Abravanel, the Blog

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

Greek actor receives neo-nazi threats because of tv series

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 01/08/2008

I always keep hearing that Jews «always appear in the television» and «why the heck we’re constantly dealing with them«. This stuff makes me wonder if I live in a parallel universe; while indeed US series or movies often include a jewish character (extremely natural given the demographics of US population and their concentration in big urban centers) Jewish presence in greek television is virtually non-existent. Of course one could wonder why the heck should one expect it to be any more frequent given that Jewish Greeks are only 0.05% of the population. Well the answer to that is that greek jewish history is disproportionate to their number after WW2 – especially Thessaloniki hosted the most important shefardic community in the world. Also it puzzles me to have seen hundreds of documentaries on Dalai Lama or Tahiti but only a handful on an (interesting I hope) part of our society. In any case while one can hope for more information, there have been a couple of television shows (small TV stations like ΣΚΑΙ and ET3) who have dealt with the subject. Impressively a mainstream tv comedy series included a Jew among the roles and this shall be the object of this post…

The name of the series is «Deligiannio Parthenagogio/Δεληγιάννειο παρθεναγωγείο» and it’s a comedy based on the adventures that take place in an all girls’ school during the 1930’s soft-core fascist dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas. Among the girls we have the young jewish student named Rosa Levi. I must admit that the script doesn’t excel for originality when it comes to her adventures: the young jewish girl faces some soft-core antisemitism from the local shrew while other girls support her – of course the main characters fancy her and oppose antisemitism. When the Germans occupy Greece everyone, even the shrew, help her to hide out while her parents are hidden by the local orthodox priest. In other words a simple, feel-good television series with drama like the deportations, youth love, messages against straightforward racism, while the viewers can identify themselves with the good greeks who are emblematic of the greek people who in their totality struggled heroically and saved the jews.


[An excerpt of the series where the protagonists express themselves against the deportations.] Check 00:15, 04:25, 05:45 until the end,

There isn’t of course any historical perspective and frankly it would be rather difficult to have it in a comic television series. This isn’t a documentary and I don’t think that the historical peculiarities of the era, (eg fascist Metaxas was far less antisemitic than the democratic pro-Venizelos politicians), would be well received from the public. In any case the series conveys messages against racism, at least against the blatant kind and Jews are portrayed in a favorite way – there is even a ladino song in the soundtrack, (click to hear a preview). Heck even the fact that the series treats clearly the Jewish Greeks as real Greeks is a novelty which initially it was hard to believe! In other words a television series which I was glad that was being transmitted in greek television.

So all good? Well not exactly… The novelty of seeing Jews facing antisemitism, getting help by greeks and even worse, appearing as greeks who speak greek and are human beings was apparently too much for some neo-nazis in Greece. The protagonist of the series, who also was the co-author of the series, Charis Romas, received a package full of love: a note full of threats accusing him of being «a friend of the jews» and «enemy of the nazi», accompanied by two raw steaks of meat symbolizing what will happen to him, ie slice him up.

The actor pressed charges and the local police confirmed that it is rather typical that neo-nazi threat letters be accompanied by raw meat. In an interview he declared that he «considers all this a great silliness although highly threatening» and he does not intend to change his script which represents also his ideas. The Central Jewish Board issued a statement where it expressed it’s solidarity to the actor and congratulated him for his anti-racist messages.

I must admit that it’s very awkward that a comic actor, Charis Romas, appears in the forefront of the struggle against antisemitism but I must admit he has shown courage. Showing Jews in greek television (despite using feel-good stereotypes) is an audacious enterprise and I am not sure how much it has cost in ratings. Still it is a sign of how much road we still have to make to reach normalcy when coming to Jewish Greeks in the public life; if a silly, feel-good, harmless tv series which does not touch any real historical problem can cause such a response then much worse cases like the Rozakis affair appear much less extraordinary.

_

The photos come from e-tipos and MediaGreece blogspot who also covered the subject.

13 Σχόλια to “Greek actor receives neo-nazi threats because of tv series”

  1. What can I say ? The stupidity and bigotry continues as predicted. Very sad indeed.

  2. […] Threats Published by deviousdiva August 1st, 2008 in Personal. Abravanel writes about death threats sent by neo-nazis to Greek actor, Charis Romas, for co-writing and acting in the series “Δεληγιάννειο […]

  3. Sky said

    Ορίστεεεε;

  4. Panayote Dimitras said

    «The Central Jewish Board issued a statement where it expressed it’s solidarity to the actor and congratulated him for his anti-racist messages.»

