The head of the Jewish community in Athens worried on Sunday that two far-right
political parties might enter the Greek parliament.
In an interview with
The Jerusalem Post on the day of the general election, Benjamin Albalas said his
main concern was Golden Dawn, a supremacist group expected to enter the
legislature for the first time.
“According to the polls the prediction
is, unfortunately, that [Golden Dawn] will be elected,” the Jewish leader said
over the phone from Athens. “This is an insult not just to Jewish people but to
the country as a whole. Golden Dawn is not only Right or extreme Right but a
neo-Nazi party. It’s a shame to permit this bunch of people to become members of
Golden Dawn’s is a nationalist party hostile to ethnic
minorities. Its charter excludes “non-Aryans” from becoming members. Recent
polls indicated the group – whose official emblem is similar to the Nazi
swastika – might win 5 percent of the vote.
The other far-right party
predicted to pass the 3% threshold and return to parliament is LAOS, whose
founder, Georgios Karatzaferis, has repeatedly made anti-Semitic
In 2000, for instance, Karatzaferis told the public to vote for
his party because it did not include any Jews, communists or gay men and
Albalas said that he rejected several attempts by Karatzaferis
to patch up his relationship with the Jewish community in recent
“He apologized publicly two years ago, but we know who he is and
we could not accept this,” he said.
Of the two extremist parties,
however, the Jewish leader said that Golden Dawn posed a much bigger threat even
though its focus was not on the country’s Jewish community, which numbers an
estimated 5,000 people.
“Now they are attacking Muslims, immigrants,
homosexuals and foreign workers but not the Jewish people,” Albalas said. “Not
The elections in Greece are taking place under the shadow of the
deeply troubled economy. The markets took a nose dive in 2010 after it became
apparent that successive governments lied about the size of the national
The introduction of reforms and austerity measures at the behest of
the European Union has so far failed to put the country on an even keel. Experts
say the expected fragmentation of votes among several parties this year and the rise in support for fringe groups
is symptomatic of the public’s deep disappointment with the
Albalas said that regardless of who wins the country’s elections,
the Jewish community hopes the next government will provide stability and repair
the broken economy.
The Jewish community was recently saved from a fiscal
crisis when it received donations from a coalition of Jewish groups including
the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the American Jewish Committee,
and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Albalas thanked Jewish groups abroad for their
help saying the cash infusion prevented the closure of Jewish institutions in
Athens, where most Greek Jews live.
Still, he said so long as the economy
was suffering the community would depend on outside support.
cannot be balanced because a lot of our income is from property, which is a
problem because our tenants threaten to leave and our income is diminished,” he
Official results of the election were not available by press
The Greek Interior Ministry released an exit poll giving New Democracy 19.2% of
the votes, PASOK 13.6% and the Left Coalition 16.3%.