“Greece stands out as the country where antisemitic prejudices are the most present although I do not believe that Greece is the least safe country for Jews,” said Rabbi Shlomo Koves, leader of the APL, during a presentation of the survey this week.
MP Konstantinos Karagounis, a former minister, stressed that since the 1980s, a period of antisemitism and anti-Zionism, the Greek State has made a huge turn which has resulted in making Israel one of its most important allies.
A comprehensive survey of anti-Semitic prejudices in 16 European countries, which was released this week in the framework of a meeting of Jewish leaders in Brussels, shows that Greece is, along with Poland and Hungary, the country where the population has the most negative feelings towards the Jews and where antisemitic prejudices are widespread.
According to the survey, commissioned by Action and Protection League (APL), a partner organisation of the European Jewish Association, more than a third of Greeks surveyed believe that “Jews will never be able to fully integrate into society”.
The belief in a “secret Jewish network that influences political and economic affairs in the world” is shared by 58% of Greeks. In addition, some 36% of Greeks have ‘’rather negative feelings” towards Jews.
The survey globally shows that in Western European countries, there is more anti-Israel sentiment while in Eastern European countries (including Greece) there is more traditional anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism.
“Greece stands out as the country where antisemitic prejudices are the most present although I do not believe that Greece is the least safe country for Jews,” said Rabbi Shlomo Koves, leader of the APL, during a presentation of the survey.
“The worrying results of the survey show that anti-Semitism is deeply rooted in Europe,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, President of the EJA, who presented a 10-point action plan to the Jewish leaders at the conference.
Asked by European Jewish Press to comment the results regarding his country, Konstantinos Karagounis, a Member of the Greek Parliament and former minister, stressed that since the 1980s, a period of antisemitism and anti-Zionism, the Greek State has made a huge turn which has resulted in making Israel one of its most important allies.
‘’The results of the survey are quite distrurbing but we have been fighting a lot antisemitism in the last few years by making the law more strict which seems to be very effective,’’ he said.
‘’We show zero tolerance for Neo-Nazis and extremists,’’ he added
He noted that the survey shows that the percentage of antisemitic prejudices is very high especially for Greek people that are more aged (more than 50/60 yea old). ‘’This has to do with perceptions. ‘’The optimistic part is that is that for the younger generation the percentage is very low. That makes me optimistic and shows that if we give more education and if we inform more the population, especially the youths, I think that our fight will be very effective,’’ Karagounis said.
‘’Another good thing is that we have no violent incidents against Jews in Greece but of course we still have a lot of work to do,’’ he added.
He described the ties between his country and Israel (and Cyprus) as ‘’veryu strong’’. ‘’We share the same values,’’ he added.
‘’Now we can speak of a country that has embraced its Jewish heritage, recognized the destruction of its Jewish communities by the Nazis, recognized its inherent faults. Greece is now a country that is actively fighting antisemitism through education, through law-making and of course through public statements,” said Karagounis.
Last Sunday, the European Commission Vice-President, Margaritis Schinas, visited the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki (Salonika). During his visit, Schinas, who is from the northern Greek city, reassured Jewish communities of Europe that the European Union will support them in the face of modern threats.
“As Vice President, I want to assure the Jewish communities in Europe that the EU will not leave them unprotected from the many modern threats that are overshadowing their lives today. We will guarantee their safety, we will strengthen their education and culture, we will do everything to preserve the historical memory of the Holocaust, especially now that the last survivors are leaving us without their personal stories,” he said.
His visit to the Jewish Museum of Salonika came a few days after the presentation of the EU’s first strategy on combating antisemitism and preserving Jewish life.