Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Playing with fire, again!

By now the events in Crete, where the Jewish synagogue Etz Hayim (Tree of Life) in Hania, was burned twice in the course of three weeks, are well known. After the second fire, which was much more destructive than the first, the local police finally arrested several individuals, apparently spurned into action by the, by now, international condemnation (including that from Greek-American organizations) of these events. What has been completely absent, of course, was any reaction from local political, religious and civic authorities and groups. The people of Hania and their political, cultural and spiritual leaders did not care one bit about the destruction of a historical building that was much more than that: A reminder of a once thriving Jewish community that was destroyed during the German occupation of Crete in WW II. Deafening was also the silence of the national political and cultural figures, but, unfortunately, this was not surprising as they have been silent during other antisemitic outrages, which appear to be happening with increased frequency in Greece these days. Some months ago, the ancient Jewish cemetery in Ioannina was desecrated repeatedly by "persons unknown", without the local police having managed to arrest anyone yet. But at least in Ioannina, unlike Hania, some local people (although, again, without their civic and religious leaders) demonstrated in support of the Ioannina Jewish community. For details of these events and an interesting discussion (mostly in Greek) check out abravanel.wordpress.com.

So the police in Hania have now arrested several people, one Greek, two British citizens and one U.S. citizen. And all of a sudden, the national socialist antisemites are breathing a sigh of relief, since allegations of antisemitism among the Greek public have been proven, in their opinion, unfounded, given the nationality of the alleged perpetrators of the two arson attacks. Of course, the fact that this was a multinational crime provides no excuse for the complete indifference shown by the majority of the population to the arson, especially since when the two arson attacks occurred the identities of the perpetrators were not known. Unless, of course, those who are trying to justify the near universal absence of reaction, actually knew all along that some of the alleged perpetrators of the arson attacks were foreign nationals. Which begs the question: How and when did they have this information?

That foreign nationals were arrested is in itself not particularly significant: Both the United States and Great Britain harbor many individual antisemites, as evidenced by a number of high profile antisemitic incidents in both countries, like the shootout at the Holocaust Museum in Washington in June 2009, which resulted in the murder of a Museum security guard. The difference, of course, is that in these and other countries, such episodes are condemned immediately and vigorously by the political, religious and civic leadership and by the population at large. Even episodes that result in relatively little property damage and put nobody's life in danger, such as the defacement of synagogue exterior walls or of Jewish cemeteries, which do happen in the United States, draw immediate condemnation and generate tangible expressions of solidarity with the local Jewish communities by elected officials, civic groups and religious organizations. It is not an uncommon to see Christian clergymen from various denominations and their folk helping out Jewish congregants with the cleaning of antisemitic graffiti and repair of damages. This is what civilized people do! Antisemitism in a society is defined less by the actions, however vile and violent, of a relatively small number of malignant personalities and much more by the reactions of the population and the political, cultural and spiritual leadership. Has anyone seen or heard any expressions of outrage or just regret by local authorities and Greek Orthodox leaders in Hania, never mind offers for help, especially before this whole affair became an international embarrassment?

However, it gets even worse. Latching on the multinational composition of the band of arsonists, the national socialist blogs are alleging a conspiracy (*), led by Jewish organizations and the secret services of "foreign countries" (read United States and Israel), to defame Greece by setting fire to the Etz Hayim synagogue. I have posted before on the paranoid conspiratorial musings of the Greek antisemites. The latest reaction, blaming if not the victims at least those who, in the eyes of the Greek antisemites, have some kind of connection with the victims, is best explained by the Greek proverb "Φωνάζει ο κλέφτης για να φοβηθεί ο νοικοκύρης!" ("The thief is yelling so the homeowner will be afraid" - It does sound better in the original). Of course, no matter what smokescreens (no pun intended) the antisemites put up to obscure the truth, we all know who are responsible for such acts, in Hania, in Verroia, in Ioannina,. And once again, it is painfully obvious that Greek society has failed to react and to respond in a meaningful way to attacks against Jewish Greek citizens.

