging the nails that were used to crucify Jesus, (no one remembers that there were no Roma in Palestine for centuries so it was physically impossible for them to do it). The oral tradition goes that this is the reason which do not settle in any land, a punishment for their presumed involvement.

I’d like to end this small post with a small discovery I made. One of the sites which lists all of the traditional customs for Easter and relative songs, that are often an open incitation against jews and roma, is this one. To my great surprise I found out that it is the site of the Regional Directorship of the Primary Education in Thessaly, (the organization that coordinates elementary schools in the greek region of Thessaly). The page is listed as a page which includes recommended material for Easter celebrations inside the schools. It contains things that are already known but it is simply amazing and disgusting that they are officially proposed to be taught at small children! Some of the things that the greek educational system considers that need to be taught in all schools, re-enacted in schools plays and be sang by children from 6 to 12 years old, include the following:

1)Of course the Burning of Judas/Jew with relative details.

2)The Easter carols which says:

«Σήμερον μαύρος ουρανός, σήμερον μαύρη μέρα, «Today black sky, today black day
σήμερα κόσμος θλίβουνται και τα βουνά λυπούνται, today the people grieve and mountains grieve
σήμερα βάλανε βουλή οι άνομοι Εβραίοι, today the wicked Jews decided
οι άνομοι και τα σκυλιά κ‘ οι τρισκαταραμένοι, the wicked dogs and the threefold cursed
για να σταυρώσουν το Χριστό, τον πάντων βασιλέα to crucify Christ, the king of all

3)The carols that accompany the Burning of Judas/Jew; they testify how these two figures are interchangeable to the public opinion, (the poem is in rimes so difficult to translate):

«Ράτσα, κεράτσα lady, milady
δώσ‘ μια κληματσίδα give me some vine wood
να κάψουμε τον Οβριγιό to burn the Jew
πόχει πολλή κασσίδα, that has a lot of filth
Οβριγιός φορεί φτερό the Jew wears a feather
στο κεφάλι τ‘ το ξερό…» on his mulish head…

4) In Easter, jars are broken «to the joy of Christ and ridicule of the Jews».

5) Among the traditional customs it mentions that on Good Friday «no craftsman touched a nail because the gipsy nailed with nails Christ».

It is completely unacceptable that small children learn how and why to hate Jews and Roma. It is simply appalling that these traditions are passed upon small children in the form of songs and there isn’t even recommended that the hatred towards jews should be minimized. It is simply frustrating and disappointing to see that the hatred towards jews, even at the form of traditions which are by the admission of the Church antisemitic, is passed from the elders to the younger with the blessing of the Greek State and the educational system which fails miserably even to understand that what it does is contrary to it’s mission or even to common decency. Maybe this is an exception? Evidently not since the Parents and Guardians Association of the 3rd Elementary school of Alimos has a site containing the same carols.

I’d like to expressly state that in no way I think that people who participate are raging racists who yearn to burn jews and since they can’t, they limit themselves to dolls. I’m sure that most of them consciously do not understand that what they do is wrong. The problem here is that the Greek State and generally people like the mayor of Hydra do know the racist nature of it, but still they choose not to act against it. This isn’t simply a case of jews being oversensitive; it is the Greek Church herself who has condemned it as an act against the christian faith and modern religious leaders describe it as atrocious.

Each time I think of anti-Semitism in Greece I think that the situation is hopeless. Not because the situation is so desperately violent, (even though each year that passes it becomes significantly worse), but because nobody seems to care. The same institutions that are supposed to work towards diminishing the hatred, are the ones who work actively to propagate it! When in school the textbooks often have antisemitic references or completely ignore jews and the Holocaust, when school actively perpetuates racist traditions and songs, when the school teachers are often completely ignorant on racism issues, when the system fails to pursue a policy of integration and often schools end up as the privileged place of nationalistic actions, how can we ever hope in a change? A quote says that «A pessimist is only a well informed optimist» – I think it fits perfectly in this case.

(Belated) Happy Easter to all…

PS. The greek Helsinki Monitor, a human rights group, recently protested on the Burning of Judas. Some facts which I state here derived from that report and I’d like to thank them – read about it here -> http://deviousdiva.com/2007/04/13/burning-judas/

Posted in greece, the jews did it! | 21 Σχόλια »

Yom HaShoah

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 16/04/2007

Lilian and Arnold Buschel in Antwerp. Both Were Deported to Auschwitz in September 1943

Lilian and Arnold Buschel in Antwerp. Both Were Deported to Auschwitz in September 1943

 

Today in Israel the extermination of 6.000.000 jews is remembered throughout the country. The day, instituted in 1951, is similar to the Holocaust Memorial Day which is celebrated in Europe early on January.

