Golden Dawn, Greece's ultra-right nationalist party, is now the third most popular party in the country; what does this mean for Greece's Jewish community?

Op-Ed By Shalom Life

45-year-old Giorgos Roupakias, a member and staunch supporter of the group, had fatally stabbed anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fissas a.k.a. Killah P near Athens, and the wave of support for the party was finally dwindling.

Head of the party Nikos Michaloliakos was in jail for his association with the killing, as were three other members of the party, and polls showed that citizens of Greece were finally acknowledging that Golden Dawn was a party of petty thugs and murderers.

It finally seemed like the end of the extremist Golden Dawn in Greece.

Fast-track not even a full year though, and it sadly appears that the efforts of Greece's government have been subdued; over the weekend during European elections, Golden Dawn won 9.4% of the popular vote, making them the third most popular party in the country.


“We are the third political power in Greece,” wrote Michaloliakos in a message from prison. “We are the upcoming Greece.”


The weekend also saw three Golden Dawn members being elected, who will soon take their seats in the European Parliament. They will also be joined by a member of Germany's National Democratic Party, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel has labelled as “an anti-democratic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-constitutional party.”

Regrettably, this is a scenario that rings all too familiar.

Last week, JTA published an article titled "Why is Greece the most anti-Semitic country in Europe?" referring to the recent global survey conducted by the ADL which found that 69% of Greeks harbor anti-Semitic views, the same as in Saudi Arabia. They attributed this primarily to Golden Dawn's influence, but also, to the following facts as gathered by the ADL: 85 percent of respondents believe Jews have too much power in the business world, 82 percent believe we have too much power in the financial markets and 74 percent said Jews have too much influence over global affairs.

If you'll recall, Greece's economy has been in turmoil, with the country requiring a massive debt bailout from the Eurozone countries after failing to pay their debts in 2010.

The Greek government-debt-crisis, otherwise known as the Greek depression, labelled the country as poor, leaving its citizens, angry, ashamed, and defeated.

The comparison to Nazi Germany here has to be noted.

Germany, like Greece, were on the heels of a massive economic depression post-World War I. Adolf Hitler and his Nationalist Socialist Party, however, appealed largely to the common German by using the Jews as a scapegoat, while strengthening the German economy and bringing power back to the people of Germany.

In Greece, while the government is slashing pensions and salaries, and with unemployment rising to nearly 30 percent, Golden Dawn has presented itself as a party of the Greek people, distributing food, medicine and supplies to Greek ethnic citizens, and using the country's immigrants as a scapegoat, not so dissimilar from what the Germans did in the 1930's.

And now, with members of Golden Dawn elected into EU Parliament, it symbolizes the fact that, despite losing their momentum a year ago, Golden Dawn have been able to persevere. Despite its founder being currently held in prison, Golden Dawn have secured votes from Greek citizens who are looking for answers, and, most likely, looking for someone to blame.

Greek parliament spokesman Simos Kedikoglou has reiterated that the government needs to do a better job at teaching its citizens about the dangers of supporting an ultra-nationalist party like Golden Dawn.

“It is a vote that makes us very uncomfortable,” said President of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki, David Saltiel. “I think the Greek government needs to find ways to explain to the voters that the Golden Dawn is a Nazi party of killers.”

“I think the government has to work to see the real problems of the people and see why people are voting for this extremist Nazi party,” he added.

Golden Dawn, with its swastika-like flag, its open support of Holocaust denial, and structured around the ideals of National Socialism, is unfortunately showing no sign of slowing down.

And with anti-Semitism increasingly spreading across Europe (last week alone saw anti-Semitic attacks in Belgium and in France), it's fairly palpable to decipher that Greece could be next.

This is a warning not to be taken lightly. If there was ever a time to educate others about the mistakes of the past, so they are not repeated in the present, it's now. Let us rise together to stop Golden Dawn from gaining any more momentum. Let us teach those in Europe that scapegoating others is not the answer.

Let us educate and enlighten, to prevent any further anti-Semitic atrocities from occurring. We must come together as a people and use whatever platforms are available to us, through social media, through word of mouth, through our politicians.

The time is now.