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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.

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.

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.

Monday, 16 November 2020 10:30

By Dimitris Mitsopolous*

Six years ago, after graduating from high school, I was admitted to the Department of History and Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. My childhood dream to become a historian had been fulfilled. I had planned to study the history of Greece’s European integration and the historical origins of the Greek economic crisis. But two events led to a major shift in my focus.

For my birthday, during the first year of my studies, I received an important work of history as a gift: Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews written by Columbia University professor Mark Mazower, which enabled me to delve into the history of my hometown, Thessaloniki — or Salonica, as it was often known by the city’s Jewish community. The book opened me to the city’s multicultural past, and Salonica’s complex relationship with the past and present. I discovered for the first time the city’s colorful past, and the fact that its very makeup was totally different a century ago.

Monday, 16 November 2020 09:57
In September 2013, an Australian team travelled to Greece to shoot a documentary focusing on the Greek Jews – their rich history, the impact of the Holocaust on them as well as their present-day existence. The documentary is based on an original screenplay written by Carol Gordon who also directed the film together with Natalie Cunningham. “Following Shira’s Journey: A Greek Jewish Odyssey” premiered at the Delphi Bank 21st Greek Film Festival in Melbourne on October 26, 2014 and it has been screened at Film festivals worldwide since then. An integral part of this project are the photos captured by Emmanuel Santos; they were featured in a major exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Australia in Melbourne in 2017.

Carol Gordon answered some questions for the Against Antisemitism blog about this remarkable project.

Your multi-faceted project is based on intense research. How did you first become interested in Greek Jewish Communities?

I grew up in South Africa in a traditional Jewish household. I knew about the Greek Jews from Rhodos because many of them came to South Africa before the war. I also knew vaguely about Jews in Thessaloniki because I had read a book that mentioned the community. South Africa was also home to a very large Greek Orthodox community so we had many Greek friends and they often told me information about the Jews of Greece that I’d never heard of before. After school I travelled to Greece and felt a very strong connection there, resulting in me going back a few times. With each trip I learned more about the many Greek Jewish communities that had existed there. I became determined to find out as much as I could and to document this very unknown history – particularly the devastating effect of the Holocaust on the Greek Jewish communities. It is only in the past ten years that much more information has come out into the public domain. It took me around thirty years of researching until I felt I had enough to write the screenplay and do the documentary.

Thursday, 12 November 2020 14:31

The European Jewish Congress would like to invite you and your community to take part in the Kaddish Initiative – For Global Jewish Solidarity and Unity.

In 2014, the State of Israel passed a law to officially make November 30th a Day to Commemorate the Departure and Expulsion of Jews from Arab Countries and Iran, a date which is now marked by Jewish communities worldwide.

Over the last few years, prominent members of Jewish communities in Europe and North America have been calling for Kaddish and an Azkara to be recited in communities and synagogues across the world in remembrance of Jews buried in inaccessible cemeteries in Arab countries.

This year, Jewish organisations, communities and other Jewish institutions of all backgrounds are called to say these prayers on the closest Shabbat to the Day of Commemoration which is Saturday, 28th November, in remembrance and in solidarity with the Jews from the Middle East and North Africa who cannot say them in the presence of their departed family members, since many of the cemeteries remain inaccessible.

Monday, 16 November 2020 09:16

By Philip Chrysopoulos, November 10th, 2020

Pfizer’s brand-new Covid-19 vaccine, which has 90 percent effectiveness, has proven to be the biggest, most optimistic news by far in a year of mostly jaw-droppingly awful news. The much-anticipated discovery brought to the limelight the name of the pharmaceutical company’s Chairman and CEO, Albert Bourla.

Dr. Bourla is a Thessaloniki native who left Greece at the age of 34 to pursue a career in the pharmaceuticals industry. Born in the northern Greece city on October 21, 1961, he is part of the long history of the Sephardic Jews of Thessaloniki.

The Bourla family arrived in Thessaloniki from Spain about six centuries ago. As jewelers, they created and sold diamonds, jewelry and watches throughout the Balkans, and built two important buildings in the city, one of which is the Moroccan Mansion. Albert Bourla is a descendant of the few survivors of the Jewish community of the city which was almost completely wiped out by the Nazis during World War II.

Thursday, 29 October 2020 07:46
President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou said that the history of Thessaloniki's Jews "fills us with admiration, stimulates our conscience and invites us to be vigilant," speaking after her visit at the city's Jewish Museum on Tuesday October 27, 2020.

She also expressed sentiments of "respect, sadness, maybe some shame: with these feelings I followed in the footsteps of the over-2,000-year-old Jewish presence in Thessaloniki." The Jewish community, she said, "enriched the city with its culture, creativity, entrepreneurship, vitality, but was severely tested in the 20th century, culminating in its almost complete annihilation in Nazi camps."

Sakellaropoulou was welcomed at the Jewish Museum and accompanied during her tour there by the President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki David Saltiel.

Also on Tuesday, the President attended the swearing-in ceremony of new officers at the military school in Thessaloniki.

Source: AMNA, October 27, 2020

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