Abravanel, the Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Christian Greeks against antisemitism’

Thessaloniki is changing

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 03/07/2016

«Unfortunately Hitler did not complete his work»

The history of Thessaloniki, (Salonica/Saloniki), is the history of the Jews and a small example of this can be seen in the travails of the main hall of the Workers Center of Thessaloniki (EKT) named after Avraham Benaroya. Who was Benaroya ? He is the grandfather of the modern greek workers movement by being the main personality behind the Federacion, the first socialist organization created in ottoman Salonica in 1909. When Salonica became part of the Greek State during the Balcan Wars he played a pivotal role in the incorporation of the Federacion into a new political formation called SEKE which would later become the Communist Party of Greece.


Abraham Benaroya and his family, most of them exterminated in Auschwitz. On the top left corner his son Lazarus who died as a corporal at the 50th Regiment on 30/1/1941 during the italian invasion of Greece. /source:Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki

Still Benaroya would later fall victim to political machinations and be ousted although maintaining his political legacy intact. His son Lazarus died as a corporal in the Greek Army fighting the invading Italians in 1941 and Benaroya would loose a major part of his family in Auschwitz although he managed to survive and try to re-create Jewish life in post-WW2 Greece. When this proved impossible he immigrated to Israel while keeping strong ties with Greece though articles and letters.

Still when the Workers Center of Thessaloniki, (a 2nd level organization coordinating all of the syndicates of the city), tried to be named after its illustrious founder it faced major opposition by two different actors; one was traditional antisemitic elements and the second one was the Communist Party which ill-tolerated its jewish roots. As a compromise it was proposed – and accepted – to have the main conference hall named «Avraham Benaroya Hall».

That hall is now often used by various organizations when they need to hold general assemblies. In that hall Dimitrios Tsermenidis/Δημήτρης Τσερμενίδης, president of the Union of Public Transportation Workers of Thessaloniki (ΣΕΟΑΣΘ) uttered the phrase in the beginning of the article. He said many other things like «Jews are responsible for crucifying Christ», «This hall has the name Benaroya because God made a mistake by creating Jews», «Unfortunately Hitler did not complete his work».


Dimitrios Tsermenidis / source:  http://oasth.wordpress.com

In another moment it would have been just another manifestation of why Greece is the most antisemitic country in Europe with a neonazi party consistently ranking 3rd on national elections. But what makes this case unique is that it was brought to light thanks to the vehement condemnation by other organizations present. A faction called «Anatropi» condemned the words, (another faction called DAS refused to publicly condemn although privately distanced itself). The organization of the stockholders of the Public Transportation Organization «Alexander the Great» unequivocally condemned the president of the workers in an excellent announcement, (here is the text in Greek; I think they deserve a like or a comment on their Facebook page).

The incident was first reported by internet portal Voria here and was picked up by popular newszine Lifo in which Aris Dimokidis remarked how pathetic it is to hear such nonsense at casual meeting over urban transportation. The Central Board of Jewish Communities issued a stern condemnation. Also Against Antisemitism blog here.

This incident is of minor importance. I personally have heard such stuff so many times that I don’t even register them. But what is different is the fact that _some_ of his co-workers decided that hate is not them – that verbally advocating killing Jews is not something to be tolerated. This is something that is not self-evident; in the past such stuff would be tolerated and certainly not publicly denounced. Of course we are still a far cry from normality; if he had said that the Germans made a mistake by letting the Greeks survive the war or that Kemal Ataturk should have exterminated the Greeks he would have been forced to resign immediately. It is a personal failing of the Union of the Workers who choose to continue to be represented by such an antisemitic racist.

Still, while others became enraged while reading the news I could not but be amazed by these public statements from his detractors. Kol ha kavod Salonica that is changing, kol ha kavod…

Posted in greece, thessaloniki | Με ετικέτα: , , , , , | 6 Σχόλια »

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.


The proposed Holocaust Monument at Kavala/ source:V.Ritzaleos

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.


Groups of Israelis of Kavaliote origin who traveled for the inauguration/ source:mayor rishon

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.


Protesters, Christians and Jews, in front of the Municipal Hall of Kavala/source: mayor rishon

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.


Christian students in support of the monument/ source:mayor rishon

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.

