Major Update: Church comes against Shoah Monument, Mayor accuses Jews
Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 19/05/2015
A major update on the beleaguered Holocaust Memorial of the city of Kavala. A monument that initially was decided in 2004, took 11 years to sail through heavy protests and when finally announced, was canceled when the Star of David was considered aesthetically ugly by the Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka, (here is the statement by the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece).
The day the canceled unveiling was supposed to take place, a silent protest was organized by the main speaker Vasilis Ritzaleos. Many Jews, but many more Christians, showed up to manifest their solidarity and resolve to respect their own city history. Some were old-timers who remembered their Jewish friends, others were members from antifascist organizations who opposed Holocaust-denial. Another group was a highschool class which was accompanied by their teacher. There were also Jews from Israel who’s parents were from Kavala and had come especially for the inauguration.
We have a detailed report by maior rishon, which I thank, which contradicts completely the report by the Athens News Agency (ΑΠΕ). I cannot know why ΑΠΕ’s report is misleading but it should be known the V.Lollidis was the correspondent for ΑΠΕ and contemporaneously works for the Press Office of the Municipality of Kavala; it certainly is legal but certainly a major breach of journalistic ethics not to disclose their direct relationship.
Anyway we have the full, unedited, speech by Mayor Tsanaka which you can read (unfortunately only in Greek, but do read the blog post by kavaliote journalist S.Christoforidou which also attended) in the link. Here’s the rundown:
The Mayor never apologized to the Jews. She only expressed her personal regret and apologies for those who came from away and may not be able to come again for financial reasons.
The Mayor blamed the Jews and especially the vice-president of the Jewish Central Board mr.Magrizos, for the cancellation.
The Mayor claimed that her own political group turned against her and needs the help from groups from the opposition to pass through the motion.
The Mayor admitted she canceled the event to protect the civil peace, after threats she received.
The Mayor admitted she asked for the Star of David removed or placed in the back or under the monument.
The Mayor said many things. She said she never had any problems, until she was forced to admit she was lying by opposition leader Verros. She claimed the Jews canceled it out of spite, despite that again she was called out for having announced the cancellation on Alpha Radio the same day ! She certainly claimed a lot of things, falling to continuous contradictions and being supported by lackeys who were trying to boo out the protesters who accused her of racism. In the end she offered to retract her initial statement and accept the monument – possible date June, 7th.
In the meantime the international outcry had two distinct effects: mainstream political parties, (with the exception of the nazi Golden Dawn and the Communist Party of Greece), issued strong statements in favor of the monument and greek media followed along; a columnist jokingly remarked that Mayor Tsanaka singlehandedly united the political spectrum. On the other hand, one by one, the major opponents of the monument have come out publicly in a last minute effort to abort the inauguration:
1. The president of the municipal counsil Giorgos Grammenos stated on the radio that he is against the monument (in that place) because of his religious beliefs. He also asked for vice-mayor Lichounas, who is a major advocate for the monument, to resign because he no longer enjoys the trust of their political group. He is probably one of the 2 councilmen the Mayor mentioned as major opponents of the monument.
2. The Metropolis of Kavala made an announcement which practically pits herself against the monument, (source the local newspaper Χρονόμετρο). It denies the uniqueness of the Holocaust. It says that the Holocaust did not happen in Kavala (suggesting in other words, that it does not concern Kavala), although she says that more urgent is heightening the visibility for the «equally horrible genocides» of greeks which happened during the greco-turkish wars in Asia Minor ! She also claims the monument is not needed to keep the memory alive. Indicative is how the Star of David is perceived: it is an «ideological» symbol which is placed along the five-pointed satanic star !
This announcement confirms the rumors that the Metropolis played a major role in the delay from 2004 to 2015.
I would have liked to claim that this is an isolated incident but unfortunately it is not. Last year there was an effort to remove Thessaloniki’s Holocaust Monument which was thwarted by a combined effort by the Jewish Community and the Mayor Boutaris who had to pivot around members of his own administration. The uniqueness of Kavala is the protagonists were honest and managed to give us a clear view of greek antisemitism: the very existence of Jewish symbols is not to be tolerated on religious grounds, the Jews still conspire against us through Israel, we Christians have suffered just as much, the Holocaust did not happen here, it is not unique and does not concern us. The Orthodox Church still exerts a huge influence over greek politicians and unfortunately religious antisemitism remains a major part of her culture. And unfortunately we still need to be told by others that racism and antisemitism is not accepted by the rest of the world.
I believe the Monument will go through. I am also certain that it will be vandalized, although this was to be expected in any case. What I am afraid is that the monument will remain orphan and orphans are quickly disposed off; with the Church and the Municipality against it, I do not find it unfathomable to move it in a year or two to a more obscure location because eg the pavement needs to be re-done. What I am afraid is that Courage in Greece is scarce and it bodes ill the fact that even dead, Jews cannot be welcome. Still there were children that Sunday morning in front of the Municipality and these children had chosen to wear that yellow Magen David which everyone hated; so perhaps not all is lost. The Righteous were always few but our gratitude immense; may these boys and girls serve to redeem the sins of the fathers.