Beware of the evolving alliance between Israel and Greece

Khalid Amayreh , Sunday 17 Jul 2011

President in crisis Karolos Papoulias' promotion of trade and cultural exchange with Israel ignores the Palestinian struggle as the Free Gaza flotilla remains docked in Greece

On the eve of his visit to Israel, Greek President Karolos Papoulias spoke of a "strong relationship in all aspects" between his country and Israel.

The fact that Israel continues to occupy Palestine, expand Jewish-only colonies on occupied territory and persecute millions of Palestinians, including many Greek Orthodox Christians in the West Bank, seems to have little or no bearing on the evolving relations between Greek and the Jewish state.

"We are now involved in an intensive process of cooperation. Our ministers and officials systematically consult and work together on all levels and in key areas, including energy, defence and security, as well as agriculture and tourism," the Greek president was quoted as saying.

He added that "we are also working together on international issues and matters of regional concern to both countries. We are pursuing a strong relationship on trade, investment, political and security cooperation."

Greece is a sovereign state and should be free to pursue its various interests as its sees fit. However, Greece must also be aware of the immense negative ramifications that come with having close relations with an essentially criminal state whose entire modus operandi is based on ethnic cleansing, land theft and organised terror against the native Palestinian people.

In recent months and weeks, the Greek air force held a joint drill with the Israeli air force in the eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, the Greek authorities connived with the Israeli intelligence to thwart a planned flotilla en route to the Gaza Strip to deliver badly-needed humanitarian materials to besieged Gazans. The Free Gaza flotilla was intended to highlight the illegitimacy, illegality and utter criminality of the five-year blockade on the coastal enclave.

The latest measure by the Greek authorities is inexplicable, and the Greek government stands accused of acquiescing to Israel's Nazi-like persecution and repression of the Palestinian people.

Papoulias spoke of a "common culture" between Israel and Greece, ignoring the all-too-obvious fact that racism, often in its ugliest forms, represents the heart and soul of Israeli culture these days.

Papoulias was due to arrive in Israel Sunday, 10 July, where he is expected to receive praise from Israeli leaders for collaborating with Israel by barring the Free Gaza flotilla from sailing to the besieged coastal enclave.

Perhaps the Greek president should ask his Zionist hosts why is it that Greece doesn't ask its Jewish citizens to pledge loyalty to the Hellenic republic as an Orthodox Christian state, although 97 per cent of the country's population follow the Greek Orthodox Church, while Israel is demanding that all non-Jewish citizens pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state.

The esteemed Greek president is also advised to ask his Israeli interlocutors why it is that the Israeli government tolerates, encourages and bankrolls Yeshiva students and rabbis who habitually insult Christian monks in the streets of Jerusalem and who issue religious edicts permitting genocide against non-Jews on the ground that these people are not authentic human beings and that their lives have no sanctity, especially in comparison to Jews, the master race.

I doubt whether Papoulias will have the rectitude, let alone the moral courage, to confront the Israeli leaders on these basic issues. Otherwise, what "common culture" between Greece and apartheid Israel that is he talking about?

There are a lot of signs that Greece, which is facing an overwhelming financial crisis these days, is looking for an alliance with Zionism which Greek officials believe rightly controls the American domestic political scene to a large extent.

Hence, Greece, which has a fairly strong lobby in Washington, is looking for ways and means of cooperation and coordination with AIPAC, the powerful American Jewish lobby, in order to promote common Israeli-Greek interests.

Earlier this year, Greece hosted the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, comprising some of the most fanatical supporters of Jewish fascism in Palestine.

Unfortunately, the brashly racist tone of many of the participants raised no eyebrows among Greek leaders and officials, which suggests that the freedom of the Palestinian people from the shackles of Israeli fascism and repression is the last thing that comes to the Greek government's mind when pursuing relations with Israel.

Still, it remains to be seen if Greece has completely departed from its erstwhile moderate stance vis-à-vis Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice. An important sign to that effect will be how Greece will vote in September at the UN when the Palestinian Authority will seek international recognition for a putative Palestinian state.

If Greece opts to vote against the Palestinian request, it will herald a new era of Greek-Zionist alliance against the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Greece and other countries must understand that a flimsy stance on the Palestinian plight won't be acceptable since it is a sign of hypocrisy and dishonesty to forge an active alliance with a manifestly criminal state while issuing rhetorical statements supporting the Palestinian cause.

Finally, it is abundantly clear that the evolving alliance between Israel and Greece is directed first and foremost against Turkey, especially following the marked deterioration of relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv.

Israel, employing a characteristically arrogant approach toward Turkey, has been trying to woo Ankara back to Zionism's lap. However, the latest efforts to that effect seem to have utterly failed as was construed from the bluntly anti-Turkish statements uttered recently by Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

In any case, Turkey, as well as Arab and Muslim states in the region, including Egypt and Iran, will have to watch the Israeli-Greek axis very carefully.


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