The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewIsrael Shamir Archive
The Greek Occupation
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • B
Show CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

The Pope of Jerusalem (one of the five original popes, His Beatitude the Patriarch of the Holy Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and Holy Land, by his usual title) Theophilos III hardly dares to visit churches nowadays. Whenever he is coming, his flock stands outside and prevents his entry. Last week, Jewish police helped him to enter a village church, while hundreds of believers stood by and cursed him loudly. There is a plan to stop him on Christmas from entering the Nativity Church.

Bear in mind that his predecessor Irineos I had been deposed by the bishops twelve years ago, and since then he lives in a lonely cell in the monastery, refusing to leave its walls. He knows that if he leaves he will not be allowed to return. Looking at his travail, the present Patriarch is far from complacent.

The laity and lower clergy, the Christian Palestinians in the Holy Land are very unhappy with the Patriarch and the whole setup of the Church management. The Patriarch sells church lands at fire-sale prices; the church-owned lands of Caesarea worth billions were sold by him for less than the price of one house on this immense tract of land. Soon the church will be destitute, and the Palestinian Christianity established by Christ Himself will wither, the clerics say.

But money is not the only issue. The Patriarch does not allow Palestinians to rise in the church: just one Palestinian, His Beatitude Theodosius Atallah Hanna the Archbishop of Sebaste had been ordained years ago, but even he has not been allowed to participate in church decisions, he is kept out of the Synod, the ruling church body, out of the Holy Sepulchre Brotherhood, he has no church of his own and no salary, the only Archbishop kept out in the cold. That is because he is not a Greek by blood.

In the Orthodox Church only monks can rise to the episcopate, while ordinary parish priests may (and usually do) marry. The Patriarch does not allow Palestinian monks who studied theology in Greece to come home to Holy Land, so they could not claim the bishop mantle in his church. There are 24 Palestinian monks now in monasteries of Greece; all of them applied to move back to their native land, all of them have been refused.

“If you want to move to Palestine, give up your monastic rites and marry. Otherwise, stay away!” – the Patriarch replied to them. All bishops in the Jerusalem Church are ethnic Greeks; and they are determined to keep this occupation forever.

While the Jews keep Palestinians out of political decisions (even left-wing Israelis would never allow Palestinian parties to join the government), the Greeks keep Palestinians, descendants of the Apostles, out of church control. Everybody knows of the Jewish occupation of Palestine, it is frequently discussed in the UN, presidents deal with it and activists fight it, but the Greek occupation of the Church of Jerusalem is not being mentioned in polite company.

Many good Greeks support the struggle against the Jewish occupation, and sail to break the Gaza blockade. While this is surely good, it would be better if they were to deal with the Greek occupation.

The Greek Church, that is the Orthodox Church of Greece, knows of this shameful story. Their bishops visit the Holy Land and meet with the Palestinian Christians. But they do not dare confront the hierarchy of the Jerusalem Church, and they – led by the present Patriarch – consider Palestine their own milch cow to be milked at will.

The results are dreadful. Palestine and Israel have no services for all their citizens, but each community takes care of its own. The Muslims take care of Muslims, Jews care of Jews, Catholics and Protestants care for their own flocks, build and staff schools, organize activities from olive oil sales to beer production. Only the Orthodox Christians of Palestine, the oldest and the greatest community, have nothing. Their numbers dwindle with every year. Oh yes, we can justifiably blame Jews for not doing enough, but it would be fair to attach a portion of guilt to the leaders of the Orthodox Church. They just do not care about the local flock at all. They are not shepherds of the flock.

They do not build churches. There are many new new Israeli cities, Beer Sheba, Afula, Eilat, even Tel Aviv with thousands of Orthodox Christians (baptized Jews or immigrants of Orthodox faith), but not a single church has ever been established in them. The Russians proposed to build the churches for the Jerusalem Church, but the Patriarch is just not interested. He cares only about the profitable old pilgrim churches visited by Greek and Russian tourists.

The leaders of the Church of Jerusalem, the Greek bishops who refuse to accept the Palestinians as their equals, practice ecclesiastical racism, or “ethno-phyletism”, as it is called. The Orthodox Church condemned this practice as heresy in its Synod of 1872 in Constantinople. However, the condemnation didn’t change the reality in Palestine.

The Holy Land is the only place on earth where the hierarchs of the church are invariably of Greek, and never of local stock. Everywhere else, the Orthodox churches are grounded in local tradition, use the vernacular tongue, and are ruled by local bishops. The Russian Orthodox Church has Russian laity and Russian bishops, the Church of Greece has Greek laity and Greek bishops, the Church of Antioch has Syrian Arab laity and bishops, and only the Church of Jerusalem has Palestinian laity and parish priests and Greek bishops.


The roots of this problem go back for hundreds of years, to 1534, when after the Ottoman conquest a Greek monk Germanos had been installed as the Patriarch of Jerusalem by the decision of the Sublime Porte, that is the Ottoman Empire. He appointed only Greek bishops, and since then the Greeks have kept the monopoly of power in the Church. They collaborated with the Turks, with the British and now with the Jews, as they had no independent power base of their own, but they could exist only by obliging the supreme foreign power in the land.

The Greeks, the Jews and the Armenians formed three elite groups in the Empire; they provided the bulk of educated classes, kept the trade (Jews), administration (Greeks) and crafts (Armenians) in their hands, while Turks were satisfied with being soldiers and peasants. The three nations have a similar modus operandi: tightly knit, tribal in their outlook, mutually competitive and exclusionary. If you want to understand the roots of Jewish domination in the US and elsewhere, you may look into the way these three groups managed things in Imperial Turkey. And there was not much to choose between the Jew and the Greek.

