Social services for Nazi victims have been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Funds have been provided by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany for the Emergency Assistance Program for Nazi Victims at the direction of the United States District Court supervising the lawsuit In RE: Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation (Swiss Banks).
|GREEK JEWS CONDEMN ATTACKS AGAINST CHRISTIAN CHURCHES IN GREECE – KIS LETTER TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF ATHENS|
With regard to a series of attacks against Christian churches and following the arson attack on the Petraki Church in Athens, which also houses the offices of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece strongly condemned this act of vandalism. In a letter to His Holiness the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos, the Board expressed the Greek Jewry’s solidarity. The letter states the following:
It is with dismay that we have been observing in the past days the violent attacks against Christian churches in Greece. The attack on the offices of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church, in the Petraki Monastery, is the most recent event in this sad chain of violent acts. Our reaction to these events must be united and firm: We must condemn violence and safeguard all people’s right to worship.
We, the Greek Jews, know very well what vandalism of a house of prayer means to a worshiper. We have many times experienced this painful feeling. In a time when religion is constantly targeted, we have the moral obligation to defend with all our strength the right to faith. Hatred and intolerance have no place in a society that means to forge the respect of human rights.
We share your rightful sorrow for the desecration of holy Christian sites, as such actions are an insult to the core values of our civilization.
Athens August 9, 2016
Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece
The President Moses Constantinis
The Secretary General Marcel Solomon
|ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE MURDER OF THE CATHOLIC PRIEST IN FRANCE|
Europe was confronted once again this week with the face of terrorism. It was the turn of Germany and France this time, which now constitutes the most common place of action for radical Islamists in Europe. This last attack took place in Normandy, where the terrorists chose as their target a place of prayer and worship. There, they brutally killed the 86-year-old Jacques Hamel, priest of the small Catholic community of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, close to Rouen.
The meaning of this recent attack is self-evident. The two terrorists of the Islamic State invaded a holy place and violated the right to prayer and hope. They impose their hatred and try to eradicate the feelings of love and brotherhood among people.
We must not respond to the hatred of the fanatics with hate. “The Catholic Church cannot take weapons other than those of prayer and brotherhood among men”, said Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen. Indeed, these are the true weapons of all religions.
The attack against the believers in Rouen is an attack not only against the Catholics, but against every believer and every religion. The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece stands next to the Christian Community of France and the French society. We therefore express our full sympathy and grief and we strongly condemn these hideous actions. With the only weapons that we have in our hands, our prayers and faith, we will continuously fight for religious freedom, love and fraternity among people, so as not to let these high values be defeated by the hatred and violence of the Islamic terrorism.
Athens, July 28, 2016
CENTRAL BOARD OF JEWISH COMMUNITIES IN GREECE
|ANNOUNCEMENT FOR THE CONVICTION OF GREEK JOURNALIST STRATIS BALASKAS|
The relation and the boundary line between freedom of speech and expression on one hand and defamation on the other provokes always great discussion. Recently Stratis Balaskas, a Greek journalist, was convicted for defamation after characterizing a fellow citizen, who is also an educator and director of a public High School, as “neo-Nazi”. Specifically, the reporter was convicted for publishing libels. The case was brought in front of the Court of Appeals, where the conviction was reaffirmed. The plaintiff, who denied any connection with such ideas and/or organizations, has published in the past several articles in websites and blogs (using also his account at the “Hellenic School Network” www.sch.gr, a web platform of the Ministry of Education that connects educators and schools around Greece) where he argues in favor of the “Aryan race” and calls all the nationalists of the country –and especially the teachers and the parents- to unite in order to fight for the preservation of “racial purity” and spread the truth about the Jews among others. The Court decided that the characterization “neo-Nazi” is defamatory and convicted the defendant to three months jail time. Finally, the case will be considered again by the Supreme Court.
Following articles in the Greek press about this case, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece issued the following announcement in order to support Mr. Balaska’s claim for justice:
Every well-ordered society has its principles that define what is right and wrong, while the fundamental right of the freedom of speech constitutes the cornerstone every democracy. With these thoughts in mind, we worry about the conviction of the reporter Stratis Balaskas by the Court of Appeals. Mr. Balaskas, according to a press article, was convicted for defamation through the medium of the Press, after calling, in one of his articles, as “national-socialist and neo-Nazi” the Director of a local High School of Lesbos.
Therefore, we deem it appropriate to make some relevant observations: Firstly, to distinguish between the notion of National-Socialism and the notion of Nazism is historically totally incorrect, let alone to consider that the first one implies a mildest characterization than the second. According to the press article, the convicted Mr. Balaskas had rightly denounced the extreme beliefs of the plaintiff, criticizing in that way the work of a public professor and considering that the social role of the plaintiff is not consistent with the expression of extreme nationalist speech.
Moreover, it is a really discouraging fact that a professor expresses this kind of extreme thoughts without any consequences. A teacher has no right to become a preacher of intolerance. Ideas such as extreme nationalism, fanaticism and anti-Semitism have no place in students’ education.
We consider it our duty to stand by Mr. Balaskas and support his fight for justice, while our faith to the judiciary system remains strong.
Finally, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece will always condemn any expression of hate speech and any intolerant behavior.
Athens, July 14, 2016
Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece
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