Israel will shun new Greek minister with antisemitic past

Israel will not work with Greece’s new Agricultural Development and Food Minister Makis Voridis because of his antisemitic past, a senior diplomatic told said.

Voridis was sworn in along with 50 new ministers following the last election, which proved victorious for the New Democracy Party led by new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Mitsotakis is considered strongly pro-Israel; after his victory, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called to congratulate him.

But Voridis, his new ministerial appointee, has a history of antisemitic actions and statements.

Voridis founded the now defunct ultra-nationalist Hellenic Front Party, and ran for parliament in 2000 alongside a man who wrote a 1,400-page screed about the Jews. And in 2005, he merged with a party whose leader – George Karatzaferis – blamed the Jews for 9/11 and said after Operation Cast Lead in 2008 that “the Jew smells blood.”

Sabby Minos, a Greek Jew who made aliyah, wrote in Haaretz that Voridis has “a long history of Holocaust denial, antisemitism and xenophobia, including physical threats to Jewish families and leading groups of thugs against immigrants and leftists.”

When the new Greek agriculture minister was a student at the elite Athens College high school, Voridis formed the fascist student group ‘Free Students’ that painted the walls with swastikas and saluted each other using the Nazi-era greeting ‘Heil Hitler’.

Voridis joined New Democracy in 2012 and was named health minister in 2014 during the last ND government under then prime minister Antonis Samaras. After the small Jewish community protested this appointment, Voridis wrote a letter expressing his commitment to “putting an end to antisemitic racist prejudice, which is an outright violation of human dignity.”

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem issued a statement, saying that it is “studying” the new composition of the Greek government and the significance of Voridis’ appointment. Though not mentioning him by name, the statement said that the new minister is known for “racist and antisemitic positions.”

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