ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — A politician from the main opposition party in Greece has caused an uproar after posting an anti-Semitic rant on his Facebook page accusing the Greek prime minister of heading a Jewish conspiracy.
Theodoros Karypidis, the left-wing Syriza Party’s candidate for governor of Western Macedonia, said Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was at the head of a Jewish plot to visit “a new Hanukkah against the Greeks.”
At the heart of Karypidis’ theory was a move last year by Samaras to shut the allegedly corrupt Hellenic Broadcasting Authority and replace it with the New Hellenic Radio and Television, known by its Greek acronym NERIT.
According to Karypidis, NERIT is derived from the Hebrew word for candle, “ner,” which he links to the festival of Hanukkah.
“Samaras is lighting the candles in the seven branched candelabra of the Jews and lighting Greece on fire after his visit to the Thessaloniki Synagogue,” wrote Karypidis. “He is organizing a new Hanukkah against the Greeks.”
Samaras visited the synagogue as part of the commemorations marking the destruction of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki by the Nazis.
A spokesman for Samaras condemned the comments as “unacceptable, racist and anti-Semitic.”
Syriza, the second-largest party in Greece, was due to meet Thursday to discuss the issue, the Kathimerini daily newspaper reported.
In recent years most of the anti-Semitic vitriol in Greece has come from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party. But Syriza also has a clear anti-Israel stance. Several of its members took part in the flotilla to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.
Karypidis’ statements also drew condemnation from the American Jewish Committee.
“Vile, outrageous expressions of anti-Semitism in Greece are coming not only from Golden Dawn on the far right but also, as Theodoros Karypidis’ Facebook post illustrates, from the far left,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris in a statement.
“Whipping up hatred of Jews, for all kinds of alleged conspiracies, is an all-too-familiar and long-time tactic of political extremists with nothing constructive to offer about real-life issues facing their country,” he said.