Theodoros Pangalos is Deputy PM of Greece and a member of the Greek Parliament for the PASOK socialist party. In 2008, Pangalos returned a Christmas gift of wine from the Israeli Ambassador. In explanation, he issued the following press release:
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
Thank you for the 3 bottles of wine that you sent me as season’s greetings. I wish to you, your family and everybody in the Embassy a happy new year. Good health and progress to you all.
Unhappily I noticed that the wine you have sent me has been produced in the Golan Heights. I have been taught since I was very young not to steel [sic] and not to accept products of theft. So I can not possibly accept this gift and I must return it back to you.
As you know, your country occupies illegally the Golan Heights who belong to Syria, according to the International Law and numerous decisions of the International Community.
I take the opportunity to express my hope that Israel will find security into its internationally recognized borders and the terrorist activities against Israel territory by Hamas or anybody else will be contained and made impossible, but I also hope that your government will cease practicing the policy of collective punishment which was applied on a mass scale by Hitler and his armies.
Actions such as those of these days of the Israel military in Gaza remind the greek [sic] people holocausts such as in Kalavrita or Doxato or Distomo and certainly in the ghetto of Warsaw.
With these thoughts allow me to express to you my best wishes for you, the Israeli people and all the people of our region of the world.
Was he also taught not to murder or allow others to do so? Perhaps not:
PASOK was in power under Andreas Papandreou from 1981-89 and from 1993-97, and Pangalos was a cabinet minister in both governments. During the first period, Greece pursued a relationship with radical Arab forces, particularly Syria, Libya, Iraq and the PLO. Cooperation was such that terrorists were allowed to operate in Greece with minimal interference.
In 1984, American and British agents captured Abdallah Fuad Shara, a member of the murderous “May 15” organization, which
…specialized in the use of sophisticated suitcase bombs and plastic explosives, and focused on American and Israeli targets, and in particular means of transportation — ships and planes. The organization’s is charged with the attack on the Greek ship Orion in Haifa Port (December 1981); attacks on American and Israeli airliners in the years 1982-83, and attacks on crowded hotels and restaurants for the purpose of wholesale killing.
The PASOK government released him and gave him free passage to Algeria. He was finally arrested in 1990 and taken to Israel, where he received a 25-year sentence.
Another member of the May 15 group, Mohammed Rashid (or ‘Rashed’), was arrested at the Athens airport in 1988. After Papandreou was replaced by Constantine Mitsotakis, he was finally sentenced to 15 years in prison in Greece. But 8 years later, after Papandreou and PASOK returned to power, Rashid was freed for “good behavior”. He too was later rearrested, and this time taken to the US, where he ultimately was sentenced to an additional 7 years.
Numerous terrorist incidents occurred in Greece on PASOK’s watch, including the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, in which an American, Robert Stethem, was brutally murdered. Papandreou adopted the policy at first in order to curry favor with Arab nations where Greece had business interests and to get support from Arabs for his anti-Turkish and anti-American policies. Later, he apparently felt that appeasement was the best way to protect Greece from terrorism.
So the highly moral Pangalos apparently has less trouble belonging to governments which have condoned terrorism than he does drinking wine produced in a territory that was occupied as a result of a defensive war!
Do I smell hypocrisy? ( a good Greek word!)
Update [24 Jan 1051 PST]: Some bloggers have said that this story was a hoax. Actually it did occur, but in December 2008, at least according to Pangalos’ personal website. See the link preceding the quotation.
Update [25 Jam 0835 PST]: This post originally referenced an article in the Jerusalem Post by Jonny Paul. This article was removed by the Post, possibly because it did not make clear that the events described happened 13 months ago.