ATHENS (Nov. 2)
The Jewish community here is embroiled in a bitter dispute with the teachers union and the government over its firing of two teachers from a Jewish private school.
The union called a strike and demonstrated outside the school Wednesday.
The teachers were dismissed for allegedly refusing to inculcate their students with traditional Jewish values and Zionism.
Each was compensated in the amount of $11,000.
But the union is demanding their reinstatement and has the backing of the caretaker government, a conservative-Communist coalition that replaced former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou’s Socialist regime after the last elections.
Education Minister Kostas Despotopoulos declared the dismissals illegal, although the ministry’s secretary-general holds the opposite view.
But the regional inspector of education, P. Haritos, said the people responsible will be punished, and threatened to shut down the school.
The Jewish community is standing fast. It expects that the new elections Nov. 6 will consolidate the conservatives, who will uphold the dismissals.
The community says it could not tolerate teachers who refused to participate with their students in Chanukah and Passover festivities.
The teachers in question reported the school to the Education Ministry last May, during the Papandreou regime, for “making propaganda for a foreign country.”
It was celebrating the 41st anniversary of Israel’s independence, organized by emissaries sent from Jerusalem by the World Zionist Organization-Jewish Agency.
The teachers charged that the students were made to sing the national anthem of a foreign country, and that the school had on permanent display the “symbols and pictures of a foreign country.”
The reference was to photographs of Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion and other Israeli and Zionist leaders.