(*) This information was found in the Abravanel blog, mentioned above

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Diaries of a (not so) mad Greek antisemite

I have been reading for a few months the blog of a gentleman with the sobriquet "MacManus" (The MacManus Diaries). The blog owner writes on culture and politics with a decidedly nationalistic bend, although he professes to be of the left. I will admit that often I have found myself in agreement with many of his writings, although not necessarily with the responses of those who follow his blogs. I was made aware of this blog by a friend who, a third of a century ago, was a classmate of Mr. "MacManus" at an elite private school in the Athens area, which counts the current Prime Minister of Greece as well as the leader of the main opposition party among its many illustrious alumni. My friend gave up on the "MacManus" blog after some antisemitic comments were published by the blog owner who, when taken to task, refused to acknowledge the transgression.

A couple of days ago, Mr. "MacManus' published a comment in which, after stating that he is celebrating his "Hebrew name" (Εμμανουήλ), proceeds to comment ruefully on the loss of friends who have stopped talking to him because of his past antisemitic comments, although, as he states, he is fond of Woody Allen and Bob Dylan. This argument is, of course, reminiscent of the typical response: "I can not be a racist because some of my best friends/favorite artists/authors are black/Jewish/whatever".

Now, one more antisemitic blog among many would not be big deal, except Mr. "MacManus" proceeds to finger the "chosen" (περιούσιους) bankers for having "...bled humanity dry". The word "περιούσιος" is an interesting one, used in a derogatory fashion to describe Jews, as, for example, in the unabashedly antisemitic blog "Δελτίο των 11", where Mr. "MacManus" many times has found items worth quoting in his own blog, although, to be fair, usually on matters pertaining to immigrants and FYROM and not to the Jews. Until now, that is. Just compare (English translation below the Greek text):

"...Δηλαδή του Jacob Hirsch Schiff .Δηλαδή του Soros.
Δηλαδή των Περιούσιων της Goldman Sahs."
"...That is, Jacob Hirsch Schiff. That is, Soros. That is,
the Chosen of Goldman Sahs (sic)
Δελτίο των 11

- and -

"…ενεθυμήθην όσους μ’ έκοψαν τη διαδικτυακή
«καλημέρα»επειδής παρεξηγήθησαν γιά τα σχόλιά
μου διά τους
Περιούσιους Τραπεζίτας και τα
Χρηματοπιστωτικά Ιδρύματα που΄χουν ξεζουμίσει
σύμπασα την ανθρωπότητα.
Βλέπεις, μπορείς να
σχολιάζεις ελεύθερα τα τεκταινόμενα στην
της Γάζας
, αλλά δεν πρέπει να πιάσει ο στόμας
επ’ ουδενί, τους …(κάθε) Λήμαν Μπράδερς και
τον κάθε
"...I remembered those who stopped saying "Good
morning" because they were offended by my
comments on the Chosen Bankers and the
Financial Lending Institutions which have bled
(sucked) dry the entire world. You see, you may
comment freely on what is taking place in Gaza,
but you can't talk about each Lehman Brothers
or each Soros!

Regarding the obsession of antisemites with George Soros I have posted previously. As for the Lehman Brothers financial services company, here are some facts: The company was, indeed, founded by Jews in the mid-1800s. In 2008 it declared bankruptcy and its North American operations have since been acquired by Barclays, a venerable British bank. However, looking at the names of the last Board of Directors as well as the list of former officers, it is clear that some may be Jewish and some are not. But, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Lehman Brothers had, indeed, been run by Jews throughout its existence and that it and other similarly "Jewish run" financial institutions were responsible for the present worldwide financial crisis. Of course, this is a gross oversimplification, since the causes of the crisis have been many and are quite complex, but we will let this pass also. And let us further assume, as antisemites like to point out, that all this has been part of a Jewish plot to destabilize the world's financial systems. Here I will ignore the obvious questions, such as what did they gain from this? I mean, Bernie Madoff, for instance, is in jail and well known Jewish philanthropic institutions (e.g. the Art Museum of Brandeis University) as well as many (Jewish) individuals have lost their lives' savings as a result of his activities. But anyway, going along with this "reasoning", let me relate a parallel situation from first-hand experiences:

