On Friday, Ahreleh Weisberg printed an article called, “We are not living in fear” in the Israeli newspaper, Yisrael Hayom.
In it he wrote:
On erev Rosh Hashanah, around 150 diners arrived for a festive meal at the kosher restaurant “Gustio,” which the Hendels opened a year ago. They included local residents, Israeli tourists, a woman journalist from Pakistan, and Jewish employees of the embassies of France, South Africa, and Argentina. Despite a wave of persecution against foreigners and immigrants in the city and in spite of the terror attack in Burgas, which occurred two months ago just 600 km away by air, the relaxed atmosphere was not disturbed.
The Chabad House is in the Pasiri neighborhood, known for its nightlife. The bearded [shliach Rabbi] Mendel [Hendel] walks through the streets in a suit, with a black kippah on his head, and there’s no mistaking his identity. Bikers, passersby, and storeowners call out to him. There are no anti-Semitic or racist comments. They ask him how he is, and he answers them warmly.
“We are very worried by the rise of the extreme Right,” says Mendel. “This is not something that can be ignored because the extremists received many votes in the polls. But we don’t feel any change in our everyday lives. Here and there, there is graffiti, graves that are desecrated, and two years ago a shul was burned down in Crete. But anti-Semitism is not part of life here. I have not yet encountered that sort of harassment.”
According to Rabbi Hendel, “The Golden Dawn party claims that immigrants are stealing workplaces from the Greeks, and because of them there is no money. This claim is mostly being made against people coming from Albania, Macedonia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Not that this should make us feel any better, as in the end this will also get to the Jews. But in the meantime, our situation is different. Because of what’s happening between Israel and Turkey and thanks to the closeness between the governments of Israel and Greece, we have actually noticed a huge rise in the number of tourists coming here from Israel.”