Star of David.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Mayor of a Greek town who canceled the unveiling of a Holocaust memorial over objections to its portrayal of a Jewish symbol backtracked in the face of fierce criticism Monday, local media reported.
Last Thursday, Kavala Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka told representatives of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) that she objected to the inclusion of a Star of David on the monument and asked that it be removed, according to the umbrella organization.
KIS termed the demand “unethical and insulting” and an insult to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
Some 5,000 Jews live in Greece, according to the European Jewish Congress. More than 60,000 of 77,000 Greek Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including 1,484 from Kavala.
“Seventy years since the… Jews of Kavala were deported and murdered wearing the Star of David, some people in the city of Kavala [have] attempt[ed] to distort history by erasing the symbol that kept Jews alive for 5,700 years,” the group said in a statement.
The move prompted an immediate backlash, with condemnations pouring in from several political parties, including the ruling Syriza faction, which asserted that it “foment[ed] anti-Semitism and intolerance,” and Secretary General for Religious Affairs Giorgos Kalantzis.
Jewish groups like the American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League likewise added their voices to the growing clamor against Tsanaka.
Addressing some 100 protesters, including several Israelis, on Monday, Tsanaka reportedly explained her initial position as motivated by a desire to protect the monument from possible vandalism and stated that it soon would be dedicated.
She did not provide a specific time frame but did state that she would be in touch with representatives of KIS, Huffington Post Greece reported.
Economic stagnation, European Union imposed austerity measures, street violence and the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party have all contributed to a sense of worry among Greek Jewish leaders. Several leaders of Golden Dawn are currently on trial in connection with the 2013 murder of a left-wing rapper.
Sixty-nine percent of Greeks harbor anti-Jewish attitudes, according to a recent ADL poll