Some years ago, when my family and I were living in the United States, my very young son had to have a major operation to remove a tumor. We were fortunate to be near Boston so my son was treated at the Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the best hospitals in the world. During my son's lengthy hospital stay and subsequent follow-up visits, we met people who had come there from all over the world, including Greece, to seek treatment for their children from the same physicians we were seeing. All the physicians we dealt with, and there were many, surgeons, pathologists, oncologists, neurologists, physiatrists, were exceptionally competent and knowledgeable and extremely dedicated, compassionate and "human" in ways that one finds difficult to understand if one has dealt with medical professionals in Greece, where this type of attitude towards patients and the families of patients would be the exception rather than the rule (and no demands for "φακελλάκια" either, by the way). Many of the doctors were Jewish, and their proportion among the medical staff was considerably higher than the percentage of Jews in the general population, something that has found its way into American popular culture, with jokes about Jewish mothers wishing their daughters to marry Jewish doctors (although nowdays Jewish women are just as likely to become doctors as Jewish men). Surely, this situation must be viewed by people less naive than us as a Jewish plan to take over the medical profession. And given the excellent care we and others received, one would be compelled to conclude that this is part of some worldwide Jewish conspiracy to cure children from life-threatening illnesses, no doubt in order to promote some nefarious Jewish agenda for world domination.

This is all nonsense, of course, as much nonsense as the argument that Jews dominate the financial system in order to promote some secret agenda. It turns out that in the Boston area a plurality, if not a majority, of the ubiquitous neighborhood pizza eateries are owned or operated by Greeks. Yet it would be just as ludicrous to argue that this is because of some plot to clog the arteries of the unsuspecting American public as part of some dark conspiracy by Greeks bent on world domination. And who knows, maybe Greek Americans and Jewish Americans are working together after all, with the former helping to create health problems among the American public for the benefit of the latter. Joking aside, there are reasons based on the historical and socioeconomic development of a society that adequately and convincingly explain why particular ethnic or religious groups are over or under represented in certain professions, reasons having nothing to do with conspiracies.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The (sour) grapes of wrath

The election is over but the hysteria of the nationalist socialist fringe is reaching new heights. Although the PASOK victory was expected, the hope in those circles was that the difference between PASOK and New Democracy would be smaller than it turned out, PASOK would not command an absolute majority in Parliament and that LAOS would reach, maybe, 10% and so if PASOK failed to form a government, New Democracy would be forced to ask for LAOS' support. Of course, there were many other scenaria, from all sides of the political spectrum. But now that reality has hit hard, the weeping and gnashing of teeth have begun in earnest.

The always good for a laugh Δελτίο των 11 laments the election of Joseph(???) Papandreou and claims that in some New York synagogue (which one?) they are uncorking champagnes, presumably to celebrate PASOK's victory. Spyros Hatzaras, who writes all this, is probably confused, having mistaken recent champagne consumption by NYC Jews celebrating, a couple of weeks earlier, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New year, with interest in the outcome of the Greek election. This is in keeping, of course, with the delusion that the world revolves around Greece that Mr. Hatzaras and his fellow national socialists share. It is actually entertaining to read this blog, as Jewish conspirators are being discovered left and right, always trying to harm the pure and virtuous but, apparently, clueless Greeks, at least according to Mr. Hatzaras' telling of things. Clearly the gentleman is in a deep funk at choice of the Greek people.

Of course it was a matter of time before other members of the government would be tarred with the inevitable "Jew lover" slur by those mourning the elections outcome. Already, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the new government is described as a "close friend of the European Jewish Council". Although he is not labeled as an employee or associate (because he was not) but only as a "friend", the latter, in the eyes of the Greek antisemites, should disqualify him from joining the government. This certainlybrings back memoried of how the antisemites treated another Greek Deputy Foreign minister thirteen years ago.

I think that the irritation of the the national socialist circles has to do with the fact that none of the parties and politicians they would like to see running the country have been able to muster enough support to even come close to being asked to enter into a coalition government, never mind being able to form one themselves. This "ingratitude" of the Greek people really burns them up. So they resort to the only response they know: Calling their opponents names, spreading rumors and innuendo and throwing around plenty of mud under the assumption that even if you touch mud with a glove it is the glove that gets muddy and not the mud glovy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Playing with Fire

Last week unknown arsonists set fire to the office of the newsmagazine Resalto. Resalto, which also maintains a web site, is a national socialist magazine that generally rails against the "New World Order", the United States, George Soros and "Zionists" (read Jews). As such its demise would cause no shedding of tears, at least not in this corner; one fewer voice of hate would be a welcome development since, in my opinion, Resalto is something like is the 21st century Greek equivalent of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer.

