Mikis Theodorakis: "It's important for me to emphasize that I never said that the Jews are the root of evil. I said they are at the root of evil."The Jewish Problem, according to Theodorakis
An interview with composer Mikis Theodorakis:
"I'm certain that when Diaspora Jews talk among themselves, they feel satisfied. They feel that now, when we are so close to the greatest power in the world, no one can do anything to us. We can do whatever we like. This is why the claim of new anti-Semitism is not only a sick reaction, it's a sly reaction as well."
In what way is it sly?
"Because it really allows the Jews to do whatever they want. Not only psychologically, but also politically, it gives the Jews an excuse. The sense of victimhood. It gives them a license to hide the truth. There is no Jewish problem in Europe today. There is no anti-Semitism."
Is there something a bit arrogant and aggressive about the Jews?
Do you see in Sharon's Israel an expression of that element of the Jewish psyche?
"No, I wouldn't say that. But this question of superiority is not just a feeling. Because in the Jews' battle for self-defense they became distinguished. There are 200 Jews who won Nobel prizes. Christ, Marx and Einstein were Jewish. The Jews offered so much to science, art and music. They hold world finance in their hands. So it's only natural that they would see themselves as very strong. This gives them a feeling of superiority."
The Jews have international finance in their hands?
"They control a great deal of the world's finances."
So today's globalized capitalism is controlled very much by the Jews?
"Since we speak frankly, I will tell you something else. The Jewish people control most of the big symphonic orchestras in the world. When I wrote the Palestinian national anthem, the Boston Symphony was planning a production of my work. It is controlled by Jewish people. They didn't allow the concert to go on. Since then I cannot work with any great orchestra. They refuse me."
You really feel Jews control much of the music world?
And the same applies to world finance?
"In America the Jewish community is very strong. It controls much of the economy. Certainly the mass media.
"Let me make myself clear: When the State of Israel was established, we were on the side of Israel. There was great sympathy toward Zionism because of what they suffered in the war. This is one side of the Jews. But the international Jewish community is also a negative phenomena. The Jewish people now appear to control the big banks. And often the governments. So whatever bad or evil comes from the governments, it's natural for ordinary people to associate that with the Jewish people."
You yourself think that the Jews, the international Jewish community, have control of the banks, Wall Street, the mass media?
And you say that now, through its influence on Bush, it has control of world affairs?
What is the Jewish influence on the Bush policy?
"I believe that the war in Iraq and the aggressive attitude toward Iran is greatly influenced by the Israeli secret services."
The Jews have so much power that they can direct the policy of the world's only superpower?
"There is a group of Jews who surround Bush and control the policy of the United States."
So the Jews pull the strings behind Bush?
"No. They are in the front."
America, the great superpower, is actually controlled today by the Jews?
What are the intentions of the Jews who control President Bush?
"The main front is the Arabs. They believe that by hitting the Arabs they could help Israel survive. They give a military solution to the problem of the future existence of Israel."
But the present American policy is a reaction to 9/11. It's a response to the threat of bin Laden.
"First you have to ask who is bin Laden. There are peculiar things here. He worked for the Americans in the past. Even when 9/11 happened, he could have been working for the U.S. secret services.
"I don't want to say that those who hit the Twin Towers were Americans themselves. It would be madness to say it. But American technology was used in 9/11."
What you are saying is that there was some sort of American conspiracy here.
"I don't believe that these barefoot men of Afghanistan did it. That's a joke. Not even Japanese technology could do it. Not even German technology."
Is it possible that the Mossad played a part in 9/11?
"The Mossad has the technology. But even they are not a superpower. American controls everything."
Theodorakis plays the Palestinian anthem for me twice. Once in a vocal rendition, once in an orchestral rendition. And he bangs out the beat of the march on the floor with his walking stick. The beat of a justified struggle for liberation. And he tells me how Arafat pressured him for years to write an anthem for the Palestinians. And how, when he brought the tape with the anthem to Beirut, the members of the revolutionary council rose and cheered and cried. He composed the anthem based on a Greek partisan song. Based on a song of sacrifice sung by fighters against the Nazi regime.
Mikis Theodorakis, on several occasions, when criticizing Israeli policy, you used the Nazi analogy. Criticism of Israeli occupation is justified. But why use terms such as "Israel's Nazi mentality" or "Israel's Nazi barbarity"?
"To me it seems very natural to make this comparison because Israel is very much connected with Nazism. I wrote this to you this morning: After the Holocaust, the Jew is the anti-Nazi. Forever. You are condemned to be that. Six million voices are calling on you. They are calling out, never again camps. They cannot even imagine that Israel would adopt similar methods. There is no need for Israel to create the gas chambers. If you kill women and children, it's a similar thing."
Israel is doing wrong in the West Bank and Gaza. No argument about that. But why not compare it to the French in Algiers or the Dutch in Indonesia. Going for the ultimate analogy of evil seems to prove an inability to accept the Jews as gray. If they are not white, they are the darkest black. If they are not victims, they are murderers.
"Until the Holocaust the Jewish people were victims. One day they said, I don't want to be a victim any longer. I'll create a state. I'll show that I'm strong. The question is whether this is not a historical trap. If you didn't embark on the road to revenge."
What do you mean?
"After World War I, the Germans were victims. The Germans felt they were victims. They felt they were just. Others did them wrong and they were just. That was the seed of Hitler."
So the Jews of today are like the Germans of the twenties and thirties?
"Hitler, too, said we are not going to be victims any more. We'll arm ourselves and we'll have revenge. Look where it led. That is something that could happen to Israel."
"I think there is an element of racism here. You Israelis begin to think that you are superior to the Arabs just because you have financial power and a strong army and an alliance with the superpower."
Do you think we developed a Nazi-like superiority complex?
"When you go and blow up houses, what is it? It's similar to Nazi behavior. When you uproot trees, what is it? It's Nazi behavior. When you order people out of their homes within an hour, what is it? It's Nazi behavior. It's Nazi mentality."
The Jews have too much power?
"In certain areas - yes. I don't like these small groupings that support one another. I view them as expressions of a racist approach. National or religious or Mafia clans are cancerous growths."
What troubles you is that Jews maintain a ghetto attitude even when they are not weak anymore. When they are powerful.
"Yes. I ran into it in music, but it happens elsewhere. Especially in finance. And in the mass media. This is what makes the Jews unattractive."
You think there is a Jewish tendency to dominate?
"To dominate? Yes. And it comes with a superiority complex."
In Greece itself, Theodorakis is considered a provocative public figure. His transition from left to right to left drew quite a lot of criticism. In spite of that, his name is still mentioned as a possible candidate for president. His status as the most important Greek musician is unquestioned. Even in France, Germany and the Scandinavian countries, Theodorakis is a cultural figure of the first rank. Some consider him a person whose work and life embody the spirit of the contemporary European left.
In recent years, Mikis Theodorakis has adopted a militant anti-American approach. He criticized the NATO bombings in Serbia, and opposed the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. In 2002 he led the mass anti-Israel rallies in Athens and in Thessaloniki. In November 2003, he aroused an international furor when he was quoted as saying that the Jews are the root of evil. Since making that statement, Theodorakis has not agreed to grant an interview to any Israeli media outlet.