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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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TEARS ARE NOT BORROWED: REACTIONS TO ARMENIAN WRITER’S COMMENTS RELATED TO THE AZERBAIJANI – ARMENIAN WAR Print E-mail
Friday, 27 November 2020 12:13
In his “open letter to the Ambassador of Israel in Athens” (published in the website of the daily “Efimerida ton Syntakton”, efsyn.gr, on Nov. 19, 2020), Greek-Armenian writer Sifis Kassesian drew parallels between the Israeli policy on the Azerbaijani-Armenian war over Nagorno-Karabakh and the Nazis, and made comments relating Israel to Judas and Shylock with regard to Israel’s selling of weapons to Azerbaijan. The writer skillfully promotes anti-Semitic stereotypes by denying any intention of doing so: “Far from me the thought of correlating the present Israeli policy with stereotypes such as the 30 silver coins or the Merchant of Venice, which for so long have linked the image of the Jew motivated by economic interest to the collective conscience… Maybe many others will do it… Even further far from me is the thought that the murderers of your own people had also argued their own raison d'etat in order to justify their crime against the Jews and that now you are assimilated with them…”. The writer, after referring to his many Jewish friends and his feelings of sympathy towards the Jews over the Holocaust, he mentions the tears he shed for the Holocaust victims when, as a young man, he had visited an exhibition. “You abused of that tear Mr Ambassador, therefore I ask you to find a way to give me back my tear”, Kassesian concludes.

In reaction to Kassesian’s open letter, the Israeli Ambassador to Greece Yossi Amrani, as well as Victor Eliezer, journalist and KIS Secretary General,  replied with their respective letters, published in the website of “Efimerida ton Syntakton”, on November 25, 2020. Both letters, translated into English, are published here under:  

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ANTISEMITIC FRONT-PAGE TITLE OF THE NEWSPAPER MAKELEIO – REACTIONS BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY FOR RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS AND THE GREEK JEWRY Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 November 2020 12:02
Daily “Makeleio”, known for frequently publishing incendiary anti-Semitic articles, on November 10, 2020, circulated with yet another anti-Semitic front-page title related to the announcement made by Albert Bourla, the CEO of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company, on the upcoming vaccine for covid. The front-page (as well as the teaser of the on-line Makeleio.gr)  is illustrated with the photo of the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele next to the photo of Dr. Bourla whose Jewish faith is used in the title to disseminate stereotypical propaganda, while in the surtitle of the front-page the term "poison" is used for the vaccine.

The Greek Jewry’s outrage was expressed with the following announcement of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), which was followed by the immediate reaction of the General Secretary for Religious Affairs, Mr George Kalantzis, who issued the statement below:

KIS ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE ANTISEMITIC FRONT-PAGE TITLE OF THE NEWSPAPER “MAKELEIO”:

The front-page title of “Makeleio” of November 10, 2020, overwhelms us with outrage and repulsion, as its content perpetuates hatred and bigotry against the Jews and it becomes -once more- the carrier of the most hideous anti-Semitic propaganda.

The identification of the CEO of Pfizer as Mengele, the so-called butcher of Auschwitz, is an appalling and unethical assault against Albert Bourla only because he is a Jew. The huge-lettered front-title “Jewish veterinarian will stick the needle in us! Nightmarish admissions by force in ‘chamber – camps’ as flocks” is nothing but a clear incitement to violence against the Jews.

The vaccine of a company suddenly becomes “poison” due to the Jewish religion of the company’s CEO, Albert Bourla, and its production is compared to the Nazi experiments in Auschwitz, in an attempt to prevent people from using it, should it be proven effective in dealing with the coronavirus that has inflicted mankind. Shame!

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KIS LETTER TO FRENCH PRESIDENT MACRON CONDEMNING THE TERRORIST ATTACKS IN NICE AND AVIGNON Print E-mail
Friday, 30 October 2020 09:30

In the aftermath of the new wave of terror launched against France, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) addressed the following letter to the President of France Emmanuel Macron conveying condolences to the French people, as well as the condemnation of the Greek Jewry for the appalling criminal assaults:  

Votre Excellence,

Monsieur le Président de la République française,

Au nom du judaïsme grec, nous souhaitons exprimer notre ferme condamnation des attentats sanglants et barbares du 29 octobre 2020, à Nice et à Avignon. Nous sommes en état de choc face à l'explosion sauvage de haine et de fanatisme islamique qui affligent la France, un pays traditionnellement et profondément enraciné dans la richesse de la diversité sociale, un pays dont la devise "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" forme le rapport aux autres, un pays qui représente les Lumières européennes.

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KIS LETTER OF SOLIDARITY TO THE AUSTRIAN PEOPLE FOLLOWING THE TERRORIST ATTACKS IN VIENNA Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 November 2020 14:00
A few days after the attacks in France, new bloody terrorist attacks occurred in the center of Vienna, the capital of Austria, during the night of November 2nd, 2020. Gunmen opened fire, killed four people and wounded several others at several locations in Vienna, starting from the street where Vienna's main synagogue is located. The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece addressed, today November 3, 2020, the following letter to the Ambassador of Austria in Greece, expressing the solidarity of the Greek Jewry to the people of Austria for the heinous terrorist attacks:


"Dear Mrs. Ambassador,

The Greek Jewry is shocked after the bloody terror attacks of extreme Islamists against innocent people, that struck the center of Vienna yesterday night, and caused the death of four people and several casualties.

Our thoughts and payers are with the families of the tragic victims. Our solidarity is with the Austrian people at large that was terrified by the extremists who assaulted a symbolic area of the Austrian capital, where churches and synagogues stand close to one another and in vicinity with museums and a number of multi-ethnic restaurants, a place where people enjoy culture, a place that represents collectivity and brotherhood, a district that is a small scale model of European core values.

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LET’S REBUILD TOGETHER LARISSA’S SYNAGOGUE Print E-mail
Monday, 16 November 2020 13:03
The Synagogue of Larissa, symbolically named "Etz Hayim" (The Tree of Life), which made the life of Jewish people of this city “blossom”, is today a ruin at risk of collapse. 

The beautiful, simple, imposing building, with the enormous historical and cultural value, severely damaged by its 160 years of life was delivered in October 2019 to the hands of experts, who studied its static adequacy in order to start the support works. The findings were disappointing because, apart from the visible damages, numerous other invisible problems arose, which rendered the building inadequate and dangerous. Everything was removed from the Synagogue which has been temporarily supported, expecting the funding to continue the restoration works recommended by the team of experienced engineers.

Since the Synagogue has been closed for more than a year, the Rabbi, the Board and the members of the Community make every possible effort to keep the religious life and traditions alive: services are performed at the small Community Center, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were celebrated under a tent at the school yard, weddings and other events are hosted in hotel halls... the Jews of Larissa have been extremely inventive until their beloved  Synagogue becomes again the center where the heart of Jewish life beats…

The restoration of the "Etz Hayim" Synagogue is linked to the very effort of the historical Jewish Community of Larissa to continue to exist. However, it is a project of huge costs that the Community of Larissa is unable to afford. For this reason, with the support of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, it turns for help to the Greek and global Jewish world, to organizations and individuals.

We address to you, to all our fellow Jews in Greece and abroad, to you who were born in Larissa and have linked the “Ka-al” to your most beautiful memories, to you who learned to love it through stories of your mates and  parents, to you who visited our Synagogue and were touched by its beauty and history, to you who want to contribute to the preserving the Jewish religious and cultural heritage in our city. We appeal to you for financial assistance for the restoration of our Synagogue, the pillar of our Jewish life.

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