However, having said all this I must take great exception to the attack on the offices of Resalto. Not on the basis of the freedom of opinion and freedom of the press, although these may also apply, but on two other premises: First, it is never a good idea to endorse breaking the law and, last I checked, arson and destruction of property, even property that belongs to nasty and unpleasant people, is an illegal act. Second, the act of arson put in danger the lives and property of innocent neighbors; the fact that, thankfully, nobody was hurt does not mitigate this thoughtless and careless act. Allow me to offer an analogy: A woman, who has been raped, decides to "take care" of her rapist, proceeds to follow him and ends up shooting him. I may have great sympathy towards this woman and her actions, even if I do not approve of vigilantism. However, if she had followed the rapist into a crowded bus and shot at him there, without regard for the safety of the other bus passengers who had no conncetion to the rapist, I would be far less sympathetic, even if nobody else was injured in the shooting.

Of course, the national socialist blogs are up in arms about the arson, which, naturally, the magazine itself has attributed to George Soros, whom others similarly minded call "The Jewish Osama" (By the way, who's the "Greek Osama"? Shall we have a contest?) and who also blame the New World Order and the "Zionists" (read Jews) for the attack. Hysteria mixed with stupidity appear endemic in the nationalist socialist fringe of Greek political life.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Antisemitism and the Greek Election

Unless one has been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the parliamentary elections that will take place on October 4 have grabbed the attention of every Greek, regardless of how politicized he or she may be. Greece faces serious financial problems along with a crisis of confidence in the country's institutions, brought about, at least in part, by civic unrest, significant legal and, especially, illegal immigration and a series of financial and political scandals. And as the parliamentary election is coming only months after the election for the European Parliament, there is great interest to see whether the trends discerned in the results of the June election will be confirmed in the October one.

Greek Jews have not been elected members of Parliament since before the second World War (interestingly, one of the Jews who was elected to the Greek Parliament in the 1920s was a distant relative of French President Nicolas Sarkozy). Clearly the great reduction in the number of Greek Jews as a result of their mass deportation to the German concentration camps where the great majority of them perished has affected their involvement in Greek politics. However, numbers alone can not explain the almost complete absence of Greek Jews among the candidates in parliamentary elections or in the middle and upper echelons of Greek political parties. Antisemitism has also played a major role in discouraging members of the generally reticent Greek Jewish community in seeking greater involvement in the political process.

Many, no doubt, recall the 1996 attacks by the current president of LAOS (and at the time New Democracy MP) Georgios Karatzaferis on professor Christos Rozakis, solely on the basis of the professor's alleged Jewish Ancestry which, according to his accusers, made Rozakis unsuitable to represent Greek interests as deputy foreign minister. Greek antisemites apparently have long memories. Even thirteen years after the Karatzaferis episode and eleven years since Christos Rozakis was appointed to the European Court of Human Rights, where he has been serving for more than a decade as one of the the Court's two vice-presidents, Greek antisemitic blogs (see here and here) are still harping at professor Rozakis' "anti Greek" and "traitorous" behavior, while pointing out his Jewish ancestry as an explanation for his alleged misdeeds.

Needless to say, Rozakis is not the first or only politician to be painted with the "Jewish ancestry" brush, which in Greece is tantamount to disqualification from holding public office, at least in the eyes of the country's many antisemites. Former PASOK prime minister Kostas Simitis has also been accused(!) of Jewish ancestry (for example, here and here), as has the late Andreas Papandreou and, of course, his son and current PASOK leader, Giorgos Papandreou. The alleged involvement (I have no idea if it's real or not) in PASOK's present electoral campaign of the American PR firm founded by David Axelrod, who worked for the election of U.S. president Barack Obama, has been mentioned as yet another example of Jewish (Note: not American or even foreign) involvement in Greek politics. In fact, even being identified as a (non-Jewish) Greek politician who has spoken against antisemitism is a disqualifier in the eyes of national socialist antisemites. It appears that this is all part of some nefarious Jewish plot for world domination. Which really explains the lack of involvement of Greek Jews in Greek politics: After all, why get your hands dirty in seeking world domination when the gentiles (or, in Greece's case, crypto-Jews, like Rozakis, Simitis and the Papandreous) will do it for them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

