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Greek Jews criticize selection of ‘xenophobic’ politician as minister

FAR-RIGHT parliamentarian Makis Voridis was recently appointed Greek health minister, despite strong opposition from the beleaguered Jewish community. Photo: REUTERS

FAR-RIGHT parliamentarian Makis Voridis was recently appointed Greek health minister, despite strong opposition from the beleaguered Jewish community. Photo: REUTERS

The Greek Jewish community expressed “strong resentment” at the appointment of MP Makis Voridis as health minister last week, implying the move was indicative of the government’s failure to act against anti-Semitism. Greece was ranked the most anti-Semitic country outside of the Middle East and North Africa by a recent Anti-Defamation League (ADL) global survey.Voridis has a history of membership in ultra-nationalist parties. He was one of several members of the populist, nationalistic Popular Orthodox Rally faction who joined the ruling New Democracy party two years ago. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was criticized for welcoming the nationalists and was accused of pandering to the far right in a bid to stem the loss of votes to the allegedly neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, which emerged as the third-largest party in Greece.

Samaras maintains that those who joined New Democracy have committed to abide by party policy, which condemns anti-Semitism and racism.

Voridis has since written to the Jewish community, expressing his opposition to Holocaust denial and his commitment to “putting an end to anti-Semitic, racist prejudice which is an outright violation of human dignity.”

In a statement on its website, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece castigated Voridis as someone who had “expressed xenophobic and intolerant views in the past and – until a couple of years ago – had been an executive member of a party that had repeatedly endorsed racist and extreme anti-Semitic views.”

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