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15° Nicosia,
20 February, 2019
 
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Greeks and Jews

A persecuted people who, in their effort to protect themselves, evolved into one of the world’s most powerful

Athanasios Ellis

Athanasios Ellis

A persecuted people who, in their effort to protect themselves, evolved into one of the world’s most powerful. Through their constant struggle for survival, they have been shown to possess perseverance and wide-ranging abilities. Solidarity is their key ingredient. They are an example to be imitated.

Jews of all ages around the world know they can depend on other Jews for moral and economic support. It is no coincidence that the Jewish community is associated with an ever-increasing number of cases of academic excellence, scientific progress, business innovation and political influence.

Their attitude comes as the result of centuries of persecution and hardship. And it is a lesson for everyone as it is an attitude that brings results in the present day. Greeks would be much better off following their example than being constantly weakened as a society and as a country, by disunity and division.

The Jewish diaspora, especially in America but also in many other countries, has been generous and consistent in supporting Israel. Meanwhile Greece is looking to isolated cases of well-intentioned Greeks living abroad to contribute.

These thoughts were brought to mind as Greece commemorated the “Day of the Greek Jewish Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust” in memory of the thousands of Greek Jews who died in the Nazi concentration camps, as well as the heroism of Greek Christians who risked their lives during the Nazi occupation to save their Jewish neighbors from certain death.

Greece suffered a large death toll in the Holocaust as tens of thousands of its citizens were murdered. The country’s Jewish community was almost entirely wiped out.

The commemoration of that day carries a deeply humanistic symbolism. It serves as a constant reminder of what can happen when a society is taken over by bigotry, hatred and indifference.

At the same time, it brings to mind the common elements shared between Hellenism, both Greek and Cypriot, and the Jewish community, which expand beyond the historical and cultural past.

Albeit with some delay, this relationship has strengthened and in recent years also taken a clear geopolitical dimension. It is a “natural” relationship based on sincere cooperation; and it is in the interest of all sides.

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