Posted in antisemitism, greece, Kavala | Με ετικέτα: , , , | 7 Σχόλια »

«Χριστιανοί Έλληνες εναντίον του αντισημιτισμού» από τον Ζαν Κοέν/»Christian Greeks against antisemitism» by Jean Cohen

Posted by Abravanel, the Blog στο 26/08/2010

Ελληνικά (english translation follows below)

Στην ιστοσελίδα του δημοσιογράφου Ζαν Κοέν διάβασα μια πρόσκληση που αισθάνομαι την ανάγκη να μοιραστώ δεδομένης της θετικής ανταπόκρισης που βρήκα και εγώ μεταξύ φίλων και αναγνωστών τόσο στην περίπτωση της διαφήμιση του Jumbo, όσο και στους εμπρησμούς της Συναγωγής Χανίων. Τονίζω οτι είναι μια απλή λίστα ενημέρωσης για άμεση ενημέρωση σε περίπτωση αντισημιτικών επεισοδίων και αφορά αποκλειστικά την Ελλάδα και όχι την Μ.Ανατολή.

Χριστιανοί Έλληνες εναντίον του αντισημιτισμού.

24.8.10 του Ζαν Κοέν

Η πρόσφατη αντισημιτική διαφήμιση του καταστήματος παιχνιδιών Jumbo οδήγησε σε μια αίτηση που διακινήθηκε μεταξύ φίλων, κυρίως εβραίων, προς το Jumbo ώστε να αποσύρει την διαφήμιση και να απολογηθεί.

Πολλοί χριστιανοί φίλοι όταν ενημερώθηκαν για το θέμα ζήτησαν να μετάσχουν στην λίστα διαμαρτυρίας και επιπρόσθετα ζήτησαν να ενημερώνονται σε μελλοντικά αντισημιτικά συμβάντα ώστε να μπορούν να αντιδρούν και αυτοί.

Δεν είναι η πρώτη φορά που σε παρόμοιες, αλλά και σε πιο σοβαρές περιπτώσεις, οι Χριστιανοί συμπατριώτες μας αυθόρμητα έχουν θελήσει να δείξουν την αλληλεγγύη τους. Άνθρωποι που πιστεύουν ότι η αλληλεγγύη, η δημοκρατία και η μάχη εναντίων των ρατσισμών οφείλουν να είναι θεμελιώδη συστατικά της ελληνικής κοινωνίας. Προς μεγάλη απογοήτευση πολλών είναι πολλοί και είναι αποφασισμένοι.

Η κίνηση αυτή μου έδωσε την ιδέα να διευρύνω τη λίστα με Έλληνες Χριστιανούς που θα ήθελαν να ενημερώνονται για περιστατικά αντισημιτισμού και εβραιοφοβίας ώστε να μπορούν να αντιδρούν, όταν και αν το κρίνουν απαραίτητο.


Όποιος ενδιαφέρεται να ενημερώνεται για αντισημιτικές ενέργειες στη Ελλάδα, (αποκλειστικά για αυτές και μόνο και όχι για το Ισραήλ ή την κατάσταση στην Μέση Ανατολή, μπορεί να στείλει ένα e-mail στην διεύθυνση jcohen(παπάκι)cohen.gr .

Προφανέστατα κανείς δεν υποχρεώνεται σε οποιαδήποτε ενέργεια αν δε συμφωνεί με αυτή και υπάρχει η ρητή δέσμευση ότι δεν θα κοινοποιήσω ποτέ την διεύθυνση του – είναι μια απλή λίστα ενημέρωσης από τη οποία και φυσικά μπορεί να αποσυρθεί οποιαδήποτε στιγμή θέλει.



On the site of greek journalist Jean Cohen I read an invitation I feel the need to share given the positive reactions myself received by friends and readers both on the Jumbo commercial and the twin arson attacks on the Chania Synagogue. I emphasize that this is a simple list for timely informing in case of antisemitic events and it concerns exclusively Greece and not the M.East.

Christian Greeks against antisemitism

24.8.10 by Jean Cohen

The recent antisemitic commercial by toy-store chain Jumbo led to a petition that circulated among friends, mainly Jews, that asked for Jumbo to pull down the commercial and apologize.

Many Christian friends upon hearing of the issue asked to join the petition and furthermore asked to be informed of future antisemitic incidents so they can react too.

It is not the first time that in similar and even more serious occasions that our Christian compatriots have spontaneously shown their solidarity. People that believe that solidarity, democracy and the fight against racisms ought to be integral ingredients of the greek society. To the dismay of many they are many and they are determined.

This move gave me the idea to enlarge the list with Greek Christians who would like to be informed about incidents of antisemitism and judeophobia so they can react, when and if they deem neccessary.


Whoever is interested in being informed for antisemitic events in Greece, (exclusively about Greece and not about Israel/M.East situation), he/she can send an email to jcohen(ΑΤ)cohen.gr

Of course nobody is obliged to any action if he/she do not agree with it and there is the express commitment of never disclosing the email address – it is a simple list for information which one can pull out any moment one desires.

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

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