Officials in Kavala, a city of about 70,000 in northern Greece, are refusing to unveil a Holocaust memorial commemorating the sacrifice made by the 1,484 Jews from the city who were murdered by German Nazis during World War II because the memorial displays a Star of David, the traditional symbol of Judaism.
The Jerusalem Post reports Greek news organization Ekathimerini says Kavala Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka’s opposition to Jewish symbol is being supported by most of the city’s municipal council.
Reliable news reports have yet to surface that explain why Tsanaka and Kavala city council members oppose the Star of David, but some unconfirmed reports have suggested the officials are opposing the symbol for “aesthetic reasons.”
Greek and American Jewish advocacy groups have expressed outrage and solidarity on this the decision by Kavala’s leaders.
“To object to a Star of David on the monument is morally reprehensible,” said Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “Kavala’s Jews were killed because they were Jews, and the value of a monument is to make that fact demonstrably clear.”
American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris says he’s “shocked and dismayed” at the city’s decision.
“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?” said Harris. “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!”
While it remains unclear whether racism is the true motivating factor behind the city’s decision, data suggest a high percentage of Greece’s population harbors a negative opinion of Jews. According to the ADL, about 69 percent of the nation’s 9.1 million adults hold “Anti-Semitic attitudes.”