Ethnic Greeks had seized full control over the churches within the Empire, that is the churches of Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. No ethnic Arab, Turk or Copt could become a bishop. The result was good for the Greeks but tragic for the Church: laity voted with their feet and left the church to convert to Islam or (to lesser extent) to non-Greek-controlled churches, among them, the Roman Catholic Church, Syriac Church and more exotic denominations. This Greek ecclesiastical racism killed, or at least undermined the native Middle East Christianity of Christ and His Apostles.

Eventually the Copts of Egypt broke with the Greek-dominated church of Alexandria and established their own Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, leaving communion with other Orthodox churches, while the Greek Orthodox church of Alexandria withered and remained a shadow of itself.

An opposite development took place in Syria, where (at the end of the 19th century) the local Arabs frogmarched their Greek bishops to the harbour and had shipped them away to Greece. They elected Arab bishops and an Arab Patriarch, while remaining in communion with other Orthodox Churches. Their Church of Antioch flourished until the rise of ISIS, but hopefully it will regain its lost ground as their Orthodox brothers from Russia helped them defeat the jihadists.

The Constantinople and Jerusalem Sees remained in ethnic Greek hands, in both cases with very unhappy consequences. In Constantinople, the Greeks spurned Ataturk’s proposal to become the Turkish Orthodox Church, though it would have returned to them many churches including the great Hagia Sophia, and probably would have prevented the tragic Greek dispossession and expulsion in 1920s. The Church of Constantinople became a withered ghost dominated by the CIA, and so it remains until nowadays.

Jerusalem and the Holy Land were too important to the Christendom to let it go native. The Russians supported nativisation of the Church, but quite cautiously, as they cherished their unity in communion with other Orthodox churches. There was much Jewish meddling, too. Thus the Church of Jerusalem remained in ethnic Greek hands, and more and more Orthodox Palestinians converted away, to the Catholic or Protestant denominations. From being majority in 19th century and from being a full third of the entire Palestinian population in the days of the British Mandate, the Orthodox have nowadays shrunk to some 30,000 members of the church.

And now, the Greeks at the helm of the church have decided to turn their milch cow into a meat-producing one and slaughter it, by selling its assets to Jews.

The recent and much-in-news development is the story of two hotels at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, once the best New Imperial Hotel and Petra. Both are run-down and sorry shadows of themselves, but still occupy the best positions in Jerusalem. They were sold by the previous Patriarch Irineos for peanuts; Haaretz revealed the buyers had paid twenty times less than the assessed sum. And who are the buyers? An extremist Jewish settler organisation Ateret Cohanim, whose purpose is to rebuild the Third Jewish Temple on the ruins of Al Aqsa Mosque and meanwhile try to cleanse Jerusalem of non-Jews and settle Jews in their homes.

The current Patriarch Theophilos III solemnly promised to revert the sale. Indeed he went to Jerusalem District (Jewish) court demanding to void the deal for it was done fraudulently for too low a price and by bribing officials. The Court ruled: the deal stays. I, for one, was outraged by this obvious Jewish injustice, but it turned out the villains weren’t Jews.

I have met with a Palestinian Christian, a leading member of the Central Orthodox Council in Israel, Mr Alif Sabbagh of Al Buqaia (or Pekiin) village in Galilee, the man who dedicated his life to documentation about the church lands and about the Patriarchate dealings. He owns a veritable full archive of all the deals of recent years. He told me the court had no choice: the Patriarch Theophilos refused to provide proof for his claims, and he secretly entered into an agreement with the Jewish settlers.

In Israeli law, there are two stages of appeal. In the first stage, the claimant makes a claim, in the second stage, he brings proof of his claim. The Patriarch made a claim, but refused to furnish the proof. The Jewish judge said she can’t accept the claim without the proof.

And it is not that the Patriarch could not do it. The man in the heart of the problem, Nikolas Papadimas, the former church treasurer, who allegedly signed the sale contracts without Irineos’ knowledge, had fled the country and been wanted by Interpol on an international warrant amid allegations that he stole millions of dollars from the Patriarchate, came back to Athens and demanded to give his evidence at the court. His evidence would trash the Jewish claim, and it is clear why the Jewish settlers objected to his evidence being introduced at court. But the Greek Patriarch Theophilos also objected to placing Papadimas on the witness stand, and the Jewish judge really could not do anything, even if she were willing.


At the same time, the Patriarch sold the church lands in Western Jerusalem, huge and valuable tracts of land including the plot on which the Knesset is built to mysterious offshore companies for pennies. (The real money came into his account in his own real name in an offshore bank, says Alif Sabbagh.) In response, the Jewish parliament, the Knesset, began to discuss the Rachel Azaria bill of expropriation of church lands sold to third parties since 2010.

The Patriarch Theophilos called upon Christian solidarity, and the churches of the West responded by speaking against the bill. However their stand was based on mis-representation by the Patriarch, who claimed the bill expropriates church lands. I have read the bill, and it just is not true: the bill makes sales of church lands to third parties practically impossible. After the bill becomes law, the Patriarch will have a choice: to sell the lands to the Jewish state, or not sell at all. This obviously undermines his bargaining position and his ability to pocket more bribes, but does not really damage the position of the Church.

The Palestinian Christians are a well developed and prosperous community. They are better educated than the Jews, they are well-to-do, rooted in the soil of Palestine. They were and are active in the struggle for Palestine, often leading it despite their small numbers. (The name of George Habash, the Christian leader of Popular Front, comes to mind, as well as the name of Emile Habibi, the great Palestinian writer). They have good relations with the Palestinian Muslims, and they would like to get along with Jews, too. You can read a short and rather good entry in Wikipedia about them, balancing its usual bias by reading the discussion. Though you will notice the ubiquitous presence of known Zionist operators (Jayjig etc), still it conveys the message and allows one to understand the subject, which is a rare thing in Palestine-related Wikipedia articles.

