BDS and hypocrisy: letter on Greek musicians Kotsiras and Tsaligopoulou

To

Mr. Naftali Bennett, Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs
Mrs. Miri Regev, Minister of Culture and Sport
Mr. Yariv Levin, Minister of Tourism

Mrs. Bracha Cohen, The Jerusalem Centre for the Performing Arts
Mrs. Yasmine Levy, artist
Mr. Hichal Tarbut, Rishon le Zion
Mr. Idan Raichel, artist

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We the undersigned wish to inform you about a matter concerning the Greek musicians, Mr. Yiannis Kotsiras and Mrs. Eleni Tsaligopoulou, who have been invited to participate in concerts organized in Israel.

We strongly believe that cultural exchange is a positive mission as are the ties that it builds between the peoples of our two countries. This cooperation has perhaps the greatest potential to foster Israeli-Greek friendship.

However, for this to be so, the cooperation and friendship must also be mutual. And this is precisely the point of our concern.

In November 2015, Mr. Kotsiras and Ms. Tsaligopoulou were invited by the Embassy of Israel in Greece to perform in a concert together with the Israeli singer Idan Raichel. They accepted the invitation at first, only to change their minds and withdraw only a few hours before the concert, and with no explanation. As a result Mr. Raichel performed alone.

It turns out that they were approached by BDS activists in the interim. Given the silence of the two artists, there are two possible explanations for their decision, but speculation is not really required. The first, according to the media and blogs, is they withdrew to protest Israeli policy in Gaza (hardly a new issue); the second was they were informed of some pro-IDF statement made by Mr. Raichel (also irrelevant).

Greek antisemitism is pervasive and serious. It manifests itself in religious, political and media discourse. Antisemitic attitudes were rated at 67% by the 2015 ADL Global Survey. Antisemitism is the norm for most Greeks, regardless of their political convictions. Desecrations of Jewish sacred and cultural sites are common occurrences.

Greek music and culture is very popular in Israel. Greeks visiting Israel are impressed by the warmth of Israelis and their familiarity with Greek performers. Unfortunately, however, the reverse is not the case; few Israeli artists or, for that matter aspects of Jewish culture, are known in Greece. The reasons are obvious – but not pleasant.

Mr. Kotsiras and Mrs. Tsaligopoulou are not the most militant anti-Semites in Greece. Therefore, their selective and contradictory decision to perform in Israel after refusing to perform with an Israeli at home can be seen as 1) hypocritical, 2) purely financially motivated, and 3) cowardly.

Of course, the choice of artists who perform at those events is of the organizers solely. However, we strongly believe that any cooperation between Greeks and Israelis should be based on mutual respect and sincere appreciation. Greek antisemitism is too powerful to be defeated solely by good intentions.

Sincerely yours,

Andrea Gilbert, Jewish Expert, Greek Helsinki Monitor, andrea.gilbert [at] otenet.gr

Vassilis Tsarnas, Racist Crimes Watch administrator, Greek Helsinki Monitor, vasilistsarnas [at] gmail.com

Dimitri Kravvaris, Against Antisemitism blog, dimkrav [at] web.de

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אומנים דו פרצופיים (או דר’ ג’קיל ומר הייד) מאת ז’אן כהן*

For English version, click here.

אך הדבר מקבל זווית שונה, היות וכנראה מר קוציראס אינו ידידה של ישראל במיוחד. הייתי אפילו מעז לומר שהוא ככל הנראה נגד ישראל אם אקח בחשבון את התנהגותו בחודש נובמבר 2015.

אז מר קוציראס יחד עם הזמרת גב’ הלני צליגופולו הוזמנו על השגרירות ישראל ביוון להופיע בקונצרט שהיא ארגנה, יחד עם הזמר והיותר הישראלי עידן רייכל.

שעות ספורות לפני תחילת ההופעה שני האומנים היוונים ביטלו את הופעתם. הסיבה לא נודעה מעולם, לפחות רשמית, היות ולא פורסמה שום הודעה.

מפרסומים שונים באותה תקופה בבלוגים ואתרים אנטי ישראליים נבעו שתי גרסאות לגבי החלטתם: ביטול הופעתם הייתה קשורה באי הסכמתם למדיניות ישראל, הקשורה בעזה ובפלסטינאים בכלל או כי האומן הישראלי פיאר את צה”ל כמה ימים קודם, עובדה שלגבי שני האומים היוותה חטא בל יעבור.

