ITF Chair’s Statement regarding recent arson attacks on the Etz Hayyim synagogue, Crete

The ITF strongly condemns the recent arson attacks, expressing the dire need to counter Holocaust denial, distortion, and violent acts based on discrimination.

As the Chair of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (formerly ITF, now IHRA), I was shocked and outraged to hear of two recent arson attacks against the historic Etz Hayyim synagogue in Hania, Crete.

The synagogue was first attacked on 6 January and then again on 16 January. Numerous books and archives were destroyed and substantial damage was incurred to the building. Particularly disturbing was the evidence, retrieved after the first attack, of antisemitic references to the Holocaust.

In addition to being the only functioning synagogue on the Greek island of Crete, Etz Hayyim also serves a crucial role as a memorial and museum, preserving the knowledge and history of Crete’s Jewish community all but decimated in the Holocaust. As Chair of the ITF, I condemn these attacks and encourage the Greek authorities to do everything possible to protect Greek synagogues and prevent such instances of antisemitic violence.