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Antisemitic Graffiti On Jewish Holy Sites And Memorials

The results of acts of vandalism against Jewish sites can be summarized as following: graffiti with religious symbols, swastikas, obscene symbols and desecration of Jewish graves and Holocaust memorials. These attacks take place not just in Athens and in Thessaloniki but all over Greece, which magnifies their implications, considering that only 5 000 Jews live in Greece within a total population of about 10 700 000 people.

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Even during 2020, an extraordinarily difficult year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a series of vandalism acts against Jewish sites took place. The most recent one targeted the façade of the Synagogue and the Holocaust Memorial in Larissa, where a person in priest garb spray-painted a Christogram. Earlier on, four similar incidents had taken place. On October 5, two days before the conviction of the far-right extremist and antisemitic “Golden Dawn” party as a “criminal organization”, the Nazi slogan “Judenraus” (“Jews out”) together with the SS symbol and the ancient Greek meander symbol were painted on the walls of the Jewish Section of the Third Cemetery in Athens. On October 10, the slogan “Death to Israel” was written on the walls of the Jewish cemetery in Thessaloniki. On the next day, four graves were destroyed in the Jewish cemetery of Rhodes. At the Holocaust Memorial in Thessaloniki, the slogan “With Jews, you lose” was sprayed. According to a report monitoring incidents at religious sites in Greece, published by the General Secretariat of Religious Affairs, in 2018 20 incidents of racist-antisemitic character had taken place.

These acts of vandalism undermine social peace, destroy public property, tarnish the country’s profile abroad and, above all, offend Greek Jews as well as all those who wish to live in harmony and within an atmosphere of mutual cultural tolerance.

It is encouraging to see that both Jewish and non-Jewish officials (e.g. The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, The Mayor of Athens) openly condemn these shameful incidents and take speedy measures to repair the damage caused. Nevertheless, voices are heard which underplay the significance of this barbaric act by comparing it with similar acts which take place also against non-Jewish targets, such as vandalizing statues of prominent Greek and foreign politicians, busts of Greek artists and intellectuals, monuments commemorating historical events of national importance, etc.

Through appropriate education at home and at school, a country’s citizens can learn to respect public property and value cultural tolerance. In addition, swift and appropriate reaction by the authorities to delete such graffiti minimizes the impact of such visual representations of antisemitism. Consequently, sympathizers of such antisemitic acts and potential copycats are discouraged from perpetrating such acts.

References

https://bit.ly/3hRLaKP (article “Jewish cemetery: What the US embassy said about the vandalism” published on October 6, 2020, in Athens Voice)

Jewish cemeteries, Holocaust memorial desecrated in Greece (article published on October 19, 2020, by AFP in The Times of Israel)

Μπαράζ επιθέσεων σε εβραϊκούς στόχους προκαλεί ανησυχία για έξαρση του αντισημιτισμού (article “Barrage of attacks on Jewish targets raises concerns over antisemitism”, published on December 16, 2020, on Ta Nea)

Visuals

Έρευνα της ΕΛΑΣ για την βεβήλωση του Εβραϊκού Νεκροταφείου Αθηνών από νεοναζί (pics) ( article “ELAS investigation into the desecration of the Jewish Cemetery in Athens by neo-Nazis, published on October 5, 2020, on News It)

Έξαρση του αντισημιτισμού στην Ελλάδα – Μπαράζ επιθέσεων σε εβραϊκούς στόχους προκαλεί ανησυχία για (article “Rising antisemitism in Greece – Barrage of attacks on Jewish targets raises concerns”, published on December 16, 2020, on Npress.gr)

Holocaust memorial in Kavala restored after vandalism (article published on April 6, 2017, on the Against Antisemitism blog site)

Athens: Swastikas in the Jewish Museum of Athens (article published on July 23, 2010, on the Abravanel blog site)

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