By Professor Asher Matathias
Merely days into Rosh HaShana, surrounded by family and friends, with the promise for collective and individual cleansing and improvement, there are noteworthy events to comment. Near summer’s formal conclusion, Greece today held national elections for the 300-seat unicameral Vouli, Parliament. The snap vote was called just a few weeks ago, amid the tragedy of ravaging fires that eventually claimed 67 lives!
In an uncharacteristically calm atmosphere, but with the electorate both emotionally-spent and resigned to continued rule by the dominant New Democracy Party, current Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis has been returned to power, with the Throughout the truncated campaign, there was fear that the extreme right-wing LAOS, under the leadership of the notorious Yorgos Karatzeferis, would score impressively-enough with the disaffected — nativist of spirit in religion, language, and culture, fearful of immigrants, xenophobic, and as reported in the public airwaves, rabidly anti-Semitic. In the event, even though the party barely registered above 3.4%, surpassing the minimal threshold, it was able to enter the legislature for the first time, giving it ample opportunity for mischief! The Communists, too, increased their profile, gaining more than 7.2% of the ballots. Moreover, 30% of the populace abstained.
The runner-up socialist PASOK, headed by George Papandreou (son of the late Andreas), had a disappointing result, with a net reduction of seats and anticipating a period of internal energetic reassessment, perhaps even precipitating a protracted battle for succession. For those living outside Greece, there is comfort that the steady, ongoing right-of-center conservative cabinet will maintain a pro-American stance, and push for long-needed reforms to make the society more Western and European (progressive, economically competitive, and geared to a rough meritocracy), and less Levantine, with the attendant perceived corruption, heavy-laden bureaucracy, prone to scapegoat the country’s considerable shortcomings by blaming Americans, Israel, and Jews.
An example of the insidious penetration of venom in the dialogue is gauged in a seemingly innocuous exchange found in the weekly bilingual New York-based GreekNews for September 10-16. There, on page 4, one Spyros Montesantos let loose his toxic tongue lashing the editor (Apostolos Zoupaniotis) for permitting Michael Ignatiou’s (a respected Greek-Cypriot journalist) comments on the Kurds vis a vis Turkey and Greece to be recently published. Viewing the piece as decidedly pro-Turkish, he then added, in Greek, “Mr. Ignatiou, damn be the Bolsheviks and the Jews of Russia for overturning and killing our brothers, the saintly tsars.”