Daily Archives: August 21, 2014

Προσβολή για τον Ελληνισμό η «αμνησία» για τη γενοκτονία!

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Θύελλα αντιδράσεων έχει προκαλέσει η ενέργεια της κυβέρνησης (προφανώς για να μη… στενοχωρήσει την Τουρκία) να μη συμπεριλάβει στο υπό ψήφιση αντιρατσιστικό νομοσχέδιο ειδική αναφορά στις γενοκτονίες των χριστιανών της Ανατολής, δηλαδή των Ποντίων, των Μικρασιατών, των Αρμενίων και των Ασσυρίων, καθώς και τις ποινικές συνέπειες από την άρνησή τους.
Αυτή η εξαίρεση, εφόσον διατηρηθεί μέχρι τέλους, αποτελεί προσβολή για τον Ελληνισμό, όπως άλλωστε προκύπτει και από το περιεχόμενο της επιστολής-καταπέλτη που απέστειλαν στον πρωθυπουργό 38 βουλευτές της Νέας Δημοκρατίας. Οι βουλευτές ζητούν, προκειμένου να ψηφίσουν το νομοσχέδιο, να αναγνωριστούν η γενοκτονία των χριστιανών της Ανατολής όπως και το Ολοκαύτωμα των Εβραίων. Η κυβέρνηση, ύστερα από την εξέλιξη αυτή και δίχως να υπάρχει επίσημη αντίδραση, φέρεται ότι υπόσχεται να προχωρήσει σε διορθώσεις κατά τη συζήτηση στη Βουλή.
Την πρωτοβουλία της επιστολής ανέλαβε ο Πόντιος βουλευτής της Β’ Περιφέρειας Θεσσαλονίκης Σάββας Αναστασιάδης, θέλοντας να στηρίξει τις προσπάθειες των ποντιακών οργανώσεων και σωματείων να ποινικοποιηθεί η άρνηση της γενοκτονίας των Ελλήνων της Ανατολής.
Οι βουλευτές, μέσω της επιστολής, προτείνουν στον κ. Σαμαρά στο νομοσχέδιο που θα εισαχθεί προς ψήφιση στο Β’ Θερινό Τμήμα της Βουλής την επόμενη εβδομάδα να αντιμετωπίζεται ως αδίκημα η άρνηση της γενοκτονίας των χριστιανών.
«Η Γενοκτονία των Ελλήνων του Πόντου, της Μικράς Ασίας και της Θράκης αποτελεί ένα αναμφισβήτητο ιστορικό γεγονός, που πολλοί από εμάς, τους απογόνους εκείνων που μαρτύρησαν, την ακούσαμε και τη μάθαμε όχι μόνο από ιστορικές καταγραφές, αλλά και από τα βιώματα και τις ζωντανές αφηγήσεις των παππούδων και των γιαγιάδων μας, και φυσικά δεν μπορεί να αμφισβητηθεί από κανέναν» σημειώνουν οι βουλευτές στην επιστολή τους.
Την υπογράφουν οι βουλευτές Αναστασιάδης Σάββας – Β’ Θεσσαλονίκης, Στυλιανίδης Ευριπίδης – Ροδόπης, Παπαδόπουλος Μιχάλης – Κοζάνης, Κωνσταντινίδης Ευστάθιος – Φλωρίνης, Τζαμτζής Ιορδάνης – Πέλλας, Λυκουρέντζος Ανδρέας – Αρκαδίας, Βλάχος Γεώργιος – Ν. Αττικής, Κοντός Αλέξανδρος – Ξάνθης, Τσιάρας Κωνσταντίνος – Καρδίτσας, Χαρακόπουλος Μάξιμος – Λάρισας, Τζαβάρας Κωνσταντίνος – Ηλείας, Τσαβδαρίδης Λάζαρος – Ημαθίας, Μιχελάκης Ιωάννης – Επικρατείας, Κουτσούμπας Ανδρέας – Βοιωτίας, Ιωαννίδης Ιωάννης – Α’ Θεσσαλονίκης, Βλαχογιάννης Ηλίας – Τρικάλων, Χριστογιάννης Δημήτριος – Πιερίας, Αντωνίου Μαρία – Καστοριάς, Κυριαζίδης Δημήτριος – Δράμας, Πασχαλίδης Ιωάννης – Καβάλας, Νταβλούρος Αθανάσιος – Αχαΐας, Μακρή-Θεοδώρου Ελένη – Φθιώτιδας, Σκρέκας Κωνσταντίνος – Τρικάλων, Σολδάτος Θεόδωρος – Λευκάδος, Καραμανλή Αννα – Β’ Αθηνών, Καράογλου Θεόδωρος – Β’ Θεσσαλονίκης, Μπατσαρά Γεωργία – Ημαθίας, Καρανάσιος Ευθύμιος – Χαλκιδικής, Γεωργαντάς Γεώργιος – Κιλκίς, Μάνη-Παπαδημητρίου Αννα – Πιερίας, Μανδρέκα Ασπασία – Φωκίδος, Κοψαχείλης Τιμολέων – Γρεβενών, Σκόνδρα Ασημίνα – Καρδίτσης, Αραμπατζή Φωτεινή – Σερρών, Ιακωβίδου Παναγιώτα – Β’ Αθηνών, Κλειτσιώτης Κωνσταντίνος – Καβάλας, Αυγερινοπούλου Διονυσία Θεοδώρα – Ηλείας, Μαρίνος Ανδρέας – Ηλείας.
Αξίζει να σημειωθεί ότι από τους παραπάνω βουλευτές οι 18 συμμετέχουν στο Β’ Θερινό Τμήμα της Βουλής και θα κληθούν να ψηφίσουν την άλλη εβδομάδα το νομοσχέδιο.
Επικριτικοί για το περιεχόμενο του νομοσχεδίου εμφανίστηκαν με δηλώσεις τους οι «γαλάζιοι» βουλευτές Μάξιμος Χαρακόπουλος και Τάνια Ιακωβίδου.

