The European Jewish Congress (EJC) has raised objections to the presence of a far-right, anti-Semitic party in the new coalition government party in Greece.
The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party is led by a man named Georgios Karatzaferis, who has repeatedly made derogatory comments about the Jews and denied the Holocaust.
LAOS forms a small part of the new interim government led by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, who has been entrusted to impose an austerity program to alleviate Greece’s massive debt and deficit problems and prevent a national bankruptcy.
LAOS has one minister and three deputy ministers in the new Athens government. It is also the fourth-biggest party in Parliament, with about 16 members out of 300 seats.
The dominant members of the coalition are the Socialist (PASOK) party and the conservative (New Democracy) party.
We wish Prime Minister Papademos the best of success in his attempts to overcome the economic, financial and social Greek crisis. The Greek people deserve to surmount this difficult period which severely affects their daily lives, said EJC Secretary General Serge Cwejgenbaum in a statement.
However, the participation of Georgios Karatzaferis in the Greek government besmirches the respectable image of a country known for being the birthplace of democracy.”
Cwejgenbaum has urged governments in Europe not to allow anti-Semitic or racist parties into the ruling coalition.
He added that extremist parties are taking advantage of the economic situation to spout their dangerous ideas. It bodes ill for any national government to welcome people or parties with problematic ideas or ideologies. They should be sidelined and ostracized rather than part of the decision-making process.
According to EJC, the 64-year-old Karatzaferis once said that the Jews have no legitimacy to speak in Greece and provoke the political world.
He has also charged that a global-Zionist conspiracy exists which is designed to humiliated Greece and other countries.
He has also claimed that the Nazi death camps were “myths” and that the September 11 attacks in the United States were perpetrated by the Jews and Israel.
The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also said that two other prominent LAOS members have made anti-Semitic statements.
At a time when the new government is seeking to set a new tone in Greece, they have included a party whose leaders have openly engaged in old-fashioned anti-Semitic hatred, said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director last week.
Given the unmistakable anti-Semitism of the LAOS leadership, the prime minister should clearly and publicly state that his government will not tolerate any expressions of anti-Semitism by public officials and will condemn any manifestations of anti-Semitism in Greece.
Makis Voridis, the Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, has suggested that the anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, might be an authentic document about the global Jewish conspiracy. Voridis also questioned the authenticity of Anne Frank’s diary.
Another LAOS official, Adonis Georgiadis, Greece’s newly appointed Deputy Minister for Development, reportedly has said that all major banks belong to the Jews and that the Jewish Lobby” will determine the ultimate fate of Greece’s foreign debt.
Ironically, LAOS has pledged its unconditional support to Papademos, while New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras has been far more lukewarm in his support. While LAOS has said new elections are unnecessary, Samaras is reportedly seeking snap elections as early as February.
”I believe Papademos is best suited to cure all the ills of the Greek economy. In short, I trust him,” Karatzaferis told Reuters.
“If we all keep interfering, it won’t be a government of substance but a government for show.”
However, in recent weeks, the LAOS leader has apparently eased back from some of his earlier inflammatory comments. He acknowledged the Holocaust in an interview with Greece’s private Skai television on Monday.
“Who can question the Holocaust?” he said. “The Holocaust of the Jews by Hitler, as well as the genocide of the Armenians by Kemal Ataturk, were the greatest crimes of the previous century.”
Anti-Semitism is nothing new in Greece and is deeply ingrained in many people.
Earlier this year, one of the most Greeks in the world, Mikis Theodorakis -- known for composing the music for the film Zorba the Greek -- appeared on television and blamed U.S. Jews for Greece’s economic malaise, declaring he is “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.”
Everything that happens today in the world has to do with the Zionists,” he said. “American Jews are behind the world economic crisis that has hit Greece also.”
The composer also warned we're in danger! Zionism and it leaders are here, meeting in our country! This is no laughing matter.”
For good measure, he added that Zionism controls “America and the banking system that Greece is now a victim of.
Theodorakis also criticized former Prime Minister George Papandreou for seeking closer ties with Israel, claiming that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is guilty of “war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza.”