Antisemitism in Greece manifests itself in religious, political and media discourse. The recent Greek government-debt crisis has facilitated the rise of far right groups in Greece, most notably the formerly obscure Golden Dawn.
Jews have lived in Greece since antiquity, but the largest community of around 20,000 Sephardic Jews settled in Thessalonica after an invitation from the Ottoman Sultan in the 15th century. After Thessalonica was annexed to Greece in 1913, the Greek government recognized Jews as Greek citizens with full rights and attributed Judaism the status of a recognized and protected religion. During the Holocaust in Greece, there were both rescue attempts and collaborationism with the Nazi authorities. More than 80% of Greek Jews were murdered. Currently in Greece, Jewish communities representing the 5,000 Greek Jews are legal entities under public law. They come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, according to Law No. 2456/1920 "On Jewish Communities".
As of 2005, there were around 5,000 Jews in Greece out of a population of 10.5 million.
In 2000, the Greek government was obliged by the EU to remove the reference to "religion" from the national identity card. Leaders of the Orthodox Church protested, saying the government was "bowing to Jewish pressure". The Archbishop (of Athens and All Greece) Christodoulos waged a campaign against the reforms and mobilized thousands of Greek citizens in mass protest rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki. These were followed by a series of antisemitic attacks motivated by notions of a "Jewish plot", including the extensive desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the Athens synagogue, and the defacement of Jewish monuments and private properties with slogans as swastikas.
In some cases, leftist and mainstream forums made no pretense of their traditional antisemitic sentiments. The standoff at the Church of the Nativity and the Greek Orthodox Easter season generated many analogies between the role of Jews (Israelis) in the Crucifixions of Christ (Arafat) and the Prophets (Palestinians).
During 2006, anti-Israel feeling revived and escalated with the outbreak of the 2006 Lebanon War between Israel and the Hizballah. Leading media organs promoted the image of Israel as a Nazi state, which was attacking unarmed, helpless people in South Lebanon. Hizballah combatants were often described as 'freedom fighters' and 'resistance groups', while antisemitic references, as well as comparisons with the Holocaust, were common.
In recent years there has been great improvement in Greece-Israel relations, particularly following the disintegration of Israel–Turkey relations after the Gaza flotilla raid. In August 2010, Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Greece. On his two-day tour, the Prime Minister discussed with the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou the possibility of expanding strategic ties and establishing greater cooperation between the nations' militaries and related industries. It is yet to be seen what affect this geopolitical change will have on Antisemitism in Greece. While Greek Jews today largely "live side by side in harmony" with Christian Greeks, according to Giorgo Romaio, president of the Greek Committee for the Jewish Museum of Greece, there has recently been an increased effort to work with other Greeks, and Jews worldwide, to combat any rise of antisemitism in Greece.
The Greek government debt crisis, which started in 2009, saw an increase in extremism of all kinds, including some cases of antisemitic vandalism. In 2010, the front of the Jewish Museum of Greece was defaced, for the first time ever. On Rhodes, on 26 October 2012, vandals spray-painted the city's Holocaust monument with swastikas. Partly to head off any new-found threat from extremism, thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish Greeks attended Thessaloniki's Holocaust Commemoration in March 2013. The meeting was personally addressed by Greece's prime minister, Antonis Samaras, who delivered a speech to Monastir Synagogue (Thessaloniki).
On February 7, 2014, Theodoros Karypidis, a local candidate for the Syriza political party for governor of the Western Macedonia region, remarked on his Facebook page that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was "lighting the candles in the seven branched candelabra of the Jews and lighting Greece on fire... He is organizing a new Hanukkah against the Greeks" when Samaras paid a visit to the synagogue in Thessaloniki as part of a commemoration of the destruction of the Greek Jewish community by the Nazis during the Second World War. A Samaras spokesman described the comments as "unacceptable, racist and anti-Semitic", and Tsipras's party called a special meeting to address the issue. Syriza later dropped the candidate following criticism domestically within Greece and elsewhere, a move welcomed by the Greek Jewish community.
Away from any instances of antisemitism in politics, there have been instances of Jewish cemeteries being desecrated during the period of economic crisis (Kos, July 19, 2013; Thessaloniki, October 30, 2011; and Kavala, June 13, 2010). During 2011 a synagogue and a Holocaust memorial were also sprayed with antisemitic graffiti. Towards the end of June 2014, a threatening graffito was found on the Athens Holocaust memorial. The graffito said, "Paragraph X-2 of hilkoth akum in the Talmud states, it is proper to kill Jews who have been baptized...Otherwise we shall destroy the synagogue for you". Two more antisemitic graffiti were scrawled towards the end of 2014. In Thessaloniki a monument dedicated to the old Jewish cemetery was covered with anti-Israeli messages, and in Larissa the Jewish cemetery was desecrated with antisemitic slogans.