Ολόκληρη η επιστολή προς τον πρωθυπουργό

Η επιστολή των 38 βουλευτών της Ν.Δ. προς τον Αντώνη Σαμαρά έχει ως εξής:
«Η Γενοκτονία των Ελλήνων του Πόντου, της Μικράς Ασίας και της Θράκης αποτελεί ένα αναμφισβήτητο ιστορικό γεγονός, που πολλοί από εμάς, τους απογόνους εκείνων που μαρτύρησαν, την ακούσαμε και τη μάθαμε όχι μόνο από ιστορικές καταγραφές, αλλά και από τα βιώματα και τις ζωντανές αφηγήσεις των παππούδων και των γιαγιάδων μας, και φυσικά δεν μπορεί να αμφισβητηθεί από κανέναν.
Γι’ αυτό πολύ σωστά, αν και καθυστερημένα, ομόφωνα αναγνωρίσθηκε από τη Βουλή των Ελλήνων τον Φεβρουάριο του 1994.
Στο σχέδιο νόμου το οποίο εισάγεται στην Ολομέλεια της Βουλής (Β´ θερινό τμήμα) στις 26 και 27 Αυγούστου 2014, προς συζήτηση και ψήφιση, η άρνηση της Γενοκτονίας των Χριστιανών της Ανατολής (Ποντίων, Μικρασιατών, Αρμενίων, Ασσυρίων) θα πρέπει να αντιμετωπίζεται ως αδίκημα, όπως πολύ ορθά αντιμετωπίζεται και η άρνηση του ολοκαυτώματος των Εβραίων.
Αλλωστε, ο αρμόδιος υπουργός κ. Χαράλαμπος Αθανασίου είχε προβεί σε σχετική δήλωση- δέσμευση για το θέμα, η οποία είναι καταγεγραμμένη στα πρακτικά της αρμόδιας Επιτροπής του Κοινοβουλίου.
Αν αυτό δεν τηρηθεί, θα σημαίνει στην πράξη την Αρνηση της Γενοκτονίας των Ελληνικών πληθυσμών της Ανατολής, την Αυτοαναίρεση της Βουλής των Ελλήνων, γεγονός το οποίο δεν μπορούμε να αποδεχθούμε.
Ολοι εμείς, κ. Πρωθυπουργέ, είμαστε βέβαιοι ότι εσείς θα συμβάλετε στην ορθή από Εθνικής πλευράς αντιμετώπιση του θέματος».

Θάνος Χερχελετζής

Πηγή: dimokratianews.g

Μεταγραφή στην Μπενφίκα για 9 εκατ. ο Σάμαρης

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Συνεχίζουν στην Πορτογαλία να θεωρούν σίγουρη τη μετακίνηση του Ανδρέα Σάμαρη στη Μπενφίκα, με την εφημερίδα Record να έχει πρωτοσέλιδο ότι ο διεθνής μέσος του Ολυμπιακού θα συνεχίσει την καριέρα του στην πορτογαλική ομάδα που θα δώσει 9 εκ. ευρώ στους πρωταθλητές Ελλάδας.

