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Israel justice minister compared composer to hitler { November 13 2003 }

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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 12:54 GMT
Musician clarifies Jewish remark

Composer Mikis Theodorakis has said he was condemning Israel's Government by saying Jews are "the root of all evil".
The Greek musician said he had always been "on the side of the weak, including the Israeli people".

Mr Theodorakis, best known for his score for Zorba the Greek, made his original comments last week in front of Greek Government officials.

Israeli Justice Minister Tommy Lapid said the remarks were anti-Semitic and resembled those of Hitler.

The Greek Government has said it does not endorse or agree with the remarks made by the composer.


Mr Theodorakis said Greeks and Jews "are two peoples without kin, but they had fanaticism and self-knowledge and managed to prevail".

"Today, we can say that these little people are the root of evil," he said.

His comments caused uproar in Israel and among Jews in Greece, prompting complaints from the Israeli embassy in Athens to the Greek Government.

Mr Theodorakis, 78, a committed leftist and political activist, has now said his comments were directed at the Israeli Government, not the Jewish people.

"I am totally opposed to (Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon's policy and I have stressed this repeatedly, just as I have repeatedly condemned the role of prominent American Jewish politicians, intellectuals and theorists in the shaping of today's aggressive Bush policy," he said in a statement published in Greek newspapers on Thursday.

He said he had "always been on the side of weak, fighting for their rights, including the Israeli people".

"I have sung their praises and I have always been in favour of the coexistence between peoples," he said in the statement.

He has apparently not apologised for, or withdrawn, the comment.

Mr Lapid told Israel Radio the comment was "unabashed anti-Semitism", which he said was "not acceptable in the world today".

He added: "He doesn't say that the Israelis are occupiers, he says that the Jews are the root of all evil in the world.

"These are statements of the type made by [Nazi propaganda minister Joseph] Goebbels and Hitler."

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