Israeli Ambassador to Georgia concerned by anti-Semitic sermon of Georgian priests

  • Ambassador Ran Gidor calls on the Georgian government ‘to make its voice heard loud and clear in condemnation of those hateful anti-Semitic speeches’. Photo: Ran Gidor/Facebook, 9 Jan 2021 - 14:54, Tbilisi,Georgia

Ambassador of Israel to Georgia Ran Gidor released a statement on Facebook yesterday expressing his concern over the anti-semitic messages of several Georgian priests.  

Exactly one week ago I expressed my wish that the new year would be welcomed with a public reassurance that the friendship between Georgians and Jews is as strong as ever, and that anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry have no place in Georgian society”, Ambassador Gidor wrote on Facebook. 

Saying that 'unfortunately, that was not the case', he then noted that on January 4, Ilia Karkadze, a deacon at the Trinity Cathedral in Kutaisi, ‘spewed several anti-semitic conspiracy theories which were reminiscent of some of the worst blood-libels and anti-Jewish hate propaganda of 1930s Europe’.

Ran Gidor also added that Karkadze’s speech was made merely two weeks after Ioane Gamrekeli, the Metropolitan of the Kutaisi-Gaenati Diocese and a member of the Holy Synod, 'had delivered his own highly controversial and problematic sermon, parts of which could have been interpreted as anti-semitic’.

I have been in this wonderful country long enough to realise that the vast majority of Georgians do not share these horrendous views. It is not for nothing that Georgians have gained a world-wide reputation for their famous hospitality and love of strangers”, the Ambassador of Israel said. 

He noted as well that 'likewise, a thriving Jewish community has existed in Georgia for over 2 millennia and has encountered less anti-Semitism than in most other countries'.

Calling on the Georgian government ‘to make its voice heard loud and clear in condemnation of those hateful anti-semitic speeches’ Ran Gidor welcomed Metropolitan Ioane Gamrekeli's ‘strong condemnation’ of Ilia Karkadze speech and ‘clarification of his own previous problematic statement’.

I would still hope that His Holiness, Ilia 2nd, the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, who has always professed his sincere friendship towards the Jewish people, will also himself reiterate a much-needed message of tolerance and rejection of all forms of anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry”, Ran Gidor concluded.

Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani has responded to Ambassador Gidor’s statement on Twitter in Georgian, saying that ‘not the smallest expression of anti-Semitism may find its place in the hearts and minds of Georgians’. 

Ran Gidor, an Israeli diplomat who previously served in the Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea, was appointed as the new ambassador of Israel to Georgia a year ago, replacing Shabtai Tsur, who has served in the role since 2016.