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GREEK MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT DENY HOLOCAUST – STRONG REACTIONS BY THE GREEK STATE AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY Print E-mail
Friday, 14 June 2013 12:17
Having read excerpts from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Greek Parliament last October, Ilias Kasidiaris, Member of Parliament for Golden Dawn has now, in the full session of the House on 6th June 2013, made another act of defiance, this time stating that he is a Holocaust denier.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece wasted no time in making the views of the Greek Jewry known, and on 7th June 2013  the Board sent a letter to President of the Parliament Evangelos Meimarakis and to the parliamentary representatives of all democratic parties (New Democracy, Syriza, Pasok, Independent Greeks-AN.EL., the Democratic Left -DIM.AR. and the Greek Communist –KKE) requesting that the Greek Parliament establish strict legislation against anti-racism and prejudice, and also condemn and isolate Holocaust deniers. As the Central Board pointed out, ‘Denial of the Holocaust constitutes incitement of a repetition of the most heinous of crimes against humanity and makes a mockery of the Greek Parliament’s act of establishing Holocaust Remembrance Day, as well as making a mockery of the Greek people’s struggle to establish democracy.’

That very same day, New Democracy Party’s representative Makis Voridis sent a letter to the Central Board of Jewish Communities  in which he laid particular emphasis on the following points: 
‘Regarding your letter with reference number 383/7-6-2013, I whole-heartedly share your indignation and anxiety over the unprecedented, despicable act of denial of the Holocaust by a member of the Greek Parliament and hereby state that the view of the New Democracy party’s parliamentary team, which coincides with my own personal view, is quite unambiguous, clear and of one accord: Holocaust denial is a criminal act and New Democracy has already proposed legislation to this effect. 
You will, of course, have noticed that during recent public debate triggered by the so-called Anti-Racism Bill, New Democracy Members of Parliament have drawn particular attention to the need for resulting legislation to penalise Holocaust denial. 

At a risk of stating the obvious, I stress that the Holocaust of Jews was unique in many ways: the six million Jews that were slaughtered in Nazi concentration camps; the methodical way they were exterminated; the means employed to do this; the detailed plan that was implemented; and the fact that their extermination was prompted purely on the basis of their national, racial and religious identity all make the Holocaust a singular example of a crime against humanity. 

Mr President, Madam Secretary, 
Please accept my assurance that New Democracy Members of Parliament, the largest parliamentary group, will do their utmost to ensure that the Greek parliament passes the proposed Bill, which penalises holocaust denial with a view to effectively putting an end to anti-Semitic, racist prejudice which is an outright violation of human dignity.’ 
 
Two days later when speaking from his party’s local office in Agrinio, Golden Dawn Member of Parliament for Achaia, Michalis Arvanitis, tried to “rewrite history” by saying that ‘Holocaust’ was an unacceptable term. By way of explanation of his version of history, the Golden Dawn MP said that the Nazi camps were work camps and the Germans were not so foolish as to burn their own workers in their furnaces. The dead, he said, were victims of typhus and the Germans burnt the bodies of necessity (!...). He then went on to say, ‘The only thing that preoccupies the Jew-blighted and Jew-driven parties that pollute the Greek Parliament is that we do not recognise the Holocaust.’ 

Meanwhile, statements of condemnation of Golden Dawn’s methods and denials of the Holocaust have been expressed by the Prime Minister, government officials, the leader of the Pasok party, individual MPs and an announcement by the Democratic Left party. 

 - Prime Minister Antonis Samaras pointed out in a speech at the New Democracy Party preliminary conference in Thessaloniki on 9.6.13 : ‘This anti-democratic behaviour, these cries and despicable stances do not reflect anyone’s views! They merely indicate that a part of this society feels either desperate or afraid, or both.’ 

 - The Minister of National Defence Panos Panagiotopoulos, also speaking at the New Democracy preliminary conference, stressed: ‘It is totally unacceptable that in Greece, a country that has mourned hundreds of thousands of victims of Nazi atrocity, where Greek Jews numbered among the victims of that atrocity, statements should be made that question the historical truth of the Holocaust. The Holocaust was a crime against Jewry, and also a crime against humanity. And that is how it should be registered in everyone’s mind, especially in the minds of the Greek nation, since Greek people in their long history, have suffered a number of genocides and much persecution, the most recent being the expulsion of Greek people from Asia Minor during the Asia Minor Disaster, and of course the persecution of the Greek people who lived in the Pontus.  Greece, being an international law-abiding order, should undertake to do whatever is necessary to restore this historic memory to its true proportions.’ 

- PASOK, Socialist party– as expressed in a statement made by party chairman Evangelos Venizelos during his speech on social unity at Neapolis-Sykeon Town Hall Thessaloniki – finds Golden Dawn’s denial of the Holocaust in the actual Parliament blatant and repulsive. Mr Venizelos also pointed out that in choosing to make this statement Golden Dawn has shown that the undisguised Nazi convictions of its leading core are far removed from the anti-systemic, anti-institutional propensities of its demagogic adherents. 

 - In its  announcement, the Democratic Left (7.6.13) emphasised: ‘In any other country, Golden Dawn’ s outrageous denial of the Holocaust expressed yesterday by its Member of Parliament would have been cause for immediate sanctions. Greece, though, lacks the necessary legislation. That is precisely why it is absolutely necessary to pass the Bill we have put forward to deal with racist and prejudiced acts and statements. These unrelenting fascist challenges cannot be dealt with through ideological and political confrontation. Democracy needs to employ every legal, constitutional means available if it is to defend itself against those who question and undermine it; and against all those who shed doubt on the existence of the crematoria, the gas chambers, the concentration camps and the mass executions.’ 

The 1st Deputy President of Parliament Ioannis Tragakis, the parliamentary representative of Syriza Panagiotis Kouroumplis, and New Democracy MP Fotini Pipili all had telephone conversations with the president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, David Saltiel, and all expressed their solidarity and condemned any denial of the Holocaust.

Statements of condemnation from MPs as well as the President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, David Saltiel, and member of the Board of Directors, Victor Eliezer, were broadcast on television news programmes. 

The statement made by the President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities to Ethnos newspaper on (8.6.13) is characteristic: ‘We have a duty to be relentless in passing legislation to shield our Democracy while also using the educational system to give younger generations the wherewithal to make it impossible for sympathisers of the ideas and practices that led humanity to the greatest offence in history ever to gain power again.’

The statement that Victor Eliezer, member of the Board of Directors of the Central Board of Jewish Communities, made on Skai Radio’s morning news programme on 11.6.13, is also typical.  Mr Eliezer stressed how shocking it was that today, with survivors of the Holocaust still living among us, some should ask if the Holocaust ever took place. ‘Dealing with and weeding out racism and prejudice is presently the main focus of public debate. Those who want to make Holocaust denial the central point of the debate cannot see the wood for the trees! The grave danger for Greek society is not Holocaust denialists – they are the symptoms. The grave danger is the violence that is the hallmark of those who want to overturn democracy. That is where the danger lies and that is why all democratic forces – not only the Central Board of Jewish Communities – are being called upon to reach consensus on a tool that will deal with racism and prejudice. Legislation is just the tool. The real issue is education and to what extent we are capable of understanding the messages of the age…,’ Mr Eliezer pointed out.


Related articles:

- WJC website
Greek lawmaker suggests in Parliament he is a Holocaust denier
- ADL Press Release: Holocaust Denial in Greek Parliament raises urgency of new Anti-Racism Legislation.
- JTA, June 7, 2013
- The Greek Reporter, June 7.2013
 


 

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