(New World) Order in the House

A favorite topic of antisemitic (is there any other kind?) conspiracy theorists is the "New World Order" (H Νέα Τάξη Πραγμάτων in Greek). Although the term "New World Order" (hereafter NWO for short) has a longish history (check the relevant Wikipeda article), its most recent emergence dates to a speech that U.S. President George H.W. Bush gave to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in 1990, in which he stated:
Until now, the world we’ve known has been a world divided
– a world of barbed wire and
concrete block, conflict and cold
war. Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world

in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order.
In the words of Winston
Churchill, a "world order" in which
"the principles of justice and fair play ... protect the weak

against the strong ..." A world where the United Nations, freed
from cold war stalemate, is
poised to fulfill the historic vision
of its founders. A world in which freedom and respect for
human rights find a home among all nations.

The historical context of the speech was the collapse (under the weight of its own contradictions as Marxists might argue) of the Soviet block and the possibility that the end of antagonism between the West and the Communist East might allow for a new and, he and many others hoped, better interaction between the former adversaries. In the optimistic outlook of the day, the NWO would replace the tainted old order. Naturally, people with vivid imagination, whether bitter defeated leftists or perennially paranoid extreme rightists, saw a much more sinister meaning in these words, alluding to some type of conspiracy for the imposition of a world government under the auspices of the United Nations but, of course, with the true overlords being the United States and the Jews.

There are many web sites and blogs, of both far right and far left persuasion, that have linked NWO conspiracies to everything that has happened since 1990, including earthquakes, tsunamis, the 9/11 attacks, Google, George Soros (ο απαραίτητος "μαϊντανός", as the Greek expresison goes, who -double bonus!- also happens to be Jewish) the devastating forest Greek fires of two summers ago, the discovery of extensive doping among Greek athletes prior to the 2008 Olympics, the re-emergence, during the past few years, of Greek terrorism, and the widespread street violence which errupted in Athens and other cities last December. For a perspective on the links between the NWO and the Jews check this blog. The "swine flu" epidemic has not escaped this association, with a rabidly anti-Israeli left wing blog claiming that vaccination against this virus constitutes a genocidal weapon, on agreement with similar claims made by a slef-professed Greek Orthodox right-wing blog. Recent proposed changes to the Greek law that governs anonymity in blogs have been blamed to the "lackeys of the NWO and the Zionists". Additionally, the festering problem with legal and illegal immigrants to Greece has also been blamed to NWO and Zionist consiprators.

It is perfectly legitimate, of course, to disagree with globalization or at least with the way globalization has affected world economies and certainly many are fearful of the possibility of outsiders imposing, by force, solutions to national problems. My own view is that these fears are unfounded: The world is too fragmented and too antagonistic to enable any worldwide entity, like the United Nations, to act decisively on any important issue; witness the world's reaction, tepid at best, to the North Korean or Iran nuclear weapon and missile development programs. In any case, this sort of attitude towards the imaginary bugbear of the NWO would be quaint if it were not for its sinister link with antisemitism.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Of chickens, swines and antisemites

Antisemites are obsessed with conspiracies. This is because conspiracies are, by definition, secretive and therefore quite convenient as one does not have to produce any evidence of the involvement of individuals or groups in a conspiracy or even that a conspiracy actually exists. In fact the less evidence there is the more powerful and dangerous a conspiracy is deemed to be, since the very absence of evidence indicates, according to the conspiracy advocates, the high degree of secretiveness among its members and their great organizational skills and, therefore, the high degree of danger posed by the conspirators.

Therefore it was not surprising to read in the Thessaloniki blog “ta xalia”, which, with great modesty bills itself as “Macedonia’s No. 1 blog”, a recent post with the title “In truth what is to become with the swine flu”. In this post the (eponymous) author argues that some years ago, because of some Europeans companies' interest in obtaining cheap chickens from China that was adversely affecting the KFC fast food chain, which according to the post, serves “Jewish interests”, the American Jewish lobby invented the bird flu to stop Europeans from buying chickens from China. The author proceeds to conclude the post by implying that some American Jewish interests must have been affected this time around, hence the swine flu.

