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Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:16
On 5th and 6th March 2014 a large delegation of the American Jewish Committee, led by its president Mr. Stanley Bergman and executive director Mr. David Harris, visited Athens and attended high-level meetings. The president of the “Coordinated Effort of Hellenes” Mr. Andrew Manatos was also a member of the delegation, once more sealing the close cooperation between AJC and the Hellenic-American community in the USA.

The delegation, accompanied by the president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece Mr. Benjamin Albala, met with the government’s vice-president and minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, the minister of Culture Mr. Panos Panagiotopoulos, the minister of Public Order Citizen Protection Mr. Nikos Dendias, the minister of Education Mr. Constantinos Arvanitopoulos along with the Secretary-General of Religions Mr. Giorgos Kalantzis, as well as the minister of National Defense Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos. Mr. Harris had a private meeting with Prime Minister Mr. Antonis Samaras, who due to illness was unable to meet with the entire delegation. Also, Mr. Harris, Mr. Richard Berkman chairman of of AJC’s Board of Governors, Mr. John Shapiro chairman of the Board of Trustees and member of AJC’s Executive Council, and businessman Mr. Matthew Bronfman, accompanied by Mr. B. Albala president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and gen. secretary Mr. Victor Isaac Eliezer met with the president of SYRIZA Mr. Alexis Tsipras, at his office in the House of Parliament, in the presence of MP Rena Dourou and Mr. Nikos Pappas.
The foreign officials were welcomed in the evening of 4th March, over dinner at the Cultural Centre of Athens Jewish Community hosted by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and Athens Jewish Community, with the participation of representatives of Greek Jewry and Israel’s ambassador Mr. Arye Mekel. A business lunch was also hosted by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece at its offices. The delegation visited the Jewish Museum of Greece and attended a guided tour led by its director Zanet Battinou.
The foreign dignitaries attended dinner hosted by Culture Minister Mr. Panos Panagiotopoulos at a traditional taverna in Placa.
The delegation completed its visit to Athens with a lunch with members of the Parliamentary Committee of Greek-Israel Friendship, at which members of parliament Mr. Kostas Karagkounis, Mr. Vasilis Kikilias, Mrs. Anna Asimakopoulou, Mrs. Angela Gerekou, Mr. Vasilis Economou, Mr. Gavriil Avramidis and Mr. Nasos Athanasiou were present. Israeli ambassador to Greece Mr. Arye Mekel, DCM Mrs. Tammy Ben Haim as well as the president and the gen. secretary of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece Mr. Benjamin Albalas and Mr. Victor Isaac Eliezer and the president of the Athens J.C. Mr. Minos Moissis, were also present at the meeting. 
Historical bonds and the contribution of Hellenism and Judaism to mankind and the origins of Western Civilisation were topics noted at all meetings. The benefits arising from the cooperation between Greece and Israel in the fields of technology and research were also discussed. There were also discussions on international affairs, racism and Greece’s firm attitude against neonazism, the importance of education for the future of modern society, the return of Salonica’s Jewish Community pre-war archive from Moscow, Greece’s stand in Auschwitz which will host a permanent exhibition on the Holocaust in Greece as well as others. 
Mr. David Harris characteristically stated: "In all our meetings, we heard strong support for strategic ties with both Israel and the United States, as well as condemnation of racism, including the vile, neo-Nazi ideology promoted by the Golden Dawn. Moreover, we were heartened by the progress being achieved in Greece's economic situation, even as much more remains to be done in the months and years ahead. We came to Greece as deeply committed friends, and we leave Greece as deeply committed friends." said David Harris.

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