As disturbing as it was to watch Greece's neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn, receive 7% of the vote in the country's recent elections, the infiltration by neo-Nazis of the traditional center-right party, New Democracy, is even more worrying.
The majority of Greeks who voted for the Golden Dawn in the last elections did not really understand what they were voting for. They were expressing their anger at an incapable political system and their fears for the future. Now that the media has finally focused on Golden Dawn, and the public had a taste of their ideas and behavior, the party is likely to receive significantly fewer votes in the repeat elections on June 17th.
Greeks are not neo-Nazis, and the majority of Greeks are offended and disgusted by the 21 Parliament members who were elected.
The real danger of the infiltration of fascism into the political system unfortunately comes from the leader of the traditionally center-right wing party of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras. Samaras is rapidly changing the face of his once-liberal party by recruiting a number of neo-Nazis and anti-Semites from the fading extreme right-wing LAOS party of George Karatzaferis.
Karatzaferis, also known in Greece as Karatzafuhrer, shot to prominence through his TV channel, which is dedicated to nationalism and anti-Semitism. Through this channel Karatzaferis, and other LAOS members now joining Samara's party, blamed the Jews and the "Zionists" for everything from the 9/11 terrorist acts to attacks on Hellenic culture and other far-fetched conspiracy theories.
Samaras is demonstrating an incredible tolerance for anti-Semitism in his quest to become Greece's next prime minister. Samaras has always been an opportunist with a questionable moral code. Many in Greece blame him for its current financial mess. Twenty years ago, as foreign minister, he brought down the only government that tried to implement reforms that would have probably halted the descent of Greece toward financial destruction.
Samaras is once again proving that no morality can stand on the way of ambition. A couple of months before the last elections, Samaras' party was joined by Makis Voridis (who became an interim minister) and Adonis Georgiadis. Both have a long history of anti-Semitism; Voridis also has a rich history of neo-Nazism. Georgiadis hosted an often anti-Semitic show on Karatzaferis' network.
Now, another anti-Semitic TV show host, Velopoulos, is rumored to be joining Samaras, along with Thanassis Plevris, the son of the most infamous contemporary Greek neo-Nazi, Kostas Plevris. Kostas Plevris openly proclaims himself a neo-Nazi, and in his book "Jews, the Whole Truth", he calls upon Greeks to kill all the Jews in the country within 24 hours.
He was sued by the Jewish community, acquitted and now is countersuing the Jewish community for libel. His son, Thanassis, was his attorney and Georgiadis was a witness in defense of Plevris and against the Jewish community.
Fearful about Greece's possible exit from the Euro zone, Greeks will probably vote for Samara's New Democracy party as the only viable alternative to Syriza, the leftist party whose policies would take Greece out of the common currency.
Some of the anti-Semites now joining New Democracy will probably become government ministers. The Greek Jewish community now has to deal not only with severe financial hardship, but also with overtly hostile politicians in power.
Israeli and Jewish business people should think twice before investing in Greece. In addition to the country risk, they will also have to face the anti-Semitism risk.
Sabby Mionis was born in Athens and moved to Israel in 2006. Founder of Capital Management Advisors and active in Greek business life, he is a former president of Keren Hayesod (the United Israel Appeal) in Athens and now serves as on the UIA Executive and is co-founder of the Israel Center for Better Childhood.