January 8, 2009 – New York – AJC expressed alarm at prominent displays of anti-Semitism in the Greek media during the ongoing conflict in Gaza, and urged their condemnation by Greek political and religious leaders.
“There is a line between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitic demonization of Jews, and some Greek media have brazenly and repeatedly crossed that line in recent days,” said AJC Executive Director David A. Harris. “The press has the freedom to publish, but government and civil society have the obligation to speak out against hate. We call upon Greek political and religious leaders to condemn such displays of anti-Semitism, and to make clear that they are as unacceptable during the current conflict as always.”
On December 29, leading newspaper Eleftherotypia ran a story comparing Israel to the Nazi regime and accusing it of genocide. On numerous occasions since, Eleftherotypia, among other newspapers, has featured editorial cartoons depicting Israeli soldiers in uniforms with swastikas. On January 5, Apogevmatini, another major daily, ran a banner headline accusing Israel of a “Holocaust.”
According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is one of several possible manifestation of anti-Semitism with regard to Israel.
Meanwhile, demonstrations in Athens against the Israeli operation in Gaza have turned violent, with protestors attacking the Israeli embassy and burning Israeli flags. Synagogues in Volos and Corfu as well as the Jewish Cemetery in Athens have been vandalized.
On January 1, Greece assumed the chair of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which combats bigotry and promotes democratic values. The OSCE resolved in its 2004 Berlin Declaration to “declare unambiguously that international developments or political issues, including those in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East, never justify anti-Semitism.”
“As it begins its OSCE chairmanship, Greece can set an example for its fellow democracies by speaking out against anti-Semitism in the media—and anywhere,” Harris concluded. “Anti-Semitism is not a justified response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and silence is not a justified response to media-sponsored hate.”
AJC and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) maintain a formal partnership agreement, one of AJC's 28 such associations with Jewish institutions abroad.