Police Open Investigation After Matzeivos Smashed in Athens Cemetery

A view of the smashed matzeivos in Athens, Greece. (Jewish Community of Athens)

Vandals destroyed several matzeivos in the Jewish cemetery in a southwestern suburb of Athens, Greek police said.

“Marble grave headstones were damaged in the Jewish part of the Nikea cemetery,” a police spokesman told reporters. Police have opened an investigation into the incident.

Jewish kevarim have been a recurring target of vandals in Greece, often by members of the far-right.

The vandalism comes amid fears of rising anti-Semitism in Europe after a spate of recent incidents across Europe.

In a statement released by the Jewish community of Athens, the kehillah bemoan the “great pain” upon learning of the “new wave of vandalism in the Jewish cemetery.”

“Unknown vandals entered our cemetery and destroyed nine commemorative marble struts, kicking them with fury, leaving them to peel off their bases and crushing them on the ground.

“The scene is repulsive … This is not the first time we see the result of a degrading act at our cemetery but it is the first time we see such act was organized and planned in part of the cemetery that is not visible from the neighboring houses, and with incredible fury.

“The sight of this abominable act causes us deep sorrow and anger.”

The community said that they will exercise all the legal means at their disposal to come to the bottom of this vandalism. The community calls upon “all the institutions of the state and the city, the justice, the religious and spiritual authorities of Greece and the civil society, to condemn unambiguously and without reservation this desecration and to stand with absolutely zero tolerance against such phenomena of violence and intolerance.

“There is no worse sign of a society’s moral decline than desecration of a cemetery and disrespect for the dead. It is not just an act that concerns only our community and is recorded as one of the most violent and significant anti-Semitic events of recent years in Greece. It is about an act that brutally affects the whole of society, the values and principles of a favored state,” read the statement.

“For these reasons, we call upon all to exhaust every effort to never allow such acts against anyone.”