Their spiritual leader is the hard-working and relatively young Archbishop Theodosius Atallah Hanna, who by uncanny coincidence bears the name (Atallah) of the last Palestinian Patriarch before the Greek takeover. He is very active, meeting delegations daily and usually posting the report on his Facebook page or on his other page, where his message is “Palestinian Christians are not a minority in Palestine; in Palestine, there are no minorities , but there are people struggling for freedom”.

He is popular with Muslims, too. During the recent confrontation over the Al Aqsa Mosque he went there in solidarity with the Jerusalem Mufti, his personal friend. He is a good friend of the Orthodox Jews of Naturei Karta, who I witnessed personally accompanying him on a visit of condolence. He is willing to be a good friend to Jews, too, for he recognises they are here to stay in his beloved Palestine. And he naturally bears no animosity to Greeks, as he studied in Greece, speaks Greek fluently, visits Greece frequently and recognises the importance of Greek culture for Palestinian Christians.

He would be a perfect new Patriarch, ending the discord and bringing unity and peace to the oldest Christian Church created by Christ himself. The quarrels over lands would go away, Greeks would peacefully mesh with the Palestinians, losing their monopoly but preserving their important position. In short, he would be the ideal de-colonising figure, allowing not only native Palestinians, but other Orthodox Christians of the Holy Land, notably baptised Russian ex-Jews and ethnic Russians to fully integrate in the church, a prospect that horrifies the present Patriarch Theophilos.

He is also well known in the Middle East. Recently he visited Syria, went to its Orthodox Monasteries and churches, and met with President Bashar al Assad whom he admires for his defence of the Christians in face of the Jihadi onslaught. (Israeli police and Israeli media attacked him for this visit to “the enemy”, though he merely fulfilled his ecclesiastical duty). He is liked by the Russians and by baptised Russian Jews in Israel, and he often baptises them and their children. He baptised me and my wife and son, for which I am eternally grateful to His Beatitude.

However, the Palestinian Christian activists who now lead their Intifada against the present Patriarch, think that the best solution for the much-suffered church is to have a few years without a Patriarch at all. They told me they would prefer the church to be run by a committee of three bishops (including Archbishop Theodosius Atallah Hanna) for a while, and at that time the church should establish new rules of Patriarch succession, forever forfeiting the Ottoman-inherited rule of asking consent of the sovereign (presently of the Israeli government, of the PNA and of the King of Jordan). This consent-seeking opened the church to blackmail – the Israeli government refuses to give its consent until the candidate promises to give some Church lands to the Jews. The rebels have an even farther-reaching idea of taking economic decisions (be it lands or salaries) out of the Patriarch’s hands for good. Let the Patriarch deal with spiritual questions, while the laity manage the material problems, they say.

The Patriarch is not waiting quietly for these developments. He is using all the resources of the church to bribe those who bear influence: the PNA, the Jordanian princes and Israeli officials. The Palestinians speak of a big land lease the Patriarch granted to Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, thus turning Jordanian royalty to his side. The Israelis had received even more generous gifts, and the PNA officials weren’t forgotten either.

The Russians could influence the outcome, but they are quite unwilling to interfere in the affairs of the sister church. In private conversations, they express their sympathy for the Palestinian cause, but they do not want to endanger their relations with the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Constantinople. These can painfully retaliate by accepting the demands of the Ukrainian bishops for recognition, and in general cause more trouble than it is worth, for the Russians.


For this reason it is hard to predict how the struggle will end, whether the wily Patriarch will keep his position and the Greek dominance in the church by granting more and more lands to the people in power, or whether this Palestinian Intifada succeed after all and the church will become independent of the Greek colonisers. Probably the best force able to interfere and solve the dispute peacefully is Greece, namely the Greek people, who are able to understand the problem and do what they preach to other colonial powers, namely to end the colonisation and occupation. Otherwise the fate of the oldest Christian Church is in doubt.

Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected]

This article was first published at The Unz Review.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel/Palestine, Orthodoxy, Palestinians 
Hide 73 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. anon • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Jesus Christ!

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  2. Not surprising.

    Eek, it’s a Greek.

    As a Jewish kid once told a Greek kid upon looking at the Greek lawyer’s fee, “Greeks are worse than the Jews.”

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
    , @Z-man
  3. It’s almost as if the Greeks know something about the Palestinians that others don’t (i.e., they’re Arabs first and Christians second). That doesn’t justify financial irregularities, but it might justify keeping them out of a position of authority. They’re always free to form their own Church–where’s the Palestinian Martin Luther, John Knox or John Wesley?

    • Replies: @Jake
  4. AZAZEL says:

    From the moment the Jews started returning to the holy land (early 20s), the fate of the Patriarchate was sealed! The shrewd Jewish state, knowing very interesting details from the personal life of the bishops (Mossad people are very capable), blackmails them or bribes them to acquire precious land in Jerusalem, in order to minimize the possibility of Palestinian claims when the issue of Jerusalem will be settled in the future. the Palestinians are right to boo the patriarch since he goes against the interests of his flock.

  5. No religious sect has ever been able to subjugate billions of previously FREE and thinking humans in history of mankind.
    Before their enslavement, humans were part of Mother Nature living in harmony with her, which prevented economic and war waging progress .
    God Bless and may God continue to Bless carpenter’s and less successful religious sects which made it possible!

