May 19, 2012
The president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, has called for a ban on European far-right groups, following the victory of Greece's Golden Dawn in winning 21 parliamentary seats.
Nikolaos Michaloliakos, leader of Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi), disavows any links to neo-Nazism, but put a further nail in his party's image last week when he engaged in a spot of Holocaust denial. Ekathimerini reported Michaloliakos stated on Greek television "There were no ovens -- it's a lie. I believe it's a lie. There were no gas chambers either."
His remarks drew condemnation from the Greek government and Mr Kantor. Greek government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis said "I condemn these views in the strongest terms. The Greek people have not forgotten that they too mourned the death of hundreds of thousands of people who were victims of the Nazis, among them tens of thousands of Greek Jews. We honor their memory and stand against any attempt to falsify facts and revive intolerance."
Mr Kantor reacted to Golden Dawn's seeming legitimacy through elections, by saying "Before calling on European leaders to act against hate on the street, they must clear their own house and that means banning and ostracising any politicians and political parties that preach hate and violence. While we highly value freedom of speech, we all recognise that there must be restrictions, and the visceral hatred propagated by the Golden Dawn is surely outside the boundaries of appropriate political discourse." (The Jewish Chronicle)
The Jewish Times reported that the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece also issued a statement condemning Michaloliakos's words. It said "It is an insult to the historical memory, the memory of the 6 million Jews, our brethren, amongst whom there were 70,000 Greek Jews, who perished in the death camps of Auschwitz, Dachau [and] Treblinka" whilst calling for Greece to "firmly condemn and isolate the forces seeking the revival of the darkest ideology of European history."
Whilst Golden Dawn won seven percent of the vote in Greece's May 6 elections, latest polls show their surge in popularity has wavered. They may not garner the necessary three percent of votes to enter Parliament in a second election. Campaigning on an anti-immigration policy, the far-right party appealed primarily to residents of Athens who had seen their neighbourhoods taken over by illegal immigrants and an unprecedented crime wave.
They also benefited from protest votes.
As their 21 members were sworn into Parliament this week, before it was promptly dissolved and replaced by a caretaker government, AP reported they refused to stand as two Muslim legislators were sworn in on the Quran. Whilst the party enjoyed their brief moment of electoral glory, each of the other political parties in Greece refused to work with them or countenance them joining a coalition.
Journalists, who earlier reported Golden Dawn demanded they stand to attention in their presence, took to the floor in a show of disdain as Golden Dawn entered Parliament.