Greece urged to educate youth on Shoah after teens filmed urinating on memorial

In YouTube clip, vandals decried "propaganda about chosen people."

Antisemitism 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Antisemitism 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center urged the Greek government Monday to "strenuously" respond to the recent desecration of the Rhodes Holocaust Memorial by a group of local teenagers, who were shown on a YouTube video urinating on the site. The center demanded a Holocaust educational campaign for Greek youth. "Greek obligations to the European Union... require your government to promptly arrest the perpetrators of this obscenity, apologize for this offense to the Jewish people, reinforce security measures to defend community institutions and strenuously embark on a Holocaust educational campaign for Greek youth," the Center's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, wrote in a letter to the Greek Justice Minister Sotirios Hatzigakis. "An inadequate response to this outrage will be construed as an endorsement for anti-Semitism," the letter concluded. The video, posted online last month, shows the memorial to Rhodes's 1,604 Jewish victims of the Nazis being desecrated by a group of local teenagers who were urinating on the monument. The YouTube video, which has since been removed from the Web site, showed the youths' face masked by an Israeli flag overlayed by the danger symbol of a red circle with a slash through it. "We are a secret group of students of the 'Venetoklio' High School of Rhodes that does not digg [sic] at all the Jews who wish to turn the island [of Rhodes] into a second 'Land of Canaan," the perpetrators allegedly said. "After all the propaganda fed even in religion school books, over the 'chosen people' and other bullshit, we have decided to take the situation into our own hands and show to everyone with deeds of how much do we really agree with this view." The principal of the prestigious Greek high school has insisted that his pupils never carried out such an attack, but pledged that if the perpetrators were indeed from his school, they would be prosecuted. There has been no official Greek reaction to the video to date. The clip had featured rock music that menaced the tiny Jewish community left on Rhodes, glorified Adolf Hitler and Auschwitz to background screams of 'Juden raus!'" The memorial, which was inaugurated in June 2002 and has been vandalized in the past, abuts the synagogue in a section of Rhodes once known as 'Little Jerusalem,' which was populated for five centuries by a proud Greek Sephardic community that numbered over 6,000 before the Holocaust. Today, only 40 Jews still live on the island. In all, 67,000 Greek Jews perished in the Holocaust, more than 85 percent of the country's entire pre-war Jewish population of 77,000. The Jewish community of Greece today numbers around 6,000 people.