Athens, March 20, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
The research findings on the “prejudice of the Holocaust and Anti-Semitism in Greece”, were presented on Thursday at the British embassy, with the main conclusion the “alarming rise of anti-Semitism and perceptions about the Holocaust, among the Greek public opinion”.
However, said British Ambassador John Kittmer at the beginning of the workshop – choosing to deliver his greeting in Greek – Semitism is “a common European problem”.
“Despite the difficulties”, he found, “steady progress is being made in Greece, such as the visit for the first time in 2013 of the Greek prime minister in the synagogue of Thessalonica, the enactment in 2014 of the law on combating racism and xenophobia and the unveiling of the monument of the Jewish cemetery in the area of the University of Thessaloniki”.
The survey was conducted in January 2015 under the auspices of the University of Thessaloniki and co embassies of Britain, Canada and Romania, while the presentation was done under the auspices of the British Presidency of the International Alliance for Holocaust commemoration (IHRA).
The survey aims to answer two main questions: 1. What the Greeks know about the Holocaust and 2. taboo subject: how antisemites are the Greeks, said the research associate of the survey professor at the University of Macedonia Nikos Marantzidis – who spoke through skype in the workshop – adding that we are interest to influence through education the younger generation, to change things and not stay only in reflection, thinking how shocking are the findings.
To the question “What comes first to mind with the word Holocaust”, around 50% chose the option “Auschwitz”, while the rest chose “Distomo, Zalogo, Arkadi”, coming from the Greek history. In addition, to the question, what history issue must be included in compulsory education among the Asia Minor Catastrophe, the Civil War, the Pontian Genocide and the Holocaust, the Holocaust gathered smaller percentages.
When asked if Israel does to the Palestinians that the Germans did to the Jews during the Second World War, 70% of respondents answered positively, although there were four other answer options.
The comment of the scientific research associate Dr. Antoniou, academic partner of the International University of Greece, who along with substitute Comparative Politics Professor at Oxford University Elias Dinas, presented the findings of the research, is that the public, starting from a legitimate criticism of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, ends up developing negative stereotypes against all Jews, regardless of past events.
This issue caused the intervention of the Israeli ambassador in Greece, Irit Ben-Abba, who stressed that it is another matter for someone to criticize Israel’s policy and another to be an anti-Semite. There are critics of Israeli policy, but friendly to the history of the Holocaust, which they recognize. He also expressed an objection to the methodology of the survey, saying that there should be one for the Second World War and another for today, in order to avoid confusion among the respondents.
In another question, regarding possible investment, the rates among those who responded positively to investments from the Israeli state were low, compared to investments from the EU or France.
In summary, the researchers concluded that the main factor that leads to negative recruitment for the Holocaust and anti-Semitic positions is the logic of victimization through which operates the Greek society and what’s more with a double meaning: On the one hand leads to a more introverted and ethnocentric view of international events and also creates competitive feelings with other people – such as the Jews – who have been subjected.
For shocking evidence of ignorance of the Greek people spoke the president of the European Council of Jewish Communities Benjamin Albala, who, like other speakers spoke against the Golden Dawn, that operates on a platform of racism and anti-Semitism and requested for an EU Commissioner to be appointed, because these phenomena have been out of control.
Anti-Semitism is associated with racism and homophobia, stressed inter alia, political science professor at Panteion V. Georgiadou, while Dr. Jonathan Boyd of the Institute of Jewish Affairs in Britain, presented the actions and the British government policy towards antisemitism phenomena, policies that have been called “exemplary”.
The discussion was moderated by former PASOK MP and rapporteur of anti-racist law K. Triantafillos and was attended by ambassadors, academics and media representatives.