ההתייחסות שלי אינה לא למר קוציראס ולא גב’ צליגופולו, ובטח לא בהתנהגותם הבלתי מקצועית לבטל את הופעתם שעות ספורות לפני תחילת הקונצרט. עובדה אחרונה זו מהווה נושא למחשבה עבור בעלי המועדונים שהם ירצו להחתימם להופעות.

הנושא שלי הם האומנים הדופרצופיים.

אותה התנהגות הראו בעבר ,רק צורכי אזכור, אומנים היוונים נוספים. מיקיס תאודוראקיס, המחזאי והסופר יעקובוס קמפנליס (הבלדה של מאוטהואזן) אשר ביקש שלא יועלו יצירותיו מעולם בישראל עד שהוא שמע על השכר והסכים.

נזכיר את “בנו של עם” סטליום קזנד’גיס אשר בפני בית משפט יווני ולאחר הדיון בראיון טלוויזיה אמר ” רק אני וערפאת נלחמים ביהודים”….

ויורגוס דאלארס שכל כך הרגיז את הקהל הישראלי בהשתתפותו הכמעט קבועה בקונצרטים נגד ישראל. עובדה זו גרמה לרבים בישראל לשבור את תקליטיו ברחובות.

כולן הם מוכנים לנסוע לישראל כדי להגדיל את חשבון הבנק שלהם, אך אינם ששים לומר ולו מילה טובה אחת על ישראל עם שובם, אך הם חשוקים להשתתף בכל פעילות אנטי ישראלית נגד “המדינה רוצח”. כנראה מישהו צריך להזכיר להם שאת “החבל אי אפשר לתפוס בשתי קצותיו” ….

למען הצדק ההיסטורי אני חייב להזכיר כאן את הזמרת האהובה לקהל הישראלי בשנות ה – 80 של המאה הקודמת, אלפידה. מהיודע לי, יתכן שיש גם אחרים, הייתה זו היחידה שאם שובה ליוון ספרה ופיארה את ישראל ועוד התקופה שביוון גם “האבנים” היו נגד ישראל.

אני שואל את עצמי האם כל האומנים הדופרצופיים הנ”ל, ואני בטוח שקיימים רבים אחרים פחות ידועים, איך בעמדם מול המראה בבוקר מתרצים את מעשיהם?

מה מצפונם אומר? על מי הם “עובדים” על הישראלים או על הפלסטינאים? כנראה על שניהם ואולי הם חושבים שתפסו “פראיירים” את שניהם בטרם מעיפים מבט חטוף בחשבון הבנק שלהם, מלאי סיפוק.

אני מכבד יותר את האנטי ישראלים האמתיים אשר נלחמים במדינת ישראל ישירות וללא הערות ביניים והסתייגויות, מאשר סוג כזה של אומנים אשר רוצים “הן את כלב שבע והן את אוכל שלם”…

ואם כבר, מדובר בעניין של אתיקה גם אם “הבוכטות הן עבות”.

*ז’אן כהן הוא עיתונאי וכתב קול ישראל ביוון

Thessaloniki: Exhibition banner vandalized with antisemitic graffiti

Τhe exhibition “Shared Sacred Sites in the Balkans and the Mediterranean”, a collaboration between the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography and the Municipality of Thessaloniki, opened on September 23rd.

Only hours after the exhibition opening, the banner outside the venue had been vandalized with antisemitic (“Jews out”) and far-right (“Fatherland, religion, family”) graffiti.

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Thessaloniki, September 2017 / Photo courtesy of Iosif Vaena

School visits to the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki are not welcomed by all educators and parents

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Source: Wikipedia

Via pri.org

[…] But the mayor [Boutaris] and his efforts have received pushback.

Among other initiatives, the mayor has been promoting public school visits to the existing Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki.

In 2014, about 700 students visited the museum annually; today that figure has soared to more than 7,000, according to museum director Erika Perahia Zemour, a development not welcomed by all educators and parents.