Οι Πορτογάλοι επιμένουν ότι το ντηλ θα κλείσει και ο Σάμαρης θα υπογράψει πενταετές συμβόλαιο στους Αετούς οι οποίοι πέρυσι τέτοια εποχή είχαν αποκτήσει από τον Ολυμπιακό τον Φέισα. Ο προπονητής της Μπενφίκα Ζόρζε Ζεσούς θεωρεί τον 25χρονο μέσο ιδανικό αντικαταστάτη του Μάτιτς που πήγε στην Τσέλσι .

Την ίδια ώρα ο Ολυμπιακός περιμένει τις εξελίξεις στην υπόθεση του Άλαν Πουλίδο που έχει δικαστήριο με την Τίγκρες στις 26 του μηνός. Οι ερυθρόλευκοι θα περιμένουν μέχρι τέλος την δικαίωση του πάικτη, αλλά δεν αποκλείεται εφόσον η υπόθεση τραβήξει κι άλλο να στραφούν στην απόκτηση άλλου σεντερ φορ, με υποψήφιους πάντα τον Κώστα Μήτρογλου και τον Ζόνας όσο αυτοί δεν συμφωνούν με άλλη ομάδα.

 Πηγή: Pamesports.gr

 

Στη Μύκονο αναζητούν τον νέο «Γάμο α λα Ελληνικά»

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Η ρομαντική κομεντί «As Greek as it gets» γυρίζεται αυτές τις ημέρες από Έλληνες της Αυστραλίας.

Η αιωνιότητα του «ώπααα» πρωταγωνιστεί κάτω από τον ολόλαμπρο ήλιο των Κυκλάδων στην ταινία «As Greek as it gets», του Πίτερ και της Έλεν Παρουλάκη, ομογενών από την Αυστραλία, τα γυρίσματα της οποίας πραγματοποιούνται στη Μύκονο. Το κυκλαδονήσι πρωταγωνιστεί για δεύτερη φορά μέσα σε πέντε χρόνια σε ταινία-διαφήμιση στο εξωτερικό του ελληνικού καλοκαιριού και των ανοιχτόκαρδων ανθρώπων του ελληνικού αρχιπελάγους.

Η πλοκή δομήθηκε στο γνωστό, εύπεπτο, ανάλαφρο διασκεδαστικό ρομάντζο με το Ελληνόπουλο που κάνει τα πάντα για τη νεράιδα που του μάγεψε την καρδιά. Στην προκειμένη περίπτωση ο Μάικ Μεταξάς, ένα παλικαρόπουλο που εργάζεται στο μπιφτεκάδικο των μεταναστών γονιών του, θέλει να ζήσει το όνειρο: προσποιείται τον γόνο μεγάλης εφοπλιστικής οικογενείας για μια νύχτα για να εντυπωσιάσει μια κοπέλα που έρχεται να τον συναντήσει στην κοσμοπολίτισσα Μύκονο.

«Μετά την οικονομική κρίση που έπληξε την πατρίδα, νιώσαμε ακόμα μεγαλύτερη την ανάγκη, όπως πολλοί άλλοι σαν κι εμάς που ζούμε στο εξωτερικό, να κάνουμε ό,τι μπορούμε για να ενισχύσουμε την εμπιστοσύνη και την καλή έξωθεν μαρτυρία για έναν λαό με κουράγιο που υποφέρει πολύ» λέει με θέρμη η Έλεν Παρουλάκη. «Η πλοκή της ταινίας πηγάζει από τη μεγάλη επιθυμία να προβάλουμε τη μαγεία της Ελλάδας και των ανθρώπων της εντός και εκτός συνόρων» συμπληρώνει ο πάτερ φαμίλιας Πίτερ Παρουλάκη, που συνυπογράφει με την κόρη του το σενάριο. Αυτό το διάστημα ηθοποιοί, παραγωγοί, σκηνοθέτης και σεναριογράφοι είναι στη Μύκονο για τα γυρίσματα της ρομαντικής κομεντί, κάποια από τα οποία θα πραγματοποιηθούν και στην Αθήνα. Το φιλμ εκτιμάται ότι θα βγει στους αμερικανικούς κινηματογράφους το 2015. «Θέλουμε να δείξουμε τη φιλοξενία, τη γενναιοδωρία, την καλοσύνη των Ελλήνων που τους κάνει ξεχωριστούς» υπογραμμίζει η παραγωγός Αλέξια Μελόκι.

