Dear friends,

On January 20, 2010 Andrew Apostolou published an op ed piece in the Wall
Street Journal
titled “The Shame of Modern Greece;” the points so
obliviously forced or ignored the facts (both as to the burning of the
synagogue and the historical context) and maliciously facile that I felt
compelled to respond. My letter to the editor was sent on January 22 but it has
so far not been published, probably because it exceeds the ten-second
soundbite. I reproduce it below for those who may be interested and for the
record (scripta manent, if only on the internet).


To the Editor [of the Wall Street Journal]:


Andrew Apostolou’s “The Shame of Modern Greece”
(Opinion Europe, January 20, 2010), about the arson attacks on a historic
synagogue in Chania on the island of Crete,  represents a case of a
premature judgment used to support a simple-minded sermon without respect for
the complexity of the historic relationship between the Greeks and the
Jews, which stretches back about 2,500 years.


Contrary to Mr. Apostolou, who did not have all the facts,
of the five people accused of arson four are foreign, i.e.
non-Greek nationals (two are British and two Americans), and one a Greek
national; the two British and the Greek individuals have been arrested by the
Greek police and will be charged based on video taped evidence of their actions
and the confession of at least one of them. The US nationals are fugitives.


As for the larger issue of anti-Semitism in Greece, there
are indeed bigots of all stripes in the country, though these are few and tend
to be marginalized; Greece does not have an extreme rightist fascist or racist
party that espouses anti-Semitism. Some on the left (including a major
left-wing daily) promote “the now banal comparison of Israel with the
Nazis,” a view that may be obnoxious but hardly racist. The comparison to
anti-Semitism in Turkey falls flat, given that Hitler’s Mein Kampf has
sold hundreds of thousands of copies over the last few years in that country,
not to mention the fact that its political leadership is not particularly warm
towards the state of Israel, 


The relationship between the Greeks and the Jews  is
too complex to be reduced to slogans such as “[m]any Greeks do not know
that their second largest city, Salonika, had a Jewish majority for most of its
modern history.” The reality is that the many Greeks know this fact, as
they also know that in 1492 the Jews were settled in Thessalonica by the
Ottoman Turks after the latter had massacred and enslaved the Christian
population of the city and seized its properties. The Jews replaced the tax
base of which the Ottomans deprived themselves as a result of their massacres.


In the more recent past while during World War II over
eighty percent of the Jews of Greece were exterminated by the National
Socialist occupation forces, assisted by local collaborators (as in all of
Europe), a significant number of Christian Greeks (including the family of
the undersigned) simply assumed it their duty to protect and to hide their
Jewish friends and neighbors. Mr. Apostolou’s accusatory tone about “the
often shameful and ambiguous stance that too many (sic) Greeks took during
the Second World War” reflects a studied ignorance of human nature
universally and serves an anti-Greek political agenda. How many Europeans or
Americans really intervened to stop the genocide of the Armenians, the Greeks
and other Christians is Asia Minor by the Turks? Indeed many western countries
still refuse to recognize that event, which prompted Raphael Lemkin to coin the
very term genocide.


Aristide Caratzas

New York/Athens


4 thoughts on “Επιστολή – απάντηση στο άρθρο της Wall Street Journal «Η ντροπή της σύγχρονης Ελλάδας»

  1. Η παραπάνω επιστολή είναι σαφώς καλύτερη απ’ αυτήν που έστειλε ο Χρυσοχοΐδης (αλήθεια, δουλειά του ΥΠΕΞ δεν ήταν να απαντήσει;), όπου επιμελώς (ψοφοδεώς;) αποφεύγεται κάθε αναφορά στην εθνικότητα/υπηκοότητα των δραστών. Επιστολή απολογητική, ραγιάδικη, η οποία δεν βάζει τα πράγματα στην θέση τους, αλλά προσπαθεί να αποδείξει ότι δεν είμαστε ελέφαντες.

    Συγχαρητήρια, κ. Καρατζά.

