ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — Greece’s main opposition party dropped a candidate for local elections following his anti-Jewish rant on Facebook.
The left-wing Syriza party said that after weighing “all the facts,” Theodoros Karypidis would no longer be its candidate for governor of Western Macedonia in upcoming local elections.
A new candidate will be chosen soon, said the terse statement released Monday from the party’s political secretariat. It did not include a condemnation of Karypidis’ statements.
Syriza faced widespread condemnation in Greece and from Jewish groups for selecting Karypidis, who had accused Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of being at the head at the head of a Jewish plot to visit “a new Hanukkah against the Greeks.”
The Greek Jewish community welcomed Syriza’s decision to drop Karypidis.
“With this decision, Syriza launches a strong and clear message towards the Greek society that anti-Semitism is to be condemned as a phenomenon of racism and bigotry that breeds hatred against Jews,” said a statement from the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece.
At the heart of Karypidis’ theory was a move last year by Samaras to shut the allegedly corrupt Hellenic Broadcasting Authority and replace it with the New Hellenic Radio and Television, known by its Greek acronym NERIT. According to Karypidis, NERIT is derived from the Hebrew word for candle, “ner,” which he links to the festival of Hanukkah.
“Samaras is lighting the candles in the seven branched candelabra of the Jews and lighting Greece on fire after his visit to the Thessaloniki Synagogue,” Karypidis wrote last week. “He is organizing a new Hanukkah against the Greeks.”
Samaras visited the synagogue as part of the commemorations marking the destruction of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki by the Nazis.
Syriza, the second-largest party in Greece, has a clear anti-Israel stance, and several of its members took part in the flotilla to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.