ADL Calls on Greek Prime Minister to Denounce Anti-Semitism, "Set a Tone of Tolerance" in Greece
New York, N.Y., February 12, 2003 … Calling the silence of the Greek Government regarding the recent desecration of a Holocaust memorial "alarming," and the widespread acceptance of anti-Semitic rhetoric unacceptable, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged Prime Minister Constantine Simitis to publicly denounce anti-Semitism and "set a tone of tolerance" in Greece.
In a letter to Prime Minister Simitis, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said:
We are alarmed at the silence of the Greek Government in reaction to the desecration of the Holocaust memorial in Thessaloniki on February 1. Nearly two weeks have passed since two swastikas were spray painted on this memorial to the tens of thousands of Salonican Jews killed by the Nazis, and there has yet to be an official condemnation by a high Greek Government official.
Unfortunately, in Greece today there is an environment where anti-Semitism is tolerated. Blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric in the Greek press or by public officials is excused as legitimate expressions of criticism of Israel. Anti-Semitic incidents, such as that in Thessaloniki, seem to merit official condemnation.
As the current President of the European Union, and as host of the upcoming Olympic Games, Greece should be at the forefront of those rejecting racism and hatred. Leaders of France, Germany and Italy have spoken out against manifestations of anti-Semitism in their countries. In our July 22 letter to you on anti-Semitic caricatures in the Greek media, we urged you to set a tone of tolerance and speak out strongly against these anti-Semitic, hateful sentiments, expressing concern that such articles and depictions in the media create an environment of hostility toward Israel and Jews in Greece. Mr. Prime Minister, once again, we urge you to publicly state that anti-Jewish attacks and statements will not be tolerated in Greece.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.