  6. Sounds like the Palestinian Orthodox Christians need to get themselves a savage Jewish lawyer who knows some trust-law.

  7. @anon

    Jesus Christ!

    No shit! Who knew?

  8. Thankful I am that I became a Buddhist, as in my previous incarnation. Christianity has become dreck and dross.

  9. Joe Wong says:
    @Priss Factor

    The Anglo is servile to the Jews, does it mean the Anglo and the Greek are in the same category?

  10. The results are dreadful. Palestine and Israel have no services for all their citizens, but each community takes care of its own.


    Maybe there’s a lesson or two there.

  11. Jake says:
    @Diversity Heretic

    A Palestinian Luther, Knox, or Wesley would be a heretic, like Luther, Knox, and Wesley.

    • Replies: @Diversity Heretic
  12. @Jake

    How about Marcel Lefebvre–the French archbishop who broke with the Roman Catholic Church over the reforms of Vatican II? I think his ex-communication was for disobedience, not heresy. There was a congregation of schismatic Catholics up the street from where I lived in Toulouse.

    The Orthodox Church tends to divide along nationalist lines–there’s Greek and a Russian Orthodox Church. I don’t see anything inherently wrong with a Palestinian Orthodox Church within the territory of Palestine, however they choose to define it. If the Patriarch is in error and misusing his position, schism seems a natural move.

    • Replies: @Israel Shamir
  13. This article provides more evidence for the idea that no matter what religion or system we’re talking about, people can rarely find much agreement.

    It’s almost funny that so many people think they have “the” answer (at least for everyone else’s behavior), anyway.

  14. iffen says:

    Atheism isn’t all that bad considering the options.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  15. Why no mention of the other middle eastern Patriarch nearby, His Beatitude John X Patriarch of Antioch and all the East? The succession of that seat is as old and long as that of Jerusalem.

    • Replies: @Israel Shamir
  16. @patrick kelly

    Patrick, perhaps you didn’t notice but surely there is a reference to the church of Antioch:

    An opposite development took place in Syria, where (at the end of the 19th century) the local Arabs frogmarched their Greek bishops to the harbour and had shipped them away to Greece. They elected Arab bishops and an Arab Patriarch, while remaining in communion with other Orthodox Churches. Their Church of Antioch flourished until the rise of ISIS, but hopefully it will regain its lost ground as their Orthodox brothers from Russia helped them defeat the jihadists.

  17. Joe Hide says:

    Mr Shamir,
    Another great revelation on a people, circumstances, and underhanded shenanigans I was before this time disinformed about.
    Thank You!

  18. @Diversity Heretic

    You can’t have two Orthodox Churches on the same territory. They aren’t ethnic, they are territorial churches. So the idea of schism is not an attractive one, especially bearing in mind that all the venerable churches “belong” to the Patriarchate.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Seraphim
    , @Verymuchalive
  19. Father X says:

    It’s interesting to note that the 1872 Council anathematizing “ethnophyletism” was a result of the rebellion of Bulgarian Orthodox Christians who rose up against the same domination of their Church by Greek bishops (backed by the Ottomans) as is seen in this excellent article.

    The heresy championed by the Bulgarians was to proclaim that anyone not Bulgarian was not Orthodox. This is obviously untrue, but it was a reaction to the abuses levied against this proud Balkan people who had quite capably run their own Church for centuries. Not only did they have to suffer the indignity of seeing their own native sons denied the honor of serving as bishops in their own lands, but even the language of the services was changed from Old Slavonic to Greek. It’s no wonder that they embraced “ethnophyletism.”

    Do I detect a whiff of this heresy in the behavior of the current Patriarch of Jerusalem and his co-ethnic concelebrants?

    The Russians have a saying: Грек–это грех!
    If it’s Greek, it’s a sin!

    This issue is a scandal affecting all Orthodox Christians. I can only hope, along with the author, that the Greek clergy and people awake to the corruption and injustice in Palestine and force a change for the better.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  20. Che Guava says:
    @Poupon Marx

    I was replying at length, but pressing the wrong buttons. Must sleeping now, but trying to recreating it tomorrow evening.

  21. Seraphim says:

    Atheism is no option at all. By definition it is the negation of all possible options, of which ones are true and other false. It might be better than ‘agnosticism’ which is the postion of the intellectually lazy incapable of making the effort to know and understand. It is nevertheless a self defeating stand.

    • Replies: @Jake
  22. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Israel Shamir

    This is probably a stupid question, but why is there the mix of ROCOR, Greek Orthodox, and various other flavors in the US?

    • Replies: @Jake
    , @The Anti-Gnostic
  23. Che Guava says:
    @Poupon Marx

    For now, only that when Asahara Aum Shinrikkyo was meeting the Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama’s comment after was ‘I like him, he is running a tight ship’.

    Second clause is a perfect quote, ‘I like him’ was to that effect, but not those words, and longer.

  24. Seraphim says:
    @Poupon Marx

    I hope that your previous incarnation was not a rat.

  25. Sherman says:

    “He baptized me and my wife and son”.

    This is terrific! I’m glad your DNA has left Israel and left the Jewish people.


    • Replies: @Casuist
  26. Seraphim says:
    @Israel Shamir

    “For all of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”, as Saint Paul, that most Jewish Apostle to the Gentiles said.

  27. Jake says:


    And that is the place we – the culture as a whole – are now. Our time is one of atheism and agnosticism, allied fully with universalism and unitarianism and indifferentism. Jews, therefore, are not merely allies; they are major partners, senior partners. The most senior partner. And Moslems – at least Moslem elites – are being made new partners.