  2. ο Χρυσοχοίδης λέει σαχλαμάρες στην επιστολή του. Άστοχος με δουλοπρεπές ύφος ενόχου. Πάρτε τον Καρατζά στο Υπουργείο να σας γράφει τις επιστολές

  3. Όλα τα παραπάνω μου φέρνουν συνειρμικά στο μυαλό τους στοίχους από το «Άξιον εστί» του Οδυσσέα Ελύτη :
    “εξόριστε ποιητή στον αιώνα σου λέγε τι βλέπεις; Βλέπω τις αλληλουχίες των κρυφών νοημάτων…»
    Σύμφωνα με το ο κύριος Andrew Apostolou συγγραφεύς του άρθρου The Shame of Modern Greece της Wall street Journal της 20-1-2010 :
    « has been a historian at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and was Director of Customised Research at The Economist Group’s Economist Intelligence Unit. He is presently director of research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.”
    The Shame of Modern Greece

    The country suffers from a lack of moral leadership denouncing the embarrassment of anti-Semitism.
    JANUARY 20, 2010, 6:10 P.M. ET

    By ANDREW APOSTOLOUComments (1)
    Mr. Apostolou is writing a history of collaboration during the Holocaust in Greece.

    The repeat arson attacks on a synagogue in Greece demonstrate that Turkey is not the only Mediterranean democracy cursed with anti-Semitism. Arsonists have attacked the Etz Hayyim synagogue in Chania, on the Greek island of Crete, twice this year. The fires on Jan. 5 and 17 have inflicted substantial damage on a structure that was only restored in 1999 after lying derelict since the Holocaust. The attempts to destroy Crete’s only synagogue follow a spate of vandalism of Jewish graves in Ioannina in northwestern Greece.

    Etz Hayyim
    After the attacks: The two fires this month have inflicted substantial damage on the Etz Hayyim synagogue in Chania, which had been restored only eleven years earlier.
    Compounding these acts of violence is Greek society’s shameful indifference to anti-Semitism. This was amply demonstrated during the arson incidents in Crete. Non-Greeks played an admirable role in saving the synagogue. An Albanian immigrant was the first to spot the fire in the early hours of Jan. 5. The Albanian caretaker of the synagogue and a Moroccan also rendered vital assistance. Nikos Stavroulakis, the director of the synagogue and the man behind its restoration, has written about the “the lack of ‘locals'” on the scene after the first attack—all the more shocking given that these ‘locals’ would have lost their homes and businesses had the fire spread.

