Jewish Groups Deplore Greek Demand to Remove Star of David From Holocaust Memorial
Jewish groups expressed “shock” on Friday over news that the unveiling of a Holocaust monument in Kavala, Greece was delayed because locals reportedly sought the removal of a Jewish star.
“There are no words to express adequately our shock and dismay at the news,” said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris.
“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 the Second World War – 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.
Anti-Defamation League Executive Director Abraham H. Foxman, who is a Holocaust survivor, called the move “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,” he said.
The monument in question memorializes the 1,484 Jews of Kavala who were exterminated during the Nazi occupation of Greece in World War II.
The monument was set to be unveiled when, just two days before, the mayor and a majority at the city council insisted on the removal of the image of a Star of David from the memorial.
Meanwhile, Greek Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture, Education, and Religious Affairs, Giorgos Kalantzis, said “‘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,” according to a statement released by the AJC.
The AJC called on Kavala’s city officials to “reconsider and reverse their appalling decision.”
Eighty-one percent of Greece’s Jewish population was murdered following Nazi occupation during WWII.