Israeli political and religious leaders are constantly seeking the support of their counterparts in other countries in the fight against the resurgence of antisemitism. Over the past week or two in the period leading up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day, such appeals intensified both in one-on-one meetings and at memorial ceremonies at which Israeli officials addressed foreign dignitaries.
The increase in antisemitic incidents around the globe is not only cause for concern, but have aroused the ire of both President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rivlin was particularly incensed over the desecration last Friday of the monument to the decimated Jewish community of Thessaloniki in the city’s Aristotle University. This was the second time that this particular monument had been vandalized, and it was the 16th such incident against a Jewish memorial site in Greece since the beginning of 2018.
Rivlin had mentioned it to a group of young German volunteers in the presence of the German Ambassador on Sunday, but he was seething on Monday, primarily because the church in Greece has remained remarkably silent on the subject of antisemitism and what it can lead to.
In fact, he was so angry that he decided to call Prokopis Pavlopoulos to urge him to use his influence in persuading Ieronymos II, the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece to speak out against antisemitism.
“This incident proves that antisemitism is still alive and kicking, and that we must continue to fight relentlessly against it,” Rivlin told his Greek counterpart, who had in fact condemned the Thessaloniki incident at a ceremony in the city to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Most of the Jews of Thessaloniki who were deported by the Nazis were sent to Auschwitz, among them the parents of famed Israeli-Greek singer Yehuda Poliker, who miraculously survived, loved to sing themselves and imbued in him a love for Greek music.