Thursday, July 23, 2009

Greeks Scammed in Phony Telethon

It sounded perfect. Progressive Greeks opened their hearts and wallets to rebuild a hospital that was bombed by the Israelis. The pep talks during the telethon were full of anger at Israel as the donations poured in. $1.67 million was raised to help rebuild the hospital, including a child who broke open his piggy bank and sent in $14.00. There was one little problem with the telethon. The hospital did not exist.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported as follows about the Greek telethon.

"For nearly a week in February, Greece’s official state television network inundated viewers with news about a telethon that would take place Feb. 9 to raise money to “rebuild the Christian hospital in Gaza that Israelis destroyed with their bombs” during the Israeli army’s operation there in January.

In its announcements, the network made clear that it was referring to a specific Christian hospital destroyed by Israel.

The telethon included recorded video messages by Greek President Carolos Papoulias and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni, along with a parade of Greek politicians, singers, public personalities and trade unionists. Many used the telethon to cast broadsides at Israel.

The campaign raised $1.67 million, according to telethon organizers, who said little Greek children had gone so far as to break their piggy banks to offer $14 to Palestinians in need.

A JTA investigation revealed, however, that no Christian hospital was on the list assembled by the United Nations and the Red Crescent Society of structures in Gaza damaged and destroyed as a consequence of the Israel-Hamas war in January."

It is interesting to note that the Greek President and Foreign Minister lent their prestige to the telethon without using Greek intelligence sources to verify the truth of the reportage that led up to the telethon. The television network that hosted the telethon bowed out of any responsibility for the phony telethon, directing Jewish Telegraphic Agency to the General Confederation of Greek Workers and to the Foreign Ministry.

As $1.67 million sits in a Greek bank, irate Palestinians want to know where the money will go. The "mistake " was conceded not on the front pages of the Greek newspapers but in a tiny blurb buried in Kerdos, the Greek financial newspaper in which proposals were solicited on how to spend the money that was raised on false pretenses. The announcement read as follows.

“A project is being sought in Gaza to be financed by the money raised from the Solidarity Telethon organized last February by the Technical Chamber of Greece and another nine trade union organizations in cooperation with Greek Public Television,” the item read. “A delegation of the bodies involved will visit the area in the near future in order to decide where the 1.2 million Euros raised for a project that will provide substantial services to all the area’s residents will be allocated.”

To date, everyone is passing the buck or $1.67 million bucks, to be more specific. No one knows who should apologise to the Israelis for all of the lovely things said about Israel during the telethon. I doubt that Israel's foreign minister is staying late at the office to take a call from the Greek foreign minister.

It is amazing how many people were willing to suspend disbelief for the duration of the telethon, which was described as a six hour fiesta of anger directed at Israel.

It is amazing how tempting a cocktail mix of altruism combined with hate for the State of Israel will knock out the healthy skepticism of a President, a Foreign Minister and an entire trade union. It certainly makes one wonder what other disinformation is shaping Greek public opinion. It will be interesting to see what happens to the money that was raised.

There is an old trick that was used by pickpockets on the New York subway. One guy gets on and announces "Watch out for pickpockets", while his partner works the crowd and lifts a few wallets. Athens thieves have the same idea, except they announce, Watch out for Zionists."

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