Raise anti-Semitism with Greek PM, human rights group asks Obama

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Human Rights First asked President Obama to raise the issues of hate crimes and anti-Semitism with the prime minister of Greece when the two leaders meet.

Elisa Massimino, the president and CEO of the U.S.-based group, urged Obama in a two-page letter Tuesday to ask Prime Minister Antonis Samaras during their meeting on Thursday to “speak out more forcefully to counteract the negative anti-Semitic and xenophobic discourse.”

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The letter specifically pointed to the political party Golden Dawn, which holds 7 percent of the seats in the Greek parliament, noting “its representatives use Nazi symbols, have praised German Nazi leaders in the past, and have engaged in blatantly xenophobic rhetoric.”

“The significant presence in local and national governments of a party that openly espouses racist and anti-Semitic views and policies is a disturbing dimension of anti-Semitism’s continuing presence and a formidable obstacle in the path of efforts to confront it,” Massimino wrote.

Human Rights First cited the U.S. State Department’s 2012 report in which racist violence against foreigners, migrants and Roma was called “the most import human rights problem” in Greece. Its letter also was sent to National Security Advisor Susan Rice and others in the State Department.

Approximately 5,000 Jews live in Greece.