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Etz Hayim Synagogue in Chania, Fire

Etz Hayim Synagogue, Chania, CreteMany people who use my websites and have read my History of Greece know that I was a student of Nikos Stavroulakis who was the founder of the Jewish Museum of Athens and who restored the Etz Hayim Synagogue in Chania, Crete. Many people who know me personally, know that my father was Greek Orthodox and my mother was Jewish though both would describe themselves as atheists and I would describe myself as being opposed to just about any religious doctrine, though I do think of myself as spiritual and see the world as some kind of cosmic endeavor gone awry. In other words I believe in God but not that he makes things happen for us down here on planet earth. I think we are beneath his notice and it is up to us to reach him by loving and taking care of each other, not for him to rescue us from this mess we have created just because we happen to believe in him or want him to. So even though I find religions to be divisive and propel us in the wrong direction, I do appreciate that at their core there is some truth and I believe that it is up to us individually to find that truth.

In January arsonists set fire to the Etz Hayim Synagogue. The building and over 2000 books and manuscripts were destroyed. Two Britons, a Cretan and a Greek-American were arrested and another American man is also being sought but they believe he has left the country. What makes this story odd to me is that this is not an example of Greek anti-Semitism which is a whole different thing than two Brits, a Cretan and a couple American jerks setting fire to a Synagogue. Greek anti-Semitism is a kind of jealousy because we accuse the Jews of all the things that we Greeks do. This is nothing new, we have been in competition since before the days of Jesus and have both been down more often than we have been up. The Greeks say the Jews killed Christ but it was the Greek church that repackaged him into Jesus Lite and sold him to Rome and the rest of the world causing countless wars so who is worse? The holocaust made people forget about the Greek and Armenian massacres in Asia Minor and while images of death camps were filtering out of Europe the Greeks were slaughtering each other in a civil war. These are two tortured races and the Greek attitude is "why do they get all the attention? We had it rough too!"

As for the Jews controlling all the wealth have you had a look at the list of Greek-Americans who are CEOs? (Let me help you: If there is a Jewish conspiracy then the Greeks are right in the middle of it.

Truthfully the only Greek anti-Semitism is the embittered taxi cab driver variety and those guys hate everyone except those who root for their football team. So I don't buy this rise of anti-Semitism in Greece even if a bunch of kids spray paint a swastika on a building. That's what kids do. Stuff that will piss people off. Greek anti-Semitism is jealousy, plain and simple. The Greeks are shrewd and hard working (well some of them) because they had to be when times were bad. It is a survival mechanism. As bad as the Greeks had it, the Jews had it worse and had that much more of a struggle. The Greeks were scattered all over Europe in 1821 when the Great Powers helped their ragtag army seize what is now the Peloponessos from the Ottoman Empire, which then became Greece. The Jews had been chased out of every country they tried to settle in after their Diaspora and finally rounded up and exterminated. When the survivors went back to claim what had once been their homeland, without the help of the Great Powers, they even had to fight Great Britain. But they took a useless piece of desert wasteland and turned it into a nation. Yeah they did some nasty stuff as any Palestinian knows but there were a lot of Turkish people living happily with their Greek neighbors who wanted nothing more than to raise their families who were butchered in the cause of 'Eleftheria' (freedom). Starting a country is not clean or simple or even fair as any Native American will tell you. But if there ever were two peoples with more in common than the Greeks and the Israelis I don't know who they are. I mean the Israelis even listen to Dalaras and Glykeria! (Though the Greeks have yet to discover Shalom Hanoch)

These guys who set fire to the Etz Hayim Synagogue may be Muslims. They may be white supremacists. More likely they are just assholes with no deep beliefs of any kind beyond making money, getting laid, doing coke and getting drunk. But if they did it I hope they get a nice long prison sentence to reflect on the pain they have caused and maybe become a little more human.

In the meantime the Etz Hayim Synagogue will be rebuilt. It is after all just a building made of stone and wood and can be restored. The problem now is replacing the books that were lost in the fire. Unlike the burning of the Library of Alexandria most of these books are not the only remaining copy in the world and hopefully they can get them all back.If you have books you would like to donate there is a list of those that were destroyed at

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