Former Salonika Rabbi: Jews in Greece Are Concerned

Former rabbi of the Jewish community of Salonika, calls on Israel to pressure Greece over neo-Nazi party.

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Elad Benari,

leader of Golden Dawn
leader of Golden Dawn

Rabbi Mordechai Frizis, formerly the rabbi of the Jewish community of Salonika, Greece, spoke to Arutz Sheva on Wednesday about Greek Jews’ concerns following the election of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party to parliament.

The extreme-right political party, whose logo closely resembles a swastika, received seven percent of the vote, twice the minimum threshold level required to send representatives to parliament, giving them 21 parliament seats out of 300.

The militant, ultra-nationalist, party seeks to restore national pride to Greece and expel foreigners. The party campaigned heavily on an anti-immigrant platform under the slogan "so we can rid this land of filth."

“These are people with swastikas, the Nazi salute, Nazi ideology and they blatantly say they want a new Holocaust,” Rabbi Frizis told Arutz Sheva.

He added, “Many people voted for this party because of the great economic despair. They are basically going back one hundred years and blaming the Jews for the economic situation".

Rabbi Frizis noted that it is not the first anti-Semitic move in Greece, saying, “Last year a neo-Nazi leader in Greece was brought to trial after writing a book in which he announced his desire to destroy the Jewish people and the court acquitted him. We saw two synagogues being torched over the last two years and now this party enters parliament.”

“When I speak with the Jews of Greece I hear that they are concerned,” he added. “They did not expect that their country would agree to such a thing.”

Rabbi Frizis admitted, however, that despite the difficulties, it is not likely that Greek Jews will make aliyah to Israel en masse.

“For the Jews it is difficult to make a decision to immigrate to Israel,” he said. “I, as a religious man, hope everyone will come to Israel, but right now the State of Israel, which has good relations with Greece, needs to pressure the Greek government.”

He added, “When things like this happen all the Jews throughout the world should wake up. It does not only concern the Jews of Greece but it could start a domino effect that will spread to Italy, France and Spain where there are also financial problems. Neo-Nazi parties must not be given legitimacy in Europe.”

On Tuesday, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece issued a statement saying that it believed that "the May 6 election of those nostalgic for fascism and Nazism was a serious blow for Greek democracy."

"We are confident that our fellow citizens, the democratic forces in the Greek Parliament, the media and the spirit and culture of the people will continue to strive to combat racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism," the statement read.

"We all have a duty to preserve our dignity, and preserve the principles of liberty, democracy and humanity," the statement added.

“Right now, Golden Dawn is not coming out against Jews,” said the president of the Greek Jewish community in Salonika. “Instead, it attacks immigrants. Still, there are right-wing extremists, and we need to assess the situation and see how Greece’s democracy will deal with this. There is no reason for worry.”