Monday, January 26, 2009

Greece: Vandalism of Jewish Cemeteries in Wake of Gaza War

Greece: Vandalism of Jewish Cemeteries in Wake of Gaza War

(ISJM) According to news reports gravestones were vandalized at the Jewish cemetery of Ioannina in northern Greece last Monday night (January 19). "Three tombs were desecrated and damaged Monday evening in the cemetery," said President of the Central Jewish Council of Greece (KIS) Moisis Constantinis. Constantinis and KIS accused the police of failing to heed calls for increased security at the cemetery, which has been vandalized three times before in recent years (There is a certain irony here, since ISJM has recently received reports that KIS is considering selling some neglected cemeteries elsewhere in the country - reports that need to be confirmed). In general the Jewish cemeteries in Greece are in poor condition, and many have been totally abandoned. The Ioannina cemetery (of which parts were photographed for ISJM by Vincent Giordano) is one of the best preserved in the country.

KIS also reported that anti-Semitic inscriptions were found on tombs in a Jewish cemetery in Athens earlier this month and on a Jewish monument in Corfu four days after the Gaza conflict began. A large segment of the Greek population has long offered large and vocal support for the Palestinian cause. During periods of greatest armed conflict between Israel and Palestinians Jewish sites in Greece have often been targets for expressing anti-Israel (and anti-Jewish) sentiments.

During the Gaza War several sites in Europe have been the targets of anti-Israel and anti-Semiitc vandalism. These include the historic synagogues in Pisa, Italy and Maribor, Slovenia.

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