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October 20, 2015 1:49 pm

Human Rights Group Blasts Greek Parliamentarian for Accusing Jews of Exacerbating Country’s Financial Crisis

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Remarks made in the Greek Parliament accused Greek and American Jews of exacerbating the country’s financial crisis. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Greek parliament. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A human rights organization condemned comments made last week in the Greek parliament, pointing the finger at Jews for exacerbating the country’s financial crisis.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Monday blasted the accusers, among them a member of parliament, who blamed both Greek and American Jews for initiating a bill that would make the situation in Greece worse, while helping Israel.

During a parliamentary debate on Oct. 14, Dimitris Giannakopoulos, representing the Greek pharmaceutical industry, and MP Nikos Nikolopoulos accused Greek-Israeli businessman Sabby Mionis of promoting legislation that would lead to thousands of layoffs in Greece’s pharmaceutical sector and benefit Israeli pharmaceutical companies.

A similar accusation was made against American Jewish Committee Director David Harris. Giannakopoulos called for a parliamentary investigation into Harris’ role in creating the bill, along with Mionis and former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

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ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said his organization joins the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece in condemning such remarks, which “allude to antisemitic conspiracy theories that Jews benefit at the expense of others.”

“Antisemitic statements in parliament and by Greek members of parliament must always be repudiated by Greek leaders if any progress is to be made against the prevalence of antisemitic attitudes in Greek society,” Greenblatt said. “Sabby Mionis was similarly targeted two years ago without any official reaction. Last month, we appreciated Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ prompt removal from his government of a junior minister for antisemitic statements, but such acts should be the norm and not the exception.”

Greenblatt said the ADL knows from repeated polling that antisemitic conspiracy theories are widely held in Greece. He said surveys show nine out of 10 Greeks believe that Jews have too much power in the business world.

ADL’s recent Global 100 poll on antisemitic attitudes in Europe found that 67 percent of those surveyed in Greece espouse antisemitic attitudes.

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