Theodorakis rebukes Israeli criticism

Mikis Theodorakis yesterday issued a statement responding to criticism over the comments he made last week. He described claims of anti-Semitism as «slander.» In the statement, he declared his support for the Israeli people and his opposition to the policies of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and US President George W. Bush. Theodorakis also referred to a visit he made to Israel in 1972 during which gave he concerts. He met with Vice President Alon who asked him to carry a message to PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Theodorakis tried to get the two to begin negotiations. His statement follows in its entirety: My opinion of the Israeli people, as on all things, has always been known and I am frankly at a loss as to why such a great commotion was made this time, as if it was heard for the first time. Maybe some people judged this to be the right time to launch an attack on me. I was always on the side of the weak, of those struggling for the Justice of People. And among them were the Israeli People. I sang their suffering as well as I could. I was always in favor of the peaceful coexistence of peoples. And I showed this in practice, when, among other things, I undertook a mediatory role between Alon and Arafat in the incidents of 1972. But, precisely for these reasons, I am totally opposed to 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 «policy.» Only through a conscious effort can anyone confuse the Israeli People, for whom I have shown my respect and wonder in practice and these negative phenomena which are what truly blacken the image of Israel and play a genuine «anti-Semitic» role. It is these which are on the side of Evil, the root of Evil, as I stated recently. Personally, I am happy because I know that there are many Israelis all over the world and within Israel who agree with me and are striving for the true Justice of their People and can coexist with the Justice of other People as well, who are struggling for Peace in their region and the whole world. I am happy that we have been together in these joint struggles for decades now. And I know that they know me well through these struggles and they are not waiting for the mud of some in order to get to know me. But perhaps this is the aim of those who suddenly «discovered» my ideas and slander me as an alleged «anti-Semite.»