Πηγή: Νέος Κόσμος

 

Η Αυστραλία θα δεχθεί πρόσφυγες από Συρία και Ιράκ

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Ο υπ. Μετανάστευσης είπε ότι οι 4.400 θέσεις θα είναι για πρόσφυγες όλων των θρησκειών.

Η Αυστραλία θα δεχθεί πάνω από τέσσερις χιλιάδες πρόσφυγες από τη Συρία και το Ιράκ, ανακοίνωσε ο υπουργός Μετανάστευσης, Σκοτ Μόρισον.
Συγκεκριμένα, ο κ. Μόρισον είπε ότι θα δεχθεί 220 πρόσφυγες από κάθε χώρα.

«Τώρα έχουμε αυτή τη δυνατότητα γιατί τα μέτρα προστασίας των συνόρων που εφαρμόζουμε αποδίδουν και δεν φτάνουν πλέον στην Αυστραλία, παράνομα, αιτούντες άσυλο με πλοιάρια» είπε ο κ. Μόρισον.

Ο κ. Μόρισον είπε ότι οι 4.400 θέσεις θα είναι για πρόσφυγες όλων των θρησκειών από τις συγκεκριμένες δυο χώρες.

Πηγή: Νέος Κόσμος

Australia: Putting the boys to shame

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A PAOK fan from birth, Sofia has excelled far beyond her years.

Hand picked by Tim Cahill and a regular in the boys squad of Box Hill, Sofia Sakali was integral in giving Australia the title in the Disney International Cup.

At just 12 years old, Sofia Sakali is a football pocket-rocket. Having such advanced skill that the female squads of her age group can’t keep up, she’s been playing with the boys squads for years.

A regular at South Melbourne and now Box Hill, Sofia has been playing well beyond her years, and has been integral in making Australia shine internationally.

In late July, Sofia was one of 10 hand picked girls to represent Australia in a Foxtel All-Stars Koala Kickers team at the Disney International Cup.

The cup brought national teams of youngsters from the football mad countries of Mexico, Honduras and Puerto Rico, amongst others.

After the way the World Cup turned out, no one expected the Australian teams to amount to much.

The Australian women’s and men’s teams didn’t just make an impact, they got to the finals and won.

Sofia in fact was so integral to the team that she scored eight goals in five games and assisted even more.

She was the youngest player on the female team, and was hand picked by Everton Academy coach Robbie Anderson and Tim Cahill.

Her doting dad and coach, Stefano Sakali, was with her all the way, and says the love of football came to her while travelling in Greece.

“We went to Greece when she was three and six years old, and we went to the matches with Hraklis, and we put her in the Toumba to watch PAOK, which is a bit, not fanatic, but they make a lot of noise,” he tells Neos Kosmos.

“And from then I think she just clicked.”

Sofia was always a keen footballer from a young age when she would see her older brother take up the sport.

“My older son is three years older than her, so we played together in the garden, and she would play with us, concentrating so much on the soccer ball and we started teaching her some tricks and she amazed me,” her father says.

Her biggest achievement to date would have to be representing the country for the Disney International Cup.

Travelling to Florida with her family at the sidelines to cheer her all the way, the 12-year-old played so well that she was promoted to the role of captain in the grand final.

“She scored eight goals in five matches, she scored in every game and she scored from a corner kick, which is very rare for the girls in this age group,” he father says.

“It’s just amazing.”

The final game was with Mexico, where the Kicking Koalas managed to grab a huge 5-1 win, with Sofia scoring the second goal.

In the boys team, fellow Greek Australian Jack Koutrodimos, who plays for Blacktown City, helped the team beat Bermuda 3-1.

At the end of the tournament, Sofia was even scouted by Robbie Anderson, who told the family if she continues like this, she’ll be a shoo-in for an American college scholarship.

Back home now, Sofia is content with playing the NPL season through, even if she still creates a bit of surprise from her male opponents.

“The Box Hill boys respect her, they know she is capable to play with them,” her father says.

“The only thing is when the opposite team sees a girl in the team, they think oh she’ll be very, very easy, and when they start to play with her they are amazed.”

Things are still on the up for Sofia. In September she has been selected to play with her school team at the School Sport Australia Football Championships in Bendigo.

source: Neos Kosmos

Greece: Botched steroid deal led to Mani murders

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Two bodybuilding fanatics were found dead in the outskirts of Kalamata.