“We have teachers who have told us that they have problems with the parents of kids they bring to the museum,” Zemour said. “Yesterday, for example, I had a teacher from … an area of Thessaloniki that votes 15 percent Golden Dawn, and one of the parents told him ‘Why are you teaching the kids these things? The Holocaust doesn’t exist. It never happened.’”

The mayor credits much of that push-back to anti-Semitism. According to a 2014 survey by the Anti-Defamation League, Greece is the most anti-Semitic country in Europe.

But those within the Jewish community say the mayor’s efforts are making a difference.

“Certainly things have changed since the mayor changed. Minds have been opened and the mayor has done a lot of work so that people can realize the history of the city,” Zemour said. “Finally something is happening. We are making some progress.”

Antisemitism in Greece today – Executive Summary

The Heinrich Böll Stiftung has published an executive summary of the antisemitism report authored by Giorgos Antoniou, Spyros Kosmidis, Elias Dinas and Leon Saltiel.

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Creator: Christopher Adam

Antisemitism in Greece today: Aspects, causes and tackling the phenomenon

Anti-Semitism is one of the most common manifestations of social prejudice in Europe and elsewhere. Greece is not an exception to this rule; in fact, Greece, according to the 2015/2017 Anti-Defamation League Global Survey has the highest proportion of people who harbour anti-Semitic sentiments in Europe. The study at hand was commissioned by Heinrich Boell Stiftung Greece to report the main findings of an original analysis of Greek public opinion that aimed to delve deeper into the causes of the phenomenon. The report was divided into three themes; 1) discussing the socio-political framework of anti-Semitism in modern Greece, 2) the full presentation of the empirical work conducted using public opinion surveys and 3) a set of policy recommendations to tackle the phenomenon. The executive summary at hand will briefly present the main aspects of each of the three themes.

Although the numbers of Greeks of Jewish religion is, according to the Greek Census, very low (5000, i.e. 0.05% of the Greek population) the incidents of anti-Semitic rhetoric and the recorded attacks against Jewish monuments or synagogues are disproportionately high. The report embarks on a thorough analysis of the role that political actors, the Greek Church and the mass media play in perpetuating anti-Semitic prejudice and behaviour. Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party with parliamentary representation, is the most important advocate of anti-Semitic views in contemporary Greece, but there are some disconcerting incidents that vary across all levels of government and across different ideological persuasions. One of the key concerns regarding the relationship between politics and anti-Semitism is that there are many incidents of anti-Jewish rhetoric, and those incidents have the ideological left and right as the perpetrators. In many of those incidents, the role of the Greek Church is pivotal. Stemming from Christian anti-Judaism, it often takes other forms such as anti-Zionism or Jewish Conspiracies. In the report, we lay out some of key examples showing how one of the most respected institutions in Greece is not keen to stop anti-Semitism.

The mass media play a big role as well. The way anti-Semitism is reported or, more often, not reported helps the phenomenon to expand and become an everyday theme that should not carry any consequences for the politician or any other figure harbouring similar views in public. In fairness, this was less of an issue when Golden Dawn started gaining influence in the Greek public sphere. On occasions when Golden Dawn denied the Holocaust, the mass media where keen to attack the party and consider “Holocaust conspiracy” allegations as absurd. As expected, newspapers of extreme-right persuasion were keen to recycle similar conspiracies and embellish them with narratives of “Jewish world domination” and “Jewish economic interests in Greece“. Sadly, some mainstream newspapers also put forward subtle and not so subtle opinions against the Jews (especially when the Arab-Israeli conflict is on the agenda).

Read more on gr.boell.org

See the full report here (in Greek), as well as a panel discussion on the results of the report:

Moderation: Sofia Christoforidou

Speakers: Katharina von Schnurbein, Spyros Kosmidis, Giorgos Antoniou, Viktor Isaac Eliezer, Maria Yannakaki, Grigorios Stamkopoulos, Eleni Hontolidou, Andreas Takis

