Personal Ties, Economic Prospects Crucial To Greek Anti Flotilla Moves

July 22, 2011 1:53 pm 1 comment

George Papandreou (L) and Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meeting in Athens. Photo: neoskosmos.com.

Among all the consequences of the recent Gaza flotilla crisis is the important gains that have been achieved in Israeli-Greek relations. Greece has played a vital role in preventing the most recent flotilla attempt to “break the blockade of Gaza.” As this latest flotilla saga began, Greece said it would abide by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s advice that all countries discourage the flotilla operatives from sailing.

But Greece took that advice a step further and dealt perhaps the most important blow to the anti-Israel activists: it prevented ships from sailing from its ports, and apprehended some, including a ship captain, who tried to set sail in defiance of Greek orders. It also hindered one ship from sailing following a review of its documents.

Israel’s security blockade of Gaza is vital to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens. Gaza has been a Hamas launch site for attacks on Israelis. Some 10,000 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza onto Israeli civilians in the last decade. This flotilla redux is yet another misguided attempt to embarrass Israel, with little regard for the facts. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The original flotilla was organized by a group with terrorist ties. Israel gave that flotilla every opportunity to have its shipments inspected for weapons and trucked into Gaza.

Much of Greece’s principled stand can be credited to the strong, personal relationship between Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The intervention seems to be the culmination of the blossoming friendship between these two leaders who, in the last year and a half, have met in person, enjoyed reciprocal visits and held regular phone calls. The personal connection seems to be paying off.

It wasn’t always that way. Greece has long prided itself on its ties to the Arab world, and was among the last countries in Europe to diplomatically recognize Israel. Indeed, in 1982, when Israel routed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the first Lebanon War, Yasser Arafat and his PLO henchman first sailed to Greece before eventually setting up his base in Tunisia.

The Greek Jewish community in Thessaloniki, once home to one of the largest urban Jewish communities in Europe, was decimated by the Holocaust. The community today, numbering some 5,000, is well organized and has become an integral part of the European Jewish scene in the global Jewish village.

Greece has had some home-grown anti-Semitism over the years, much of which went unanswered, or unacknowledged, by state officials. That silence has now been replaced, when incidents occur, by quick responses from government figures at the highest level. Some of this may stem from deterioration in Turkish-Israeli relations. But if Turkish-Israeli relations remain the same, or even if they were to improve, the Greek-Israeli relationship stands on its own merits.

Accompanying the strong Greek-Israel relationship is the intensifying contact between Greek Americans and American Jews—two of America’s oldest immigrant groups.

A newly established economic zone among Greece, Cyprus, and Israel is also cause for acknowledgment of the enhanced relationship. This Mediterranean partnership—which will begin with the exploration of massive gas fields in the waters between Cyprus and Israel—helps to normalize Israel in the eyes of the world.

The revitalized Israel-Greek relationship is truly most encouraging. Athens recognizes that only through direct negotiations can Israelis and Palestinians reach a settlement. For leading the way on this issue, without equivocation and without apologies, especially during the time of its worst economic crisis, Greece deserves to be singled out for praise. There will surely be other tests ahead; this one was met with sobriety and good common sense.

Daniel S. Mariaschin is the International Executive Vice President of, B’nai B’rith.

1 Comment

  • Well written article and Thankyou for praising and acknowledging Greeces effort in preventing Israels maritime blockade being broken by Hamas sponsored protagonists.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs 10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    Ten major film studios are currently in production on projects that promote a decidedly pro-Israeli narrative. In famously liberal Hollywood, such a development has left mouths agape and set tongues a wagging. Since the Jewish State began defending itself from the thousands of rockets that Hamas has hurled at it – as well as ongoing terror attacks and murders, the overwhelming number of Tinseltown’s producers, directors, actors, and studio moguls have remained indifferent to the plight of millions of Israeli [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Sports So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    Israeli Judoka Yarden Gerbi (63kg), 25, of Netanya, on Thursday lost the final round at the Judo World Cup, and her world title to Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, at a match held in Russia. “I have mixed feelings,” Gerbi told Israeli Army radio. But, “I shouldn’t assume that I’d win the world Judo championship twice in a row,” she admitted. Gerbi won gold in Rio De Janeiro last year. “When I made my decision, I knew it was going to [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    “Jews Out!” was just the name of a child’s game that three little girls played in World War II Europe. But all is not as it seems because the three girls were Jewish, but hiding their true identities. In award-winning author R. D. Rosen’s riveting non-fiction work, Such Good Girls, “Jews Out!” wasn’t a game; it was a struggle for survival. The girls, Sophie, Flora, and Carla, grew up at a time and a place that did not allow them [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    JNS.org – “He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” wrote Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994, following the Oct. 20 passing of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Twenty years later, more robust accounts of Carlebach’s life have come to the surface. Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy. This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s The Soul of Jerusalem hit the shelves. But even the authors will admit [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the morale of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.