The Jewish holocaust in Salonika, Greece

Thessalonia Jewish commemoration ((REUTERS:Alexandros Avramidis) ) Mar 16 2015

The graffiti behind the pedestrian is dedicated to the Jewish holocaust in Salonika (also known as Thessaloniki), a port on the Aegean Sea in northeastern Greece. The city, which is the second largest in Greece & a major economic, industrial, commercial, & political center, has a complex 2,300 year history covering the Roman, Byzantine, & Ottoman Empires.

In 1941, during WWII, the German Nazi army occupied Greece & began rounding up Jews for deportation on cattle cars to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in Poland. They deported & exterminated an estimated 60,000 Jews. Very few escaped their dragnet.

Jews have a long history in Solonika, including a massive influx of Sephardic Jews from Spain to escape the Inquisition in the 15th century. It was a politically dynamic population that in the late 19th century, along with the rest of the world, began to become industrialized & a Jewish working class developed.

Under the leadership of a remarkable guy named Avraam Benaroya (b. 1887), a Bulgarian Jewish immigrant, they formed the Socialist Workers’ Federation in 1909 which became the strongest socialist party in the Ottoman Empire. Benaroya was a bone-deep internationalist who opposed Zionism which was very weak in Jewish politics at that time & opposed the First World War. He split from the socialist movement over their support for the war & helped form the Greek Communist Party. His tenure there didn’t last very long–apparently due to the Stalinizing regime of communist parties. He suffered exile, imprisonment, & survived a Nazi concentration camp.

He had an extraordinary, stressful, & complex political life & certainly deserves a biography. He was a stalwart opponent of antisemitism & every kind of nationalist chauvinism & oppression in the labor movement. There’s no indication he ever became a Zionist though he moved to Israel to retire in 1953 at the age of 66. He died in 1979 at the age of 92.

Jews in Salonika commemorate the holocaust which devastated their community. Regrettably Jewish politics there today are very much influenced by Zionism. We don’t let that stop us from taking a moment to honor those 60,000 people trucked like cattle to a horrific fate based on genocidal social hatred & to honor activists like Avraam Benaroya whose contributions should never be forgotten.

(Photo by Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters)

Solidarity caravan in US of Ayotzinapa parents from Mexico

Jhosivani Guerrero De La Cruz (May 15 2015Jose Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa (Mar 15 2015Christian Alfonso Rodriquez Mar 15 2015

The families of these three young men among the 43 disappeared student teachers of Ayotzinapa in the Mexican state of Guerrero spoke today in McAllen,Texas. They’re on the first leg of a nationwide US tour to tell the truth about what happened to their beloved sons, to build solidarity & international pressure on the Mexican government to return their sons safely & as Jose’s mother said, “just as when they took them.”

The testimony of the three family members was powerful, direct, & very personal. They described that they are farmworkers in Mexico with children & a living to earn but were taking this time, despite fear of government reprisals, to fight for the return of their children. They believe & made a compelling case that their sons are still alive in one of Mexico’s clandestine prisons. They are not just expressing wishful thinking but have the assistance of an Argentine forensics team & six international experts on forced disappearances.

Their testimonies cut through the government lies reported in media & made it absolutely clear the Mexican military abducted their children at the behest of top state officials. They hold the governor of Guerrero & Mexican President Peña Nieto as guilty as the mayor of Iguala who may have ordered the hit & the military who carried it out. Mexican officials have piled lie on top of lie to deflect responsibility away from them. They claim corrupt municipal cops handed the 43 students to drug cartel thugs who killed them, incinerated their bodies, & dumped them in the river. The families tell a different story.

On September 26th 2014, the students were on a mission to raise donations in Iguala for an October 2nd trip to Mexico City–ironically to join the annual commemoration of the 1968 Tlatelolco police massacre of hundreds of protesting students. In a police assault on the Ayotzinapa bus, six students were murdered & many injured. One student had his face ripped off & was thrown to the side of the road; one was in a vegetative state & taken to the hospital “eventually.” The many injured sought medical help but the doctor who did not want to treat them phoned the municipal police who instead sent the military–the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Mexican army based in Iguala.

When the military arrived at the hospital, they confiscated cell phones from students (taunting them “If this is what you want, take it like a man”) & abducted them. Jose’s mother said she phoned her son’s cell several times on the morning of the 27th. The person answering said her son was detained. Officials of the 27th Battalion claim they witnessed the police attack but did not intervene. And the parents believe they are lying through their teeth.

Family & human rights protesters have held protests at the army garrison of the 27th Battalion but are being stonewalled by the military & the Peña Nieto regime. If they are ever to see their sons again the broadest international solidarity must be built & the families are determined to do that. Christian’s father said they have been invited to speak in Poland, Germany, & the Philippines, as they are presently on the US tour. If activists around the world cannot afford to finance a speaking tour they could consider holding forums using Skype.

“An injury to one is an injury to all” is a simple declaration but it is the iron law of social transformation. Disappearance is a human rights crime in over 30 countries including thousands of victims. The young men of Ayotzinapa were abducted because they were activists against social tyranny. We need to do what we can to help their families get them back.

(If anyone wants to contribute money for the tour, please let me know & I will give you contact info.)

So much for anthropomorphism!

Lambs Mar 15 2015 (from Veterinaria wall)

So much for going all defensive about that anthropomorphism thing! This picture pretty much finishes off the Platonic nonsense about a Great Chain of Being descending from angels to royalty to the rest of us all the way down to rocks.

Of course long before this picture was taken the Great Chain got jammed up when it hit the slugs in Buckingham Palace. Betty Windsor’s clan just did it in.

But back to these beautiful creatures expressing such mother & child love. They make your heart sing.

(From the Facebook wall of Veterinaria)