Abravanel, the Blog

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

Archive for Ιουλίου 2008

Shame on the Municipality of Thessaloniki

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 24/07/2008

Thessaloniki has been maybe the most important town of the worldwide Shefardic Judaism. The presence of the Jewish Community dates back from when Apostle Paul preached in the local Etz Haim Synagogue for 3 consecutive Sabbaths in 50 C.E., while the bulk arrived in 1492 when Jews of Spain where expelled and moved mainly to the Ottoman Empire.

Thessaloniki constituted a unique example in the whole Jewish world: an important city (second largest in the Ottoman Empire and more important than Athens) where Jews where the majority of the population but also were dominant in all social strata. The visitor arriving in Thessaloniki would notice that the port remained closed in Saturdays and not Sundays, that jewish port workers would unload his baggage, shop from jewish lower middle class shops in the streets teamed with jewish workers heading for huge jewish factories. All this earned Thessaloniki the title of Madre d’Israel – Jerusalem of the Balkans, while even David Ben Gurion visited the town to see how a real jewish city looked like.

When the Greek Army liberated the city in 1912 the majority of the population was jewish and christians only the 3rd largest religious group after the muslims. The population exchange in 1923 removed the muslims from the city, while a mass influx of Asia Minor Greeks shifted the demographic balance. The economic depression of Thessaloniki, zionist immigration and antisemitic riots caused 10.000 thessalonicean jews to immigrate but the community still remained strong at the eve of WW2. The Shoah caused the extermination of 55.000 jews and while some christians helped their compatriots, many more profited from their plight appropriating jewish property. An example is the destruction, by greek initiative, of one of the largest jewish cemeteries in the world, home to 350/500.000 tombs and the confiscation of the land. This attitude bears a striking difference to the one in other greek cities like Athens where the local Jewish Community was helped by a myriad of organizations and personalities like ArchBishop Damaskinos, or even Zante where the whole community was saved due to the help of the local population.

Why I make this brief historic synopsis? So that all can understand the size of the historical ignorance and intollerance towards the thessalonicean jews, that the Municipal Council has shown in a recent deliverance. A small minority group presented a request that the Municipality of Thessaloniki joined the association of greek cities, «Association of Martyr Towns«, which suffered great losses during WW2 due to the german, italian or bulgarian occupiers. The City Council rejected the proposition on the grounds that:

  1. The extermination of the Jews happened on foreign soil, ergo Thessaloniki is not a martyr town.
  2. The Jews of Thessaloniki arrived only in 1492. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Posted in antisemitism, greece, Shoah, thessaloniki | Με ετικέτα: , , , | 16 Σχόλια »

New policy on trolling in this blog

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 21/07/2008


No trolls!

My latest post here was a proposition: naming a station of the new subway of Thessaloniki as «Old Jewish Cemetery» or «Εβραικά Μνήματα». Both Athinaios in Αθηναίου Βορβορυγμοί and Panos in Η Καλύβα Ψηλά στο Βουνό also wrote about it and there was an interesting discussion in the latter. An interesting discussion began here too but soon it degenerated. Why? Because many small-minded bigots and jew-haters plummeted here and began trolling on – what a surprise! – the Israel-Palestine-Arab countries conflict. The academic level of their arguments was centered around jews/israelis (terms used inter-exchangeably) being behind the terrorist attacks of 9/11 etc etc. On the other hand at Καλύβα none of this happened and the discussion was a fruitful one; all of this made me wandering what went wrong here and what is the position I should keep, especially given the recent talk in the greek blogsphere on self regulation.

First things first. A blog is not a forum; it is not an independent, neutral platform on which people meet and talk. Above all it is a private soap box, a stand, where the blog author/s say their story. Commenting allows interacting and often leads to discussions which are more meaningful than the post itself. But a mistake people make is that they think they have a moral or legal right to say whatever they want and get away with it. First the legal right is limited: by posting or commenting in an Automattic blog (the company behind WordPress.com) we all agree to the Terms of Service (TOS). Among them is the prohibition of posting or commenting that can be found inciting religious and ethnic hatred, plus avoid libel. This latter one is especially important for me, since all the recent legal prosecutions of greek bloggers were based on this accusation.

The moral right is bit trickier. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Posted in me myself and I | Με ετικέτα: , , , | 15 Σχόλια »

The Jewish Cemetery of Thessaloniki and the new subway – a proposition

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 06/07/2008

https://i0.wp.com/www.jmth.gr/web/thejews/images/photos/pic5.gifA great source for my posts is often the works of people little fond of the Jews; it always amazing how much dedication they apply in finding news concerning them. In this case a greek-language blogger made a post commenting an article by the german newspaper Sueddeutche Zeitung. In his post he made various allegations like that it would be impossible to have 500.000 tombs etc – in any case he gave me an an opportunity to return to the subject.

As I’ve written in the past, Thessaloniki housed the – maybe – largest jewish cemetery in all of Europe. It contained an estimated 300.000 to 500.000 tombs and covered an area of 320.000 square meters. This cemetery was destroyed by greek collaborators of the nazi germans in 1943. The land was confiscated by the Greek State in 1944 on the grounds that «it’s owners had abandoned it», while at exactly the same time it’s owners were being turned into ashes in the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The tombstones where either looted or sold and were used in construction works in Thessaloniki, including repairs on the Cathedral of St.Demetrious. Until very recently tombstones could still be found in the city.
Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Posted in greece, Shoah, thessaloniki | Με ετικέτα: , , , , , , , | 55 Σχόλια »

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