    What Shamir notes here about Greek Elites (and not just Churchmen) allying with the Ottomans against at least some other Orthodox peoples must always be kept in mind when considering Western problems with the Greeks, and not merely in the Modern world or even back to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks. Greek churchmen have a long history of what I call ‘Greek bias,’ by which I mean they saw all non-Greeks as decidedly inferior. In Church matters, that meant that long before the split between Rome and Constantinople, Greek churchmen saw and treated almost all non-Greek Christians as ethnically inferior.

  28. Jake says:

    In my area, there are both Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches. I have been told that they each exist here, maybe 5 miles apart, because each is part of the Overseas diocese of its specific Orthodox Church.

  29. @Israel Shamir

    The Ottoman Empire had a horrible effect on Greek culture and behaviour. And that’s without mentioning Phanariots.
    I didn’t know about Ataturk’s offer to the Constantinople church. The Turkish Orthodox Church ? Don’t know how that would have panned out.
    Thank you for an interesting, controversial and important essay.
    We wouldn’t get it anywhere else.
    Thank you, Mr Shamir.
    Thank you, Mr Unz

  30. @Jake

    Jews, therefore, are not merely allies; they are major partners, senior partners. The most senior partner.

    I, in no way consider myself Marxist, but I find this interesting.:

    What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.

    -Karl Marx, On The Jewish Question, First Published: February, 1844 in Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher;

    In the same essay he made this comment.:

    . has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of the Christian nations. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews.

  31. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    I guess Israel Shamir is tired of blaming the Israel / Zionist / USA regimes that are ruining the lives of the Palestinians – he is now blaming the Greeks?

    I am curious to know how many Orthodox Palestinians are living in greater Israel… I would venture to say more Palestinians are Moslem than Christian…

    Where are the Moslem Palestinian leaders to defend it’s “people”? Where is the rest of the Sunni Arab Moslem world in the defense of Palestine?

    Shamir – baby – you expect Christians to come to the defense of Moslem peoples when your own barbaric and demonic Moslem brethren have sold themselves to their Zionist controllers? You are a fool!

    • Replies: @anonymous
  32. Seraphim says:
    @Father X

    I was wondering for a long time whether people (Russians especially) are aware that their sacred monster, the Old Believers, was a manifestation of ‘ethophyletism’. Many outstanding Russian theologians, historians, philosophers, spent an inordinte amount of time (and bile) to disparage and denounce the so-called ‘Nikonian reforms’ (and then the necessary and salutary reforms of Peter the Great) as the remote cause of the so-called ‘Russian Revolution’.
    Were they not aware that those reforms were initiated by the Russian Church herself in order precisely to avoid a ‘ethnophyletist’ schism, and have been validated by a Council of ALL Orthodox Churches, almost an Oecumenical Council (the Great Moscow Council of 1666)?

    • Replies: @Fr. X
  33. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Poupon Marx

    I like somethings about Buddhism: it is an universal morality, it stresses human striving to be better. I wouldn’t choose the Wheel of Eternal Suffering on the hope that Buddha’s Illumination exists, but still there’s a hope there.

    But for the life of me I cannot believe that the little cockroach scuttling in the corner was my uncle.

    And never would I convert expecting politics to end once the threshold of a Buddhist monastery was crossed.

  34. Seraphim says:

    No, my friend. Neither Jews nor Muslims are partners. “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God”, but every spirit that does not acknwoledge Jesus is not from God”. Neither Jews nor Muslims ackwnoledge this fact. They actually fight it. They are enemies of Christ.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  35. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Let’s see if I can make a distinction with a difference.

    The fruits of religion (essentials beliefs about man, the universe and transcendence) are a culture. Out of each particular religion evolves a particular culture. Believers of different religions cannot be members of the same culture by definition. They can of course coexist in the same territory, under different arrangements.

    It is correct to say that Western society is “post-Christian”, in the sense that it is not being created by the Christian values/worldview. But what, if any, is the religion that now create Western ‘culture’? Atheists and agnostics deny or don’t care about God. But what are the essentials beliefs then?

    That religion is hedonism: the search for pleasure and the flight from suffering.

    Christians, Muslims and Jews, even atheistic Jews, operate within cultures/subcultures different from this prevailing hedonism in Western societies.

  36. Talha says:
    @Israel Shamir

    Mr. Shamir, this article is very much appreciated. I learned a lot. Thank you.

    This particular paragraph was one of hope and beauty:
    “He is popular with Muslims, too. During the recent confrontation over the Al Aqsa Mosque he went there in solidarity with the Jerusalem Mufti, his personal friend. He is a good friend of the Orthodox Jews of Naturei Karta, who I witnessed personally accompanying him on a visit of condolence. He is willing to be a good friend to Jews, too, for he recognises they are here to stay in his beloved Palestine. And he naturally bears no animosity to Greeks, as he studied in Greece, speaks Greek fluently, visits Greece frequently and recognises the importance of Greek culture for Palestinian Christians.”


  37. colm says:

    Well, the Greeks have to have something, right? They always get the short end of stick, so they need some compensation.

  38. Fr. X says:


    I think your point about the Old Believes (or more properly rendered: Old Ritualists) is intriguing. Their triumphalism in proclaiming that they held a “superior faith” compared to the Greeks who were suffering under the Turkocratia certainly seems to suggest that they might have been guilty of “ethnophyletism.” However, there are certain concrete realities which led them to make such a harsh judgment.

    First of all, the Fall of Constantinople led many Russians to believe that the captivity of the Great Church was a divine punishment for the Union of Florence-Carrera. To the Russians, union with the despised Latins (for cynical political purposes, yet!) resulted in the destruction of what was left of the Byzantine Empire. This led directly to the adoption of the theory that Moscow was the “Third Rome.”

