During the last few weeks, Greece has suddenly been faced with a new political problem. The issue has been forced by those who had no interest in bringing it forward, i.e., the Republicans. The new situation has been created by those who, in March of this year, tried to overthrow the Tsaldaris government by force. The outcome of the unsuccesful revolt is well known.
In the beginning, the Greek Parliamentary elections had the aspect of the usual testing of political opinion, with the expectation that the government would be strengthened. But suddenly, about four weeks before the elections, at the moment when censorship and martial law were lifted, the country was engulfed by a wave of monarchial sentiment. After some vague illusions in the foreign pressâ€”trial balloonsâ€”a good deal of public opinion, several political leaders started a campaign to call George II back to the throne.
At present, the situation is somewhat curious. The governing party, the People’s Party, were the fighters for a monarchial regime during the whole time when Venizelos, the leader of the Republicans held sway. However, when two years ago the People’s Party gained the majority, Venizelos was only too willing to yield power into their hands, on the People’s Party promising to uphold the republic. Premier Tsaldaris gave this pledge and formed the new government.
After the March insurrection by the Venizelists, a faction of the People’s Party, led by Metaxas, issued a program which demanded the immediate restoration of the monarchy. They contended that this was the only means of re-establishing tranquillity. Tsaldaris, adhering faithfully to his pledge, replied that the people themselves would have to decide by a plebiscite. This resulted in a rift in the People’s Party. The moderate elements were in favor of a plebiscite after the election, whereas Metaxas was striving for a majority at the election in order to effect an immediate restoration.
The parliamentary elections therefore confronted the voters with the task of choosing between Royalists and the only Republican Party, led by the ex-dictator General Pangalos, and two National Socialist Parties, imitating Hitler, and the E.E.E., the well-known nationalistic anti-Semitic organization. The latter group, however, has not much chance of sending deputies to the Chamber.
The opposition, i.e., the Republican parties, which once formed the Venizelist parties, abstained from taking part in the elections. The result of the elections gave Tsaldaris his great majority and he has now announced his decision to hold a plebiscite.
What is the position of the Jews?
They, as well as all other inhabitants of Greece, desire above all quiet and internal peace. During the twelve years of the Republican regime, Greece has had twelve different governments, more than ten revolutions, or attempts at revolution, the official dictatorship of General Pangalos, the veiled dictatorship of Venizelos, etc. The air is saturated with revolt; trouble has broken out again and again in the life of the country. The people are at their wits’ end. They want some years of peace without the constant menace of civil war; they want to bring their affairs into order, without constantly being harrassed by Political problems.
As always in cases of disorder, the Jews have suffered more than the others. They desire ardently a truce between the two hostile camps of Hellenism, the Republicans and the Royalists. The Premier is very popular with the Jews, for his government has promulgated a number of measures favorable to them..
It is significant that three of the four Jewish periodicals of Salonica openly, advocate a restoration of the Monarchy, while the fourth maintains a strict neutrality. The antagonism between the Jews and the Republicans started when the Greek army conquered Salonica and the New Provinces. At that time the Jews were accused of having poisoned Greek soldiers, plotted against the Greek army, etc. Only recently M. Jassonides, one of the chiefs of the Venizelos Party at Salonica, openly accused the Jews of Salonica, while speaking in the Senate, of high treason, i.e., of having demanded in 1912 the intervention of the Austrian navy against the Greek army which came to conquer the city.
The intellectual leaders of Greek Jewry have for a long time tried to participate in the political life of various Republican parties. When all these parties formed the Venizelist Bloc, the Jews, under the influence of their intellectual leaders, gave nearly all their votes to Venizelos. Even after the pogrom of Campbell (a suburb of Salonica) in 1931, the Jews voted for a Venizelist mayor.
However, the Jews fully dissociated themselves from the Republicans, when, beaten at the general elections, the Venizelists of Salonica started a virulent anti-Jewish campaign in which the whole arsenal of anti-religious and anti-racial propaganda was hurled against the Jews.
But the Jews, like the whole Greek population, want peace. As Jews they want to see the end of the disorders which were caused by the anti-Semitic agitation. They therefore have to fight the anti-Jewish parties. They do not want to be the bone of contention between the political parties which try to get their votes either by intimidation or by violence.
The Jews are demoralized by the political instability, and by the economic crisis to such an extent that their only wishes are to be left in