Monday, 16 May 2011 07:57
Dear Friends,
I read the announcement you posted on the Internet following the refusal of the President of the Austrian Parliament to allow the performance of my Mauthausen work which features poetry by Jakovos Kambanellis during the event held in memory of the victims of Nazism. Why do you persist in regarding me as an enemy of the Jews? Why do you not like the fact that I am a Living Symbol of anti-racism, whatever form it takes, including, of course, anti-Semitism?
Millions of people in Israel are well aware of how much I love their country and its people, [and that this is] not only because of Mauthausen. which stands as a hymn to the sacrifice of Jews and one that touches people all over the world.
Let me begin with the German Occupation. I was a member of the  Popular Liberation Army of Greece ELAS in Athens and my fellow members and I guarded homes where Jewish people were in hiding. Our orders were to  engage in battle if battle was necessary to save them.
Let me now turn to the 1970s. My orchestra, my singers and I were the first who dared to break the embargo Europe had imposed against Israel. For a whole month I gave two and sometimes three concerts a day to audiences that were at a loss to express their feelings and their appreciation of our courageous act. This act cost me dearly since that was when the European Left started its campaign of mud-slinging against me personally, calling me an agent of Zionism! 
And there were my efforts to achieve peaceful co-existence between Jews and Palestinians, when I carried the message from Yigal Allon, then acting President of the Israeli government, to Yasser Arafat. These efforts were later acknowledged in panegyric style when my Mauthausen was played at the Nobel Prize awards ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat. 
Why then do you call me your enemy when I think you know that I am now, as I have been in the past, a friend of the Jewish people? 
I will tell you why. It is because I adamantly oppose every arbitrary act of violence or hatred, wherever it comes from. I have always and will always be on the side of the unjustly treated and the weak, such as the Palestinians, the women and children of Lebanon and besieged Gaza, against whom the all-powerful and arrogant State of Israel applies a policy of continuous violence, spreading death and destruction from which not even the civilian population is excepted. 
Not all Jews, but all those who condone the barbaric action taken by certain governments of the State of Israel, are unable to face this horrible fact. I am personally acquainted and have connections with hundreds of Israelis in Israel who are ardent supporters of Peace and oppose the policies of their Governors cum Generals. 
So let us dismiss games of propaganda; there are some who call me a Zionist! Some who accuse me of saying, ‘Jews are the root of evil,’ or in the updated, improved version, ‘Jews are the root of all evil.’ A downright lie, of course. The actual fact is that when I was giving an interview and talking about the role played by the USA, a country which I think is going through the most vicious stage of imperialism, waging war and genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan, I said that Israel, unfortunately, supports the USA and its present foreign policy, which is the root of Evil, putting Israel close to the root of Evil. I have recently been accused of admitting that I am an anti-Semite. They had more luck here. So what exactly did I say in that television interview? [I said] ‘I must point out that I am an anti-Semite. I really love the Jewish nation. I love Jewish people and have lived with them. But much as I hate anti-Semitism, so I also hate Zionism.’ 
With the whole section to view instead of just one part taken out of context as was posted on the Internet, you would have to be a complete imbecile not to realise that the term anti-Semite was, without doubt, a slip of the tongue made at the end of a gruelling, two-hour-long interview. How could a professed anti-Semite go on in his very next sentence to say that he loves Jewish people and hates anti-Semitism? Be that as it may, my enemies saw the chance they had been waiting for and pounced. But you?
Athens,  9.5.2011