A deal to sell steroids gone wrong appears to have been the reason for the murder of two bodybuilding fanatics, aged 25 and 26, whose bodies were found in a ravine on the outskirts of Kalamata in the Peloponnese, Kathimerini understands.

According to police sources, a 19-year-old local man who was arrested shortly after the bodies were found has allegedly admitted to being at the scene of the shooting but claimed that another man, also aged 19, shot the two victims in the back with a hunting rifle.

Police investigators found the gun and the car which the two suspected perpetrators are believed to have used to dump the bodies of their victims in the ravine.

According to the police probe, the two men – 26-year-old Constantinos Sgouros and 25-year-old Yiannis Kommatis – had been drinking in a bar outside Kalamata with friends on Monday night. They told their friends they were going to meet someone but gave no further details.

It appears that they failed to procure some 800 euros’ worth of steroids that the two 19-year-olds are alleged to have ordered, prompting an argument that led to the shootings.

The bodies of Kommatis and Sgouros bore several bullet wounds in their backs, according to police sources who said the injuries indicated that the shots were fired at very close range.

Kommatis, a professional soldier who had been serving on the island of Samos, practised bodybuilding as a hobby and, according to sources, had indicated on his Facebook page his intention to open a store selling vitamin supplements and gym equipment.

Sgouros had won bodybuilding competitions. Photographs showed that he had a tattoo of a swastika.

Source: Kathimerini.

Aussie toursits flock to Greece

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Industry figures see a 10 per cent increase in Australian tourists flying to Greece.

According to travel company and ticket wholesaler, Consolidated World Travel, Australians are flocking to Greece.

Owner and general manager of the company, Greek Australian Spiros Alysandratos has seen a 10 per cent increase in the number of Australian tourists holidaying in Greece last year, and the trend is continuing this year.

Almost 130,000 Australians travelled to Greece in 2013, a rise of 9.6 per cent of tourists. The numbers are also buoyed by increased direct flights from major Australian cities.

According to industry figures, Australians are proving the most generous tourists and spend 12 or more days in Greece more than any other visitor and spend approximately 1,420 euros, with Canadians just behind with 1,207 euros, Americans who spend 1,098 euros, and the Russians with 1,005 euros.

source: Neos Kosmos

Aυστραλία: «Εφιάλτης» το πατρικό χωραφάκι από την Ελλάδα

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Το φορολογεί σκληρά η Ελλάδα, το «ψάχνει» και η Αυστραλία.

Τα «χωραφάκια» που κληρονόμησαν χιλιάδες συμπάροικοι στην Ελλάδα εξελίσσονται γι’ αυτούς σε εφιάλτη, εξαιτίας των υπερβολικών και, σε πάρα πολλές περιπτώσεις, εξωπραγματικών χρεώσεων, του Ενιαίου Φόρου Ιδιοκτησίας Ακινήτων (ΕΝΦΙΑ) που επέβαλε η ελληνική κυβέρνηση.

Την ίδια στιγμή, οι συμπάροικοι που έχουν την όποια περιουσία στην Ελλάδα θα πρέπει να τη δηλώνουν στην Aυστραλιανή Eφορία αν θέλουν να αποφύγουν άλλες ταλαιπωρίες (και πρόστιμα) όπως επισημαίνει στο «Νέο Κόσμο» το γνωστό λογιστικό γραφείο Ernst&Young Australia. (Διαβάστε σχετικό άρθρο στη σελίδα 2).
Εάν κερδίζετε κάποιο εισόδημα στην Ελλάδα ή κατέχετε περιουσιακά στοιχεία εκεί, ίσως αυτή να είναι η καλύτερη στιγμή για να βάλετε σε τάξη τα οικονομικά σας χωρίς να έρχεστε σε σύγκρουση συμφερόντων με την Aυστραλιανή Eφορία που δίνει σχετική «αμνηστία».

Η Φορολογική Υπηρεσία της Αυστραλίας (Australian Taxation Office – ATO) εντείνει τις δραστηριότητες οικονομικού ελέγχου. Εξετάζει τα στοιχεία Αυστραλών με επενδύσεις και τραπεζικούς λογαριασμούς στο εξωτερικό. Ελέγχει, επίσης, τις πληροφορίες αυστραλιανών και ξένων τραπεζών σχετικά με τις ροές κεφαλαίων, τα εισοδήματα από κεφαλαιουχικές υπηρεσίες και τα υπόλοιπα λογαριασμών, και συλλέγει πληροφορίες πληροφοριοδοτών για εξωχώριους λογαριασμούς, όπως και εμβάσματα από και προς εξωχώριους τραπεζικούς λογαριασμούς αλλά και για ακίνητη περιουσία.