In March 2015, a survey about the Greeks' perceptions of the holocaust was published. Its findings showed that less than 60 percent of the respondents think that holocaust teaching should be included in the curriculum. Giorgos Antoniou, a historian at the International Hellenic University, commented to the article and said that "the Holocaust is not really treated as an issue of national concern”.
In April 2015, Dimitris Kammenos, a MP for the right-wing Independent Greeks party, responded on a Tweet by Russian news-site RT about antisemitism in Europe with the question: "Have you recorded the attacks of Jews against all of us?". Two months laters antisemitic graffiti was found in Athens and in Kavala.  with the incidents involving desecration of Holocaust memorials. Critical as before with the comments of Panos Kammenos on the topic, the Greek Syriza party came out strongly against such sentiment, with Tsipras going on to ask Kammenos to resign.
The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) published on 2015 the "ADL Global 100", a report of the status of antisemitism in 100 countries around the world. The report found that 69% of the adult population in Greece harbor some form of antisemitic attitude, of various levels of seriousness. The research found out that 38% of the population agree with the statement "Jews are responsible for most of the world's wars", and 85% think that "Jews have too much power in the business world".
Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avyi) was a fringe movement when founded in the early 1980s and remained so until 2009. In the 2009 elections, it garnered a meager 0.23 percent of the vote. In 2010, it won a seat on the Athens City Council and in the June 2012 election it received 6.92 percent of the national vote - thus becoming the fifth largest party currently in the parliament. According to an October poll (in 2012), if elections were held then, Golden Dawn would gain no less than 14 percent of the vote, making it Greece's third-largest party. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras described Golden Dawn as "a right-wing extremist, one might say Fascist, neo-Nazi party". With its violence against immigrants, swastika-like emblem and Nazi salute, its aggressive rallies, and unabashed references to Mein Kampf, as well as its propagation of literature touting the racial superiority of the Greeks, promoting Aryan supremacy, racist and antisemitic ideology, and Holocaust denial. Nevertheless, Golden Dawn does not regard itself as a Nazi or even neo-Nazi party (although couple of pictures published on August 8, 2013 revealed a swastika's tattoo on Elias Kasidiàris shoulder ), but simply as a nationalist formation, the members of which seek to rescue Greece for the Greeks - with its nationalist rhetoric, the party appeals to Greek pride. On June 17, 2012, eighteen members of Golden Dawn were sworn into the Boule ton Ellenon (Greek parliament). In so doing, it has arguably become the most extreme right-wing political party to have won parliamentary seats in Europe in recent years. In 2002, marked by a wave of antisemitic manifestations, the most disturbing was the electoral success of George Karatzaferis, the leader of the ultra-nationalist LAOS party. Karatzaferis was one of the most outspoken promoter of antisemitism in Greek public life, and often used his television channel, TeleAsty, which was granted an official license, to voice antisemitic, racist and nationalist propaganda. He also owned the weekly newspaper Alpha Ena, both of which, along with the LAOS party, were singled out as the major disseminators of the September 11th libel in Greece.
In January 2014, thousands of pictures and videos were found at one of the Golden Dawn MP's. They carried antisemitic rhetoric and included photos of party members performing the Nazi salute or violent acts. Earlier, on May 2013, Golden Dawn MP was ejected from Parliament chamber after few "Hail Hitler" calls were heard.
On March 2, 2014, a doctor who is a member of the Golden Dawn party, had put a plaque outside his office which said, in German, "Jews Not Welcome". A search by authorities retrieved 12 knives and three daggers, two inscribed with Nazi symbols, and he was arrested.
The Orthodox Church has yet to officially absolve the Jews for the death of Christ. Holy Thursday and Good Friday liturgies still contain verses in which collective guilt for the death of Jesus is ascribed to the Jews. Antisemitism is also retained in popular Easter customs. According to Professor Frangiski Abatzopoulou of the University of Thessaloniki, the Burning of Judas Iscariot (the Holy Thursday custom of the "Kapsimo tou Youda") is the "most familiar and widespread manifestation of traditional anti-Semitism in Greece". She notes that "the accusation [against the Jews] for Theoktonia, reactivated through liturgy, cannot be examined in the framework of rationalism given that it is inscribed in religious experience". But, she stresses, "it can be examined in relation to the mechanism of scapegoating, which constructs the 'Jew' as guilty not only for 'theoktonia' but for all the other suffering in the world as well".
