President Reuven Rivlin has written to David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and president of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, to express his dismay at the most recent desecration last week of the Holocaust Memorial in Thessaloniki.
“I join you in condemning unequivocally this vile despoiling of the memory of the victims,” wrote Rivlin. “Let us be in no doubt that this is a further reminder of the need to continue to stand up against antisemitism in all its forms.”
Rivlin was in Thessaloniki in January of this year to participate in the laying of the cornerstone for a Holocaust memorial museum, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site in June last year.
Rivlin recalled in his letter to Saltiel that at the museum ceremony he had said the Holocaust is not only a Jewish issue but an international issue that touches every nation and people.
“And today, I again stand with you urging all to speak out against this terrible act of vandalism and the need to continue to educate about the Holocaust and the dangers of hatred and racism.
Last week the desecration was condemned by the Israel Embassy, the Greek government spokesman, Greek political parties, organizations and individual citizens. It was also condemned by German Consul- General in Thessaloniki Walter Stechel, who said in a statement that the German government condemns every form of antisemitism anywhere and at any time.
Noting that this was the third time the Holocaust Memorial had been vandalized in a halfyear period, Stechel said he felt grief and revulsion and stood in solidarity with Thessaloniki’s Jewish community, which had been severely decimated during World War II.
A Thessaloniki Jewish community announcement attributed the vandalism to an outcome of bigotry and racism.
The monument erected to the memory of the 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews murdered by the Nazis had been sprayed with red paint and the flowers surrounding the monument had been trampled.
Lambros Tsongas, the chief prosecutor in Thessaloniki, has ordered an investigation into the incident to determine whether there was more to it in criminal terms than a violation of Greece’s anti-racism laws.