Την ίδια στιγμή και μετά τις αντιδράσεις που προκλήθηκαν (εντός και εκτός Ελλάδας) για τον Ενιαίο Φόρο Ιδιοκτησίας Ακινήτων (ΕΝΦΙΑ), η κυβέρνηση Σαμαρά έδωσε παράταση ενός μήνα «για να εξετάζει κάποιες αδικίες» αλλά η κατάσταση δεν αναμένεται να βελτιωθεί θεαματικά.
Ενδεικτικά, αναφέρουμε (όπως σημειώνει και αναγνώστης μας με επιστολή του που δημοσιεύεται στη σελίδα 10 του «Νέου Κόσμου») ότι σε οικόπεδο στα Μεγάλα Καλύβια Τρικάλων, αντικειμενικής αξίας 98.670 ευρώ το 2013, υπολογίστηκε ο ΕΝΦΙΑ το 2014, με νέα αντικειμενική αξία 815.568 ευρώ!
Κάτοικος ορεινού χωριού της βόρειας Κεφαλλονιάς κλήθηκε να πληρώσει 10πλάσιο φόρο για το ακίνητο που διαθέτει. Συγκεκριμένα, για οίκημα 75 τ.μ. ο φόρος είναι 3.636 ευρώ από 323 ευρώ που πλήρωσε το 2013.

Η κατάσταση είναι ακόμα χειρότερη για δεκάδες χιλιάδες άλλους που έχουν κληρονομήσει κάποια χωράφια, τα οποία δεν καλλιεργούνται εδώ και χρόνια και σήμερα καλούνται να πληρώσουν σημαντικούς φόρους καθώς, όπως καταγγέλλεται οι αντικειμενικές αξίες πάνω στις οποίες γίνεται ο υπολογισμός του ΕΝΦΙΑ είναι εξωπραγματικές.

Πηγή: Νέος Κόσμος

Athens museums a haven in a holiday heat wave

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On the August 15 public holiday, a major feast day in the Greek Orthodox calendar marking the Dormition of the Theotokos, Athens’ streets might have been a bit empty.

With many restaurants and cafes closed, locals and tourists alike flocked to the museums. Those that braved the heat were treated to almost private tours of a number of musuems that opened their doors on the holiday.

The Byzantine Museum often described as an underappreciated treasure had it’s doors open, where tourists were able to see the current exhibition by outdoor installation by artist Kalliopi Lemos focusing on the human struggle through life.

The Numismatic Museum also bucked the trend and remained open, showcasing one of the greatest collections of coins, ancient and modern, in the world.

The month of August might be one of the quietest in Athens thanks to many locals taking their holidays, but for the museums, the time is perfect to welcome interested tourists with lower crowd numbers.

Great exhibitions on this month include the Museum of Cycladic Art’s “History Zero,” a video by Stefanos Tsivopoulos which represented Greece at the 2013 Venice Biennale to the end of September; the Benaki Museum’s “Notes on Oriental Tobacco,” a fascinating exhibition about the history of the multifaceted commercial product in Greece, running to August 31.

Source: Ekathimerini.

Living in the blood stained country

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Akram Miqdad, father of Bara-a, 6, cries as he carries his body outside the morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza City. This is the current face of the bloodstained country. Photo: EPA/MOHAMMED SABER.

Gabriel Haritos, a researcher of International, Political and Economic Relations in the Mediterranean who currently lives in Israel, talks to Neos Kosmos about the harsh reality of the never-ending war in Gaza.

It was almost a year ago when Gabriel Haritos, a doctoral candidate and researcher, decided for the purposes of his work to leave Rhodes and settle in Jerusalem. The Mediterranean, and more specifically, its fascinating history, always enthralled Gabriel, to the extent that it became the main point of his scientific research.

When he took the decision to move to Jerusalem, he knew very well that peace has always been the most fragile entity in the country. But his experience during this last year made him, momentarily at least, forget this millennia proved harsh reality.

All he would live and experience was a multicultural city where everything “was mingling nicely”, as he says. Religions, languages, different cultures were mixing with a Western-style reality creating a vibrant society. Jerusalem did not let Gabriel down.

Yes religion was and remains a very important element that defines the fault lines of this city, but Jerusalem remained in essence a cosmopolitan city.