At 10am the sirens sound for two minutes and all of the country stands still. People remain silent, cars pull over and this marks the beginning of the ceremony at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel. There, survivors lay wraiths and light candles in the memory of those who didn’t make it, while all shops and cafes remain close and TV transmits documentaries. There isn’t much to say about this, I just didn’t want to let the day pass unmarked.

For more information you can visit the Yad Vashem’s page in english here -> http://www.yadvashem.org

Posted in Shoah, the world | Leave a Comment »

A jew from Mogadisho

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 13/04/2007

Just grabbed my attention, a jew living in Somalia! The boy’s name is Avraham and is 19 years old. It is interesting to see how a jew copes in such a tormented country, plus one gets a direct peep on what it means living in a war-zone.

Other than having to stay inside on Friday, day of prayer for muslims, because of the social pressure for non-muslims it was also interesting/abhorring to see how things like a rape of a woman get treated. A small excerpt:

But the big news in mogadisho today is the women who said she was raped by two ethiopian force. she is all over the news channel. she said they abused her beat her, then raped her, and then they trow her naked in outside of mogadisho. I am actually suprised that she is giving intervjues on tv and her name is out in the public. even her husband is on the news channels and giving intervjue as well.. one thing is sure no one will ever forget her, she will be stamped as «the women who have been raped by ethiopian» one other that is funny too is, is that since most somali people think that international force will bring aids and Hiv to somalia, the women who got raped have already shown symthops of hiv and aids (she got it from the ethipians) is all over on city.

Visit him here -> http://avrahamshanshi.blogspot.com

Posted in the world | Leave a Comment »

Martin Luther King

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 06/04/2007

Recently a comment by Donna reminded me of a famous speech which was attributed to Martin Luther King . In that speech Dr.King allegedly attacks anti-zionists as being in fact anti-semites. I searched a bit to see if it’s true and I’ve found that: «The idea accurately portrays the opinion of Dr. King, but the speech as quoted is a forgery» as BoycottWatch refers.

This is what Dr.King actually said and what has been confirmed as authentic:

King was, however, quoted by Dr. Seymour Martin Lipset, who is currently the Hazel Professor of Public Policy of George Mason University and a professor at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. The noted sociologist and political analyst wrote the article «The Socialism of Fools: The Left, the Jews and Israel» which was published in the December, 1969 (page 24) edition of Encounter magazine, and was reprinted in other publications.

The article states: «Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr., was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge…One of the young men present happened to make some remark against the Zionists. Dr. King snapped at him and said, «Don’t talk like that! When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!»

 

I’m not here to debate on whether in fact anti-zionism is another name for antisemitism, or it is simply used to avoid legitimate political criticism to Israel. Although I have to remind that the term «antisemite» was invented in the late 19th century when «antijew» or «jew hater» became politically undesirable terms and one wished to cloak his hate under more scientific terms. Anyway I just wanted to give the opinion of one who definitely can’t be accused of being controlled by the almighty World Domination jewish lobby! :D

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Love photos

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 04/04/2007

Panayote Dimitra’s from the most excellent Greek Helsinki Monitor, (link to be found under Misc on your right), sent me some photos on racism in Greece which carried so much love inside them so I thought it was a waste not to share them! :D

He also posted them as a reply in a post of mine dealing with my first encounter with racism, kindly published by DeviousDiva – check this one out, too.

Death to jews Death to jews!

Death to Turks The only good Turk is a dead Turk

And this a hiphop song that circulates in schools and is promoted by the xenofobic party LAOS. It contains anti-albanian, anti-pakistani, anti-immigrant and generally anti- stuff. I’m gonna post the english translation that Craig supplied, he’s an english teacher in Greece and confirmed that many kids are familiar with this song. :(

“Good morning Greece
F**k Albania.
We gave them food
and a Greek education
All the Albanian kids take up school places
and the Greek kids can’t get into college
They shouldn’t stay

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Theodorakis on the Old Testament

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 03/04/2007

Mikis Theodorakis, the famous greek composer, emblematic figure of the greek Left and resistance fighter during the 7yr military regime did it again. The other day during a ceremony for the presentation of a new work he began a phillipic against those who dare to talk against the Archibissop of Greece, Christodoulos. «In Greece we have two institutions, he said, the President of the Democracy and the head of the Greek Church, whoever dares to talk about them should rinse his mouth first!» I remind that Christodoulos is accused of being racist, politically oriented and supporter of far right groups.

