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Greek Holocaust Memorial Vandalized Two Weeks After Unveiling

Blue paint attack follows abortive attempt to prevent monument from being displayed

Yair Rosenberg
June 22, 2015
Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images
The mayor of Kavala, Dimitra Tsanaka, unveils Holocaust memorial on June 7 2015. Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images
Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images
The mayor of Kavala, Dimitra Tsanaka, unveils Holocaust memorial on June 7 2015. Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images

When we last left the Greek town of Kavala, its mayor had just attempted to blackball a monument to the town’s 1,434 Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka initially objected to the presence of a Star of David on the memorial and postponed its dedication, but she relented after international outcry. And when the monument was unveiled on June 7—several weeks after originally scheduled—it looked as though Kavala’s victims would finally receive their recognition.

Unfortunately, that isn’t quite how things have turned out.

At the unveiling ceremony, Greek deputy minister Panagiotis Sgouridis likened “the atrocities of World War II” to “the blockade of Gaza” in his speech, listing the Holocaust alongside “the continuation of the extermination of the Assyrians by the jihadists, the invasion and occupation in northern Cyprus, the Kurdish issue, the blockade of Gaza, the genocidal dismemberment of Yugoslavia.” (Sgouridis did not address how his claim squared with the fact that more Jews were killed in a single day during the Holocaust than all Israeli and Palestinian casualties in Gaza’s wars combined.)

If these accusations of genocide suggested that the town of Kavala had not quite exorcised the demons of its anti-Semitic past, then Sunday’s events confirmed it. Yesterday morning, the Holocaust memorial monument was found vandalized, just two weeks after its unveiling. Photos from the Greek outlet Proini News captured the memorial covered in blue paint.

Unfortunately, this sort of anti-Jewish vandalism is nothing new for Greece. In fact, Kavala’s Jewish cemetery was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti earlier this month. And as we noted when we first covered the resistance to erecting Kavala’s monument, these actions are undergirded by an alarmingly popular anti-Jewish mindset:

Greece ranks as the most anti-Semitic country in Europe on the Anti-Defamation League’s global index, and it’s not even close. When surveyed, an astonishing 85% of Greek respondents agreed that “Jews have too much power in the business world,” while 82% said that “Jews have too much power in international financial markets.” Furthermore, 74% averred that “Jews have too much control over global affairs,” while 68% lamented that “Jews have too much control over the global media.” Tellingly for the case of Kavala, 60% of Greek respondents seconded the claim that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.” (On the bright side, only 38% said “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.”)

(Photo collage by author; image credit here)

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.