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (; Ancient Greek: Ἀντίοχος ὁ Ἐπιφανής, Antíochos ho Epiphanḗs, "God Manifest"; c. 215 BC – November/December 164 BC) was a Hellenistic Greek king of the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithradates (alternative form Mithridates); he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne. Notable events during the reign of Antiochus IV include his near-conquest of Egypt, his persecution of the Jews of Judea and Samaria, and the rebellion of the Jewish Maccabees.
Antiochus was the first Seleucid king to use divine epithets on coins, perhaps inspired by the Bactrian Hellenistic kings who had earlier done so, or else building on the ruler cult that his father Antiochus the Great had codified within the Seleucid Empire. These epithets included Θεὸς Ἐπιφανής "manifest god", and, after his defeat of Egypt, Νικηφόρος "bringer of victory". However, Antiochus also tried to interact with common people by appearing in the public bath houses and applying for municipal offices, and his often eccentric behavior and capricious actions led some of his contemporaries to call him Epimanes ("The Mad One"), a word play on his title Epiphanes.Antisemitism
Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism. It has also been characterized as a political ideology which serves as an organizing principle and unites disparate groups which are opposed to liberalism.Antisemitism may be manifested in many ways, ranging from expressions of hatred of or discrimination against individual Jews to organized pogroms by mobs, state police, or even military attacks on entire Jewish communities. Although the term did not come into common usage until the 19th century, it is now also applied to historic anti-Jewish incidents. Notable instances of persecution include the Rhineland massacres preceding the First Crusade in 1096, the Edict of Expulsion from England in 1290, the massacres of Spanish Jews in 1391, the persecutions of the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, the Cossack massacres in Ukraine from 1648 to 1657, various anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire between 1821 and 1906, the 1894–1906 Dreyfus affair in France, the Holocaust in German-occupied Europe during World War II, Soviet anti-Jewish policies, and Arab and Muslim involvement in the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries.
The root word Semite gives the false impression that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic people, e.g., including Arabs and Assyrians. The compound word antisemite was popularized in Germany in 1879 as a scientific-sounding term for Judenhass ("Jew-hatred"), and this has been its common use since then.Axis occupation of Greece
The occupation of Greece by the Axis Powers (Greek: Η Κατοχή, I Katochi, meaning "The Occupation") began in April 1941 after Nazi Germany invaded Greece to assist its ally, Fascist Italy, which had been at war with Allied Greece since October 1940. Following the conquest of Crete, all of Greece was occupied by June 1941. The occupation in the mainland lasted until Germany and its ally Bulgaria were forced to withdraw under Allied pressure in early October 1944. However, German garrisons remained in control of Crete and some other Aegean islands until after the end of World War II in Europe, surrendering these islands in May and June 1945.
Fascist Italy had initially declared war and invaded Greece in October 1940, but the Hellenic Army initially managed to push back the invading forces into neighboring Albania, then an Italian protectorate. Nazi Germany intervened on its ally's behalf in southern Europe. While most of the Hellenic Army was dislocated on the Albanian front to fend off the relentless Italian counter-attacks, a rapid German Blitzkrieg campaign commenced in April 1941, and by June (with the conquest of Crete) Greece was defeated and occupied. As result, the Greek government went into exile, and an Axis collaborationist puppet government was established in the country. Furthermore, Greece's territory was divided into occupation zones run by the Axis powers, with the Germans proceeding to administer the most important regions of the country themselves, including Athens, Thessaloniki and the most strategic Aegean Islands. Other regions of the country were given to Germany's partners, Italy and Bulgaria.
The occupation ruined the Greek economy and brought about terrible hardships for the Greek civilian population. Much of Greece was subjected to enormous destruction of its industry (80% of which was destroyed), infrastructure (28% destroyed), ports, roads, railways and bridges (90%), forests and other natural resources (25%) and loss of civilian life (7.02% – 11.17% of its citizens). Over 40,000 civilians died in Athens alone from starvation, tens of thousands more died because of reprisals by Nazis and collaborators.The Jewish population of Greece was nearly eradicated. Of its pre-war population of 75-77,000, only around 11-12,000 survived, either by joining the resistance or being hidden. Most of those who died were deported to Auschwitz, while those in Thrace, under Bulgarian occupation, were sent to Treblinka. The Italians did not deport Jews living in territory they controlled, but when the Germans took over, Jews living there were also deported.
