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MITSOTAKIS MEETS WITH AJC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HARRIS

ATHENS -- Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met οn Tuesday morning with the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), David Harris, at the Maximos Mansion.

According to government sources, they discussed developments in the wider region with a focus on the Eastern Mediterranean. There was particular emphasis on Greece's contribution to preserving regional stability and promoting growth through mutually beneficial alliances with countries in the region that share the same principles and beliefs.

The same sources noted that the close cooperation of the AJC with the Greek community in the USA was confirmed during the discussion with Harris, as well as the excellent level of bilateral relations between Greece and the USA, which are constantly developing and expanding.

The importance of the trilateral cooperation between Greece - Cyprus - Israel and the 3 + 1 scheme with the participation of the USA was also underlined, while ways to further strengthen the relevant actions were examined.

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Shakespeare or Chekhov in the Middle East - Article by Victor Isaak Eliezer
 Published in the Greek daily “TO VIMA” June 6, 2021

“If the Arabs put their weapons down, then there will be no war- if the Israelis put their weapons down, then there will be no Israel”. This saying is attributed to Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister, when the Jewish state was surrounded by the Arab states that pursued its destruction, with a series of wars against it, since the first day of its independence, on May 14th 1948.

Unfortunately, the same phrase continues to be relevant in 2021. It could be seen as a communication ploy by the Israelis in order to gain the sympathy of the public. But let us see if this applies in the field of the long-running confrontation, which today focuses on the conflict between Israel and Hamas on its southern border and with Hezbollah and Syria in the north.

If Hamas was to abandon the attrition war against Israel, does anyone doubt that the blockade of the Gaza Strip would have been lifted the very next day? Israel does not have any territorial claims over this strip of land, on the contrary Israel pulled out in 2005, hoping that the Palestinian Authority would have been able to take control of the region and isolate the Islamic movements of Hamas and Jihad. The disarmament of Gaza would be a breath of fresh air for its afflicted population, a new page of growth and prosperity, a new road that would eventually lead to its union with the West Bank of the Jordan River, and in the establishment of a Palestinian state next to the State of Israel with secure borders. Free distribution and movement of people and goods, investments and improvement of the living standards, the end of the bloodshed – this is what the disarmament of Gaza would mean.

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LAST GREEK JEWISH SURVIVOR OF AUSCHWITZ DIED
Isaac Mizan, the last Holocaust survivor from the (former) Jewish community of Arta in northwest Greece and one of the last survivors alive, died at the age of 94. Mizan was born in 1927 in Arta, where he lived until 1961. He was the last of six children of the family of Joseph and Anetta Mizan.In March 1944 he was arrested by the Nazis, along with 351 other Arta Jews. They were transferred to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and then to Bergen-Belzen.

He returned to Greece and Arta in August 1945. Of the twelve members of the Mizan family who were forced on the death voyage to Auschwitz, only three returned.

“His last wish, before he passed away, was to return to his birthplace, where the house where he and his family were taken from on March 24, 1944, is still preserved,” Dimitris Vlachopanos, who wrote Mizan’s biography, said.

He was the last Jew of Arta to leave his hometown at the age of 35 for Athens, but his love for his city remained unquenchable to the end.

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VANDALISM OF THE HOLOCAUST MONUMENT OF DRAMA – REACTIONS AND RESTORATION Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 January 2021 12:19
On the night of the 28th to the 29th of December 2020, vandals sprayed a Christogram cross with the words “Jesus Christ Conquers” on the Holocaust monument of Drama and broke a part of the marble base of the Monument. Similar graffiti was also sprayed at the nearby tobacco warehouse of Drama where, on March 3, 1943, the Bulgarian occupying forces arrested and imprisoned the Jews of the city before deporting them to the Nazi extermination camps.

REACTIONS:

 -The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) in its announcement of December 30, 2020, referred to its letter addressed to the Police Department of Drama, calling for the arrest of the perpetrators, as well as to its letter to the Municipality of Drama, asking for the restoration of the damages caused to the Monument, and the condemnation of the vandalism “which offends the city's history and culture”.

“The Greek Jewry with repulsion and sorrow strongly condemns the continuation of anti-Semitic attacks that derive from any kind of fanaticism and encourage intolerance.

We wish the New Year to be a year of peace and prosperity, in which such phenomena will permanently and irrevocably stop”, KIS’s announcement stresses.

-The immediate reaction of the Municipality of Drama for the restoration of the Monument – Drama Mayor’s letter to KIS:

KIS expressed to the Mayor of Drama, Mr. Christodoulos Mamsakos, the Board’s appreciation for the immediate response of the Municipality for the restoration of the damages and the deletion of the graffiti. In his reply letter to KIS Mayor Mamsakos stresses inter allia: “With sorrow and a regret for the damages caused both to the Holocaust Monument and the tobacco warehouse in our town, I inform you that the restoration works have already started and I send you attached the relevant photographic material.

I also convey the mortification of our local society, which in its entirety condemns the barbaric destructive acts committed by isolated and controversial individuals, who do not serve the sacred humanitarian values of culture, history and traditions. They ignore that our culture, our history and our memories are humanity's past and present. They are our heritage".

