On September 15th 2016 the vice-Minister of Education and Religious Affairs Theodosis Pelegrinis, (Syriza), said in a prepared speech in the Greek Parliament, (h/t to Viktor Eliezer for the find), what can only be described as a dystopic, antisemitic adaptation
of the Jews who stole the Holocaust the Grinch which stole Christmas:
«Although the holocaust refers, generally, to the persecution and the genocide a state or regime performs against ethnic, religious, social or political groups[…] the Jews managed to identify holocaust with the tragic fate of their nation […] in order to highlight the crimes of the nazi regime against them with the ulterior purpose to create anger against those who comited crimes against their national status and the sympathy of the civilized world for their suffering. With patience and insistence they managed to appropriate the holocaust, so that they could claim their vindication».
I would have linked to the official transcript but after the outcry the minister changed the text of the speech in the site of the Ministry; another sign of the lack of trustworthiness and transparency of the Greek governments.
He proceeded to suggest that also the Greeks, (when he means Greeks he means the Christian Greeks), should try and appropriate the term «catastrophe» as a means of claiming reparations in the future. I need not say that this speech is one of the most insulting things I have ever heard:
It insults me as a Jew:
- because it sees the murder of my family not as a tragedy but as a political tool.
- he suggests that I cunningly appropriated a term to weaponize it. It is of little importance that the Jews themselves use the term Shoah/catastrophe and the term Holocaust is an American Christian creation.
- he views my effort to perpetuate the memory as means to gain sympathy and advantages, monetary and ethnic ones.
- it reduces the Shoah/Holocaust to a simple persecution, no different than any other and only elevated to its current singular status thanks to Jewish cunningness
It insults me as a Greek:
- it considers the murder of 60.000 Greeks not as a Greek tragedy but as a Israeli one
- it indulges a self-victimization culture
- it views greek suffering only through monetary lenses tinted with venality
Pelegrinis is no casual politician; he is the former Rector of the University of Athens, the Dean of the Philosophy Department, an award-winning actor and writer. He is one of the best examples how Greek Antisemitism is normalized; what Pelegrinis said is not some poor choice of words but reflects accurately of how the greek society lends itself to a culture of sterile victimization which views with jealousy the dubious jewish privilege of having been almost completely exterminated.
In the most detailed survey done on Greek Antisemitism by Antoniou/Kosmidi/Dina/Saltiel the authors tried to see the qualitative characteristics of the malady that afflicts Greece more than any country in the western world. Despite small differences, there was a remarkable homogeneity of the antisemitism manifested independently of factors such as education or political ideology. For example cosmopolitans tended to be Leftists and in theory had less hate towards Jews; still their infatuation with Palestine led them to expressing antisemitic opinions about Jews in general.
Only one marker is correlated with typical antisemitic stereotypes with no attenuating factors: Greek (Christian) victimization. More than 70% of the Greek (Christians) believe the Greeks have suffered more than the Jews; a result which knows no differentiation between Left/Right.
The reactions of the Greek-Jewish Community were officially subdued. One must not forget that Pelegrinis is the vice-minister of Religious Affairs with direct power of the every day life of the Jewish community; directly antagonizing him could lead him into punishing the Jews in ways which unfortunately we are all too aware of. The rest of the university world stayed also characteristically silent; let’s not think that holding a university chair makes one suddenly immune to the same casual antisemitic feelings ubiquitous in Greece. A special mention should go to the leadership of the once-mighty political party of PASOK who asked for the resignation of Pelegrinis; the sheer hypocricy can be seen in the fact that less than 4 years ago the president of PASOK himself indulged in wanton antisemitism singling out Jews in a list of presumed tax-evadors. Another hat tip goes to the biggest opposition party, Nea Dimokratia whose own vice president has advertised in his tv-show books written by Holocaust deniers and claims Jews control the banks !
So there you have it: an educated, former Rector, minister in a leftist goverment accuses Jews of stealing the Holocaust and weaponizing it for national gains. Not content with this accusation he suggests that Greeks should imitate them for financial gains.
Nobody, (let’s leave the usual suspects aside), protests except those seeking to gain political gains while themselves being champions of antisemitism. Why? Because the majority of Greeks believes the same thing ! And by the way the fact that a minister of a greek government explicitly says that the murder of 60.000 Greeks is only a foreign Jewish affair of no Greek interest does not even make the 8 o’clock news.
ps. Of course he is not antisemite, simply an antizionist.