Holocaust monument in Larissa vandalized by alleged clergyman

Father_Kleomenis_Larissa

Via kis.gr

In the evening of Monday July 17, 2017, an individual dressed as a monk who calls himself ‘father Kleomenis’ – a cult figure, popular for his bigot ideas and You tube posts – attacked and vandalized the Holocaust Monument in Larissa, situated in the central Jewish Martyrs Square of the city. In his video posted on You Tube, the alleged monk curses the Jews, denies the Holocaust and calls on the local patriots of Larissa to intervene and demolish the Monument. “Father” Kleomenis spits, kicks and throws eggs at the Monument. Some of his characteristic quotes: “Here, we read 6 million! Fairy tails… Shit on their faces, merely 600.000 Hitler wiped out!”. Kleomenis spits the Monument and says: “Satanic Jews”. He kicks the Monument and says: “Curse on your dirty Monuments” and continues: “Worms, Jewish bitches, this has to fall. The stinking Jewishness has to be taken down from Larissa. Rise up! Patriotic organizations of Larissa take it down, bring the bulldozer on!”. Local police was notified and legal procedure was enacted. Investigation is ongoing. The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) and the Jewish Community of Larissa issued press releases. The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church issued an announcement disassociating itself from the “monk” and condemning his actions.

The Municipality of Larissa issued an Announcement condemning the attack. The General Secretary of Religious Affairs George Kalantzis, as well as the General Secretary for Transparency and Human Rights Maria Giannakaki reacted swiftly by providing the Public Prosecutor of Larissa, the Racist Crimes Department of the Police, and the Cyber Crime Police Department with the relevant evidence. The President of the Jewish Community of Larissa pressed charges against the perpetrator. The Greek Helsinki Monitor also pressed charges against the “so called ‘father Kleomenis’ for a series of racist crimes”.

Read more

  • Another video posted on July 21, 2017, shows the self-proclaimed “Father Kleomenis” vandalizing the Holocaust monument in Thessaloniki – once again with a raw egg (11′-11’50”). In the same video, he threatens with new vandalisms.

Four Men Arrested For Vandalizing Holocaust Memorial In Kavala

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Kavala Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka in front of the destroyed Holocaust memorial, 30/3/2017 via kavalapost.gr

Police say they have arrested four men who used hammers to smash the marble veneer on the Holocaust memorial in Kavala three months ago.

All four men are Greek citizens, aged 40, 29, 22 and 20 years, local media have reported.

The Kavala Holocaust Memorial was dedicated on June 7, 2015 after city officials postponed its original dedication, saying they opposed the Star of David on the memorial.

 

Athens Holocaust memorial defaced with graffiti

The Holocaust memorial in Athens was defaced with graffiti probably on Friday. The graffiti reads: “Hello, my name is thanatos [death].” Photos of the vandalism were posted on the Facebook Group The Jewish Heritage in Greece (see photo below).

In recent years, the monument has suffered repeated vandalisms.

Erected in 2010, the monument commemorates the 59,000 Greek Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. It represents a broken Magen David, with each of the broken pieces representing the lost Greek Jewish communities. The names of the communities are engraved in the marble piece pointing in the direction where they once existed (via).

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Athens Holocaust memorial, 7/7/2017. Photo credit: Eleni Gkika (via The Jewish Heritage in Greece)

Anti-Semitic Greek comedian has central role in play to be staged in ancient theater of Epidaurus

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Tzimis Panousis during a show with a t-shirt depicting the Star of David intertwined with a Nazi swastika.

Via European Jewish Press

By Viktor Eliezer

A well-known anti-Semitic comedian in Greece, Tzimis Panousis, will have the role of Trigaios, a peace maker in Ancient Athens, in the theatrical play ‘’Eirene’’ (Peace) by Aristophanes that will be staged in  the ancient theater of Epidaurus.

Tzimis Panousis was quoted as saying last week in an interview to the daily “To Vima”, that “we the Greeks are the new Jews of the season. Then the Nazis choose the Jews, now the Neo-Nazis, the blue family of Shoible, have chosen us, the Greeks”.

Panousis used to call the Jews as “jewdeonazis” and in 2013 issued a poster to promote his performances, in which the Star of David was identified with the Nazi swastika.

[…]

Read the rest on EJP

Tzimis Panousis and antisemitism:

  1. Panousis: There are no good Jews (Abravanel, 23/6/2009)
  2. Satirist Tzimis Panousis under fire over poster (Kathimerini, 25/02/2013)
  3. Greece: Jewish community upset about comic’s poster (World Jewish Congress, 26/02/2013)