A Greek politician who claimed that Jews "don't pay taxes" has been elected as Defense Minister, Greek media reported Thursday night, amid already-high concerns over rising anti-Semitism in the country that is only expected to worsen following recent elections.
Panos Kammenos of the Syriza party made the comments during an interview with Greek Ant-1 TV, according to New Greek TV, on December 18 – just days after the drive-by shooting at the Israeli Embassy in Athens.
Local Jewish leaders were outraged at the comments.
"It is a disgrace that a leader of a party in Parliament does not know that Greek Jews are equal citizens and subject to the all the rights and obligations of every citizen," the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece stated in response at the time, noting that Jews pay the same taxes as Greek Christians.
It is worth noting that with the collapse of ties between Israel and Turkey, the IDF has increasingly been training with the Greek military, something that is likely to be influenced by Kammenos's placement as defense minister.
Fears of snowballing anti-Semitism have been raised again this week with Syriza's rise to power, even before Kammenos was elected to the post.
"The Jewish community in Greece is concerned about the developments and fears that due to the election results the relations between Israel and Greece are in danger," Rabbi Mordechai Frizis, former chief rabbi of Salonika in Greece, stated to Arutz Sheva on Monday.
Two members of the Syriza party had been aboard the Mavi Marmara flotilla which attempted to break the "siege on Gaza" in 2010, during which activists attacked IDF soldiers with metal bars and knives and forcing them to use lethal force to defend their lives.
Over 5,000 Jews live in Greece, which has experienced a sharp rise in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish sites and landmarks. The Larissa cemetery has been vandalized several times over the past two months, and the Israeli Embassy in Athens was shot at in December.
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 69% of Greeks believe in anti-Semitic stereotypes – the highest score outside the Middle East and Africa.