‘Economy alone can’t explain Golden Dawn rise’

President of Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece calls nationalist faction a "neo-Nazi party."

David Saltiel 370 (photo credit: Sam Sokol)
David Saltiel 370
(photo credit: Sam Sokol)
Economic factors alone cannot explain the meteoric rise of the far-right Golden Dawn party, David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Speaking with the Post at the 2013 International Forum of the newly established Israeli Jewish Congress, Saltiel said the nationalist faction is a “neo-Nazi party” and that it is impossible to say that people voted for Golden Dawn “because of the economic situation.”
However, Saltiel added, “people are against the [mainstream] parliamentarians” because of persistent corruption scandals and that there were many such grievances of which the Golden Dawn took advantage.
The fiscal austerity package accepted by Greece in exchange for a bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund in the wake of the global recession has caused widespread discontent in Greece, easing the way for the Golden Dawn’s entrance into Parliament in 2012 when it won 18 out of 300 seats.
Jews in Greece and around the world must take the Golden Dawn seriously, the community leader said, because “when you leave [anti-Semitism] alone it grows.”
Calling the Golden Dawn racist and a party of “Holocaust deniers,” Saltiel added that while he believes that “the Greek government and the Greeks did not understand quickly what a neo- Nazi party means,” after efforts by local Jews the government is “taking steps.”
“Such is the law, that if you speak against the Jews, if you are Holocaust deniers, if you are a racist then the law is very severe and you have to be punished,” Saltiel said.
During a commemoration for the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews of Thessaloniki in March, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced that he plans on cracking down on the Golden Dawn and will push for a bill “completely intolerant to violence and racism.”
However, Saltiel found an unexpected upside to the rise of the Golden Dawn party, telling the Post that the “Zionist movement is once again active [and] we have a lot of Greek young boys and girls coming to study in Israel. They want to stay in Israel.”