The mayor’s letter concludes with the statement of “the repulsion and the contempt” with which himself and the people of Drama condemn this vandal attack.

-The MP of Drama Chara Kefalidou, Head of the Education, Research and Religious Affairs Sector of the socialist “Kinima Allagis” party, with an announcement on 31.12.2020, pointed out the following:

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COVID-19 Vaccination starts in Thessaloniki with vaccination of Holocaust survivor Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 January 2021 14:44
The vaccinations against COVID-19 of people residing in retirement homes started in Thessaloniki and the guests along with the staff of the “Saul D. Modiano” Home for the Elderly were vaccinated in the presence of Mr. Panagiotis Arkoumaneas, president of the National Public Health Organization (NPHO).


The NPHO task force was welcomed by the president of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, Mr. David Saltiel. 

The first person to receive the vaccine was a Holocaust survivor, Mrs. Zanna Saatsoglou- Sadikario. Mrs. Saatsoglou (96) was a prisoner in Auschwitz – Birkenau and has been living in the Saul D. Modiano Home for the Elderly for the past 10 years.

Source:
EJC, 6.1.2021

 
VANDALISM OF JEWISH SITES IN LARISSA – PERPETRATOR ARRESTED - REACTIONS Print E-mail
Monday, 07 December 2020 10:31
On December 3, 2020, a man wearing a cassock and holding an icon, sprayed a Christogram cross with the words “Jesus Christ Conquers” on the Holocaust monument of Larissa. He did the same on the outer wall of the Synagogue which is currently being restored. The incident was recorded on cctv street cameras which were examined after the President of the Jewish Community of Larissa informed the police and filed a lawsuit. The man was arrested the following day in the nearby area of Tempi. He was charged with damaging property and violating antiracism law.

REACTIONS:

-The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) issued the following announcement stressing that the action “emanates religious fanaticism and intolerance”:

KIS, Dec. 4, 2020: Religious fanaticism and bigotry emanate from the new desecration attacks against Jewish sacred sites in Larissa, that occurred on December 3rd, 2020. The vandals used religious symbols to leave the mark of their anti-Semitic hatred on the exterior surrounding wall of the Synagogue of Larissa and the city’s Holocaust Monument, as a statement of contempt towards the sanctity of the sites and devastation of the memory of the Holocaust victims.

The Greek Jewry strongly condemns these hideous attacks. We urge the competent authorities to trace down the perpetrators, arrest them and bring them to justice.

We quote the Vice President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas who just a couple of days ago stated:  “Europe stands firm against all forms of antisemitism. Jewish life is and always will be part of European societies and our way of life…”. Zero tolerance to fanaticism, intolerance and antisemitism”.

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THE MAYOR OF THESSALONIKI JOINED CELEBRATION FOR HANUKKAH Print E-mail
Friday, 11 December 2020 13:55
The Jewish Community of Thessaloniki has organized on-line candle lighting ceremonies via zoom and facebook, on daily basis. The first candle was lit on December 10, 2020, by the President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, Mr David Saltiel, and the Mayor of Thessaloniki Mr Konstantinos Zervas, with the participation of Rabbi Aaron Israel and many Community members who joined in via zoom.


Mr Saltiel stressed the peculiarity of this year’s festivity, celebrated remotely, and wished for a brighter future. “Light and hope is what the Maccabees fought for, and this is their message to us, not to lose hope because even a slightest glimmer is enough to dissolve a dense darkness”, Saltiel said. Then he welcomed the Mayor who constantly for the past two years joins the Hanukkah candle lighting in Thessaloniki.

Mayor Zervas expressed his joy and pointed out that he considers his participation at the celebration as a privilege. He wished a Happy Hanukkah to the Community and referred to “the miracle of light dispelling darkness which has a special meaning this year, when we all need to pray for the safe return of the normality and of all the things we cherish, hoping that soon we will be able to celebrate all festivities together”.

 
ESTHER COHEN, OLDEST GREEK AUSCHWITZ SURVIVOR PASSES AWAY Print E-mail
Thursday, 03 December 2020 12:11

By Patricia Claus, "The Greek Reporter" December 1, 2020:

Esther Cohen, the oldest Greek survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, who became known as a “living testimony” of the Holocaust, passed away on Tuesday December 1, 2020, at the age of 96.

The Ioannina-born Jewish woman, who had had her official camp number tattooed on her left arm, said in interviews that the number had also been tattooed “on her soul” as well. Along with so many other Jews, from Ioannina, Thessaloniki and elsewhere in Greece, Esther was rounded up on March 25, 1944. All the Jewish people living in the city were ordered by Greece’s German occupiers to report to Ioannina’s Mavili Square — and the vast majority would never see their beloved city again. She was somehow able to stay together with her entire family, including her six siblings, all the way to the gates of the concentration camp — but after that point she was never to set eyes on them again, except for one of her sisters.

Returning to Ioannina after the war, along with only approximately fifty other members of its original Greek community, she again made her home in the city. In March of 2014, she made headlines when she met with former German President Joachim Gauck in her city. She told him at that time, “When we die, the world must know that man must not be inhuman.” The German president then embraced her.

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