Now, as I posted earlier, it was a matter of time until Jews were going to be blamed for the swine flu. Amusingly enough, I pointed out to a conspiracy theory about a Chinese-Jewish collusion aiming at exterminating, presumably, those who are neither Chinese nor Jewish. But the post in "Ta xalia" tries to draw a parallel with a previous influenza epidemic and the alleged involvement of the American Jewish lobby to protect the interests of a “Jewish” company. Here’s where this conspiracy theory begins to unravel:

KFC (formerly known as “Kentucky Fried Chicken”) is owned by Yum! Brands, which is a publicly traded company and which, in addition to KFC, owns a number of other fast food chains worldwide. The board of Yum! Brands consists of a number of people, some of whom may or may not be Jewish and some are definitely not, judging from their surnames. The two largest individual stockholders have Italian and Chinese surnames and the major institutional stockholders are the typical banks, capital and mutual fund management companies, which invest in profitable publicly-traded corporations like Yum! Brands.

Yum! Brands has major operations in China and the company buys its “raw” materials, which is slaughtered chickens, from whomever can provide these more cheaply and certainly from local sources (so KFC in China buys China-raised chickens, KFC in Greece buys chickens from Greek chicken farms and so on). Therefore KFC has no interest whatsoever to inflate artifically chicken prices in parts of the world or cut off one of its major suppliers. Furthermore, bird flu epidemics keep recurring every few years and most of them outside China (most recently in the Netherlands, I believe). The 2002 epidemic originated not in China but in very crowded Hong Kong, which exports no chickens, but where, because of the high population density, small farm animals and birds live in close proximity to humans.

It is not clear how the outbreak of the recent influenza epidemic caused by the swine-origin A/H1N1 virus (dubbed by the media as the "swine flu"), which originated in Mexico, serves interests of Jewish companies but this is left implied in the post since the author’s fertile imagination has, by now, run out of steam. He makes the usual half-baked arguments about companies profiting from selling vaccines, which, however, are not exclusively American pharmaceutical companies. The bottom line is that antisemites will recycle old lies and fabrications in order to draw parallels with current events.

Unfortunately this is not the first time that "Ta xalia" engages in antisemitic provocation. In another recent post, a different author complains about leaflets, circulating in Thessaloniki, promoting commemoration of the Holocaust, in part because, as he argues, this happened more than 60 years ago. He then proceeds to argue that we should have been commemorating the killings of Pontian Greeks and the destruction of the Pontian Greek communities by the Turks which took place …almost 90 years ago. But this is not really the point. Indeed, official Greece and modern Greeks ought to commemorate the destruction of any vibrant and very old Greek community. It is the language that the author uses, however, which is highly objectionable. He laments that “…we did not build next to [the Jewish Holocaust] monument another monument for the Pontian Holocaust, which, as Greeks, we had and have the sacred obligation…”.

Now, Pontians were Greeks and we Greeks have an obligation to remember them. But wait a minute! The Greek Jews who were killed, were they not Greeks? Is it not the moral obligation of the citizens of Thessaloniki and of the other Greek cities with Jewish communities hundreds or even thousands years old to remember and commemorate the destruction of those communities, the deportation and murder of their neighbors, co-workers, compatriots? Well, apparently not according to the author of this post who proceeds to spout the usual conspiracy theories "linking" Zionism, Masons, the Bilderberg club, the Club of Rome, the IMF... good God, Jews everywhere! Here, in a nutshell, is one of the hallmarks of Greek antisemitism: Greek Jews are not Greeks, they are foreigners involved in conspiracies that serve their nefarious aims and, therefore, by implication they do not have Greece's interests at heart and so they deserve no monuments.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The trouble with George

One of the favorite bugbears of the Greek nationalist and antisemitic blogs is the American financier George Soros. He was born in Hungary, to a Jewish family that survived the Holocaust and emigrated after World War II to Great Britain, where George Soros graduated from the London School of Economics. He later emigrated to the United States, where he made a lot of money as a currency speculator. He is thought to be among the 50 richest people in the world.

