News

Washington, DC, May 11, 2016 – Today, Greek-Americans are celebrating Israeli Independence Day — Yom Ha’atzmaut (pronounced “Yom Hah-ahtz-mah-oot”) — with the release of the video entitled “You Should Too.” Produced by the Washington Oxi Day Foundation, this video showcases the deep bond and enduring connection between the Greek Orthodox and Jewish communities. It details the Greek Orthodox Church’s unsurpassed reaction to the Holocaust and documents continuing threats to the Jewish population around the world.

Please click here to watch the video.

Washington Oxi Day Foundation President Andy Manatos said, “The Greek-American celebration of Israeli Independence Day has taken on new meaning following this year’s trilateral agreement for security and economic development between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, the only three western democracies in the dangerous Eastern Mediterranean.”

“Further, we are proud of the fact that both nations, the United States and Israel, looked to ancient Greece’s philosophical and governmental principles as a foundation upon which to build their countries. The 2014 Washington Oxi Day Foundation Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award recipient — former Israeli President Shimon Peres — explained how the founder of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, learned Greek following the tradition of some of America’s founders Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison among others,” continued Washington Oxi Day Foundation Executive Director Mike Manatos.

During his acceptance of the Chrysostomos Award, President Peres said:

“David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the state of Israel, decided to learn the Greek language. Why? He thought there was something missing in our history, and that was the meaning of the state. He thought, we have great prophets, we have great priests, maybe we have some good kings, but we don’t know real statesmen. He decided to learn the Greek philosophy in order to understand what it meant to be a head of a state. He studied the Greek language, and made it part of our ideology.”

In 2015, Andy Manatos and David Harris, the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, who have worked together on Hellenic and Israeli issues for decades, initiated this tradition of celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut. Harris was the 2013 recipient of the Oxi Day Foundation’s Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award. The Award is given each year to a person who today shows the courage against anti-Semitism and discrimination that was shown by the Metropolitan against the Nazis during the Holocaust.

“We Hellenes welcome the celebration of the birth of these nations, the United States and Israel, which are the modern progeny of these ancient Greek principles. Therefore, we take great pride in joining our Israeli friends in celebrating today Israel’s Independence Day – Yom Ha’atzmaut,” said George Marcus, an Advisory Board Member of the Washington Oxi Day Foundation.