Archbishop Iakovos, the Greek Orthodox spiritual leader in the Americas for 37 years who wanted to unite his church with other orthodox churches into one U.S. church, has died.(This is my last post about Greece for the day, I promise ;-)
Iakovos, 93, died of a pulmonary ailment on Sunday at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America said.
"He has been a true and whole shepherd to his people," said Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.
Iakovos was chosen to lead Greek Orthodox followers in North and South America in 1959. He stepped down in 1996, saying it was for reasons of age and health.
He had clashed with church leaders over a plan to unify the Greek Orthodox Church with other Eastern European and Middle Eastern orthodox churches into one American church -- something church observers said cost him his position.
Active in the ecumenical movement to unify Christians, Iakovos spent nine years as president of the World Council of Churches. In 1959, he was the first Greek Orthodox Archbishop to meet a Roman Catholic leader, Pope John XXIII.
A vigorous supporter of the U.S. civil rights movement, Iakovos walked with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 -- a march that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Iakovos campaigned to help Greek Cypriot refugees after Turkish forces invaded Cyprus in 1974 and he opposed the Vietnam War. In 1980 U.S. President Jimmy Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- America's highest civilian honor.
Born Demetrios Coucouzis in Turkey in 1911, he was ordained to the priesthood in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1940 and became a U.S. citizen 10 years later.
Former Greek Orthodox Head in Americas Dies at 93
A Greek court on Wednesday has lifted a ban on selling a cartoon book from Austria depicting Jesus Christ as a drinking buddy of Jimi Hendrix and a marijuana-smoking, naked surfer.Greek Court Lifts Ban on Jesus Cartoon Book
Austrian cartoonist Gerhard Haderer had been found guilty by a Greek court of "malicious public blasphemy" earlier this year and given a six-month suspended prison sentence for his take on the life of Christ.
But the Athens appeals court ruled the book was not "blasphemous" and overturned Haderer's conviction, his lawyer Maria Marazioti told Reuters.
"We have won. The book is no longer banned, Haderer is free and the book can now go on sale legally," she said. "This is a wonderful decision."
Haderer, who did not appear in court, had not yet been informed of the ruling, Marazioti said. "I have been trying to reach him to tell him the good news."
The book, which is a playful look at Jesus, had briefly gone on sale in Greece in 2002, but days after four book stores in the capital had displayed it, the Greek Orthodox Church succeeded in having it withdrawn through a provisional court order.
The Church said at the time the comic book was making a mockery of the Christian Orthodox faith and of Jesus Christ.
"This should never have happened if we were living in a real democratic society," said Athina Kouri of the book's Greek publishers Oxy. "Our position is that there should be no obstacle to the freedom of speech."
"The Life of Jesus" has so far been translated into 10 languages.
Dozens of top Greek cartoonists have backed their colleague, saying the earlier court decision harmed the image of their country.
A 1,000-signature petition, signed by international artists, including 2004 Nobel Literature Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, demanded the immediate lifting of the ban.
Some report a crowd of 6,000 people marched towards the Japanese Embassy from the university area. Then they surrounded the Japanese ambassador's residence. Embassy windows were smashed and the Japanese government called in the Chinese ambassador and demanded an apology, compensation and protection for its nationals living in China. A Japanese Embassy spokesperson said Chinese police stood by and did nothing while people threw rocks at the embassy.I knew there was something fishy about a mob forming-and raging-unopposed by officialdom, in the same China as the Tienanmen Square bloodbath. It appears the authorities were actually helping.
You could say the Chinese government allowed the protest to take place. Buses were organized to bring students in and take them back home. One police officer was heard saying through a megaphone, "You've been working hard all day, and it's now time for you to go home. Organizers take your people home."
Here we go again. Later this month, Britain’s Association of University Teachers will debate a proposed boycott of Israeli academics. This is almost three years to the day since the campaign for such a boycott was first launched, when Professors Steven and Hilary Rose proposed it in a letter to the Guardian. Although the attempt largely failed, it ushered in a climate of virulent intolerance on campus in which two Israeli academics were sacked from a journal, an Israeli student discriminated against in admissions, and a number of papers from Israeli academics returned unopened.You should read it all: Academic Inti-fad-a by Melanie Phillips
The Prime Minister’s office said that Tony Blair was ‘appalled by discrimination against academics on the grounds of their race or nationality’ and that ‘universities must send a clear signal that this will not be tolerated’. But it was tolerated, and the unpunished academics did not give up. In March 2004, more than 300 of them signed an open letter in the Guardian asking the leaders of Israeli universities to reveal whether they supported government policies.
They finally managed to reopen the issue at a conference held last December at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies. The conference, organised by the school’s Palestinian Society, was called ‘Resisting Israeli Apartheid: Strategies and Principles’ and launched a new boycott organisation, the British Committee for Universities in Palestine. This drew up a manifesto calling on academics to break links with Israel by refusing to work with Israeli institutions, referee academic papers, grant applications or attend conferences.
Even before the AUT debates the new boycott call, the Israel Science Foundation, the biggest government funder of Israeli research, has already found itself a victim of the Israel blacklist, receiving two rejections from British academics to review an application. The Guardian reported that an unnamed academic described his ‘utmost respect’ for the scholar whose grant he was asked to review, but refused on the basis that it was Israeli money and he disapproved of Israel’s actions towards the Palestinian people. ‘I hope you understand this is nothing personal,’ he added.
