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JV Editorial

Israel Courts Cyprus, as Anti-Semitism Emerges in the Greek Mainland

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Cyprus, Israel’s newest friend, or a stumbling block on the road to reconciliation with Turkey?So, Bibi was in Cyprus last week, meeting with Cypriot President Demetris Christofias. It was the first time an Israeli prime minister visited the island nation, and the two heads of state discussed a variety of ways in which they two countries might work together in energy exploration, agriculture, science and tourism. In that first category, the prospect of a jointly-run pipeline to exploit the natural gas deposits discovered under the Mediterranean in recent years. And, it goes without saying, neither Netanyahu nor Christofias cared to comment publicly about proposals for military cooperation.  

Cut to the Greek mainland, where local Jews are in a bit of panic. Two members of parliament, Adonis Georgiadis and Makis  Voridis resigned from the far-right LAOS party, to run as candidates for the mainstream conservative New Democracy party next April. Yes folks, it’s a new democracy, where hating Jews is back in vogue. (New Democracy is starting to feel a lot like Old Fascism.)

For those of you who might doubt these guys’ anti-Semite street cred, Voridis, for his part, publicly questioned whether “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” might in fact be an authentic Jewish text (suggesting, we suppose, that the thousands upon thousands of scriptures and rabbinic works that devout Jews read instead of the Protocols, which are antithetical to them in every imaginable way, constitute an elaborate façade).  He also at one point challenged the authenticity of Anne Frank’s diary, because apparently Greek politicians have nothing more important to do than sit around picking on young girls who were murdered by the Nazis.

Not to be outdone, Adonis Georgiadis, Greece’s deputy minister for development, is reported to have said that “all major banks belong to the Jews” and that “the Jewish lobby” (as opposed to, say, Greek ministerial incompetence) would determine the fate of Greece’s foreign debt. He has also extensively promoted an anti-Semitic book entitled The Jews: The Whole Truth by infamous Jew-hater Konstantinos Plevris. Charming.

Of course the obvious question here is (perhaps the only question for those of you who have made the Jewish Voice editorial a regular part of your week), what does this mean for the Jews?

Obviously, the recent Israeli overtures towards Cyprus are at least partly intended as a slap in the face of Turkey, hopefully one hard enough to knock them off their collective high horse. Incidentally, Turkey and Lebanon have both demanded a piece of the natural gas pie that sits beneath the waters of the Mediterranean. Israel’s Energy Minister Uzi Landau (who accompanied Netanyahu on his Cyprus visit) was quoted as saying his country would be willing to use force to defend its gas field from outside claims, this according to Bloomberg Businessweek.  Given the longstanding feud between Southern (Greek) and Northern (Turkish) Cyprus, there’s the idea, one ironically enshrined in an Arabic proverb, that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

What I’d like to suggest is that perhaps now isn’t the time to pour salt in the wounds afflicting the longstanding Turkish-Israeli alliance. Yes, things are bad at the moment. And yes, Israel should do everything in its power to prepare to defend itself from Iranian aggression. But maybe that preparation shouldn’t involve going out of its way to annoy one of the greater regional military powers.

The Turks may have gone a bit mad, but some of us are still hoping that it’s a case of temporary insanity. From this editor’s own personal experiences with Turks (which included living for a while in Istanbul), they’re not, by and large, a deliberately anti-Semitic lot. Indeed, considering that we’re talking about a Middle Eastern country, the average Turk’s attitude towards Jews (though perhaps not Israel as a political entity) is downright civilized compared to that of his neighbors. Yes, conspiracy theories thrive in the media and literature there, as they do in the Arab world, and the Balkans, and evidently among the Greeks. I will make no excuse for this, but I will simply point out that, over the last half century or so, the Turkish-Israeli diplomatic track record speaks for itself.

Given the kind of political rumblings we’re hearing in Greece right now, and considering that Cyprus thinks itself an offshoot of the Greek nation… all I’m saying is, beware of Greeks (and/or Greek Cypriots) bearing gifts.

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