    Etz Hayyim
    Those who sleep through the night while a synagogue burns in their own town are a metaphor for Greece’s attitude to anti-Semitism. The fundamental problem with Greek anti-Semitism is not that it is rampant. It is that in a country of 11 million with just 5,000 Jews, few Greeks care to resist it. Greece suffers from a lack of moral, religious and social leadership denouncing the embarrassment of anti-Semitism, be it vandalism or the now banal comparison of Israel with the Nazis in the national media.
    The indifference of many Greeks is unsurprising. The official version of the history ensures that few know of the Jewish component of Greece’s past. Many Greeks do not know that their second largest city, Salonika, had a Jewish majority for most of its modern history. Instead of the Holocaust being treated as a moment for moral and historical reflection, it is portrayed as an opportunity for national self-congratulation because of the rescue of a small number of Greek Jews. The genuine heroism of Greek Christians who saved Greek Jews from the Nazis in such places as Zakynthos and Athens is used to obscure the collaboration and indifference that helped condemn tens of thousands of Greek Jews to death in Salonika and northern Greece.
    This ignorance has been reinforced by historians, Greek and foreign alike, who have largely skated over collaboration during the Holocaust. Like the Greek government, historians prefer to emphasize the rescue of Jews rather than prompt an examination of the often shameful and ambiguous stance that too many Greeks took during the Second World War. The leaders of Greece’s barely 5,000 strong Jewish community take a similar historical approach for obvious political reasons. Over sixty years after the Holocaust, myths prevail over scholarship.
    Most Greek politicians are complicit, failing to take anti-Semitism seriously as a local problem. With the admirable exception of former conservative prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, who has vigorously condemned the arson attacks, Greek politicians have responded lethargically to the latest incidents. This is despite the tremendous and commendable efforts of such organizations of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which has sought to educate Greek opinion leaders. The AJC’s efforts have convinced some Greek politicians that their country is diminished by ignoring anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, too many still regard anti-Semitism as a public relations issue that affects Greece’s image abroad, rather a moral question bearing upon its social sanity at home.
    Very occasionally, some principled citizens express their disgust, but national figures generally do not bother to support these small local initiatives. In December 2009 hundreds of non-Jews in Ionnina formed a human chain around the Jewish cemetery there to protest its repeated desecration. In Salonika a few young historians have begun to ask questions about the massive theft of Jewish property during the war.
    What these handfuls of activists have understood is that anti-Semitism can be as harmful to non-Jews as to Jews. Only a handful of Jews remain in Chania and Ioannina. These are places more of Jewish memory than of community—over 90% of Chania and Ioannina’s Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. The non-Jews in these towns now have to live with the lingering hate and immoral ambivalence that over sixty years ago allowed so many Greek Jews to be taken away to their deaths.
    Οι δραστηριότητες του St Antony’s College του Πανεπιστημίου της Οξφόρδης και ειδικότερα του South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX).
    σχετικά με την είσοδο της Τουρκίας στην Ε.Ε. έτυχε να πέσουν στην αντίληψη μου όταν πριν δύο χρόνια παραβρέθηκα τυχαίως σε μια από τις εκδηλώσεις του SEESOX στην Οξφόρδη για την είσοδο της Τουρκίας στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και είχα προσωπική εμπειρία της Τουρκόφιλης στάσης και του ανθελληνικού μένους των ιθυνόντων του SEESOX, μεταξύ των οποίων βλέπε
    Kalypso Nicolaïdis
    Προσκεκλημένη ομιλήτρια στην παραπάνω εκδήλωση ήταν και η κυρία
    Μαριλένα Κοππά
    της οποίας η φιλοτουρκική καμπάνια στην Ελλάδα, τις Βρυξέλες και το Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο μέσω του SEESOX επιβραβεύτηκε από τον Γ. Παπανδρέου με την αναγόρευση της ως Ευρωβουλευτού του ΠΑ.ΣΟ.Κ.
    Οι δύο πρώτοι παραπάνω βάσει των βιογραφικών τους είναι σύμβουλοι του Υπουργείου Εξωτερικών της Ελλάδος.
    Μάλιστα η κυρία Kalypso Nicolaïdis βάσει του βιογραφικού της είναι σύμβουλος του Πρωθυπουργού Γ. Παπανδρέου
    «Professor Nicolaïdis has been advising George Papandreou on European affairs since 1996. In 1996-1997 she worked with Mr Papandreou on the Amsterdam Treaty and coordinated inputs from colleagues at Harvard University. In 2002 and 2003, she chaired the International Group of Expert Advisors to George Papandreou (IGE) on the Convention for the Future of Europe and the Greek Presidency (the group comprised Professors Stanley Hoffmann, Paul Magnette, Anand Menon, Helen Wallace, Joseph Weiler, Haris Pamboukis, Nikos Kotzias andd Jean Nestor). She is also part of a group of experts to promote the yes campaign for the Constitution of the French socialist party. Nicolaïdis has also worked in the past with the European Commission on the White Paper on Governance (subsidiarity, global governance) and other international organizations including UNCTAD and the OECD.
    και ομιλεί και «ολίγα Ελληνικά»
    (Βλέπε το επισυναπτόμενο βιογραφικό της
    Languages French (native) and English. Some Greek and Spanish)'s+College,+Turkey+European+Union&hl=el&gl=gr&sig=AHIEtbSoxLX6GTTBWKrrNzeicb0a2cP9Yw
    “εξόριστε ποιητή στον αιώνα σου λέγε τι βλέπεις; Βλέπω τις αλληλουχίες των κρυφών νοημάτων…»

    Αντώνης Ι.Γ. Βαρδουλάκης
    Καθηγητής Α.Π.Θ.
    Prof. Antonis .I.G. Vardulakis
    Department of Mathematics
    Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
    Thessaloniki 54 006

    tel +302310 99 79 51
    fax +302310 99 79 51

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