Anti-Semitism continued to exist in Greece

US State Department Report: Anti-Semitism continued to exist in Greece

US State Department’s Greece Country Report says that the anti-semitism continues to exist in Greece. The report further argues that vandalism against Jewish properties continue:

The full-text of the related part of the report:

“The Jewish community has approximately 5,000 members. Anti-Semitism continued to exist, particularly in the extremist press. The mainstream press and public often did not clearly distinguish between criticism of Israel and comments about Jews. In 2004 the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the Wiesenthal Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and GHM criticized the press for carrying anti-Semitic stories and cartoons on several occasions. For example, on August 16, Eleftherotypia, the second largest daily newspaper, published a cartoon depicting an Israeli soldier praying with a rifle that was firing swastikas. Candidates for the political party LAOS, the fifth largest party, have made anti-Semitic statements during the campaign for municipal offices in the Fall. The party’s weekly paper A1 published strongly anti-Semitic articles accusing the Israelis of genocide against the Lebanese people. A July editorial stated that if “the Jews continue this way, they will beat Hitler’s number of victims.” Anti-Semitic references as well as comparisons with the Holocaust were common in the press during the July-August conflict involving Israel and Lebanon, while some major media promoted the image of Israel as the “Nazi-state.” On the other hand, Hezbollah fighters were often seen as “freedom fighters” and “resistance groups.”

Vandalism of Jewish monuments decreased, although the Holocaust monument in Thessaloniki was vandalized during an antiwar demonstration in August; the government condemned the vandalism. As of December, police had not found the perpetrators of the 2004 desecration of Holocaust memorials in Komotini in Thrace. Several times throughout the year extreme right-wing groups painted anti-Semitic graffiti along with their symbols and organization names at multiple locations, including the busy Athens?Corinth and Athens-Tripoli highways, and other public structures. In February the prosecutor filed a lawsuit against “Golden Dawn” for defacing public property and painting anti-Semitic graffiti during the course of the last several years.

In April the Central Board of the Jewish Communities of Greece continued to protest the Easter tradition of burning a life-size effigy of Judas, sometimes referred to as the “burning of the Jew,” which they maintained propagated hatred and fanaticism against Jews. One Greek Orthodox bishop, a local NGO, and the Wiesenthal Center expressed formal written objections to this tradition. The Jewish Community also protested anti-Semitic passages in the Holy Week liturgy and it reported that it maintained a dialogue with the Orthodox Church about the removal of these passages.

Some schoolbooks carried negative references to Roman Catholics, Jewish persons, members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others.

Negotiations continued between the Jewish community of Thessaloniki and the government to find acceptable restitution for the community’s cemetery, expropriated after its destruction during the Holocaust. Aristotle University, a public institution, was built on top of the expropriated cemetery.

Jewish community leaders condemned anti-Semitic broadcasts on small private television stations, but authorities did not bring charges against these largely unlicensed operators.

The government co-sponsored commemorative events in Athens and Thessaloniki in January for Holocaust Remembrance Day. This was followed two weeks later by the visit of Israel’s President Moshe Katsav, the first official visit of an Israeli head of state. The Ministry of Education distributed materials to schools on the history of the Holocaust to be read in all schools on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and teacher-training seminars on the Holocaust were held.”

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – Greece 2006
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (US State Department), March 6, 2007

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