This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of October, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.
Date of publication: 30 September 2019
Media outlet: Athens Magazine, an online lifestyle magazine.
Headline: “This is how Greece‘s debt was created!: A look back.”
Description of the antisemitic content: This article, which appeared on the online lifestyle website Athens Magazine, claims to explore how Greek debt has accumulated from 1974 to today. The author takes the reader through a supposed timeline of events which led to the debt levels which Greece faces today. Throughout the article the author refers to the involved banks as ‘Jewish banks.’ Furthermore, the article builds on a well-established conspiracy theory in Greece that former Prime Minister Kostantinos Simitisis is of Jewish origin and promotes Jewish interests based on his name. The author claims that Simitis’ original name is Aaron Avouri (Ααρόν Αβουρί). Similar allegations are made about former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and his son George, also served as PM. Simitis and Andreas Papandreou appear in the article’s accompanying photo. Athens Magazine has a large following online: their Facebook page has over 270,000 likes and 239,000 followers.
Myth debunked: This article displays blatant antisemitism, promoting dangerous antisemitic theories and furthering well-established conspiracy theories. Firstly, the author refers to the banks involved as ‘Jewish banks’, which is in line with the much-used antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people control the banks, and therefore control the world. It is a conspiracy theory that has been around for more than 200 years and was used heavily in Nazi Germany. In the context of this article, the supposed religion of the bank’s owners has no relevance to the piece, and therefore stating (on numerous occasions without any evidence) that ‘Jewish banks’ are to blame for Greece’s debt is clear antisemitism. Furthermore, conspiring to say that former PM’s who played a role in the accumulation of Greece’s debt are in fact ‘secretly Jewish’ and implying they only have the interests of Jewish people in mind is not only extremely hateful but also spreads disinformation.
This disinformation spreading, specific to the PM’s mentioned here, is not new in Greece. In a Jewish "Control" of the Federal Reserve: A Classic Anti-Semitic Myth in December 2018, populist news site and daily, Eleftheri Ora spread similar theories. On their front page, they printed photographs of 14 well-known Greek politicians, including the former President of Greece Karolos Papoulias and six former Prime Ministers, alleging that they all have Jewish origins and that they work to implement “secret policies” to promote “Jewish interests”. To prove their Jewishness, the media outlet referred to what it claims as the politicians’ original names which have been changed, by themselves or their families, to hide their origins. To see this narrative again on a platform with a large reach like Athens Magazine is extremely troubling. It shows that antisemitism is still very much present in Greece, and that certain news platforms have no problem spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories.
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