    The reviled “Nikonian Reforms” were not based on the idea that closer ties were necessary with a sister Church, but rather on Patriarch Nikon’s belief that newly printed (in Venice, btw) Greek service books must contain the “correct” liturgical rubrics as the Russians had received the Faith from the Greeks and centuries of potential scribal errors could be wiped out by simply adopting the new books printed by machine.

    Those who opposed Patriarch Nikon made the argument that the rituals in current use in Russia reflected exactly what had been delivered to their forefathers by the Greek Church and that the new rubrics (such as crossing oneself with three fingers) were unwelcome innovations.

    Scholars who have researched this troubled time note that it is very probable that the Greeks did change some minor traditions (such as altering the position of the right hand in making the Sign of the Cross.) It’s pretty well established that ancient Christians crossed themselves with the same finger position with which they were blessed by the clergy. Ancient Icons always show the Lord blessing with two fingers.
    Pre-Nikonian clergy and faithful in Russia followed this pattern.

    Patriarch Nikon also adopted certain changes to the attire of clergy, especially bishops. It is beyond doubt that the present episcopal vestments are a direct result of the Fall of the City as first the Patriarch of Constantinople, and later other bishops under the Turkish yoke would adopt the vestments of the now non-existent Emperor. Thus, we see the Mitre, the Saccos with imperial bells, and the custom (never adopted in Russia) of the bishop’s presiding to the right of the icon-screen instead of from the middle of the church.

    Nikon was greatly taken by these “foreign innovations” and he enthusiastically adopted them, to the delight of certain Russian clergy and to the disgust of others.

    So, if we add up the elements here, we really can’t find concrete evidence of ethnophyletism on the part of the Old Ritualists. Even the Stoglav Council of 1551 which was supposed to forever cement Russian liturgical practices current at the time, made no formal condemnation of other Orthodox practices in different parts of the world.

    The objections of the Old Ritualists to Patriarch Nikon’s reforms were reasonable. However, the use of violence against them by the State was not. It is this State sponsored violence perpetrated against spiritual dissenters that led such a great man as Alexander Solzhenitsyn to comment that Soviet repressions were the poisoned fruit of a tree rooted in the persecution of the Old Ritualists.

    What you mean by the term “sacred monster” I fail to understand. How you see the reforms of Peter the Great as beneficial to the Russian Church, I also cannot fathom. The dissolution of the Patriarchate and the placing of the Holy Synod under the dictatorship of a governmental “Ober-Procurator” was something only the Soviets would admire.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  39. AKAHorace says:

    Thank you for posting this article. Very interesting

  40. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    A morally courageous, well researched article. I found the questions that occurred to me subsequently answered. I liked that you pointed out a possible solution, I believe in a disinterested way. Fine journalism, Mr. Shamir. Yes, the sin of scandal brings with it the loss of faith. I hope that priests that better reflect the face of the Lord are soon in charge in Jerusalem.

  41. Seraphim says:
    @Fr. X

    A ‘sacred monster’ is “a celebrity whose eccentricities or indiscretions are easily forgiven by admirers”.
    It is not so well established that the practices of the Old Believers were the correct ones, nor that their stubbornes in fanatically keeping them was a commendable thing. There were more things than the position of the fingers or the two vs three Halleluias which showed influences of more serious heresies (the uncanonical icons, for example).
    I was refering to the reforms of Peter in general. And even so, his reforms of the Church were not so deleterious as they are made to appear.

    • Replies: @Fr. X
  42. Anonymous [AKA "Greek Monk"] says:

    If the Greeks allow the Palestinians in the higher echelons of the church, it’s game over
    Complete Palestinian control over a few decades.
    Greeks have been running affairs since the days of Justinian if not earlier.
    Granted, it’s not their land but don’t expect the Patriarchate to give away the keys just like that
    btw…Israel wants the statue quo for obvious reasons

  43. Casuist says:

    A rude,nasty remark, calculated to offend. Leave while the going’s good, friend. If you feel rancour in your existence,it is not hard to see why. Dégage!

  44. Fr. X says:

    Thanks for the definition. I believe that our little discussion began with your accusing the Old Ritualists of the heresy of ethnophyletism. That is, you posit that the Old Ritualists declared themselves to be the only Orthodox Church in the world.

    I responded that the circumstances surrounding Patriarch Nikon’s reforms perhaps led to some Old Ritualists holding this view (although I am not aware of any official pronouncements from any organized group of OR’s). Perhaps you could enlighten me on that matter.

    The reality is that Greek dominance of the Bulgarian Church in the 19th century resulted in the unfortunate emergence of this new heresy. In other words, the Bulgarians are not to be held entirely responsible for what was a reaction to ecclesiastical injustice.
    The same foolishness is happening in Palestine today. Try as you might to conflate the Old Ritualists with the Bulgarians and Palestinians, yours is a false analogy.

    You state that there were “more serious heresies” involved in the practices of the Old Ritualists without offering any examples except muttering about “uncanonical Icons.” The only “uncanonical Icons” I am aware of are the ones which flooded the entire Orthodox world after the institution of the “Western Captivity” by people like your hero, Peter the Great.
    St. Andrei Rublyov was an Old Ritualist (given the dates of his work) and his style of iconography represents the pinnacle of Russian religious art.
    So…where are the concrete examples which support your accusations?

    And which of Tsar Peter’s reforms can be proven to actually benefit the Church? I offered the most famous of his “reforms” (the abolition of the Patriarchate) which was an absolute disaster for the Church. Again, do you care to cite any specifics? Or are you simply knee-jerk reacting to the fact that I have reasonably pointed out the heavy-handedness of our beloved Greek brothers in Bulgaria and the Holy Land?

