Greek Jews worried as two far-right politicians join mainstream party

Greek Jews worried as two far-right politicians join mainstream party


21 February 2012

Greek Jewish leaders have expressed concern over the switch by two senior members of the far-right LAOS party to the country’s mainstream conservative party. Makis Voridis and Adonis Georgiadis resigned from LAOS and are to run as candidates of the New Democracy party in next April’s parliamentary elections. New Democracy is currently leading in the polls. The two parliamentarians, who in the past expressed or supported anti-Jewish views, stepped down from LAOS after the party led by George Karatzaferis refused to back a national austerity bill. The controversial measure was adopted by the Greek Parliament on Monday.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities (KIS) in Greece expressed “concern and surprise” that Voridis and Georgiadis should be allowed to join the New Democrats. “We hope that the leadership of the New Democracy party […] will take all necessary measures so that such views remain at the margins of the Greek society, and will safeguard the equality of all citizens regardless of race or religion, as provided for by the Constitution,” the umbrella body said in a statement. „Greek Jewry also believes that the same policy against racism and anti-Semitism, as endorsed by all democratic Greek and European parties, will continue,” it added.

Voridis and Georgiadis (pictured above) served as ministers in the recent emergency government of Prime Minister Loukas Papadimos, who made it clear that whoever did not support his austerity package – a condition by the European Union for further financial aid to the troubled country – would have no place in the government. LAOS voted against the package of reforms and its ministers the national unity government, which includes both the New Democracy and the Socialist PASOK parties.

Voridis, 48, is a lawyer and former leader of the extreme-right Hellenic Front party who joined LAOS in 2005. Georgiadis, 40, is a publisher and author of books mainly related to ancient Greek history. Both were elected for the first time to parliament in the 2007 general election. Voridis, the minister of infrastructure, transport and networks, questioned whether the infamous anti-Semitic forgery ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ was in fact an authentic document about a global Jewish conspiracy. In a remark indicative of Holocaust denial, he also reportedly challenged the authenticity of Anne Frank’s diary. Georgiadis, the deputy minister for development, is reported to have said that „all major banks belong to the Jews” and that „the Jewish lobby” would determine the fate of Greece’s foreign debt. He has also extensively promoted an anti-Semitic book ‘The Jews, the whole truth’ by the notorious anti-Semite Konstantinos Plevris.

LAOS founder Giorgos Karatzaferis (pictured left), a former bodybuilder, also in the past made a number of anti-Semitic remarks. At the founding congress of his party in 2000, he said, „They say that to get ahead you have to be one of three things: a Jew, a homosexual or a communist. We are none of these. … Vote for a parliament without free masons, without homosexuals, without those dependent on Zionism.” However, in recent years Karatzaferis has largely refrained from making anti-Jewish statements as he tried to become more respectable.

Meanwhile, a trial for alleged slander brought by Plevris against senior board members of KIS was postponed because of a public sector strike.