A Poisonous Tune Is Playing Again

The new anti-Semitism is indeed a real phenomenon that requires attention; but the chilling statements made by Theodorakis should in fact divert attention to the old anti-Semitism. His statements sharply expose the profound problem in the age-old relationship between Christian Europe and its Jews.

Mikis Theodorakis is the most important Greek composer of our time. But Theodorakis is a lot more than a composer: For more than half a century, he undauntedly fought against tyranny. His struggle against the military regime in Greece and oppressive regimes elsewhere turned him into a figure of unique moral standing. Both in his musical compositions and the course of his life, the renowned Greek composer embodied the spirit of freedom of the progressive Europe.

In light of such, the statements he made in the extraordinary interview he gave to Haaretz Magazine (August 27) carry special weight.

Theodorakis spoke freely about how Jews control the banks, the media and the world of music, and the tendency of the Jews to be domineering and fanatical. He referred to the Jewish people as a secret society that is concerned with promoting the interests of its members, and spoke of the Jewish rejection of Jesus' message of love. He made unbridled use of dark racist motifs. When referring to the State of Israel, Theodorakis again compared it to Nazi Germany. Throughout the interview, Theodorakis proved that he is not a progressive humanist, but an out-and-out anti-Semite worthy of condemnation.

The prevailing tendency in Israel in recent years has been to focus on the new, non-Christian anti-Semitism. Individuals and various organizations in the Jewish establishment opted to focus on the new hatred of Israel, the Islamic one, which is being fed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The new anti-Semitism is indeed a real phenomenon that requires attention; but the chilling statements made by Theodorakis should in fact divert attention to the old anti-Semitism. His statements sharply expose the profound problem in the age-old relationship between Christian Europe and its Jews. And they contain enough to inspire a renewed debate on the nature of the intimate relationship between Europe's Jewish communities and the cultural landscape surrounding them.

A number of points stood out in Theodorakis's statements - the difficulty in accepting the Jewish people as a nation like all others; the difficulty in accepting the Jews as people who wield power; the difficulty in disregarding the Jews' harsh theological role in Christian tradition.

But one point stood out above all in his words - the difficulty in accepting the Jewish dual identity, the difficulty in accepting the fact that the Jews living in the Diaspora are loyal both to the environment in which they live and to their separate heritage.

Israelis of the third millennium are often disassociated from the historical link of the establishment of their state. The day-to-day difficulty involved in implementing the Zionist enterprise frequently causes its fundamental logic to be forgotten. And the statements made by Mikis Theodorakis come to reiterate and sharpen this logic.

They point to the fact that the Zionist analysis of the Jewish condition was fundamentally correct. Jews as individuals have the right to live anywhere they choose. But the Jewish people needs a national home of its own. Without such a home, the lives of the Jews of the Diaspora could become dangerous. Their dual identity could arouse deep-seated dark feelings in their neighbors.