“The truth is that there is an invisible boundary that those who come here to Jerusalem, even for a day or two, can see. The west side is the West and the east side is the East. But this invisible boundary does not impede the normal flow of life. For example, I would go out in the evening to a bar and this might be a Jewish bar but then the taxi driver who’ll take me home might be Arab. The waiter might be an Arab even in a Jewish bar and vice versa for an Arab place. I have Arab friends who are lawyers and their clients are ultra orthodox Jews.”

And that was the reality that Gabriel lived up until two months ago. Not anymore.

IN the PRESENT TENSE

The first signs of unrest hit Jerusalem in June, when the bodies of three Jewish teenagers were discovered and it became clear they were murdered.

“For 18 days the army was looking at the West Bank to find the perpetrators. The Israeli press was coming out with headlines promoting hatred against the Arabs on a daily basis. Things became worse when a phone call that had been made by one of these children to the Israeli police became public. The teenager was heard saying that he’d been kidnapped, a man speaking in Arabic was heard telling him ‘put your heads down’ and then shots. This recording created an explosive environment in Jerusalem. For those 18 days that followed you could hear screams, laments and public prayers coming from the Wailing Wall. The society was at a boiling point,” says Gabriel.

At that time, the city that he knew changed dramatically. Things got out of hand when the body of a Palestinian teenager was found brutally murdered shortly after. In Israel, many reacted with horror at the deed, while others started calling for revenge over the deaths of the three Israeli teens.

Gabriel lives on the Arab side and within walking distance from the Mosque of Omar. The day the body of the Palestinian teenager was found marked the day that peace proved its fragility in Jerusalem. The city descended into chaos.

Street fighting started outside his house. Rocks and flash crackers were exchanged day and night amidst screams and anti-Jewish or anti-Arab slogans.
And this was the reality Gabriel had to face daily and, as he says, to adapt to, too.

“Humans are very adaptive. After all, even chaos has its rules. When they started I was wondering how it would be possible for me to do simple things, like going to the grocery store. I had to change the way I was doing things, to learn the small but important secrets of survival.”

He figured out that the best time to go out and do the simple, everyday things was while the prayer in the Mosque of Omar was on. He could hear it very clearly from his home. “All the Arabs were there and the Jews did not have anyone to fight with. The end of prayers was the warning sign to start to slowly get back home.”

It did cross his mind to return to Greece but… “when something comes so suddenly you believe that it can stop suddenly too. So you do not take the decision to give up everything easily. I have a research project to complete”.

And the above was not the sole reason that Gabriel stayed in Jerusalem. The war came as another sudden development to stop any thoughts he might have entertained of returning to Greece.

The process of counting hours, observing the situation and making a balanced assessment of it started. He knew that rockets from Gaza had targeted almost 80 per cent of Israel’s territory. The prime target was Tel Aviv and the wider area of the city where the Israeli airport is. And the airport was not a safe place anymore.

“During previous military operations that had happened in Gaza the airport was taboo, it was never hit before. This time, however, the airport proved to be a target. For five hours I would be exposed in an area where I would potentially be a target.”

The other option he had was to go east and fly from Jordan. But the limited information available for the area he had to cross in order to get to Jordan made the trip to that part of the country even more dangerous. “So I decided to stay where I am. No I don’t feel trapped. Not a hundred per cent safe, but secure,” he says.

THE ABSURDITY OF FULL BLOWN WAR…

Gabriel cannot only offer us an on-the-ground account of the societal realities after the break of the recent war in Israel. His scientific expertise, due to his current research subject and the fact that he also served as visiting scholar at the Israeli think-tank Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern and African
Studies at the University of Tel Aviv, in conjunction with the fact that he is an outsider in terms of religion and ethnicity to those involved in the conflict, puts him in the best position to give us a critical account of the situation.

He declines to enter into the ‘horrors of war’, as he calls the images of death and destruction that we’ve all seen lately.

“This is a very abnormal situation,” he says. “From a scientific point of view, before a war starts all parties look and judge accordingly what they want and what they can achieve. The ‘why you do it’ and the ‘what you are trying to achieve’. Hamas began to cast its rockets to 80 per cent of a neighbouring country, which it does not recognise has the right to exist, after the murder of the Palestinian boy. In essence this was a way for Hamas’ military wing to express its solidarity to the Palestinians who live in Israel. That was their claim back then but this in reality was a superficial rationale.”

The actual reason, as Gabriel says, is the fact that the agreement signed between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas’ political leadership, an agreement for reconciliation and cooperation, last April, did not satisfy and was opposed by Hamas’ military wing.

