ATHENS, Greece — The Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn said a visit to Greece by American Jewish Committee leader David Harris is meant to ensure further “Jewish influence over Greek political issues” and safeguard the interests of “international loan sharks.”
Harris, the executive director of the AJC, is leading a Jewish delegation to the region that is meeting with several Greek leaders, including Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. During the meetings, Harris expressed his “concern and solidarity for Greece during the crisis.”
The statement from Golden Dawn, posted on the party’s website Jan. 24, slammed the Greek government for giving Harris high-level access. “Just from the meetings, one can understand the influence of international Judaism on the Greek political scene,” the statement said. “The political leadership will once again express its total subjugation to the whims of the ‘chosen’ people.”
It also derided Harris.
“The only solidarity of this gentleman is to his compatriots – the international loan sharks, who are humiliating the Greek people. His concern most likely is related to the inability of Greece to make the payments of the predatory interest rates of the vile loans,” it said. “We do not need the crocodile tears of a Jew.”
Golden Dawn swept into the Greek parliament with 19 lawmakers in last year’s elections, campaigning on an anti-austerity, anti-immigrant platform, preying on the fears of Greeks who have seen the country flooded with immigrants amid a terrible recession. Greek and international Jewish groups repeatedly have condemned Golden Dawn as racist and antisemitic.
Its leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, uses the Heil Hitler salute and has denied the existence of gas chambers at Nazi death camps during World War II. Another lawmaker read a passage from the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The attack on Harris and a separate article titled Absolute Evil that was published on the party’s website Jan. 25 appeared to be a hardening of Golden Dawn’s antisemitic rhetoric, apparently in anger over pressure from Jewish groups to get the Greek government to reign in the party. The “Evil” statement said that blaming Golden Dawn for Greece’s woes constituted an attempt to divert attention from the real culprits for Greece’s financial crisis.
“They are none other than those who possess most of the international wealth. The people behind the international loan sharks,” the statement said. “Everyone knows they belong to a certain race, which presents itself as a victim, while in reality it is the perpetrator. Everyone knows that they are none other than those pulling the strings behind the marionettes. They are the absolute evil for mankind.”
The second statement ended with a threat.
“The time will come when the nationalists of the Golden Dawn will take revenge like the horsemen of the storm, and all of them, being the absolute evil, will pay!”
The increasing violence in Greece has been the subject of fierce condemnation by the European Jewish community. On Jan. 22, the head of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, said the “racist” killing of an immigrant in Athens was a result of Greece tolerating the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.
“We are witness to an increasing violence against foreigners and minorities in Greece, which is the natural result of inaction by the authorities against racist and antisemitic hate speech and violent attacks,” Kantor said in a statement.
The victim, a Pakistani immigrant, was pulled off his motorbike and stabbed to death in downtown Athens by two men in an attack that Greek police said appeared racially motivated. The killing sparked large anti-racism protests in Athens.
Two suspects were arrested. Police found Golden Dawn pamphlets in the house of one of them.
“Racist violence and murder does not exist in a vacuum,” Kantor said. “The presence of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, with its paramilitary gangs of thugs on the streets, its swastikas and leaders in Parliament openly inciting against minorities while engaging in Holocaust denial, is a national disgrace for a country that prides itself as the foundation of democracy,” he said.
In related news, Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said the continent’s Jews are living in fear.
“Yes, Jews are living in fear in Europe. Yes, there are threats,” Schulz said. “But, ladies and gentlemen – why are we not [living in 1929]? Because there is a European Parliament. Because there are common European institutions. Because a consequence was taken after the Second World War – after its deepest point of civilization represented by Auschwitz.”
Schulz made his comments during a Jan. 22 ceremony commemorating Holocaust victims held at the European Parliament.
Schulz, who spoke at the European Parliament’s first official ceremony in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was responding to an earlier address by Kantor, who said, “This is not 1943, but it could well be 1929, with extremists marching in the street and into parliament.”
Over the past seven years, the European Parliament has hosted annual ceremonies organized by Jewish groups to commemorate the Jan. 27 Holocaust Memorial Day, the day in 1945 that Russian troops liberated Auschwitz. The Jan. 22 ceremony was the first since the memorial day was incorporated into the European Union’s official calendar.