Greek mayor reluctantly relents in disgraceful Holocaust monument scandal

European antisemitism runs deep: After global outrage, Kavala Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka, who had opposed the Star of David on a local monument to Jewish Holocaust victims, quietly capitulates saying new stele will be dedicated “soon”.

By The Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff


Faced with blistering criticism over objecting to the presence of the Star of David on a monument dedicated to Holocaust victims, the mayor of Kavala, in northern Greece, told protesters that the dedication ceremony, originally set for this Sunday, will take place “very soon.”

Kavala Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka [Archive] – Photo: AP

The monument is dedicated to the 1,484 Jews who lived in Kavala, a small fishing town about 400 miles north of Athens, and were sent to their deaths in the Treblinka extermination camp in 1943.

On Friday, Kavala Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka, following a majority vote by the city council, said the image of the Star of David should be removed before the monument was set up. While Tsanaka confirmed that councilors from her list had objected to the size and placement of the Star of David on the commemorative stone, she later denied she shared the opinion or wanted the star removed.

The decision led to widespread criticism from Jewish groups in Greece and around the world.

According to Greek media, Culture Minister Giorgos Kalantzis was “outraged at the demand” to remove the Star of David from the stele.

“As an Orthodox Christian, I feel deeply insulted by this issue, because it would be as if someone asked us to erase or modify, for ‘aesthetic reasons,’ the symbol of the cross on the tombs of our grandfathers executed by the Germans,” Kalantzis was quoted as saying.

The Board of Jewish Communities in Greece criticized the decision as “unacceptable, immoral and insulting.”

American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris issued a statement decrying the move. “There are no words to express adequately our shock and dismay at this news. How can it be that the eternal symbol of the Jewish people — the very symbol that the Nazis required Jews to wear in the death camps and ghettos of Europe during WWII — is deemed unfit for public display in Kavala? What gall for the Jewish community to be asked to remove the Star of David as a condition for allowing the monument to be displayed,” he said.

The Anti-Defamation League also expressed outrage over the decision, issuing a statement saying, “To object to a Star of David on the monument is morally reprehensible. Kavala’s Jews were killed because they were Jews, and the value of a monument is to make that fact demonstrably clear. The mayor and the City Council have insulted the memory of victims, the Greek Jewish community, and Jews around the world, and we join with the Greek Jewish community in voicing our outrage.”

Dozens of protesters wearing yellow Stars of David gathered outside Kavala City Hall Sunday to denounce the delay in the ceremony. At this time, the date of the monument’s unveiling has not been set.


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