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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Zorba the Greek and the Archbishop of Piraeus

There is this ‘thing’ that does not ever go away of its own accord. It manifests itself wherever human beings gather and it is only by attacking the poisoned spring from which it emerges that we have a chance at all of defeating it.  It is hate.  We live in a world where hatred is carefully nurtured but we fail to tackle it either at home or abroad.

My view of history should help to explain the problem.  Some 2,000 years into humanities collective past a people refused to accept domination by an economic and military power whose empire stretched through Europe and the Mediterranean. This subject people were troublesome because their economic system was humane. This may seem surprising but the oil that kept Rome running smoothly was slavery. And Rome being an autocracy rested most easily on a platform of violence and repression.  Violence is an act of oppressive domination, submission by its victims indicative of inferiority, and acquiescence by those same victims the proof of individual or even a divine right to punish.

And so ancient Israel was overthrown to silence competition.  Christianity’s earliest followers also had a problem. They were associated with Jewish dissent and Jewish revolution.  It is the reason that they gradually rewrote their own history, first to exclude any discussion of Roman atrocities and then to distance their faith from its Jewish roots which by association made them also a threat to Rome.

But the Greek founders of the Christian empire took it one step further. They internalized the violence that fueled Rome and made discrimination and hate a weapon of Church expansion.

In 1965A.D.  Pope Paul VI issued a document that was named Nostra Aetate. It renounced the charge of deicide; the idea that all Jews past, present and future were guilty of killing the son of God. To quote Nostra Aetate “…. in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons…..decries hatred, persecutions, displays of antisemitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone”. Pope Paul VI (28-10-1965). Declaration on the relation of the church to non-Christian religions – Nostra Aetate (retrieved 10th February 2011)

The problem is that neither the Russian Orthodox Church nor the Greek Orthodox Church nor the Protestant churches are obligated to embark on a similar journey towards repairing the past.

In December 2010 The Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus said that Hitler was just a Zionist instrument. And that was only one of the toxic statements made about Judaism. If he had said this of Islam churches would have burned down across the Islamic world and many innocent Christians would have been murdered. In February 2011 Mikis Theodorakis, the Greek composer who wrote the music for the film "Zorba the Greek," said in a television interview that he is an "anti-Semite and anti-Zionist."  So I have a problem.

If the Ground Zero of Greek hatred is a communist composer admired by millions of Greeks and a senior Greek religious figure then what can be done to control the contagion of hate that the two sides of Greek society are loath to touch for fear of offense? Ultimately the financial and political benefits of immorality are 1,400 million Muslim punters of everything from prostitution and drugs to the non physical kind such as university places and holidays to the more prosaic material commodities such as cars and clothes.

Let us be clear of the effect the words of such venomous human specimens can have on society.  Zorba and His eminence appear on public TV and basically state that it is OK to hate me. They are saying that it is OK to kill the toddler walking with his mother because the youngster is Jewish. They do not have to say the word ‘kill.’ They and their kind have used the language of denial to mask their evil intent for most, if not all of their respective histories. Existentially they are no different to the Nazi that once tried to exterminate them to.

Be clear that I do not ever advocate violence.

Only however, the most unambiguous response to their kind of human ugliness and despair will help to inoculate humanity against them.

We must demand equal access to the same media and through the same programs to make clear the damage that their mind vomit causes. It is an unfortunate characteristic of the human psyche that we accept what is thrown at us unless we are told something to the contrary. The Archbishop and the Communist are two sides of the same coin. The devil they both worship may appear different to both of them but for me and for the child that is degraded, beaten or killed in their name they are no more than Janus faced twins.  And if they speak evil they are evil. I am unwilling to tune into their perceptions or beliefs and I refuse to bow to their demands that I submit meekly to their narrative and to their flawed and toxic history.

Do I hate this human detritus? No – Their kind lives off hate. My religion implores me to hate injustice but to also be wary of the hypocrite. Intellectual cowardice and flaccid morality is far too prevalent because of people like them. I will not turn the other cheek. And we mustn’t. They must be confronted.


  1. The relationship between the Jews and the Greeks has been difficult since the Bronze Age days of the Sea Peoples (Philistines!) As the same also holds true between the Greeks and the "native" residents of Asia Minor (going back to the days of the Trojan War) there may be something larger than religion at work. Thoughts?

  2. Does ‘racial’ memory impede co-existence between nations? The Italians have intermingled so extensively over millennia that the Nazis had real issues with bestowing honorary Aryan status on Mussolini and I would have thought that the same would apply to Greece. But history is not about race but the narrative of nations - Sadly myths can be created to justify anything and the new historians have abused this creative process with exquisite abandon