PASSOVER in GREECE: Synagogue Set Ablaze by Antisemitic Arsonists

A Jewish synagogue on the Greek island of Corfu was targeted in a late-night arson attack that damaged books and community documents, local police said on Tuesday.

The unknown assailants broke into the synagogue in the old town of the island's capital after 3.00 am by forcing open a back door into the 19th century building, a senior officer said.

They made a pile of books and documents in front of the rabbi's platform, or bimah, on the synagogue's first floor and set them on fire, he said.

The synagogue was closed at the time and nobody was injured.  The fire was spotted by a passing police patrol, the officer said.

Jewish community cemeteries and monuments in various parts of the country are sporadically targeted by vandals.

A similar attack on a synagogue on the island of Crete in 2010 destroyed hundreds of rare books.

Greece's pre-war Jewish community was decimated by Nazi deportations and now numbers around 6,000 people. Around 100 Jews live on Corfu. -SOURCE:  AFP

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Last year, the only synagogue on the Greek island of Crete was also set ablaze. The historic Etz Chaim Synagogue in Hania, dating to the fifteenth century, was mostly saved by firefighters, but thousands of rare manuscripts were destroyed in the blaze.

Greece has seen an alarming rise in openly anti-Semitic public declarations by its religious and cultural leaders in recent months. Anti-Israel political cartoons in major Greek newspapers have also focused on age-old anti-Semitic sterotypes and libels.

At heart is the dire economic situation of the bankrupted EU member state, which has had to instate severe public spending cutbacks following its recent bailout.

Much like in 1930’s Germany, the economic situation has made accusations of a “conspiracy by international Jewish bankers” popular. The country does not have a significant Jewish population – Greek Jews were decimated in the Holocaust – so the revived anti-Semitism finds its outlet in attacks against Jewish heritage sites (ancient synagogues, graveyards) and in vociferous public attacks against the Jewish state of Israel.

Corfu's Jews were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz on 10 June 1944. Only some 200 survived the war, and the synagogue today serves a congregation of just 65 members.

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