Faced with blistering criticism over objecting to the presence of the Star of David on a monument dedicated to Holocaust victims, the mayor of Kavala in northern Greece told protesters Sunday that the dedication ceremony, originally set for this Sunday, will take place “very soon.”
Mayor Dimitra Tsanaka confirmed that councilors from her list had objected to the size and placement of the Star of David on a commemorative stone, although she denied she shared the opinion or wanted the star removed, as the Central Board of Jewish Communities has alleged.
A Star of David is engraved into the monument.
The authorities had wanted the ancient Jewish symbol, which also features on the Israeli flag, removed before they allow the memorial’s display, angering Jewish groups.
“How can it be that the eternal symbol of the Jewish people — the very symbol that the Nazis required Jews to wear in the death camps and ghettos of Europe during the Second World War — is deemed unfit for public display in Kavala?” American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris said in a statement last week.
Dozens of protesters wearing yellow Stars of David gathered Sunday to denounce the delay in the ceremony.
“The mayor and the City Council have insulted the memory of victims, the Greek Jewish community, and Jews around the world, and we join with the Greek Jewish community in voicing our outrage,” Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, said in a statement last week.
Earlier, the American Jewish Committee quoted the Greek minister of culture, education and religious affairs as blasting the Kavala municipal authorities.
“As an Orthodox Christian, I feel deeply insulted by this issue, because it would be as if someone asked us to erase or modify for ‘aesthetic reasons’ the symbol of the cross on the tombs of our grandfathers executed by the Germans,” the statement quoted Giorgos Kalantzis as saying.
The memorial commemorates the arrest of 1,484 Jewish residents of Kavala in March 1943 and their deaths in the Treblinka extermination camp.
JTA contributed to this report