ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — The Greek Jewish community protested after one of Greece’s main newspapers published a caricature of a former finance minister as a “Jewish moneylender.”
The image, which shows Yanis Varoufakis wearing a giant black skullcap and hunched over a ledger counting bags and coins of gold, was published Friday in Ta Nea, one of the country’s largest newspapers and usually associated with the center-left.
“We consider the use of religious racist stereotypes to portray current events as not only unacceptable and despicable, but especially dangerous, as it spreads religious hatred and perpetuates prejudices that should not have a place in today’s society,” said a letter to the editor from the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece.
The cartoon was published after Varoufakis, the outspoken former far-left finance minister, revealed he had recently been paid thousands of euros for interviews and speaking fees. It was based on the Jewish moneylender character Shylock in the Shakespeare play “Merchant of Venice”; shylock has become a slur for a loan shark. Varoufakis is not Jewish.
Anti-Semitic stereotypes are widespread in Greek public and political discourse. A recent Anti-Defamation League survey showed that Greece has Europe’s highest rate of anti-Semitic attitudes, with 69 percent of Greeks espousing anti-Semitic views.
Varoufakis, for his part, seemed to blame the troika of Greece’s international creditors — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, tweeting: “Troika-inspired propaganda/policies are antisemitism’s/antihumanism’s best mates. Evidence from mainstream Gk paper.”