New York — AJC (American Jewish Committee) is appalled by the anti-Semitic statements of a Syriza Party candidate for upcoming elections in Greece. Theodoros Karypidis, who is running for Governor of Western Macedonia, claims that Greece’s new public broadcasting channel, NERIT, has Jewish roots and that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s recent visit to the Thessaloniki Synagogue was an act threatening Greece.

“Vile, outrageous expressions of anti-Semitism in Greece are coming not only from Golden Dawn on the far right but also, as Theodoros Karypidis's Facebook post illustrates, from the far left,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “Prime Minister Samaras and his government laudably reject these dangerous attacks and recognize the right of the Greek Jews, like all Greek citizens, to live in peace and dignity.” Greece today has a Jewish population numbering approximately 5,000 in a country of 11 million, having lost the overwhelming majority of its members during the Nazi occupation of the country and deportation to the death camps.

NERIT (New Hellenic Radio and Television) was established last summer after the Samaras government shut down the Hellenic Broadcasting Authority. Karypidis claims that the new station’s acronym is linked to the Hebrew word for candle — Ner — and that candles lit during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrate Jewish victory over ancient Greece.

“Samaras is lighting the candles (Nerit) in the seven branched candelabra of the Jews and lighting Greece on fire after his visit to the Thessaloniki Synagogue… He is organizing a new Hanukkah against the Greeks,” wrote Karypidis.

“Whipping up hatred of Jews, for all kinds of alleged conspiracies, is an all-too-familiar and long-time tactic of political extremists with nothing constructive to offer about real-life issues facing their country,” said Harris. “It also reveals once again that, for all their purported differences, far right and left politicians can have more in common than they might otherwise admit — the capacity for blind hatred, bigotry and demagoguery.”

The left-wing Syriza is the main opposition party, coming in second nationally after Prime Minister Samaras’s New Democracy Party, while the Golden Dawn ranks third in the polls. So far, his party’s leaders have not reacted to Karypidis’s Facebook post. Meanwhile, the prime minister’s spokesman called the statements "unacceptable, racist and anti-Semitic."