OPINION

Groundless allegations

The State Department country reports on human and minority rights practices usually result in overreaction in Greece, grabbing the media headlines. It happened again last week after a report was issued which contained allegations of the anti-Semitism that is supposedly rife in our country. What really happens is that some mid-ranking diplomat collects statements that are published in the local press, takes note of ugly incidents organized by extremist groups, conducts some sort of private investigation and then draws up a report which is then signed by the American ambassador of the host country. In this case, the diplomat assigned to the task was understandably keen to carry out a standard «moral evaluation;» and for the lack of any noteworthy incidents he decided it was worth mentioning: The supposedly anti-Semitic comments voiced by music composer Mikis Theodorakis, disregarding his monumental work «Mauthausen» on the calamities suffered by the Jews during World War II; The activity of some fringe group which, though having been around for quite some time, has exercised no influence whatsoever over the Greek public or the country’s political life; and The old Easter custom of burning a «Judas» in effigy, said to feature in a website of the Greece’s National Tourism Organization (GNTO). The allegations are, of course, ludicrous and if Washington was really that worried about a longstanding Easter custom then it might be worth checking out whether its London envoy has also recommended halting productions of Christopher Marlowe’s «Jew of Malta» and William Shakespeare’s «Merchant of Venice» at British theaters on the grounds of their underlying anti-Semitism. Washington’s political behavior may at times seem naive but it is not one that is shaped under Jewish influence. The radicalism of the Bush administration is authentic and forceful enough to resist pressures from a single ethnic group. If it was deemed necessary, the American leadership would not hesitate to put aside sentimentality and break with the Jewish community. Greece’s Jews, gifted with the wisdom that characterizes diaspora communities, do not seem to share the State Department’s concerns. Besides, the Greeks’ insecurity has to do more with other ethnic groups than with the Jewish community.