New York, NY, January 26, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed as "a positive first step" Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's letter to the Greek Jewish community, in which he conveyed his solidarity after the synagogue arson attack on the island of Crete, and stated that "anti-Semitism and racism are condemned and have no place in the Greek society."
ADL had immediately urged Prime Minister Papandreou to publicly "make clear that anti-Semitism has no place in Greece."
"Prime Minister Papandreou's letter conveys exactly the right message and is a positive first step by him toward acknowledging the dangers of anti-Semitism in Greece," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "We urge the prime minister to assure that his message is heard not just by the Jewish community but by all the people of Greece and throughout Europe. He missed an important opportunity to do so in his January 25 speech to the Council of Europe, when he discussed racism and the protection of minorities but made no mention of the synagogue attack."
Greek authorities have arrested four residents of Crete – a Greek citizen, two Britons, and an American – in connection with the attack.
The letter, addressed to Mr. Moses Constantinis, President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, reads in part:
The attack on the Etz Hayyim Synagogue not only constitutes an attack on one of the remaining Jewish monuments in the island of Crete, but also an attack against the history and the cultural heritage of our homeland, Greece.
The Government, I personally as well as the entire Greek nation condemn this abominable act in the strongest possible terms.