The mayor of Kavala in northern Greece is the subject of international criticism after he decided to stop the unveiling of a Holocaust memorial for that city’s almost 1500 victims because it featured a Star of David.
Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka’s decision was supported by the majority of the city’s municipal council. The national government, led by Syriza— which has no official say in local matters— opposed her decision. The Education Ministry’s general secretary Giorgos Kalatzis said that Kavala risked being the first Greek city to turn down a monument raised for its own citizens.
“As an Orthodox Christian, I feel deeply insulted by this issue, because it would be as if someone asked us to erase or modify for ‘aesthetic reasons’ the symbol of the cross on the tombs of our grandfathers executed by the Germans,” Kalatzis said.
American Jewish groups also slammed the decision.
“There are no words to express adequately our shock and dismay at this news,” said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris.
“How can it be that the eternal symbol of the Jewish people – the very symbol that the Nazis required Jews to wear in the death camps and ghettos of Europe during the Second World War – is deemed unfit for public display in Kavala? What gall for the Jewish community to be asked to remove the Star of David as a condition for allowing the monument to be displayed,” Harris said.
Harris said the AJC applauded Kalatzis’, response to the news from Kavala.
The Anti Defamation League similarly slammed the move to cancel the Holocaust memorial in a statement it released on Friday.
“To object to a Star of David on the monument is morally reprehensible,” said ADL Director Abraham H. Foxman.
“Kavala’s Jews were killed because they were Jews, and the value of a monument is to make that fact demonstrably clear,” Foxman said.
“The mayor and the city council have insulted the memory of victims, the Greek Jewish community, and Jews around the world, and we join with the Greek Jewish community in voicing our outrage,” he added.