An urgent request was sent to PM Ariel Sharon to bring to the attention of US President Bush the prevalence of anti-Semitic material in the new Palestinian Authority textbooks.
The new PA history books present, among other things, the infamous anti-Semitic forgery produced by Russian police, known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as an accurate portrayal of the decisions of the First Zionist Congress. That work describes the Jews as plotting to take over the world.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Natan Sharansky sent the information to Sharon, and asked him to raise it with President Bush. “There is continued incitement in the PA," Sharansky said, "and it has even intensified - surpassing and solidifying the anti-Semitic line that has been recognized there in recent years."
Sharansky contacted the Prime Minister after he received copies of the newly published PA textbook that, for the first time, presents the Protocols as “historic fact and the secret decision of the First Zionist Congress."
According to Sharansky, nowhere in the PA history book is it mentioned that the Protocols are in fact a forgery. “The exact opposite is true," he said. "The matter is presented in the introduction regarding the First Zionist Congress in Basel [Switzerland], which took place in 1897, and the book goes on to claim that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are the decisions of that Congress."
The book in question is a 10th grade history book called, “History of Modern and Contemporary World." The section cited by Minister Sharansky appears on page 63 of the book, which is already in use in PA schools.
“The presentation of the Protocols in a false manner is particularly severe due to the fact that it has seen renewed popularity," Sharansky said. "New editions of the book have been widely printed in Syria and Egypt, and it is available in book stores and on the internet throughout the Muslim world."
Minister Sharansky’s urgent communique to Prime Minister Sharon came after he received the translations of the textbooks from the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP), an organization that seeks to identify what is being taught in schools with regard to recognition and acceptance of others. CMIP has produced four reports on school books in the Palestinian Authority, and will complete a report on textbooks for grades 5 and 6 shortly.
CMIP reports state that in more than 160 school books produced by the PA, Israel is never mentioned as a sovereign state, and maps appearing in the books do not include the State of Israel.
“There is no doubt that this information shows that the Palestinian leadership is not demonstrating the necessary willingness to end incitement and change the threatening tone between our nations," Sharansky wrote to PM Sharon. “More than that, there is an intensifying of the incitement that seeks to raise the level of anti-Semitism past that which has been present for years."
Bush hosted Sharansky in the White House last November, and said that Sharansky's book, "The Case for Democracy," echoes Bush's own beliefs about the importance of spreading democracy around the world.
“Real progress in the peace process is not possible," Sharansky says, "while incitement continues to be spread through textbooks, especially when it is intensified in the new books just introduced into the system. It is important that our friend President Bush, who in my last meeting with him expressed particular interest in everything connected to education in the PA, receive this information during your current meeting."
The issue of anti-Semitism in PA textbooks has outraged the US Congress in the past, and has resulted in legislation limiting funding to the PA. Sharansky hopes that proof of continued PA incitement will convince Bush that the PA is not living up to its promises.
Each death led to another. Once someone's father was killed, it needed to be avenged by the son or the brother or the friend... Funerals became welcome settings for these reprisals as therein walked or stood prime targets for snipers. Burials were forced into the night for safety. As a consequence of the fighting, bodies would lie on the ground for days. Sports stadiums soon became graveyards with the growth of the slaughter. Civilians that stayed behind frequently paid the price with their lives, but more often they had been the intended targets all along. The numbers of dead were staggering. Yet they were numbers rendered meaningless outside their use as propaganda. "We killed more than you" or "We didn't kill that many civilians" or "You are killing your own people to sway world opinion." Everyone said the same things. The only concrete reality was that people were being slaughtered. "We shall win..."Please read Ron Haviv's beautiful and heartbreaking photoessay about the war in Bosnia - Blood and Honey. So we don't forget what happened in the heart of Europe just a few years ago.
Some 10,000 German children who fled unaccompanied to Denmark as World War II drew to a close in the spring of 1945 were subjected to "inhumane treatment," according to a Danish doctoral thesis presented this week.Danish Study Says German Children Abused
Historian and physician Kirsten Lylloff's thesis, presented at Copenhagen University, claims that the thousands of unaccompanied children who sought refuge in the Scandinavian country from the Russian troops pouring into Germany as the war ended had been abused.
The refugee children, the youngest of whom was three years old, were locked up for two years in camps surrounded by barbed wire where they were kept under close surveillance, fed insufficient amounts of food and lacked medicines and enough clothing, according to Lylloff.
She described the treatment of many of the children as "harsh and inhumane," calling it "the greatest contemporary humanitarian catastrophe in Denmark."
"It is clear that the German children, subjected to feelings of ethnic hate from the Danes, paid dearly for their parents' mistakes," Lylloff said in an interview on Danish public television station DR1.
"And when we hear about ethnic cleansing and talk about the monstrosities committed against the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda for instance, or in the Balkans, we should remember that we were driven by the same norms due to ethnic hatred," she told Danish daily Politiken.
Lylloff's thesis, written after nearly two years of pouring over witness testimonies and other research, contradicts most Danish history books which tend to portray the Danish treatment of Germans after the war as good.
"This chapter should be rewritten, because the reality was quite different," she said, pointing out that neither Danish authorities nor the Danish Red Cross had come to the German children's rescue.
"This is a sad, black chapter in Danish history on a humanitarian level of which we should be ashamed," head of the Danish Red Cross Joergen Poulsen told AFP.
He insisted however that the Danish government at the time had not wanted the Red Cross to help the children, and that local units of the organization that had wanted to help couldn't due to "the animosity of the Danish population towards the Germans."