At the same time the Greek Resistance was formed. These resistance groups launched guerrilla attacks against the occupying powers, fought against the collaborationist Security Battalions, and set up large espionage networks. By late 1943 the resistance groups began to fight amongst themselves. When liberation of the mainland came in October 1944, Greece was in a state of extreme political polarization, which soon led to the outbreak of civil war. The subsequent civil war gave the opportunity to many prominent Nazi collaborators not only to escape punishment (because of their anti-communism), but to eventually become the ruling class of postwar Greece, after the communist defeat.The Greek Resistance killed 21,087 Axis soldiers (17,536 Germans, 2,739 Italians, 1,532 Bulgarians) and captured 6,463 (2,102 Germans, 2,109 Italians, 2,252 Bulgarians), for the death of 20,650 Greek partisans and an unknown number captured.Don Pacifico affair
The Don Pacifico affair was an episode of gun boat diplomacy which occurred in 1850 and concerned the Kingdom of Greece, the United Kingdom and Portugal. The affair is named after David Pacifico, a British subject born in Gibraltar.Front Line (political party)
Front Line (Greek: Πρώτη Γραμμή, Proti Grammi) was a Greek nationalist party, formed in 1999.
The party was headed by self-confessed FascistKonstantinos Plevris.
Front Line participated in the 1999 European Parliament elections (sharing a slate with the nationalist Golden Dawn party), obtaining 48,532 votes or 0.75 percent of the vote. In the Greek general election of 2000, it took 12,125 votes, or 0.18 percent of the poll.
Apart from Plevris, electoral candidates for the party have included: (in 1999) Panayiota Adonopoulou (Παναγιώτα Αντωνοπούλου), Nikolaos Michaloliakos (Νικόλαος Μιχαλολιάκος), and Michail Arvanitis-Avramis (Μιχαήλ Αρβανίτης-Αβράμης).The party is dissolved. Many of its former members have joined the Popular Orthodox Rally, and others participated in the foundation of Patriotic Alliance.Golden Dawn (political party)
The Popular Association – Golden Dawn (Greek: Λαϊκός Σύνδεσμος – Χρυσή Αυγή, Laïkós Sýndesmos – Chrysí Avgí), usually known simply as Golden Dawn (Greek: Χρυσή Αυγή, Chrysí Avgí pronounced [xriˈsi avˈʝi]), is an ultranationalist, far-right political party in Greece. It is led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos.
Scholars and media have described it as neo-Nazi and fascist, though the group rejects these labels. Members have expressed admiration for the former Greek dictators Ioannis Metaxas of the 4th of August Regime (1936–1941) and Georgios Papadopoulos of the Regime of the Colonels (1967–1974). They have also made use of alleged Nazi symbolism, and have praised figures of Nazi Germany in the past. According to academic sources, the group is racist and xenophobic, and the party's leader has openly identified it as nationalist and racist. Many groups and political parties advocate for the Greek government to dissolve Golden Dawn.
Michaloliakos began the foundations of what would become Golden Dawn in 1980, when he published the first issue of the right-wing, pro-military junta journal with that name. In this context, Golden Dawn had its origins in the movement that worked towards a return to right-wing military dictatorship in Greece.
Following an investigation into the 2013 murder of Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist rapper, by a supporter of the party, Michaloliakos and several other Golden Dawn MPs and members were arrested and held in pre-trial detention on suspicion of forming a criminal organization. The trial began on 20 April 2015 and is ongoing as of 2019.History of the Jews in Greece
Jews have been present in Greece since at least the fourth century BC. The oldest and the most characteristic Jewish group that has inhabited Greece are the Romaniotes, also known as "Greek Jews". However, the term "Greek Jew" is predominantly used for any person of Jewish descent or faith that lives in or originates from the modern region of Greece.
Aside from the Romaniotes, a distinct Jewish population that historically lived in communities throughout Greece and neighboring areas with large Greek populations, Greece had a large population of Sephardi Jews, and is a historical center of Sephardic life; the city of Salonica or Thessaloniki, in Greek Macedonia, was called the "Mother of Israel". Greek Jews played an important role in the early development of Christianity, and became a source of education and commerce for the Byzantine Empire and throughout the period of Ottoman Greece, until suffering devastation in the Holocaust after Greece was conquered and occupied by the Axis powers despite efforts by Greeks to protect them. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, a large percentage of the surviving community emigrated to Israel or the United States.
