Athens’ Jewish cemetery was desecrated late Sunday night with anti-Semitic graffiti, just days before the verdict in the trial of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. The words “Juden Raus” (Jews Out in German) were painted in black on the cemetery’s fence, facing the street, in the town of Nikaia, along with Golden Dawn’s version of a swastika.
Vandalism at the Jewish Cemetery ahead of the 7 October trial of Golden Dawn members in Athens. https://t.co/nmM4rgiLNe
— NEOS KOSMOS (@NeosKosmos) October 6, 2020
Golden Dawn is a neo-Nazi political party in Greece. The group is racist and xenophobic, and its leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos has identified it as nationalist and racist. Michaloliakos and several other Golden Dawn members were arrested on suspicion of forming a criminal organization that carried out a wave of attacks against political rivals and migrants. Their trial began on April 20, 2015, and is nearing a verdict – presumably this Wednesday.
The party denies that it is connected to Neo-Nazism, although it uses the Nazi salute, and its meander symbol, drawn from ancient Greek art, uses the same colors as the Nazi flag, with a red background, a black meander (instead of the swastika) and a white border around the meander.
The Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas, Education Minister Niki Kerameus, and Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias condemned the anti-Semitic crime. Petsas said that “Nazism and anti-Semitism and their followers have no place in Greece and will not be tolerated.” Dendias tweeted that he was “saddened and appalled” by the act of vandalism, and that “Nazism and its followers have no place in our society and in any society.”
The Israeli embassy in Greece tweeted in response on Monday: “The heinous anti-Semitic graffiti found today on the walls of the Athens Jewish Cemetery during Jewish High Holidays is yet another reminder of the existence of evil. Together with many other proud Greek voices, we stand against hate, racism, and extremism based on ignorance and prejudice. We are certain of a prompt Greek authorities’ reaction and have full confidence such acts will not be tolerated. Hate will not deter us.”
The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece issued a statement saying: “Nazism has no place in our democracy, mainly because it promotes its destruction along with the prevalence of the total violation of human rights. We express the certainty that the Greek State will take all necessary measures so that the perpetrators will be arrested and face justice. We will not be intimidated. Zero tolerance for Nazism.”