Although many people, myself included, do not much care for currency speculators, it is neither his wealth, nor the way that Soros made his money that make him the object of wrath for many Greek (and, to be fair, not just Greek) antisemites. Soros has used his wealth to fund programs to combat poverty in underdeveloped countries, however it is his financial backing of non-profit pro-democracy non-governmental organizations that many like to view as part of an international Jewish (what else?) conspiracy to establish a "New World Order". It is certainly the case that as early as the 1970s, George Soros, directly and through his foundation, gave money to Eastern European dissident groups, thereby earning him the enmity of Europe's communists and fellow travelers. Later on he helped financially those in the Ukraine and in Georgia who wished to assert their respective countries' independence from Russia (the Russian government, of course, supported and funded the opposing sides, as did Russian oligarchs). Additionally, foundations linked to Soros have dispensed money to educational institutions in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Soros' name comes up frequently in Greek nationalist and (openly or disguised) antisemitic on-line publications and blogs (for example, here, here and here). He is said to harbor dark designs for Greece by supporting the expansionist policies of Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and, naturally, the state of Israel, all of which aim destabilizing Greece and even annexing parts of Greek territory. Generally no credible evidence is provided to support such claims: For example, the current Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski, was educated in the EU through a scholarship provided by a Soros-supported foundation, just like tens of thousands of other Europeans, including many Greeks, who have also benefited from such scholarships. Clearly Mr. Soros must have had great insight into the mind of young Gruevski to predict, many years ago, that he was a worthy investment as he would later rise to become FYROM's Prime Minister and, in gratitude to his benefactor, ready to facilitate Soros' nefarious plans against Greece (Note to those readers who are bereft of humor: this is called irony). Never mind that Soros is too busy making (and enjoying) tons of money to micro (or even macro) manage the day-to-day affairs of his foundations.

The irony here, of course, is that George Soros was also a bitter enemy of former U.S. President George W. Bush, the latter a favorite target of the same people who have been decrying the actions of the United States, in alleged collusion with Turkey, Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Israel against Greek and Greek-Cypriot national interests. In a 2002 interview Soros stated that removing George Bush from office was the central focus of his life and "a matter of life and death". He worked very hard and spent a lot of his money to support the campaign of Senator John Kerry who ran, unsuccessfully, against George Bush in the 2004 U.S. presidential election. He was also a strong supporter of Barack Obama and has funded many of the various leftist groups that are connected to the Democratic party in the United States. So it would be reasonable to surmise that someone who has vehemently opposed the "New World Order"-associated policies of the Bush administration could not, at the same time, be supporting those same policies. Furthermore, he has been a frequent critic of Israeli government policies. But consistency and logic have not been the hallmarks of the political "thinking" (term used loosely) of antisemites. And, after all, we all know how devious those Jews are! (Note: Irony again).

So what is it with Soros that has earned him the enmity of antisemites? Mind you, I don't much like the man myself, I find his heavy-handed involvement in American politics highly annoying and anti-democratic and I certainly don't see eye-to-eye with his world view. But I do not ascribe to him conspiratorial or other motives and certainly no intentions of harming Greece in particular. But since the people who vilify George Soros appear to hold views similar to his regarding the previous U.S. administration and its policies, the only explanation I can come up with is that he has earned their enmity by being a wealthy and influential Jew. And in spite of what antisemites say, ultimately these are the reasons they hate someone.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Bilderberg Obsession

During the past few weeks the various Greek nationalist-socialist blogs have been fulminating against the "Bilderberg Club", which has been meeting in the Athens area, specifically in Vouliagmeni, a rather exclusive seaside town. The Bilderberg Club is not an official organization and as such it has no no formal structure, no public spokespersons, no web site and certainly no policies. It is a more informal gathering than the Davos Economic Forum, another favorite bugbear of conspiracy theorists in Greece and abroad, except that the Bilderberg gathering is more secretive and excludes journalists (the latter may explain why even mainstream media has occasionally bought into some of the circulating conspiracy theories). Here's what the Wikipedia has to say (article written before the current meeting):

"The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, or Bilderberg Club is an unofficial, annual, invitation-only conference of around 130 guests, most of whom are persons of influence in the fields of politics, business, and banking.The group meets annually at luxury hotels or resorts throughout the world — normally in Europe, and once every four years in the United States or Canada. It has an office in Leiden in the Netherlands. The 2008 conference took place in Chantilly, Virginia and the 2009 meeting will take place from May 14-16 in Athens, Greece."

