Ignoring the pleas of Greece’s 5,000 strong Jewish community, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras promoted far-right politician Makis Voridis to his cabinet Monday as part of a re-shuffle intended to shore up support for his precarious government. Voridis, who is said to consider France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen a mentor and friend, is known for promoting anti-Semitic views. He has publicly questioned the authenticity of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and suggested “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” should be studied by historians. He will be sworn in Tuesday as the country’s new health minister.
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A lawyer by training, the 49-year-old Voridis went into politics in 1994, founding the far-right Hellenic Front party – its motto was “Red Card to the Illegal Immigrants.”
He ran for national elections in 2000 with Konstantinos Plevris, who later authored a 1,400-page book called “Jews, the Whole Truth,” in which he urged the Greeks to kill Jews.
When Voridis’ election bid failed, in 2005 he merged his party into the LAOS party, whose leader, George Karatzaferis, once blamed the Jews for 9/11 during a speech in the Greek Parliament.
In the past, Samaras has actually been praised by international Jewish leaders for his fight against the popular Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which burst onto the political scene in 2012 and grabbed 18 seats in the Greek Parliament.
And last March, Samaras became the first sitting Greek prime minister to set foot in a synagogue in 101 years. Speaking to Jewish leaders there, he had promised to introduce a law to prevent Holocaust-denying parties from running for parliament.
In May, the Anti-Defamation League published a survey on anti-Semitism, singling out Greece as the most grievous offender in Western Europe. According to the survey, 69 percent of Greeks answered “probably” or “definitely” true to six or more of 11 negative stereotypes about Jews.
“Our findings are sobering, but sadly not surprising,” said ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman at the time, adding that the findings had led Samaras to invite the ADL leadership to a meeting in Greece to discuss possible remedies.