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Wednesday, 21 September 2016 08:14

An anti-Semitic statement pointing out that “the Jewish people appropriated the Holocaust in order to earn the sympathy of the civilized world and be justified”, was made by the Deputy Education Minister Theodosis Pelegrinis, during his speech at the Greek Parliament (on September 15, 2016), delivered on the occasion of the Commemoration Day of the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor by the Turkish state (1914-1923).

The Minister made this statement suggesting that the Greeks should follow the example of the Jews with regard to the Holocaust. Following a large wave of reactions that condemned this reference, the Deputy Minister made a clarifying statement arguing that the term “appropriation” was misinterpreted by the media. The political parties of the Opposition (N.D., PASOK, and Potami), issued statements urging Deputy Minister Pelegrinis to resign.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece addressed the following  letter of protest to Deputy Minister Pelegrinis which reflects the Board’s position:

Dear Deputy Minister,

The Greek Jews -as well as all democratic citizens, were unpleasantly surprised by your speech of September 15, at the Parliament.

Your agony for the future of Greece should not allow you to misuse the meaning and the reality of the Holocaust.

The Holocaust does not just refer to the “persecution and the genocide implemented by a state or a regime against any ethnic, religious or political group functioning within a society”. The Holocaust is the unique in the history of mankind crime of the genocide of the Jews during WWII by the German Nazis and their collaborators in their effort to implement their horrific plan of a world without Jews. It is not something that the Jews “achieved”, it is exactly what they suffered.

Your reference that the Jews “appropriated” (meaning that they ‘made it their own’) the generic term of the Holocaust for political purposes and for earning the sympathy of the civilized people in order to be vindicated, -even though you corrected it afterwards, leaves the imprint of an anti-Semitic stereotype.

The Holocaust of our people, with all its tragic uniqueness, is registered in the long list of persecutions and genocides of history, where it finds its special meaning.  On the occasion of the Remembrance Day of the Catastrophe of the Hellenism of Asia Minor we would have expected your reference to be focused on the common pain of the people that have suffered persecution and not on drawing parallels that risk to lead to dangerous misinterpretations.



The General Secretary MOSES ELISAF

* In response, Deputy Education Minister Pelegrinis addressed a letter to the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece expressing his resentment that his speech was misunderstood. In his letter, Minister Pelegrinis concludes: “On the contrary, I referred to the Holocaust as an example that we Greeks must keep in mind”.


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