“The military arm of Hamas began to thirst for resources as Egypt closed the passage in Sinai. After the Arab Spring, Hamas is regarded by Egypt as ideologically aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is currently outlawed in Egypt. The military arm of Hamas had two objectives when it started firing rockets. Initially it was to show its strength to the political wing of Hamas.

But then as they began firing rockets to the major urban centres the thing got out of control. It was the first time that Hamas’ rockets exceeded even Tel Aviv. The first time they hit Haifa near the border with Lebanon they even got up to Mitzmpe Ramon in the middle of the Negev desert. Hamas even fired three amphibious assault drones. All this is very impressive for an organisation. On the other side Israel had to cope with the internal outcry and it retaliated. In other words, it was drawn into what the military wing of Hamas wanted.

According to Gabriel the second objective of Hamas’ military wing was to cancel the Fatah – Hamas agreement. It wants for Gaza to remain as it is and for the passage from Gaza to Sinai to reopen. Fatah is the organisation that runs the West Bank while Hamas runs Gaza.

“If you follow the media statements made from Hamas to the Palestinians, the alleged objective it puts forward is the liberation of Palestine. And I’m asking as an independent observer … is it possible to free a country by throwing rockets here and there? No matter how powerful they are you need an army, you need the boots to touch the ground. So this objective is beyond its capacity. An unattainable one for that matter,” adds Gabriel.

As he says the same applies for Israel too. “When Hamas started bombing Israel, the main objective for Israel was to bomb the points from which the rockets were fired in Gaza. Let’s be realists on this one. No country will stay idle, when it is attacked left, right and centre. No country will tolerate one third of its population to live in a shelter. For this reason the international community initially did not object. Gaza is the most densely populated area in the world and it is impossible not to have many victims when bombs fall. Indeed, Israel sent messages to the population of Gaza to leave their homes before bombing.

But the big question which remained and still remains unanswered is where these people will go. However, with regard to Israel’s objective, there was no other way to do it. But when the Israelis began their military operation on the ground a second objective was developed. They argued that the purpose of the ground operations was to destroy all the tunnels. These tunnels started from Gaza and they were used for the movement of weapons but not only that. They are leading close to Jewish settlements located close to the Strip. And again as an observer I pose this question, ‘how can you destroy all the tunnels without at the same time destroying what is above them’. So it is absolutely clear that we have two warring sides which have set objectives above their capacity to achieve them and this is the big problem. Who will give in first?”

THE UNKNOWN ‘X’

The absurdity of this war is not only verified by the fact that both parties set unattainable objectives, according to Gabriel Haritos. It extends to the fact that at the moment and despite the horrific consequences for Palestine and the global outcry against Israel, both sides show no sign of waiving their hostilities. As for the innocent victims from both sides, unfortunately they are cynically regarded as ‘collateral damage’.

“Definitely the ceasefire is a development that brings some hope. It gives time for a compromise to be found. But the question is what this compromise will be. What the starting point will be for the solution will be determined by what Hamas will do. Does Hamas, and I mean the military wing of the organisation, want to remain isolated? Will the Sinai passage open and who will control it? Israel asks for the complete disarmament of the Gaza strip and Israel is the more powerful player in this conflict. Will Hamas give in to this demand?”.

This is not, however, the only ‘unknown X’ of the situation. Gabriel looks beyond the current absurdity of war. He focuses on the future that this war constructs in the societies of Israel and Gaza, which he describes as “bleak”.

“The Israeli leadership should be very alarmed about the events that occurred in the country between the Jewish and the Palestinian population, even before the start of the operations in Gaza. I mean the hatred and polarisation on behalf of both sides. For 18 days groups of 15 and 16-year-olds, Jews and Arabs, were throwing rocks at each other. What we see is two generations that haven’t learned to live together. These generations of Jews and Arabs were born and raised shortly after 2000 when we had the second Intifada. They grew a mutual distrust against each other. This trauma accumulates and one thing is certain, one day it will erupt. In 20 years these teenagers will be the politicians of the country. They are the people who will be responsible of this society.
That’s why I feel the implications of these recent developments are far more serious and damaging for the community.”

And Gabriel is so right. This war might come to an end but the divisions that it created have scarred the multicultural community of Jerusalem and beyond for many years to come. These scars will be carried into the future by those who are seen as the hopeful future, the children and the teenagers of today.
And it comes as a grim realisation of the ‘immortal’ words of Franklin Roosevelt that “wars are not paid for in wartime; the bill comes later”.

source: neos kosmos