    Doubtlessly, you are unaware that the Russian Church has worked tirelessly to establish the единоверцый (one faith) principle. That is, many Old Ritualist communities have returned to the canonical jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. Could this have happened if the Old Ritualists officially maintained the ethnophyletist heresy? These communities serve according to the Old Rite in full communion with the “Nikonian Church” and no less a personage than Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeeyev has served the Liturgy with them according to their rites. Is Metropolitan Hilarion a heretic? If so, you had better contact Patriarch Kirill and have this eminent Hierarch deposed on the strength of your well-researched accusations.

    Two books you might care to read on this issue are: “Russia, Ritual and Reform: The Liturgical Reforms of Nikon in the 17th Century,” and “The Life of Archpriest Avvakum, by Himself.”

    • Replies: @Israel Shamir
    , @Seraphim
  45. That the Greek orthodox want to remain Greek does not surprise me.
    What I miss is the why, why selling at a twentieth of what a building is worth ?

    • Replies: @Israel Shamir
  46. @Fr. X

    Some groups of Old Believers (it is not a homogeneous movement, rather a collection of sects) were definitely heretics, for they denied apostolic transmission of traditions and refused to recognise bishops and priests of the Church. They also believe that we live under power of Satan, and what not. These are Beguny and Bezpopovtsy. Other Old Believers accepted the Mother Church, as edinovertsy, and they are no heretics, indeed. Moreover the word ‘heretic’ had lost much of its dreadful power.

    • Replies: @Father X
  47. @jilles dykstra

    The insinuation is that 19/20 of price went straight to Patriarch’s offshore account opened in his own civic name, that is what the Palestinians claim.

    • Replies: @jilles dykstra
  48. @Anon

    The errors were put in place ages ago. Orthodox ecclesiology was seemingly chiseled in stone with the Greco-Roman Empire. Even the notion that the Russian Church could evolve its own liturgical forms over 400+ years and take equal dignity (i.e., autocephaly–self-rule) with the ancient Byzantine Sees was resisted for some time.

    Patriarchates forged in empire and feudalism were perplexed by the Modern era, as people found out they could vote with their feet when the wars started or the economy dried up. But rather than become missionary Churches, the bishops back home crafted diaspora Churches, as if the immigrants’ great-grandchildren were all going to return home one day. There were a lot of dynamics driving this: people like their own culture; the bishops back in the old country quickly perceived a source of remittances; they sure as hell weren’t going to be Catholic; and American Protestantism is pretty arid stuff for people who picnic in graveyards and hang icons everywhere.

    Phyletism, and that famous verse in +Paul’s epistle, is misunderstood. The bishoprics are geographic, little kingdoms in fact. So when you enter that territory, you answer to that bishop. What this does not also imply is that Greeks and Bulgarians can’t draw lines around themselves back home and keep on being Greeks and Bulgarians.

  49. Father X says:
    @Israel Shamir

    Dear Mr. Shamir,
    Thank you for a wonderful and informative article. I also wish to congratulate you and your family on the blessed occasion of your Holy Illumination.

    You are correct concerning the myriad (and problematic) nature of fractured Old Ritualist sects. Something I did not share with Seraphim was the fact that I believe that the Old Ritualists would have prevented a deluge of blood and much needless controversy had they simply been obedient to the directives of Patriarch Nikon.

    I take as my example the advice given by Elder Cleopa of Romania to those who wished to resist the calendar “reform.” He believed that those who instituted this issue (the hieararchs) would have to answer for it before the Lord, NOT the simple believers who obeyed the directive. And the Chuches on the Revised Julian calendar have produced a multitude of saints!

    Obviously, the quasi-Protestant nature of certain sects within the Old Ritualist resistance is both painful and heretical.

    However, my main point was to note that the vast majority of dissenters did not promulgate the ethnophyletist heresy. The One Faith movement is a testimony to that fact.

    Again, thank you for an article which fascinated both me and my family!

    God’s blessing,
    Fr. X

    • Replies: @anonymous
  50. Seraphim says:
    @Fr. X

    The icons in question are the ‘symbolic’ representations of the Trinity with the Father as an old man and the Holy Spirit as a dove, representation formally forbiden by the Ecumenical Synods. Or the representation of the Christ as an angel of the Old Testament, or as Sophia/Wisdom, or the writing of the name of Jesus as isus instead of Iisus, of clear western influence. Even Rublev’s Trinity is not perfectly canonic (the canonic one is the Hospitality of Abraham, which has a profound historical-theological meaning, somehow obscured by the esthetic brilliance of Rublev’s rendition).
    And I would not speak of the alteration of the Creed, of grievous ommissions in the Liturgy.
    Now, my hero (I confess Father) Peter abolished the Patriarchate because the elevation of the Metropolitan of All Russias to the rank of Patriarch was a manifestation of ethnopyletism and Peter had none of it, he had an Empire to manage. Anyhow, the Patriarch of All Russias was recognized only as the last in rank among the Eastern Patriarchs.
    If now the official Curch is in communion with the edinovertsii is because the edinovertsii recanted and not the other way round.

  51. Z-man says:
    @Priss Factor

    “Greeks are worse than the Jews.”

    No but they come close but not as close as Armenians. On the Z-man obnoxious scale it’s Jews by far numero uno, followed by the Armenians, and then the Greeks pulling up the rear, lol.

    • Replies: @Avery
    , @Uncle Remus
  52. Avery says:

    {…but not as close as Armenians.}

    What mongrel ethnos do your belong to Zit-man?

