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Greek Jews and Anti-Defamation League criticize appointment of new Health Minister

Greek Jews and the Anti-Defamation League sharply criticized the appointment of the new Health Minister Makis Voridis due to his far-right past. Makis Voridis, a 49-year-old lawyer,  has denied allegations of crypto-fascism and antisemitism and had described himself as a national liberal with a right-wing  activist background as student.

However, no Jewish group can forget that Voridis was general secretary of the young wing of the National Political Union (EPEN), a far-right political party founded by the jailed leader of the 1967 military coup and junta leader Georgios Papadopoulos and that he replaced in EPEN Nikos Michaloliakos, the leader of neo-nazi Golden Dawn.

Voridis has a long far-right political record:

In 1994, Voridis founded the far-right Hellenic Front party and became its first president. He unsuccessfully ran for the position of Athens mayor in 1998 and 2002. The Front’s motto was “Red Card to the Illegal Immigrants”, and he ran together with Konstantinos Plevris in the national elections of 2000. The Hellenic Front under the chairmanship of Voridis performed lamentably in the 2004 general election and managed to gather only 7000 (0,1%) votes. As a result of this, the Hellenic Front ceased its political activity in 2005 and was subsequently merged with the more successful Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party. Voridis became a member of the political council of LAOS.

When it was clear that LAOS would not enter the Parliament in 2012 elections, Voridis, Adonis Georgiadis and Thanos Plevris  moved over to Nea Dimokratia in February 2012.

Voridis succeeded Georgiadis in the Heath Ministry after the government reshuffle on Monday. (ekathimerini, wikipedia)

“No Jewish person can be happy about the appointment  of a man who was, until two years ago, a head of the extreme right-wing and anti-Semitic LAOS party,” said Victor Eliezer, the secretary general of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece.  In a statement, Eliezer reminded also the relations of Voridis with France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen.

“Voridis, 49, after being elected to the European Parliament, formed an alliance with the head of France’s National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was a guest at his wedding.”

“Voridis has since written to the Jewish community, expressing his opposition to Holocaust denial and his commitment to “putting an end to anti-Semitic, racist prejudice which is an outright violation of human dignity,” the statement continues and concludes urging Voridis and the other former LAOS members currently in Nea Dimokratia to “completely renounce their past views.”

Concern for Voridis’ appointment has been also expressed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism.

Speaking to Kathimerini, ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman, who earlier this week met with Antonis Samaras in Athens, said the choice of Voridis was at odds with the Greek prime minister’s stance during the crackdown on the country’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

“We are saddened and concerned by the appointment of Makis Voridis as Health Minister,” he said. “We praised the prime minister’s stance in the case of Golden Dawn but underlined that this appointment undermines his approach.

“Mr Samaras set high standards in terms of morals and respect for diversity and now he appoints Mr Voridis. He did not agree with our view but agreed to examine the matter again in the future.

Foxman expressed reservations about whether the conservative leader is determined to stay the course on GD, which he described as “a poison that has infected the Greek political system.”

In 1985 Voridis was kicked out of the law school student union for engaging in extremist acts. In an infamous picture taken at the time, he is seen wielding a hand-made ax which he later said was for self-defense. (kathimerini)

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