And here's some more information from an article in The Times (London) with the rather ironic title "Shadowy Bilderberg group meet in Greece — and here’s their address" (the article actually provides the address of the Nafsika Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni); the emphasis is mine:

"[...]This year the club is going to talk about depression. “According to the pre-meeting booklet sent out to attendees, Bilderberg is looking at two options,” says the Bilderberg-watcher Daniel Estulin — “either a prolonged, agonising depression that dooms the world to decades of stagnation, decline and poverty — or an intense but shorter depression that paves the way for a new sustainable economic world order, with less sovereignty but more efficiency.”
Since Bilderberg does not officially exist, it cannot deny anything and is therefore manna from heaven for the conspiracy theorist. Eurosceptics are convinced that the future development of the European Union was plotted here — EU commissioners have always been welcomed into the coven, with Peter “We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich” Mandelson a particular favourite. Margaret Thatcher, it is said, was a shy debutante at a Bilderberg meeting in 1975.
Jim Tucker, veteran stalker of the Bilderberg club meetings, claims that Mrs Thatcher was ordered “to dismantle British sovereignty, but she said, ‘no way’, so they had her sacked”. Left-wing conspiracy theorists believe that Bilderbergers form a capitalist nucleus, and there is a germ of truth in this. The meetings were started in the Netherlands, in the Hotel de Bilderberg, near Arnhem, by the Polish exile Joseph Retinger. He was worried about growing anti-Americanism and the advance of Communism in Western Europe. [...]"

My view is that the "Bilderberg Club" is simply high-level junket for the participants to get away from work and home and spend a few days in a luxury resort hotel, with all expenses paid, all the while feeling important because they think that they are saving/helping/influencing the future of the world. This is not dissimilar to conferences of professional associations such as medical societies, which invariably take place in nice locations (Hawaii, Bali, Crete) and where most of the participants go to combine some business with much more pleasure. Of course, invitation-only conferences carry much greater prestige and, therefore, create a certain amount of jealousy and animosity to those who have not been invited.

It is, of course, perfectly legitimate for anyone to disagree with the politics or the economic or social theories espoused by the individuals who are invited to participate in such conferences. And, I suppose, it is human nature (for some, at least) to see shady dealings and find evidence of conspiracies in the actions of the rich and powerful. What is disturbing, however, is the remarkably high percentage of anti-Bildereberg blogs which claim that the Jews as an organized entity (i.e. "Zionists") are either a big part of this conspiracy for world domination or are actually running the show. Most of the Greek blogs that discuss this negatively can't resist direct or oblique references to the "Zionist conspiracy". Some extremist public figures have come out against this "murderous organization of international zionism", as the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Piraeus (apparently expressing his own views and not the official line of the Greek Orthodox Church) has been quoted to have said publicly.

Although variations on the Bilderberg-Zionist conspiracy theory can be found in a number of the blogs I have listed previously, I recently stumbled across a particularly egregious example of the falsehoods and misinformation that are disseminated by the Greek antisemites with regard to the "Bilderberg Club". In an entry with the title "The logo of Bilderberg reveals its secrets", posted in the nationalist blog Ελλήνων Αφύπνιση (Awakening of the Greeks), there is a made up logo of the "Bilderberg Club", copied from a blatantly anti-Bilderberg site. This fake logo has the wold "Bilderbberg" in gothic script (why does gothic script always look so ominous?), an eagle and stars in the center (the stars arranged like the EU logo) and flags of the U.N., U.S. and Israel in the background. It is used to demonstrate links between the United States, Jews, Nazi Germany, the "New World Order" and the Zionists, the latter, of course, aiming at (what else?) world domination.

It is pretty typical of any fanatic, who does not have any facts to support his case, to manufacture such "facts" so that he can refute them easily, thereby "proving" his point. So what better way than to create a "logo" for an organization that doesn't exist. Goebbels would have been proud, except for the crudeness of it all, which, of course, won't mater to the true believers.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Swine Flu epidemic: A Sino-Jewish conspiracy against the world

Yes, folks, a Greek language blog claims that the flu epidemic constitutes a conspiracy by the Chinese and the Jews to exterminate the "white and black races". This would be too funny if further down it did not argue for the expulsion and extermination of Greek Jews, as well as all immigrants, Masons, other "hebrewsaxons" (???) and generally everyone who is not pure Greek.