Monday, July 27, 2015

Greece: "The Jews are once again being used as scapegoats"

Via Politico (h/t glykosymoritis):
I ask Sefiha about what it’s like to be a Jew in Crisis Greece more generally. According to a May 2014 survey by the U.S. Jewish group, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Greece is the most anti-Semitic country in Europe — and indeed the most anti-Semitic country outside the Middle East — with 69 percent of the adult population falling into what it described as “the anti-Semitic category.”

He pauses. “I believe that Greek people hold anti-Jewish stereotypes in large numbers, but they have this stereotype without knowing any Jews. So sometimes when I tell people my name they ask what sort of name that is; I say ‘Jewish’ and they say, ‘but you don’t look like a Jew’!’”

“Parts of The Orthodox Church,” he says, “and I stress only parts, play a role in this. It helps to keep negative stereotypes of Jews alive. In some Sunday sermons the Jews are still a very convenient scapegoat.”

And have things worsened in the crisis? I ask. “I have noticed it, yes,” he replies. “The Jews are once again being used as scapegoats. Sometimes our leaders have to complain. Even [Panos] Kammenos [the Defence Minister and Leader of the Independent Greeks party who govern in coalition with Syriza] went on TV and said that Jews don’t pay taxes. You can prove such statements aren’t true but by then the damage has already been done.”

They love this topic in Greece: ‘the Jews are behind everything; they have the economic power; they are pulling the strings.’ Some of the more extreme media outlets will claim that previous Greek prime ministers are Jews. They’ll snap a photo of one visiting Yad Vashem and wearing a Kippah and say ‘see he is a Jew.’”

Could the type of anti-Semitic violence seen in France come to Greece, I ask. He is sceptical. “In France you have an Islamic element that we don’t have in Greece, but here we have Golden Dawn, which is undoubtedly a Nazi party. And it’s the third largest party in the Greek parliament, believe it or not.”

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