Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Greek Jewish Intellectual on Trial for "Defaming" Greek Neo-Nazi Party

The following is a letter sent to the mailing list for the Union for Radical Political Economy (URPE), followed by a copy of the letter I sent to Savvas Michael-Matsas. I urge you to send your support as well.

SAVVAS MATSAS NEEDS YOUR HELP AGAINST GREEK FASCISTS

Savvas Matsas is an exceptionally talented Greek philosopher, literary critic and Biblical scholar who is also the leader of a Marxist political party, the EEK, in his country. He is very well known in Left circles in the U.S., the U.K., and France for his invariably enlightening and spirited participation over the years in a variety of our conferences and seminars.

Today, Savvas stands charged with “defaming” the Greek neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn – whose brutal assaults on immigrants and others most of you will have heard about - “inciting violence” against them, and “disturbing the peace”. His case goes to trial on September 3rd. The evidence for the charge of “defamation” seems to be that he called them “criminals”, for the charge of “inciting violence” that he appealed publicly for a fight against fascism, and for the charge of “disturbing the peace” that he wrote a tract calling for a demonstration against them.

Meanwhile, the Golden Dawn party, which continues its rise on the Greek political scene, has been conducting a virulent campaign against Savvas, whom they’ve called “an agent of the international Jewish conspiracy against the Greek nation who is trying to provoke a civil war in order to establish a Jewish-Bolshevik regime”. Sound familiar?

Perhaps as outrageous as the charges against Savvas is the fact that Greece’s conservative Government, which has several Cabinet members whose origins lie in the extreme right,  should consider such legally protected behavior as worthy of judicial action. This may even be the first time that any country that pretends to be a democracy has made opposition to fascism into a crime, and if it succeeds in Greece it won’t be the last.

Savvas has called for letters that support his “right” (I would have preferred “duty”) to fight fascism in all the ways listed in the charges above be sent to him as soon as possible. The trial, again, is on September 3rd. Even one line will do. Letters are already beginning to flood in from Greece and several other countries. We have a chance to make a difference here - for Savvas, perhaps for Greece, and maybe even for ourselves. Take a moment right now and write, and then forward this appeal to all your contacts who take – or should take – the fight against fascism (and the state’s protection, bordering on open support, of the fascists in its midst) as seriously as Savvas does.

Savvas’ email address is savvasmatsas@gmail.com.

In solidarity,
Bertell Ollman, Department of Politics, NYU

Dear Savvas Michael-Matsas,
I write to you in support of your stand against Nazism, fascism and anti-Semitism in Greece. I hope that the attention brought to your case will help to dismiss the ludicrous charges that have been brought to my attention. Certainly the precedent set by your trial on these charges are chilling for anyone interested in the free expression of ideas, regardless of their philosophical position on any other issue, but also for those interested in opposing hatred and persecution anywhere. As a German and an American, and so, a natural ally of Greeks and Jews, I am most alarmed at the rise of the Golden Dawn in Greece. As any student of history, particular of German 20th Century history, knows, the targeting of Jews and immigrants during economic crises, evil enough in and of itself, is an old yet effective tactic for dividing workers against each other and using that distraction to seize or maintain political and economic power. This never ends well for the people being targeted nor for the rest of those already suffering the crisis. In this context, your trial is of immense historical significance for both native Greek workers and immigrants, both Jews and Gentiles. I know which side I am on and I will urge everyone I know to send you their support as well.

In Solidarity,
Thomas Masterson

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