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 “You're stepping on sacred ground.
You're stepping on what is left of the largest necropolis of the East.
You're stepping on the place where the Jews of Thessaloniki were buried for centuries.
Strong spirits and kind souls of the most vibrant community of the Mediterranean, found here their final resting place.
Their graves stretched up high on the hills.
Until 1943 when the forces of evil crushed all human substance; but people were not enough. They wanted to eradicate the memory too.
And as they were sending the living to their death, they were shattering the tombs of the dead and scattering their bones.
Those buried here died for a second time”.
[Excerpt from the inscription on the Monument]

Yesterday, July 10, 2018, vandals desecrated with paint the Jewish Monument in the campus of the Aristotle’s University of Thessaloniki, in the Observatory Park. They are disturbed even by the above words inscribed next to the remnants of the tombstones that survived the rage of the Nazis and their local collaborators. They have no moral scruples. They respect neither the living nor the dead.

The University was built upon the shattered tombs and the scattered bones of our forefathers of Thessaloniki, while the Jews of Thessaloniki where confined into ghettos pending deportation. It took 72 years for the city to assume responsibility and pay tribute to the memory of the Jewish necropolis with the erection of this monument in 2014. Today, the memory of the Jews of Thessaloniki, along with the history and the culture of the city, are struck once more, by the preachers of hatred.

There remain no other words to describe the sorrow of the Greek Jews: Shame – Shame – Shame.

Athens July 11, 2018
Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece

Secretary General for Religious Affairs George Kalantzis, in a statement issued by the Greek Ministry of Education, on July 11, 2018, strongly condemned the desecration of the Jewish monument dedicated to the former Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki which is situated in the campus of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The statement reads the following:

“As if they never existed”. This was the Nazi plan of the “final solution”. That is the reason why murdering six million innocent Jews, destroying their synagogues and cemeteries, plundering and redistributing their property, changing street names, burning books and attempting to make disappear even the music and notes composed by Jews was not sufficient for them.
The desecration of the monument commemorating the Jewish cemetery of the city that once stood there where the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is today – one of the most significant Jewish cemeteries in Europe- is to be entirely condemned and it is an act belonging to the Nazi tradition and perception.

The fact that the memorial was vandalized with the sacred symbol of the cross and the phrase “Jesus Christ Nika” is an additional insult and provocation for us Christians. Les us remember that Nazis went so far as to try to remove everything Jewish from Christianity, which would mean Christianity without Jesus Christ.  And we know where that led".

Source: Press Release, Greek Ministry of Education, July 11, 2018.
WJC condemns desecration of Jewish monument in Greece, calls on authorities to follow through with commitment to fighting anti-Semitism
Press Release WJC, July 11, 2018 - The World Jewish Congress echoes the Greek Jewish community’s calls of “shame, shame, shame” following the desecration of the Jewish Monument in the campus of the Aristotle’s University of Thessaloniki, in the Observatory Park. This desecration comes just 12 days after the Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki was vandalized for a third time in seven months.
The Monument was erected to commemorate the collective memory of the Jewish students of the Aristotle University who perished during the Holocaust. It also serves to mark an old Jewish cemetery which was destroyed by the Nazis and their collaborators in 1942, the remains upon which the Aristotle University campus was built.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said, ‘’The consternation we feel following such a cowardly desecration is only compounded by the fact that this is not an isolated incident. There have been several such acts of desecration in Greece this year alone. We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki and in Greece to fight combat racism, anti-Semitism and hatred under difficult circumstances.
"Just last week, Greece was one of 22 nations to co-sponsor a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council denouncing anti-Semitism, at the initiative of the WJC. We urge Greece to follow through on its commitment to combating anti-Semitism, and treat these incidents with utmost severity, concern, and action. Such vile hatred must not be allowed to prevail."
Greek General Secretary of Religious Affairs George Kalantzis issued a statement in which he condemned the desecration of the monument as “an act which is part of the Nazi tradition and ideology”.
Thursday, 05 July 2018 10:16
President Reuven Rivlin has written to David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and president of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, to express his dismay at the most recent desecration last week of the Holocaust Memorial in Thessaloniki.
“I join you in condemning unequivocally this vile despoiling of the memory of the victims,” wrote Rivlin. “Let us be in no doubt that this is a further reminder of the need to continue to stand up against antisemitism in all its forms.”
Rivlin was in Thessaloniki in January of this year to participate in the laying of the cornerstone for a Holocaust memorial museum, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site in June last year. Rivlin recalled in his letter to Saltiel that at the museum ceremony he had said the Holocaust is not only a Jewish issue but an international issue that touches every nation and people. “And today, I again stand with you urging all to speak out against this terrible act of vandalism and the need to continue to educate about the Holocaust and the dangers of hatred and racism.
Friday, 29 June 2018 08:14
 Vandals defaced the Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki with red paint in the night of Wednesday June 27, 2018. According to authorities and press reports, perpetrators may have been participants in a rally held earlier that day outside the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry to protest the name deal signed between Athens and Skopje.
The President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in a telephone conversation with David Saltiel, the President of KIS and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, condemned the attack and expressed his firm opposition to any form of antisemitism. Mr Pavlopoulos confirmed also his participation in the March of the Living 2019.
The hideous attack was immediately condemned also by the Government, the political parties, the local Prefecture of Central Macedonia, the Municipality of Thessaloniki and many politicians. The Justice system was mobilized through the head prosecutor of Thessaloniki who ordered a preliminary investigation into the vandalism. The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki issued press announcements.

