SYRIZA in a bind over candidate’s racist rant

SYRIZA’s political secretariat will meet on Thursday amid calls for the party to re-examine the candidacy of Theodoros Karypidis, a journalist who has been nominated to represent the leftists for the governorship of Western Macedonia in May, after it emerged that he had posted comments on his Facebook page that were anti-Semitic and appeared supportive of Golden Dawn.

The meeting was postponed until Thursday as SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras was in Cephalonia on Wednesday, speaking to officials and residents of the island in the wake of the two major earthquakes there that have left thousands homeless.

Two members of the secretariat called on Wednesday for Karypidis’s suitability to be reassessed, as did the Left Platform, a left-wing grouping within SYRIZA. “SYRIZA is totally against all forms of racism and, therefore, anti-Semitism,” wrote party MP Dimitris Papadimoulis on Twitter. “Everyone should recognize and respect this.”

New Democracy and PASOK attacked SYRIZA over its choice of candidate but condemnation also came from abroad.

“Vile, outrageous expressions of anti-Semitism in Greece are coming not only from Golden Dawn on the far right but also, as Theodoros Karypidis’s Facebook post illustrates, from the far left,” said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris.

In one of his posts on the social media network, Karypidis claimed that the interim public broadcaster was named NERIT after the Hebrew word for candle, Ner. He said this was connected to the Jewish festival of Hannukah, which he alleged marked a Jewish victory over Ancient Greece.

“Samaras is lighting the candles (Nerit) in the seven branched candelabra of the Jews and lighting Greece on fire after his visit to the Thessaloniki Synagogue... He is organizing a new Hanukkah against the Greeks,” wrote Karypidis.

“Whipping up hatred of Jews, for all kinds of alleged conspiracies, is an all-too-familiar and longtime tactic of political extremists with nothing constructive to offer about real-life issues facing their country,” added Harris.