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Greece Will Officially Adopt Definition of Anti-Semitism

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The Holocaust Memorial in Thessaloniki. Photo by Eurokinissi/ Giorgos Konstantinidis

Battling a bad reputation for discrimination against the Jewish population and groups, Greece will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

That came after a meeting in his office with President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, David Saltiel, and the head of the Greek Delegation to the IHRA, Dr. Efstathios Lianos Liantis, said Kathimerini.

Mitsotakis assigned Deputy Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, oversight of the project as well as coordinating and supervising the integration of the IHRA definitions into domestic legislation and education.

Liantis is a founding member of the Holocaust Museum of Greece. In April he was appointed Greece’s Special Envoy on Combatting Anti-Semitism and Preserving the Memory of the Holocaust. The IHRA working definition offers a comprehensive description of anti-Semitism in its various forms, including hatred and discrimination against Jews, Holocaust denial and, sometimes controversially, the way anti-Semitism relates to the ways criticism of Israel is expressed.

In March this year, rising anti-Semitic vandalism in Greece saw a monument erected early in 2019 in the city of Trikala in memory of 50 Jews deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust of WWII reportedly vandalized.

The local Jewish community discovered the desecration and complained to the police, which launched an investigation to locate the perpetrators of the anti-Semitic act, Arutz 7 is an Israeli media network identifying with Religious Zionism, reported.

Trikala is in northwestern Thessaly about 15 miles from Kalambaka, home of the famed monasteries on the cliffs of Meteora. During the Holocaust, 450 Jews from Trikala managed to escape and fled to isolated villages in the mountains and Turkey, also getting to Israel. But the 50 victims were arrested in 1944 from the Trikala community who had been in hiding, and sent them to the Auschwitz death camp.

In October, 2018 the city’s Jewish cemetery was also desecrated by vandals in an act of antisemitism. Eight tombs were destroyed, two of which belonged to the parents of the city’s Jewish community President, the Jerusalem Post said.

Earlier this year, a Jewish school in Athens was spray-painted with anti-Semitic slurs, while the monument commemorating the Jews of Thessaloniki, located at the University of Aristotle, was desecrated in January.

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Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with members of the Central Jewish Council of Greece. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yorgos Kontarinis)

The menorah and Star of David adorning the memorial were broken and left lying on the ground, while headstones inside the memorial were pushed over, the paper said, reporting there were 15 anti-Semitic incidents in Greece in 2018.

In July, 2018, after another act of vandalism, this one at a Holocaust memorial in Thessaloniki, whose Jewish population was decimated by the Nazis during World War II, the World Jewish Congress said Greece needed to get tougher on anti-Semitic attacks.

The monument at Aristotle University marked the loss of Jewish students during the war and was sprayed with blue paint and hate slogans. It also designates the site of an old Jewish cemetery destroyed by the Nazis in 1942, part of the grounds where the school sits.

Only 12 days earlier, red paint was thrown at the Holocaust memorial in central Thessaloniki and the flowers surrounding it were destroyed. A month before that, vandals had destroyed nine marble Jewish tombstones in an Athens cemetery and Greece has anti-Semitic groups, including the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party that was voted out of Parliament in July 7 snap elections.