ATHENS (May. 19)
The Greek Foreign Office said today that it had requested acceptance by theIsraeli Foreign. Office of Joseph Mallah as Greek “diplomatic agent,” and not as ambassador. A spokesman for the Foreign Office told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent here that as soon as normal diplomatic relations between Greece and Israel are established, an ambassador of Greek origin would be designated. Mallah is Jewish.
The Foreign Office statement came after the press of all political parties, particularly the Conservative newspaper Estia, expressed opposition to Mallah’s appointment. Estia assailed Foreign Minister Constantin Tsaldaris for having appointed a Jewish merchant, “who does not even have a Greek-sounding name,” to protect Greek Orthodox interests in Israel. It described this appointment as an “international scandal.”
“It is absurd that Greece, the only free Orthodox Christian country, should be represented by a Jew of non-Greek origin,” the paper asserted. It also stated that the Israeli Government had objected to the appointment of a Jew as Greek representative in order to avoid misunderstandings. The paper appealed to the Holy Synod of Greece to intervene and “put an end to this degradation of our faith.”
The Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry said that Mallah’s name had been proposed to prove that the Greek Government made no discrimination of “nationalities,”Israel’s reply on Mallah’s acceptability has not yet been received. Informed sources said that the Estia campaign was really directed against Foreign Minister Tsaldaris, in an attempt to embarrass him and his Populist Party.Estia is a strong supporter of Spyro Markezinis, leader of the New Party, who was ousted from the Greek Cabinet five weeks ago after Tsaldaris had exposed a currency smuggling scandal in which Martezinis was involved.