Τετάρτη, 21 Μαΐου 2014

Γιατί αγαπώ τους Εβραίους, γιατί υπερασπίζομαι το Ισραήλ.

Γιάννης Οικονόμου (1964-). Σπούδασε γλωσσολογία σε Ελλάδα και ΗΠΑ, μιλάει 34 γλώσσες, μεταφραστής στην Ευρωπαϊκή Επιτροπή.

Ρώτησα χτες με μήνυμα στο facebook τον θαυμάσιο φίλο Γιάννη Οικονόμου για ποιους λόγους εκείνος αγαπάει και υπερασπίζεται τόσο το Ισραήλ και τους Εβραίους (που και εγώ συμπαθώ πολύ). Μου υποσχέθηκε θα απαντήσει δημόσια, κάτι που έκανε σχεδόν αμέσως και με τον τρόπο που ταιριάζει σ' έναν Έλληνα πολίτη του κόσμου.

"(...) One thing that really impressed me as a student thirsting for knowledge was that all the stupid, narrow-minded people I came across all over the planet, were very different from each other, they were Russians and Turks, Americans and Arabs, Greeks or Poles, Mexicans or Pakistanis, but they all had ONE thing in common:
They all hated/distrusted/ had a phobic attitude toward Jews and toward the State of Israel.
This one realization is what brought upside down my hitherto worldview. (...)"
 

"Why are you such a fervent supporter of Israel, Yannis?"
is a question I often get by friend and foe alike, so I felt I should make clear where I stand on that.
First of all, I am not a Jew (I think...) -- I did not have that luck and honor.
Not only that, I was not always concerned about Jewish people and Middle East politics. In fact I was a typical Greek anti-Semite 'light' of the Left up until my undergraduate days in Salonica, you know that stuff: Jews are doing to Palestinians what Hitler did to them, Zionism is fascism, Israel is a stooge of the US (or was it the other way around?), in short the usual shit.
I may have been an anti-Semite 'light', but hell I was not stupid.
I spent all my life travelling. And looking, and observing and taking in what I saw. I travelled, inter alia, in Iran of the Ayatollahs, and in Pakistan and in China and in North Africa. And also all over Europe, from Russia to Portugal and from Norway to Turkey and Cyprus, and in the Americas from Canada to Argentina and from Cuba to Peru.
During those travels I met lots of people, πολλών δ' ανθρώπων ίδον άστεα και νόον έγνων to paraphrase Homer (the poet, not the other, the famous one), and I learned a lot from them.
I came across interesting people and boring people, good people and bad people, stupid and intelligent people from all walks of life. Different people from quite different backgrounds, rich and poor, educated or illiterate, liberal or conservative, religious or atheists...
One thing that really impressed me as a student thirsting for knowledge was that all the stupid, narrow-minded people I came across all over the planet, were very different from each other, they were Russians and Turks, Americans and Arabs, Greeks or Poles, Mexicans or Pakistanis, but they all had ONE thing in common:
They all hated/distrusted/ had a phobic attitude toward Jews and toward the State of Israel.
This one realization is what brought upside down my hitherto worldview.
Many, many things changed in me as a consequence of my travels among countries and among cultures.
But my anti-semitism was one of the first things to be blasted away by that realization.
And what's more: by travelling I became a better person, more open-minded, much more liberal in my worldview and much more accepting of Otherness.
I also became much more sensitive to the suffering of other people, of poor immigrants, of the favelados (slum dwellers) of Rio, of Gypsies, of all kinds of economic, ethnic, religious or sexual minorities.
I cannot pinpoint when, and especially where, I became a liberal.
It must have been some years after I graduated from Salonica University and I left that city for ever, when I started getting terrible pangs of conscience for having been completely indifferent to the rich Jewish past of Salonica (once called 'the Jerusalem of the Balkans') during the four intensive years I spent there.
This is when I came to realize that the Jewish people were the one single group that had suffered the most throughout history: more than the Gypsies, more than the Armenians, more than the Greeks.
I saw clearly that there is no way I become a better person if I do not do my utmost to atone for the accumulated crimes committed against Jews by 'my' people, non-Jewish Europeans that is -- atoning for those crimes would be for now on my way of washing away the collective guilt that I felt weighing on my shoulders.
And of becoming a better person, a person proud of myself.