    It must be so important indeed.

    While those who took Plevris and another neo-Nazis to court and got them convicted were never congratulated by KIS even if they too got not just threats but also attacks in the courtroom
    (http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=3227).

    On the contrary in its reports on the trials their role was unabashedly diminished if not silenced and some successes of the latter were even presented as achievements of KIS.

  5. Abravanel said

    Greece: where the Municipal Council of Thessaloniki spits upon 5 centuries of it’s history and «καντακουζίνα» Charis Romas appears as the person who has indeed done more against antisemitism excluding the Helsinki Monitor NGO and AntiNazi initiative.

    As the great greek bard G.Mazonakis said it best: γρις, λαικ χιερ…νοουγερ.

  6. Abravanel said

    Panayote you know well why KIS has refrained from talking out loud in Plevris. Of course I do not agree with their position which could have been equally cautious but more encouraging to those willing to put their lives at stake for Jews. At least as you can see more Jews take courage and stick their heads out – this is mainly because of you and some selected people who show that Greece wants to change. For keeping on going despite all you have my admiration. :)

  7. Panayote Dimitras said

    KIS has NOT refrained from talking out loud about the Plevris trial. They (KIS and JCA) have written long texts in their publications, as they did with the second trial of Eleftheros Kosmos.

    Except that in those texts they distorted the truth and in some cases bluntly even eliminated the contribution of others and presented unabashedly as theirs the historic decision to allow the civil claimant status in the second trial filed initially only by others and opposed by KIS as their achievement.

    Before that trial KIS’ lawyers were pressuring GHM not to file a civil claimant motion and stated that they opposed the appeal we made against the expulsion of the civil claimants in the first trial, because they believed that both had no chance.

    After our motion was accepted they rushed to make their own motion and then equally unabashedly spread the word that in the Plevris trial they did not have the right to appeal and only we did!

    All that has nothing to do with the legitimate fears of backlash among Jews.

  8. Xenos said

    I don’t know how you find the energy and commitment to continue with your struggle for justice, Panayote. In Greece, people rarely thank one for trying to make the country a better place: on the contrary, anyone who does try is repeatedly attacked as being anti-Greek, communist, agent of the CIA etc. I see that KIS is no better…

  9. Panayote Dimitras said

    I cannot live in a country whose democracy has faults and not try to do what I can to help improve democarcy – hence also my quality of life.

    And it does work. Two days ago people read that one no longer needs to state one’s religion to have one’s children except from religious classes. Authorities stated that they changed their attitude only after the Alexandridis Euro-court judgment, which was the result of an application I filed.

    If you read Greek see http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=192&cid=3324

  10. Panayote Dimitras said

    Let me give all of you -and KIS if they read this- one more «anti-racist» message of Romas in the very popular «Konstantinos and Eleni» series he wrote.

    On 12 December 2004 -quite a coincidence it was Hanukkah- Eleni wants to prevent Konstantinos from putting some lettuce in the oven to disinfect them and says «Are they Jews and you throw them in the oven?» [laugh]…

    This has been published in «Krisara» (a short lived Jewish news monthly published by Morris Hatzis) in January 2005 in the form of a comment by Samuel Hassid.

  11. Xenos said

    This is so disgusting I can hardly believe it. I suppose nobody phoned to complain about this incident…

  12. Andrea Gilbert said

    I went into this blog after receiving the link from Panayote. I’m not a blogger, myself, as a rule. So, in addition to my personal interest in the current thread, I was surprised and delighted to see that you have uploaded Athens Pride and «Pes to Nai!» banners. As a Jewish activist for GHM (civil claimant in Plevris and El Kosmos trials)AND an Athens Pride organizer since 2006 (which has given Plevris and El Kosmos even more ammunition to attack me in court and in print) I applaud you for your broad-based support!

  13. Panayote Dimitras said

    Xenos

    I guess not. No one has heard of any other complaint except Sam’s in Krisara. Even after the Krisara text KIS did not react – at least there was nothing in the following issues.

    But then for years there was racist graffiti in all sorts of public walls and highways and until GHM started screaming about it and filing complaints no one seemed to be bothered. Greeks in general have no problem seeing racism in action even if they are not all racists.

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