Jewish advocacy group warns against travel to Greece

Posted: Friday, March 19, 2004

ATHENS, Greece (AP) A Jewish human rights group said it would not lift a travel advisory to Greece unless the new government takes steps to condemn what it called ''anti-Semitic expression.''

''Today, there is no country in Europe that matches the intensity of anti-Semitic invective in Greece,'' said a letter Monday from the Simon Wiesenthal Center to Greece's new premier, Costas Caramanlis.

The Los Angeles-based center issued the travel advisory in December after a number of incidents, including the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust memorials, and an art exhibit in an Athens gallery that it said ''glorifies'' suicide bombers.

The center also cited remarks by prominent Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, who called Jews ''the root of evil.''

Shimon Samuels, a spokesman the center's Paris office, said similar complaints to Greece's previous government went unanswered. Caramanlis' New Democracy party defeated the Socialists in March 7 national elections.

Samuels said the center's 16,000 members will honor the advisory and not travel to Athens for the Aug. 13-29 Olympic Games unless the government ''launches a campaign against anti-Semitic expression.''

The Israeli government has not endorsed the center's campaign.

The Wiesenthal Center was started by Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

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