A highly-placed Greek government source refuted the results of a recent opinion poll which found anti-Semitism widespread among the Greek public.
In the unusual briefing, the source said there is no anti-Semitism in Greece, there never was and he is almost sure there never will be.
The comments came about a month after the publication of a public opinion poll conducted by the Greek opinion research firm, Eurodim, that found among other beliefs that 55 percent of the respondents accepted a common anti-Semitic notion that Jews control the political and economic activity in Europe and America.
Forty-one percent of the respondents perceived the existence of widespread anti-Semitism in Greece. But the government source criticized the survey of 420 Athenians, saying it was not representative of some four million residents of that city, about 35 percent of the Greek population.
The source held a special briefing on the poll results to explain the government’s side of the issue. Although the poll said nothing about governmental anti-Semitism, the government apparently attempted to defend the public against these allegations.
The source quoted from a secret U.S. Embassy report in Athens addressed to the State Department after World War II, that singled out Greeks as one of the few European peoples that not only helped its Jews but sheltered them at the risk of being killed if discovered.
Greece has also passed a law that makes racism and anti-Semitism a criminal act, the source pointed out. The source acknowledged that there were anti-Semitic attacks in Greece during the 1982 Lebanon war but said the activities were more insulting than dangerous.
According to the official, the government realized that the public perceived its anti-Israel policy during the war as anti-Semitism.
At the time, Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou called a meeting with Greek Jewish leaders and made a strong statement saying Jews are as Greek as anyone else.
Papandreou also met World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman and former Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ephraim Evron in a show of good will.
The source said the government decided to hold this most recent session to help improve relations with Israel and diminish the effects of negative press reports which are not true.