But then he went on to his favorite target, the jews wanting to rule the world. He suggested that: the Old Testament should be removed from the schools because it is written than Israel shall overpower and exterminate his enemies. We can’t say these things today. Look at what is happening in the Middle East with the help of Bush and the help of Rice.

Theodorakis in the past had described jews as being «the root of evil» and controlling the world’s economy, banks and mass media. He had also said that they control the world music industry plus the usual stuff about jews having a superiority complex and wanting to control the world. I repeat these things just for the casual reader who might thing that the guy wanted to be politically correct. He again made his favorite mess of jews, Israel, religion and antiamericanism while never ever showing any awareness of how deeply insulting his words are.

Typical of the greek paradox nobody rose to challenge these new views of Theodorakis. There was only a moderate criticism on the fact that he decided to support the Archibissop which has risen into a protagonist of the greek political life in a negative manner. Even more when the Archibissop is accused of supporting the dictatorship during and aftwerwards, while at the same time Theodorakis was exiled because of the regime!

Because of the objective value of his work and his anti-dictatorship fight Theodorakis is venerated in Greece; he was even the greek candidate for the Nobel prize for Peace. I can understand that and I feel he might have been worthy of it in the past. But for the past years he has made one huge mistake after the other and now I can’t find a reason why he shouldn’t even join the xenophobic LAOS party, (he has shown that he doesn’t have problem with changing parties in the past).

Thanks to Panayote Dimitras for pointing to the actual newspaper article which I am attaching here -> original article in greek.

Posted in greece, the jews did it! | 11 Σχόλια »

Un cavretico

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 02/04/2007

Pessach is coming along and jews are preparing for the Seder, the traditional Pessach table where they read the Agada, the story of the exit from Egypt. One of the songs that accompanied my childhood’s Seders was a child song which all of the family sang and was called un cavretico, a small kiddy (κατσικάκι)* in djudeoespanol the language used by jews in Salonika before WW2. In fact I remember it so fondly that I tag all my djudeoespanol/ladino posts as «un cavretico». :D

It’s original name was Hagadia and it is unknown when it was first included in the Agada, though surely after the 15th century. In Thessaloniki it arrived rather late, probably in the mid 19th century and appears almost as an established novelty in the Etz Haim’s edition of 1904 where the typographer states: «Printed (the Agada) with nice characters and translations in djudeoespanol according to the traditions of our city, with a full Seder. We’ve also included the Hagadia poem». The origin of the poem is probably a western one since it resembles german folk songs but similar songs have appeared in the folkloric traditions in West and East alike. The whole idea around which evolves the song is that there is a judge and a judged one with the ultimate judge being God. Though many Christians and Jews have tried giving a historical, philosophical or even metaphysical meanings to this song, most probably it’s intents were far less presumptuous; seen it’s utter lack of connection with the Pessach theme was probably inserted to help kids stay awake with something interesting during the whole Seder!

The images that follow derive from the 1970 edition of Agada produced by the Jewish Comunity of Thessaloniki and include the notes, the lyrics in djudeoespanol and in greek. The brief historical data derive also from there .

*thanks to angelos for the translation!

lyrics-gr lyrics-dj notes

(Click the images to see their larger versions & since I don’t know how the copyright works I kindly ask not to re-distributate them ;) ).

Posted in Books and stuff, thessaloniki, Un cavretico... | Leave a Comment »

How I learned what malakas means

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 01/04/2007

I’m grateful to DeviousDiva for publishing another small story of mine even though some words were a bit not nice. ;)

Again thanks and if you want to read it visit -> http://deviousdiva.com/2007/03/27/guest-blogger-3

UPDATE,13th of April. Posting also here the complete article:

Malakas (Greek: nom. μαλάκας, voc. and acc. μαλάκα, μαλακισμένε, fem. μαλάκω, μαλακισμένη) is a slang word, whose literal translation is wanker but the register of the term varies widely between its America/British English usage and its Greek usage. A more appropriate rendering covers a much broader spectrum of applications, including both English equivalents of asshole or jerk or dick or son of a bitch, and the contrasting friend or pal or dude, depending on the context.

I grew up in a rather poor part of my city which still maintained the populist image of the neighborhood/γειτονιά typical of the Greek cities in the past decades. It was a time where parents were a bit less anxious and maybe a bit more naïve and let their kids roam about freely and play in the open spaces that still existed, (the Greek term is not translatable but certainly will invoke memories for the Greek readers: αλάνες).

Each day my best friend N. would come by my house and yell my name for me to come down.

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Posted in greece, me myself and I, the jews did it! | Leave a Comment »

 
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