The announcement of KIS stresses the following:

“The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece expresses the profound sorrow, the intense concern, and the outrage of the Greek Jews for the latest vandal attack against the Holocaust Monument of Thessaloniki that occurred in the night of June 27, 2018, for the third time during the last seven months.

The image of the Monument covered in red paint clearly indicates the intent of the vandals to paint in blood -once more- the Jews of Thessaloniki, a city that saw 50.000 of its Jewish citizens deported and murdered by the Nazis in the German extermination camps.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece calls upon the State and the social institutions to firmly condemn the desecration of the Holocaust memory, of the history of Thessaloniki and of the whole Greece. In the same time, the Authorities need to bring to Justice the seekers of darkness that aim at discrediting in the most deplorable way the image of the city.

The Monument will not lose its meaning and value: To remind to visitors the barbarity that led to the death of the Jews of Thessaloniki, only because they were Jewish, and alert society that absolute evil may happen again if we do not fortify the principals of our democracy and our humanism”.
Athens, 28 June 2018
Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece
Friday, 11 May 2018 09:10

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece strongly condemns the new attack launched against the Jews by religious official Ahmet Mete.

Recent publications, claim that, at a speech of his at the Kentavros Mosque in Xanthi, (a city in North-Eastern Greece) the self-proclaimed Mufti Ahmet Mete stated the following: "I accused the Jews of being murderers of infants because they slaughtered infants... Look; I would even accuse my father if he had also killed infants. How can anyone kill an infant, a defenseless infant? If they came and killed, robbed and did unacceptable things to our children, would we say nothing? Religion upholds that, as a Muslim, if someone among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; if he cannot, then with his tongue; and if he cannot, then hate him with his heart".

On 26th April 2018, Ahmed Mete, was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment, a redeemable sentence, for saying that Hitler was right to turn the Jews into soap. But he continues the preaching of hatred.

We repeat that a representative of a religious minority, the Muslim minority, is becoming a preacher of hatred rather than being a preacher of religious peace, tolerance and reconciliation. He does not have the right to do so. He may not feel obliged to teach reconciliation among people, but he certainly has no right to preach hatred. It is known that anti-Semitism, which extends to the glorification of Nazism and Hitler and the accusation of Jews being slaughterers of children, thrives in Islamist regimes, but is not tolerated in a Democracy such as Greek democracy.

HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN GREECE – A productive cooperation between Education Ministry and Jewish Organizations formalized by a Ministerial Decree Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 June 2018 10:19

The Ministerial Decree 42856/Θ2 of the Ministry of Education Research and Religious Affairs (published in the Official Gazette of Greece, issue no 950 B / March 16, 2018), entitled “Student Contest – Educational Program on teaching about the Holocaust” comes as a capstone of a long term fruitful cooperation between the General Secretariat for Religious Affairs, the Jewish Museum of Greece (JMG) and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece for the institutionalization of Holocaust education in Greece.

It was the JMG that spearheaded Holocaust education in Greece in 2002, with specific programs for schools and educators. Later, by the continuous efforts of the General Secretariat of Religious Affairs and its Secretary General George Kalantzis, the programs were expanded to more and more schools in Athens, Thessaloniki and other Greek cities as Ioannina, Larissa, Volos, Tripoli, Patras, Chania and included also a video contest on the Holocaust. And on the top of these programs, more than 80 Lyceum Greek students pay a visit to Auschwitz memorial and Museum, under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Education.

Monday, 07 May 2018 10:44

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece expresses the condemnation and the abhorrence of the Greek Jewry for the vandal attack against the Jewish cemetery of Athens.

It is not just another incident of antisemitism. It does not only constitute an act of disrespect towards the memory of our dead brothers, it insults the moral principle of the respect of the dead, which is shared by all three monotheistic religions and our civilization as well.

If we remain passive bystanders of the deplorable acts instigated by hate preachers, it will be as if we, ourselves, open again the doors to barbarity, allowing the comeback of the darkest time in history, the time when human beings had lost their human nature. Antisemitism is only the sign of that dark period which the vast majority of the Greeks do not want to experience again.

We urge the authorities, the social institutions and the representatives of Letters, Arts and culture to protest, side by side with the Jewish community, and state their firm reaction to antisemitism.

Athens, May 7, 2018

Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece

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