    • Replies: @Z-man
  53. Anonymous [AKA "Fr X"] says:


    If you believe Tsar Peter abolished the Patriarchate out of concern about a move toward ethnophyletism, I know a Patriarch in the Holy Land who will sell you the Church of the Nativity…REAL CHEAP!
    And always remember: Грек-это грех!
    Fr. X

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  54. Z-man says:

    Zit this!
    A little thin skinned aye?
    What are you a Greco-Joo?
    That’s my scale and I’m sticking to it, lol!!

    • Replies: @Avery
  55. Avery says:

    {What are you a Greco-Joo?}

    Zit your zit-brain, S___Head: I am Armenian, a noble unadulterated ethnos.
    Again: what mongrel ethnos do youse belong to that you are ragging on Armenians, mongrel?
    What’s the matter? too embarrassed to admit you are a mange mongrel?
    And take your scale and stick it where the sun don’t shine, mongrel scum.

    • Replies: @Z-man
  56. Z-man says:

    My condolences. The Armenians, “A noble unadulterated ethnos’ LOL!!!

    • Replies: @Avery
  57. @Z-man

    Z-man, What is your beef with Armenians? They are much easier to tolerate than the Greeks. They
    don’t pretend that “Armenianism” is the basis of all contemporary civilization (cf. Greeks with “Hellenism”). They deserve third place in the Levantine stakes for most obnoxious ethnos. Greeks
    are second.

    • Replies: @Z-man
  58. Seraphim says:

    The trouble with this kind of silly approach is that “Hellenism” is indeed (if not the basis of all contemporary civilisation) one of its main pillars. Not even “Armenianism” escaped its influence.

  59. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Muslim elites, maybe. Muslim commoners, never.

  60. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    your own barbaric and demonic Moslem brethren

    The leaders who connive with the truly evil and satanic ChrizzyJudens… you are absolutely right.

  61. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    You quote some nonsense which is based purely on hearsay, as if it is, The Truth. Oh wait, that is what your deluded minds think of that nonsense. 😀

    Neither Jews nor Muslims ackwnoledge this fact.

    Pray tell, why should we acknowledge such heresy, when we have submitted directly and completely to the God of Christ?

    They are enemies of Christ.

    Judens, yes. But, Muslims? You are an idiot.

    On the contrary, it is the likes of you, who have taken a human prophet of God, as God, who the enemies of the truth.

    Christ, as a true monotheist, is the friend and ally of all true Muslims.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  62. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Father X

    blessed occasion of your Holy Illumination


    More like, out of the frying pan, into the fire! 😉

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  63. Seraphim says:

    Now, I would like to know if you are a Jew or a Muslim. Not that is much difference between their shared idiocy in regards to Christ. Your language strongly suggest the Muslim simplemindedness and intellectual thickness (disregarding the poor English). ‘Judens’ are more nuanced and intellectually subtle (and all have a better command of the English language). I would not exclude the possibilty that you are a ‘Hasbaratchik’ posing as a Muslim.
    Anyhow, you are wasting our time and writing space.

  64. Seraphim says:

    I wonder if you are the same Anonymus idiot who took on me!

  65. Avery says:

    {My condolences. The Armenians, “A noble unadulterated ethnos’ LOL!!!}

    Take your condolences together with your scale and shove it up where the sun don’t shine.
    ALL the way up.
    Mongrel scum.

    You mongrel mange scum still haven’t told readers what DNA of jackals and hyenas have ‘enhanced’ your ancestors’ genes.
    Clearly youse are embarrassed to tell people here the kind of mongrel scum youse descended from.
    Clearly I am proud of my Armenian ancestry, and wear it on my sleeve: on the other hand, you are obviously a mange mongrel hybrid of sewer rat+humanoid.
    And, youse, on the other hand, after several posts, are still embarrassed to tell readers @unz.con where you come from, because you know you are a Zit-brained mongrel hybrid of sewer rat+humanoid.

    • LOL: Z-man
  66. Z-man says:
    @Uncle Remus

    You have a point with the ‘Hellenism’ stuff, all they’ve done since then is to make Gyros, lol!

  67. A Simon says:

    Settler groups conspired with the Likud government, aided by their US ATM machine, to take those lands and they won’t stop until they have all of Jerusalem.

    The occupation of Jerusalem continues with illegal home demolitions, neighborhoods cordoned off from each other, dubious “sales” of Palestinian land, lack of government funding for ethnic Arabs, and settler violence against priests of all denominations.

    Christian churches are routinely desecrated and vandalized in Israel.

    The Church of the Multiplication was nearly destroyed by settlers.

    Why no mention of this here? This is what threatens all of Christianity in the Holy Land. Without the Greeks fighting and dying for hundreds of years to maintain their Christianity there would be nothing left of Orthodoxy. Promoting Palestinian Arabs to head the Greek Orthodox Church might be a useful gesture for drawing a larger flock, but given the current trajectory of Christianity in the Holy Land it will amount to a temporary steroid injection for a dying patient.

    • Replies: @Avery
    , @Israel Shamir
  68. Avery says:
    @A Simon

    {Christian churches are routinely desecrated and vandalized in Israel.}

    Quite true.
    And Christian clergymen are spat* on and harassed, sometimes assaulted, by ultra-orthodox Jewish psychopaths.

    [Ultra-Orthodox Spitting Attacks on Old City Clergymen Becoming Daily]

  69. @A Simon

    This is true, no doubt, and I wrote about Jewish persecution of Christians quite a lot. However, it is a right time to deal with another threat – for the Greeks sell properties of the Church to Jews faster than the settlers vandalise them. And there is no question of having a larger flock – this flock should be preserved and saved.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Israel Shamir Comments via RSS