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Panos Kammenos

The Greek nationalist leader who this week joined the country’s new coalition government was last month criticised for peddling anti-Semitic lies about Jews not paying tax.

In a much-criticised interview in December, Panos Kammenos, who heads the anti-bailout Independent Greeks party, said Jews, Muslims and Buddhists were “not taxed” in the austerity-hit Mediterranean country, whereas the Greek Orthodox Church was.

The Board of Jewish Communities in Greece hit out at the time, calling for Kammenos to apologise for what it said was a “seriously anti-Semitic act”.

Kammenos and his right-wing Independent Greeks party will join a coalition government dominated by left-wing Syriza, with both opposed to the huge debt obligations imposed on the country by international lenders following recent bailouts. 

Most analysts have focused on Golden Dawn, an extreme Nazi-inspired group. It is now parliament’s third biggest party, despite the party leader and most MPs being behind bars, facing charges of participating in a criminal organisation.

Syriza, with a huge majority, has not been immune to cries of anti-Semitism, after a candidate last year when he said a new public service broadcaster had Jewish roots and likened the then-prime minister’s visit to a synagogue to a destabilising act.

Theodoros Karypidis, who was running for Governor of Western Macedonia, was dropped by the party days later, after American Jewish groups labelled his comments as a “vile, outrageous expression of anti-Semitism”.