The latest in a long string of anti-Semitic acts of vandalism, this time the Larissa Jewish cemetery was desecrated by neo-Nazi thugs, using Holocaust imagery.

Last week the Jewish community in Larissa, Greece, found itself yet again part of a disturbing trend that is sweeping across Europe. The latest in a long string of anti-Semitic acts of vandalism, this time the Larissa Jewish cemetery was desecrated by neo-Nazi thugs, who used Holocaust imagery.

Although Larissa is a major city and home to Greece’s third-largest Jewish community, its Jewish population numbers a mere 300. Prior to the Holocaust, this Jewish community, whose roots go all the way back to Roman times, had consisted of more than 2,000 people. On the eve of the Holocaust, many of Larissa’s Jewish residents sought refuge elsewhere. Most who remained when the Nazis invaded the city perished in Auschwitz and the community was decimated.

The vandals sprayed swastikas on the gates and walls, as well as the phrase “six million more” and other anti-Semitic slogans reminiscent of the Nazi era. They even autographed their work, according to the Greek Reporter, with “The Skinheads of Larissa.”

A Threat Not Only to Jews

Responding immediately to the situation, the Central board of Jewish communities issued a statement, saying, “Anti-Semitism is not only a threat to Jews, but a threat to our whole democracy.”

The Greek government was also swift to condemn the incident. The deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Evangelos Venizelos, called it “an unacceptable and incomprehensible criminal act.”

Rabbi Mordechai Frizis, the former rabbi of Salonika, speaking in an interview with  Arutz Sheva, said: “What is happening in Greece is painful. The neo-Nazis are raising their heads.”

Not unlike the situation in pre-Holocaust Germany, Greece is currently facing extreme poverty and social problems, which have spilled over into a destabilizing political situation.

The Jewish future in Greece does not look promising. In fact, it is estimated that hundreds of young Greek Jews plan on making aliyah (immigration to Israel) largely as a result of the poor economic situation and rampant unemployment.

By: Penina Taylor, United with Israel