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Table of Contents    
The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism and Racism: Anti-Semitism Worldwide 1999/2000: GREECE - received from A. Matathias - 9.9.00

Proti Grammi, a neo-fascist party, was formed in 1999. Although there were no reports of anti-Semitic violence in 1999, in April-May 2000 a spate of desecrations and vandalism occurred in Athens and Thessaloniki. The NATO 
bombing of Yugoslavia provided a pretext for claims that the Jews were behind the attacks. 


Greek Jews number 5,000 out of a total population of 10 million. The two largest communities are Athens (3,000) and Thessaloniki (1,000). Of the country’s pre-war community of 77,000, 66,000 were murdered by the Germans 
and their collaborators. 

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (Kentriko Israelitiko Symvoulio Ellados) is the main communal organization, and is recognized as a legal body under state law, functioning under the jurisdiction of the 
Ministry of Education and Religions. 


Political Organizations 

A new neo-fascist party was formed in 1999. The Proti Grammi (Front Line) party is headed by the historian and author of anti-Semitic books Kostas Plevris, who is also a leading Greek Holocaust denier. Proti Grammi 
participated in the June 1999 European Parliament elections, obtaining 0.7 percent of the vote, and was planning to take part in the Greek general elections scheduled for April 2000. 

The extreme right group Ethniko Metopo (National Front) was relatively quiet, but continued its links with fraternal groups in Europe. The neo-Nazi Chrissi Avgi (Golden Daybreak) was responsible for several anti-Semitic acts in 
1999/2000 (see below). 

Violence, Vandalism and Insults 

Although there were no reports of anti-Semitic violence in 1999, April and May 2000 were marked by a spate of desecrations and vandalism. In April, the Holocaust memorial in the northern city of Thessaloniki to the 50,000 Jewish inhabitants deported and murdered during the Nazi era was desecrated. On the same day swastikas were drawn on the walls of the Monastiroton Synagogue in the city. The graffiti was signed by the Chrissi Avgi group, and the incidents coincided with the finals of the European basketball championship between a Greek and an Israeli team. Five months previously, similar graffiti had appeared on the walls of the synagogue in Chalkis, Eubea. The incident was reported to the local police and the Ministry of Public Order, but the culprits were not caught. 

One month later, on 25 May, 50 tombstones in the Athens Jewish cemetery, as well as the building used for burial services, were desecrated. At the same time, anti-Semitic slogans, such as “Juden Raus” and SS symbols, appeared on the Holocaust memorial in Athens. One day previously, neo-Nazi swastikas and slogans such as “Death to the Jews” had been scrawled on the walls of the houses of the late actress and Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercuri and of film director Jules Dassin. The May attacks occurred in the wake of the Socialist government’s decision to abolish religious affiliation on state-issued identity cards, a move which is opposed by the Church, ultra-Orthodox organizations, far right groups and many politicians from all political parties. All incidents were condemned by the Greek government and the main political parties. 

The Greece-Israel Friendship League in Athens was the target of two incendiary devices on 2 August 1999. No one was injured. A hitherto unknown left-wing group, Black Star, claimed responsibility for the attack, which was 
condemned by politicians and government representatives. 

Greek Jewry reacted strongly to a letter sent by the head of the prefecture of Hania, Crete, G. Katsanevakis, to the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece. Katsanevakis referred to a newly renovated 17th century local 
synagogue in Hania, which had been destroyed by the Nazis and was due to be rededicated in October 1999. Citing a 1938 law that a house of worship may not be used for fewer than 50 attendants, he asked that Jews not pray in the synagogue because there were no longer any Jews left in the town. Further, while claiming to reject the “rumors circulating about an invasion of Zionist capital into Crete, whose objective is to upset our national consciousness and identity,” he insinuated that these allegations might be true since the Board was reopening a synagogue in a town without a congregation. The minister of religion Gerassimos Arsenis dismissed the prefect’s objections, letters condemning his anti-Semitism were printed in the press, and the rededication ceremony was held as planned. 


The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia provided a pretext for claims that the Jews were behind the attacks, since many of them had senior positions in the Clinton administration. In Thessaloniki, members of the Socialist Youth 
Movement issued a statement in June proclaiming that “Jewish Zionists are controlling world developments through the Masonic lodges and associations they have created throughout the world.” After a letter of protest was sent 
by the Central Board of Jewish Communities to the secretary-general of the ruling Socialist Party, the youth movement issued a statement claiming that the accusations were the work of a single individual “who acted wrongly and unacceptably.” 

Following the publication of a full-page ad in the New York Post on the occasion of the Jewish festival of Chanukah in December 1998, the Hellenic Nationalist Page published an anti-Semitic diatribe on its Internet site, 
entitled “New Zionist Attack against Hellenism.” Taking issue with phrases in the ad referring to the Maccabean victory over the Greeks, the article accused the Jews of racism and claimed, falsely, that Rupert Murdoch, owner 
of the New York Post, was a Jew. The article also reiterated other charges the group had made in the past, such as Jewish collaboration with “the Ottomans in the subjugation of Byzantium,” and the Jews’ promotion of the 
notion that “they are the only (or at least the most victimized) victim in history.” Further, it questioned the “imaginary 6 million figure” who perished in the Holocaust, in contrast to the documented figure of 800,000 
Greeks lost in World War II. 


A Holocaust memorial was ceremoniously unveiled in Drama, Macedonia, in May, almost 56 years to the day that all members of the Jewish communities of Macedonia and Thrace were arrested and deported. The memorial was erected by the Administrative Committee of the Jewish Community of Kavala and the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece, in cooperation with the mayor of Drama. A series of cultural events on pre-war Jewish life was held at the same time. No Jewish community exists in that area today. 

Two Greek cities commemorated Jewish victims of the Holocaust by naming squares after them: Athens renamed one of its central squares Greek Jewish Martyrs’ Square, while Larissa named one after Anne Frank. The mayor of Amsterdam attended the ceremony marking the latter and a photographic exhibition on Anne Frank was held. 

In April, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and the State Broadcasting Channel announced a writing competition on the subject “Remembrance of Greek Jewish Holocaust Martyrs.” The winners were to be 
announced in March 2000.

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