'Greek 'Anti-Semitic' minister not a worry'

Leader of Jewish community in Greece says minister appears to have changed and he is an opponent of Golden Dawn Party.

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July 4, 2013 07:48
2 minute read.
Golden Dawn party activist waves flag with logo

Golden Dawn party activist waves flag with party logo 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

 
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The recent appointment of alleged anti-Semite Adonis Georgiadis as Greek minister of health is not something to be concerned about, the leader of the organized Jewish community in Greece told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

During a telephone interview, Benjamin Albalas – who succeeded David Saltiel as president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece on Saturday evening – said that Georgiadis has come out as one of the foremost opponents of the far-right Golden Dawn party, despite a history of making anti- Jewish statements.

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According to the Anti-Defamation League, Georgiadis has claimed that “all major banks belong to the Jews,” and is reported to have spoken out against “‘the Jewish Lobby’” for its undue influence over the fate of his country’s foreign debt.

Georgiadis was politically affiliated with the far-right, nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally party before jumping ship to the ruling, center-right New Democracy faction several years ago.

The ADL has urged Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to “reconsider the appointment of Mr. Georgiadis.”

But Albalas said that the newly minted minister appears to have changed, at least outwardly.

Georgiadis has “changed one hundred percent and he is the strongest opponent of the Golden Dawn. He was a bad boy, now he is a less bad boy,” Albalas said.

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The Golden Dawn has been described as a neo-Nazi organization by the ADL and World Jewish Congress, which called on Samaras to ban the party.

Albalas’s victory was not complete however, despite being chosen unanimously by representatives of the twelve board members representing the eight Jewish communities in Greece to head the communal umbrella organization.

Instead of completing a full three year term, he was chosen on the condition that he step down after two years in favor of former chief executive Moses Constantinis.

“You know politics are always among the Jewish people either in Israel or in the diaspora,” he said in explanation.

Aside from the issue of anti-Semitism, the dire economic situation in Greece has impacted the Jewish community, he said, “Our financial situation is very bad, especially [that of] the central board of this community.”

Several properties owned by the board are sitting empty and are not earning any money in rent, he said in explanation of the fact that he soon plans to “find some funds from abroad... to support our activities.”

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