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February 14, 2019 3:56 pm

Jewish Community Applauds First Greek Ministry to Adopt IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

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Illustrative photo. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.

The Jewish community in Greece is applauding the General Secretariat for Religious Affairs for adopting an internationally-recognized definition of antisemitism on Monday, calling it a significant step in the fight against anti-Jewish hate.

The announcement came on Monday during a ceremony posthumously honoring Constantine Giannitsis, a notary who saved five members of the Moissis family in Athens during World War II, as a “Righteous Among the Nations” — a title bestowed by Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial.

The ceremony was attended by Greek Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs Konstantinos Gavroglu and Secretary General for Religious Affairs George Kalantzis.

“There is a need to strengthen acts and ideas safeguarding democracy against the poison of fascism and of racism which have appeared again throughout Europe,” Gavroglu said.

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He announced that the General Secretariat for Religious Affairs, which is part of his ministry, has endorsed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, “with the active participation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic.”

Kalantzis called the move historically significant, and said it was a particular honor for his Secretariat to be the first to adopt it.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece welcomed the decision on Tuesday, saying it “contributes decisively to the understanding of anti-Semitism as a phenomenon threatening the values of democracy.”

First endorsed in 2016 by the IHRA, whose 31 member countries include Greece, the definition describes antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and includes examples such as advancing “the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy” and “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”

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