Israeli cabinet minister compares Greek composer to Hitler

November 13, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "Israeli cabinet minister compares Greek composer to Hitler" (AP, November 13, 2003)
2. "Israel objects to remark by noted composer" (International Herald Tribune, November 13, 2003)
3. "UN-Olympic Truce" (AP, November 4, 2003) The UN General Assembly called for a worldwide truce during next summer's Athens Olympic games, and the UN chief said he hoped people in conflict zones from Iraq to Congo will heed the message. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou praised the effort and said he hoped peace would last beyond the Aug. 13-29 games.


“ZOBRA THE ANTI-SEMITE”

[Note by Tom Gross]

Comments by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis that Jews are the "root of all evil" resemble the kind of anti-Semitism espoused by Nazi leaders Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, Israeli Interior Minister Tommy Lapid, a Holocaust survivor, said today.

Theodorakis, best known for the score of the 1964 film "Zorba the Greek," made the comments in the presence of senior Greek government officials at a Nov. 4 news conference to promote his book "Where Can I Find My Soul."

Theodorakis declared: "Today we can say that this small nation is the root of evil, not of good, which means that too much self importance and too much stubbornness is evil."

The comments sparked red-backed headlines in Israeli tabloids ("ZORBA THE ANTI-SEMITE," is the headline in Yedioth Ahronoth).

Theodorakis was an MP for a while (according to his own website).

He also wrote the acclaimed Ballad of Mauthausen, a commemoration of the victims of the Nazi concentration camp.

A subscriber to this email list adds: Theodorakis also wrote the Palestinian national anthem, though I don't think many Palestinians know that fact and even fewer know the anthem. I think he was at least once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

There have been a spate of anti-Semitic incidents and attacks in Greece recently.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

ISRAELI CABINET MINISTER COMPARES GREEK COMPOSER TO HITLER

Israeli cabinet minister compares Greek composer to Hitler
By Ramit Plushnick-Masti
The Associated Press
November 13, 2003

Recent comments by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis that Jews are the "root of all evil" resemble the kind of anti-Semitism espoused by Nazi leaders Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, an Israeli Cabinet minister said Thursday.

Theodorakis, best known for the score of the 1964 film "Zorba the Greek," made the comments in the presence of senior Greek government officials at a Nov. 4 news conference to promote his book "Where Can I Find My Soul."

The comments, which were first reported in Israel this week, have caused an uproar, and the Israeli Embassy in Athens complained to the government.

Theodorakis, a strong advocate of the Palestinian cause, said the accusations of anti-Semitism against him are "slander" and said his comments are consistent with his support of the weak.

Theodorakis, who referred directly to Jews in his initial speech, said in a statement that Israeli policies are the "root of all evil."

"I am totally opposed to (Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon's policy and I have stressed this repeatedly, just as I have repeatedly condemned the role of prominent American Jewish politicians, intellectuals and theorists in the shaping of today's aggressive Bush (administration) policy," Theodorakis said in the statement, which appeared in Greek newspapers Thursday.

Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas said Greece "doesn't endorse or agree with the opinions" of Theodorakis.

Israeli Interior Minister Tommy Lapid said Theodorakis was not being critical of Israel's policies against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip which would be legitimate but rather had attacked Jews directly.

"Today it is not acceptable in the world and we don't normally hear an expression that is unabashed anti-Semitism. He doesn't say that the Israelis are occupiers, he says that the Jews are the 'root of all evil' in the world," Lapid told Israel Radio.

"These are statements of the type made by Goebbels and Hitler," said Lapid, who is a Holocaust survivor.

 

ISRAEL OBJECTS TO REMARK BY NOTED COMPOSER

Israel objects to remark by noted composer
International Herald Tribune
November 13, 2003

Athens Israel has complained to the Greek government about comments by the composer Mikis Theodorakis, who called Jews "the root of evil" and dismissed key biblical figures as mere "shadows," a diplomatic source said Wednesday.

The source, who declined to be named, said that the Israeli Embassy had pointed out the "gravity" of the remarks by Theodorakis, who is best known for the score of the 1964 film "Zorba the Greek." Israeli officials joined in the denunciations.

Theodorakis, 78, made the comments at a news conference on Nov. 4 to promote his book "Where Can I Find My Soul."

 

UN-OLYMPIC TRUCE

UN-Olympic Truce
By Edith M. Lederer
The Associated Press
November 4, 2003

The General Assembly called for a worldwide truce during next summer's Olympic games, and the U.N. chief said he hoped people in conflict zones from Iraq to Congo will heed the message.

Greece sponsored the resolution and the General Assembly's 190 other nations signed on as cosponsors. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou praised the effort and said he hoped peace would last beyond the Aug. 13-29 games.

He said the roots of both the truce and the Olympics itself go back to the 8th century B.C. in ancient Greece when a Delphi oracle declared the best way to stop war was to organize games and call for a halt to fighting. The idea for a truce was revived in 1993 to allow athletes from war-torn Yugoslavia to participate in the 1994 games in Lillehammer, Norway. The assembly has adopted similar resolutions for each Olympics since then.

"We want to revive what the basic principles of the Olympics were which is to become a peace project," Papandreou said.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged anyone caught up in a conflict to listen to the U.N. call.

"It sends a powerful message, telling the warring parties to stop and reflect ... even if it is for 24 hours," he said. "I hope that people in all conflict areas from Iraq to Afghanistan, to Liberia to the Congo will really listen to the message."

Papandreou conceded that making the Olympic Truce a reality may seem to some "like a utopian dream."

"We have no illusions as to what we can achieve through the Olympic Truce; it is not a universal remedy that will miraculously heal the rifts that ravage so many regions of the world," he said. "But surely if we can stop even a single conflict, this is worth the effort."

Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, said the decision to adopt the truce would give "the youth of the world the chance to show how we all can peacefully coexist, just as they do in the Olympic Village."

The General Assembly also adopted a resolution declaring the year 2005 the "International Year for Sport and Physical Education."

It calls on governments to promote the role of sports "as a tool for health, education, social and cultural development," and urges developing countries to promote physical education.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.