As the leader of Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn
party is sent to jail, Jewish-Greek businessman and philanthropist Sabby Mionis, who made aliyah to Israel
several years ago, opened up about his years-long struggle against anti-Semitism
In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, he talked about the libels that were spread against him and of his ongoing battle to clear his name.
"Greece has always been anti-Semitic. I grew up there and I know anti-Semitism is in every corner," he said.
Mionis, like all leaders of the Jewish community in Greece,
closely follows the Greek government's battle against neo-Nazis. "I am certain that we must fight them with great force and put them behind bars. I feel that the prime minister is very determined in this battle," Mionis added, stating that Greece, in his opinion, can eventually overcome anti-Semitism.
The Greek businessman did not hesitate to express his opinion of Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who 10 years ago, while serving as the culture minister, failed to condemn blunt anti-Semitic remarks made by one of Greece's most esteemed composers.
But according to Mionis, the event which removed all doubts in regards to the foreign minister's position towards the Jewish people took place last year, when he was blacklisted, together with other businessmen, who were all blamed for Greece's bleak economic situation.
"Venizelos, who was the finance minister at the time, was blamed for hiding the list from the public, and claimed that the first three names on it were Jewish," said Mionis, who only a few days ago received an unusual apology on the pages of one of Greece's most popular newspapers, which cleared his name from the "blood libel" that was spread due to his Jewish origins, according to him.
"The Israeli government needs to decide how to act in regards to this man. Venizelos hurt and offended Greece's Jews and I call upon him to apologize to them, but it is not my place to intervene with the Israeli government's decisions," said Mionis.
Mionis sees a close link between the ever-growing economic crisis and anti-Semitism, and said he was not so bothered by the fact he was blacklisted, but by the fierce slander made against him: "I was accused of money laundering, being involved in tax evasion in the US.
Israel haters thought they could teach me a lesson, that I would shut up through personal disapproval, but it didn't happen."
He further claimed his personal persecution was intentional: "I am a successful and young businessman, and since I made aliyah in 2006, I collaborated with the IDF
Spokesperson's Unit on matters of hasbara. It is clear I was attacked for being Jewish, and a loud one, who is not afraid to have his voice heard. I support my ideology with the means at my disposal, and I am most certainly not ashamed of it."
Mionis, who founded the Israeli Center for Better Childhood, believes that Greece can overcome the rise of neo-Nazis in the country. "A stronger social base needs to be established, and these people must be thrown out of it. Otherwise, no government in Greece could turn to the international community and investors to do business with them."
Until that day comes, Mionis enjoys life in Israel: "I made aliyah because of Zionism. I sold my company in Geneva and came here because it was my life-long dream. Except for the US, perhaps also Canada and Australia, there is no place in the world where Jews can live freely. They are not wanted in Europe. In Israel I feel wanted, and I want to live in a society that wants me, accepts me, and I am loved in. I have no interest living in a place where I am not equal to others."
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop