Two suspects arrested over arson attack against Corfu synagogue

Apr 22, 2011 2 Comments by

Greek police have arrested two men suspected of carrying out an arson attack against the synagogue on the island of Corfu on the first day of the Passover holiday. The two are allegedly also involved in vandalizing the local Jewish community’s offices.

Unknown assailants broke into the synagogue in the old town of the island’s capital after 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning by forcing open a back door. They made a pile of books and documents in front of the bimah and set them ablaze. “The door was violated and two empty gasoline canisters were found in the synagogue,” said a police officer, adding: “At least 30 books were damaged in the blaze.”

Greek security forces are also examining the connection between the two arrested suspects and terror groups. The search for additional suspects, who most likely entered Greece recently, continues.

Meanwhile, members of the Jewish community of Corfu gathered at their synagogue around the pile of ashen prayer books. “It’s very difficult for us,” said Rabbi Shlomo Naftali, an Israeli rabbi who was flown over to Greece to conduct Passover ceremonies. The burned prayer books were later buried on the Jewish cemetery.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) strongly condemned the arson attack. “This is another shocking reminder for Jews world-wide that our houses of prayer are still targets of extremists, fanatics and terrorists,” said WJC President Ronald S. Lauder. He assured the Greek Jewish community of the WJC’s full support and called on the Greek authorities to quickly bring the perpetrators to justice.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece expressed its repugnance over the attack. In a statement, it said: “Those who burned the Jewish books today will be the future criminals who will turn against the principals of democracy and against the values of our civilized society. The citizens and the society of Corfu have the moral obligation to protect their city’s history and heritage.”

The Greek government also condemned the attack: “The break-in and the destruction of ceremonial books in the Jewish Synagogue of Corfu is an immoral and appalling act,” spokesman George Petalotis said in a statement, adding that anti-Semitism was “incompatible with Greek culture.”

In February last year, police arrested three men suspected of setting fire twice to a medieval synagogue on the island of Crete. The roof of the building and thousands of books and computers were damaged. About 150 Jews live on Corfu. The latest attack has alarmed Greece’s 8,000-strong community, which was decimated after the Nazis deported Jews to the death camps.

For more items like this please visit www.worldjewishcongress.org

World News

About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.

2 Responses to “Two suspects arrested over arson attack against Corfu synagogue”

  1. Prof. Yitzchak Kerem says:

    This despicable event is exactly on the 120th anniversary of the 1891 blood libel in Corfu killing some 22 Jews and the rioting lasted almost 3 weeks. The Great Powers had to send in destroyers (vessels of war) to calm down the population. The Greek government and police were apathetic to the plight of the Jews. The local Jews were resented for their weight in local politics. Corfu had two Jewish mayors prior to this. Little resistance to deporting the Jews in the Holocaust. The local
    population still resents the small Jewish presence. Just as with thearrest of the arsonists in Crete who twice torched the Etz Hachayim synagogue and museum in Chania, the Greek government died supply protection to the Jewish sites and wouldn’t reveal the identities (or organizational affiliations) of the attackers. Greece refuses to outlaw numerous neo-Nazi and extreme rightest and leftist groups. The Jews are looked as foreign entitities in Corfu and Greece even though for example in Corfu the Jews are there since at least the 1300s.
    Furthermore, under a Papandreou administration the government will not crack down on terrorism. It’s not an accident that the Jewish world has boycotted Greece due to its support for terrorism since the PDLP Palestinian terror attacks and highjackings of the early 1970s.

  2. Prof. Yitzchak Kerem says:

    I made a typo:
    The below should read:

    e local
    population still resents the small Jewish presence. Just as with the arrest of the arsonists in Crete who twice torched the Etz Hachayim synagogue and museum in Chania, the Greek government didn’t supply protection to the Jewish sites and wouldn’t reveal the identities (or organizational affiliations) of the attackers. Greece refuses to outlaw numerous neo-Nazi and extreme rightest and leftist groups.

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