AP, Thursday November 13,2003, 05:43 AM
"The composer is still held in high regard for his work"
Greek Jewish leaders denounce remarks by "Zorba" composer Theodorakis
ATHENS (AFP) - Greek Jewish leaders came down on one of the country's best-loved composers, Mikis Theodorakis of "Zorba the Greek" fame, for calling Jews the "root of evil", and reproached government ministers for failing to react.
Theodorakis "repeated in the 21st century opinions from the darkest Middle Ages and slogans used by Nazi Germany, fanning both inside and outside the country the winds of intolerance and racism," the Central Jewish Council of Greece charged in a statement.
The composer was flanked by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Education Minister Petros Efthymiou when he made the comments at a November 4 reception for the publication of his autobiography, an event covered massively by the Greek media.
Film footage showed neither minister reacted when Theodorakis said Greeks and Jews "are two peoples without kin, but they had fanaticism and self-knowledge and managed to prevail."
"Today, we can say that this little people are the root of evil," said Theodorakis, 78, a committed leftist and political activist who was jailed under the fascist junta that held power in Greece in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas sought Wednesday to distance the government from his comments, which despite the number of journalists present were only repeated in one small right-wing daily.
"The government does not share and is not in agreement with the opinion
expressed by Mr. Theodorakis," the spokesman said, but added that "despite
the disagreement" the composer "is still held in high regard"
by the government for his works.