Greek Jewish community holds protest after desecration of cemetery

The Jewish community of Athens formed a living human circle around the Jewish cemetery in a silent protest against anti-Semitism.

By: Yossi Lempkowicz/JNS and World Israel News Staff

The Jewish community of Athens on Sunday formed a human circle around the Jewish cemetery of the city in a silent protest to say that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in Greece. The cemetery was desecrated last week.

The protest rally was called by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), which represents the country’s 6,000 Jews,

Members of the Greek government and religious groups participated in the rally in a gesture of solidarity with the Jewish community.

The vice mayor of Athens, Lefteris Papagiannakis, addressed the rally.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) stated that it stands with the Jewish Community of Athens in condemning repeated anti-Semitic attacks and its initiative to organize the protest. The group has launched a social-media campaign to raise awareness of the anti-Semitic manifestations ongoing in Greece, urging people worldwide to join in support.

“The World Jewish Congress abhors the despicable and cowardly act of desecrating Jewish property and stands firmly with the local Jewish community in urging individuals, organizations, and public authorities to mobilize in any way possible to make it absolutely clear that there is no room for anti-Semitism in Greek society,” said WJC CEO Robert Singer. “It is inconceivable that still today, anti-Semitic stereotypes are rife in Greece. We cannot stand by in silence as hatred  continues unhindered.”

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“Greece was once home to a strong and influential Jewish community, which was all but decimated during the Holocaust. The community that remains today is small but still vibrant, and unfortunately is no stranger to anti-Semitic manifestations. We thank Athens Mayor Giorgis Kaminis for publicly condemning this anti-Semitic act, and urge other politicians and authorities to follow suit,” he added.

Most of Greece’s pre-war Jewish population was deported and murdered in Nazi death camps by German occupation forces toward the end of the war.

Vandalism of Jewish sites and anti-Semitic attacks has increased in Greece since the rise in recent years of the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn party, which grew to become Greece’s third-largest political party.

Among Europeans, Greeks have some of the most negative attitudes towards Jews, a 2016 Pew Research Center study revealed.