Newly appointed health minister apologises to Greek Jewish community for Auschwitz comments

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) expressed concerns over the appointment of Thanos Plevris as Minister of Health, following a cabinet reshuffle.

The KIS also demanded an apology for comments made by Plevris in 2009 while defending a man accused of inciting racism by saying that the Auschwitz concentration camp should be kept in good condition so it can be used again.

“We expect Mr. Thanos Plevris to apologize to the Jewish people for this reference and express his unequivocal condemnation of intolerance, antisemitism and Holocaust denialists, conforming with the declared positions of the Greek Prime Minister. We also hope that the new Minister will address all citizens equally, regardless of skin color, race or religion.”

In 2009, Plevris, a transplant to the ruling centre-right New Democracy party from the ultranationalist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, stated the following, inter alia, before the Greek Court of Justice: I will refer to issues that have puzzled you. You are concerned about the reference to Auschwitz. The one that says “to keep the camp of Auschwitz in good conditions”. I will examine the most extreme interpretation. That the defendant with this reference means: “Keep the camp of Auschwitz in good conditions because I want, at some point, the national socialist regime to come back, Hitler to come back, take the Jews and put them in Auschwitz”. What kind of instigation is this? What incitement is this? Is it that one is not allowed to believe and want to believe that “I want to exterminate someone”?

Update

Minister Plevris reacted swiftly with a  statement reading: My respect towards the victims of the Holocaust of the Jews is absolute and I am contrary to any kind of antisemitism. I have demonstrated it through many public statements, in a manner beyond any doubt. The reservations of KIS about me -due to my statement while acting as defense lawyer of my father, whom I totally disagree with- are understandable.

“I never wanted to insult the Jewish people and I apologize if I have done so. I am sure that through my work as Minister of Health I will lift all the reservations of all those who doubt my respect to the victims of the Holocaust of the Jews and they will realize that I have no antisemitic feelings”.

KIS is the representative organisation of Jewish communities in Greece and the country’s EJC affiliate.

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