A memorial dedicated to the Jews of Kastoria in northern Greece who perished in the Holocaust was vandalized on Christmas Day, the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) reported on Wednesday. The unknown perpetrators reportedly sprayed both sides of the marble slab commemorating the event with black paint.
This was the second such incident in less than a month after unknown vandals sprayed a swastika onto the Holocaust Memorial in Thessaloniki in the wake of a December 14 rally in the northern port city to protest the name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The two incidents underline the findings of a 2017 report by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs on violence against religious sites in Greece, which not only recorded a spike in vandalism but also concluded that violence against Jewish sites is disproportionately high.
Published last week, the report said there were 556 attacks on sites of religious significance in 2017, a rise of 155 percent from the 218 cases in 2016. Of these, 525 were against Greek Orthodox churches, though only some pointed to religious intolerance as the motivating force. In contrast, of the 11 incidents recorded in 2017 against Jewish sites, the majority appeared to be motivated by racism. The third most maligned religious group last year was the Muslims, with eight attacks, followed by Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Armenian Evangelical Church, each targeted on four occasions.
“Attention needs to be paid to the fact that while Jews represent just 0.5 percent of Greeks, there is a steadily disproportionate number of incidents against sites of Jewish religious importance… and most are of an anti-Semitic or racist character,” said Secretary General for Religious Affairs Giorgos Kalantzis.