Meanwhile, a murky wave of anti-Israel zeal is also growing at an alarming rate in Italy. “The old anti-Jewish libels are now aimed at the State of Israel”, says Stefano Gatti, one of the top researchers at the Center for Documentation in Milan.
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Pro-Palestinian activists are threatening to “ignite” Milan, the financial capital of Italy where an Israeli exhibit is going displayed in a central square. Meanwhile, the city of Turin hosted a “cultural festival” where the image of Shimon Peres was used as a shoe-throwing target. For one euro, Italian students had the chance to hit the face of Israel’s president, who was fitted with a Nazi-style Jewish nose.
An Israeli student at the University of Genoa has been harassed and threatened with death by Arab students. Muslim students shouted at him “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and “Itbach el Yahud” (slaughter the Jews.) Another Israeli student at the University of Turin, Amit Peer, confessed that “the Jews here are hiding their own identity because they risk becoming a target.”
Meanwhile, demonization of the Jews is spreading in the liberal media. Leftist newspaper “Il Manifesto” published a caricature of a Jewish candidate for parliament, Fiamma Nirenstein, with Fascist insignia, a campaign button and a Star of David. The cartoon “Electoral Monsters” was dubbed “Fiamma Frankenstein.”
L’Unità, the official newspaper of the leftist Democratic Party, published an interview with anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes, where she claimed that Israel is a world leader in organ trafficking. The accusation resembled that of the Middle Ages blood libel whereby Jews were accused of kidnapping Christian and Muslim children before Passover in order to murder them and use their blood for matza.
Lists of boycotted Israeli products
Ucoii, the largest Islamic organization in Italy, published an ad in many mainstream newspapers entitled “Nazi Bloodshed Yesterday, Israeli Bloodshed Today.” An Italian court ruled that the Nazification of Israel came under “freedom of expression” and was not a case of incitement to hatred.
In 2009, Italy sent the largest European delegation of artists to an Iranian cartoonist festival on the Holocaust. The cartoons presented the Holocaust as an invention of Jews with hooked noses typical of Nazi propaganda.
Pisa, Rome and Bologna are among the most prestigious Italian universities that annually host anti-Zionist conferences and pro-Intifada speakers. Israeli attaché Shai Cohen was prevented from speaking at Pisa University after a violent attack by students, who called out “butcher, fascist, assassin.” The Israeli ambassador, Ehud Gol, fled Florence University after a similar “protest.”
Meanwhile, the Riccione city council sponsored a meeting against “the militarism of Israel,” explaining that “Israeli governments don’t represent the Jewish people.” The Coop and Conad, two of the largest supermarket chains in Italy, for some weeks last year removed Israeli products from their shelves in the name of a boycott of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. Lists of boycotted Israeli products have been launched also by local Christian communities and leftist groups, targeting L’Oreal, Ahava and other firms.
Flaica, a trade union with 8,000 members working in large-scale retail, promoted the boycott of “all Rome shops managed by Jews” and drew up lists of Jewish-owned shops to be avoided, because of “what is happening in Gaza.” In Rome, a new pro-Hamas Freedom Flotilla has just been presented in the official buildings of the Professional Order of the Journalists, a body financed by the Italian government. Some members of Turkish terror group IHH were also on hand.
Anti-Semitism becoming fashionable
The Foreign Press Association in Rome, a state-funded institution, suspended two journalists, both Jews: Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent Menachem Gantz and French journalist Ariel Dumont. Iranian journalist Masoumi Nejad, who has been arrested for a arms trading involving Italy and Iran, has never been expelled by the association.
Anti-Semitism is becoming fashionable also among the “chattering classes”, intellectuals and academicians. Actress Sabina Guzzanti attacked the “Jewish race” in a primetime television program. Literary guru Alberto Asor Rosa wrote in a book on the transformation of the Jews from “a persecuted race” to “a warrior persecutor race.” Renowned leftist philosopher Gianni Vattimo declared that he had “re-evaluated” “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and now felt they largely reflect the truth about the Jews.
The slandering of Israel is also growing among the most important Catholic journalists. Vittorio Messori, who conducted the first book-length interview with Pope John Paul II, recently wrote an editorial for the Italian daily “Il Corriere della sera” where he stated: “All governments of all Muslim nations are under the tsunami of the violent intrusion of Zionism that has come to put its capital in Jerusalem.”
The growing anti-Semitism is also evident by the security around the largest synagogue in Rome, one of the oldest in the world. The Jewish temple looks like a military outpost: Private guards everywhere, metal detectors and policemen at every corner. The Jewish school looks like a “sterilized area” protected by policemen, bodyguards and cameras. All school windows are plumbed with iron grates. I saw the same in the Jewish homes of Hebron and in the schools of Sderot.
Pro-Palestinian groups just recently marched into the ghetto, shouting “Fascist” and “Assassins” to the Jews, some of them Holocaust survivors. It was here, on 16 October 1943, that 1,200 Jews were deported to Auschwitz; none of the 200 Jewish children came back home. It was here, on 9 October 1982, that an Arab terrorist opened fire on Jews; a two-year old baby, Stefano Taché, became the first Italian victim of anti-Jewish violence since the war.
Not far from the ghetto, in the lower part of the Titus Gate, named after the Roman emperor who destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem, someone wrote in Hebrew: “Am Yisrael Chai.” The people of Israel not only had not been destroyed, but defiantly remained alive. It's comforting to know that there is still someone with the courage to write it.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism
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