The Jewish community in Greece currently amounts to roughly 8,000 people, concentrated mainly in Athens, Thessaloniki (or Salonika in Judeo-Spanish), Larissa, Volos, Chalkis, Ioannina, Trikala, Corfu and a functioning synagogue on Crete, while very few remain in Kavala and Rhodes. Greek Jews today largely "live side by side in harmony" with Christian Greeks, according to Giorgo Romaio, president of the Greek Committee for the Jewish Museum of Greece, while nevertheless continuing to work with other Greeks, and Jews worldwide, to combat any rise of anti-Semitism in Greece. Currently the Jewish community of Greece makes great efforts to establish a Holocaust museum in the country. A permanent pavilion about the Holocaust of Greek Jews in KZ Auschwitz shall be installed. A delegation and the president of the Jewish communities of Greece met in November 2016 with Greek politicians and asked them for support in their demand to get back the community archives of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki from Moscow.Konstantinos Plevris
Konstantinos A. Plevris (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Α. Πλεύρης; born 1939 in Athens), in English sometimes Constantine Plevris or Kostas Plevris, is a Greek politician, lawyer and far right author. A prolific writer, over the course of decades he has authored a number of books and other texts relating to Greek history, Greek culture, sociology, and politics, with a clear nationalist, homophobic (such as his book titled "Οι Κίναιδοι", a vehement polemic against homosexuals) content. In his book The Jews: The Whole Truth he described himself as a “Nazi, fascist, racist, anti-democrat, anti-Semite.” He was the founder and leader of the Metaxist 4th of August Party and Front Line, with the former political party not only playing a significant role in influencing and shaping the future direction of the Greek extreme right, but also standing in its own right as a prominent pre-junta political movement in general. He has also cooperated (according to interviews he gave to various publications, including one to Italian magazine L'Europeo in 1976, which were quoted and accepted as proof in a court of law where he was the plaintiff against author Nikos Kleitsikas) with various European neo-fascist groups (including the Ordine Nuovo), and figures such as Pino Rauti, Pino Romualdi, Giorgio Almirante, and others of the same ilk. He later briefly joined the right-wing party Popular Orthodox Rally, as its leading candidate in the 2004 elections. He is father of Thanos Plevris, former member of the Greek parliament with the Popular Orthodox Rally party.
In December 2007, Plevris was initially found guilty of inciting racial hatred by a Greek court based on excerpts and quotations in his book The Jews: The Whole Truth. He appealed the court ruling and on 27 March 2009 the court of appeals overturned the ruling of incitement with 4-1 votes. Plevris was cleared on the charge of having caused violence by the 5-member court, but it was noted that he was a Holocaust denier. The court justified his acquittal by saying that ""The defendant does not revile the Jews solely because of their racial and ethnic origin, but mainly because of their aspirations to world power, the methods they use to achieve these aims, and their conspiratorial activities." The ruling prompted some charges of miscarriage of justice.National Union of Greece
The National Union of Greece (Greek: Εθνική Ένωσις Ελλάδος, Ethniki Enosis Ellados or EEE) was an anti-Semitic nationalist party established in Thessaloniki, Greece, in 1927.
Registered as a mutual aid society, the EEE was founded by Asia Minor refugee merchants. According to the organisation's constitution, only Christians could join. Its members were opposed to Thessaloniki's substantial Jewish population.
It was led by Georgios Kosmidis (Γιώργος Κοσμίδης), a banking clerk.
The party's leaders were the main defendants in the trial held after the Campbell Riot of 29 June 1931, in which Greek nationalist mobs attacked the Jewish "Campbell" settlement in the city. (A co-defendant was Nikolaos Nikos Fardis (Νίκος Φαρδής), editor-in-chief of the Makedonia newspaper.)
Estimates put the party's strength at 7,000 members in 1932; by 1933, it had 3,000 members march to Athens, in apparent imitation of Benito Mussolini's 1922 March on Rome. However, it polled miserably in the 1934 city elections in Thessaloniki, and in 1935, the party imploded as a result of in-fighting. It was revived by the German occupation authorities in 1942, during the Axis Occupation of Greece; many members of EEE became prominent collaborators of the Nazis, and many more joined the Security Battalions and helped in the identification of Greek Jews.
Owing to its paramilitary uniforms and organisation, the party was commonly referred to as "The Three Epsilons" (τα Τρία Εψιλον) or "The Steelhelmets" (οι Χαλυβδόκρανοι), in allusion to the German paramilitary Stahlhelm.
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