How the Memory of the Holocaust is Abused in Italy
“In January 2012, Ricardo Pacifici, President of the Rome Jewish Community said that every year around National Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th, ‘we witness outrages and provocations that we cannot tolerate anymore. We will respond in a decisive way.’
Pacifici reacted after vandals had removed newly placed stumbling stone memorials. These are cobblestones with brass tops bearing the names of Holocaust victims. The stones are placed outside of buildings where those commemorated lived.
Angelo Pezzana is an Italian journalist. In 2001, he founded the websitewww.informazionecorretta.com. This site, which has many thousands of subscribers and viewers has as its main purpose to provide on a daily basis a critical analysis of Italian media. It is also a leading source of information in Italy about political issues concerning Israel and anti-Semitism.
Pezzana says: “On July 20, 2000, the Italian Parliament voted in Law 211 with an explicit text: ‘The Italian Republic recognizes the 27th of January – the date of the tearing down of the gates of Auschwitz – as Day of Remembrance, for the race laws, the Italian persecution of Jewish citizens, the Italians who had been deported, imprisoned or murdered, as well as those who in different organizations had opposed the extermination project and at the risk of their own lives, saved other lives and protected the persecuted.’
“The law’s text is clear. It is important that it also includes the responsibility of the Italian fascist collaborators. While the intentions of the Italian Parliament were good – to keep the memory alive – some results were negative as Pacifici’s statement indicates.
“The Shoah was already remembered publicly many years before this law was enacted, newspapers published testimonies of survivors, TV stations showed movies and pertinent documentaries were prepared which contained original photographs from archives. In schools, texts from books of famous writers such as Primo Levi were read. Teachers discussed their content with their students. The authors were frequently invited to speak to the students.
“At that time, remembrance was still a respectful matter. Those who hated Israel did not dare to demonstrate this publicly toward those who had resurrected the Jewish state. These people even participated in the remembrance of murdered Jews, as they were afraid to be classified as anti-Semites.
“Marking the 27th of January as a day of remembrance has turned it into a national event where everyone can express his opinion, however miserable. The latter happens mostly in schools. Meetings are held with hundreds of students present where extreme leftist professors are invited to speak. They present the Shoah in a distorted way. This leads thereafter to a public debate usually linking the crimes of the Nazis to Israeli policies.
“These hate preachers are so verbally violent that moderates can not state their opinions. I have participated in a number of these meetings. The horrific past was quickly forgotten in order to express hatred of Israel. The most recurrent sentence was, ‘Israel is doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews.’
“These are not isolated events. They are the result of decades of propaganda which come out of the environments of left wing politics, trade unions and churches. This does not only concern the dominant Catholic Church, but also Protestants of various types. Churches very often host meetings with pro-Palestinian speakers. During these meetings, Israel is judged without being defended. Those attending these propaganda gatherings have no proper knowledge of the facts and are willing to accept whatever is stated. This the more so as priests are present who are in total agreement with whatever is being said.
“At higher intellectual venues like universities for instance, anti-Israel Israelis are invited to speak. This is a dirty, yet effective way to delegitimize Israel. Shlomo Sand, a history professor at Tel Aviv University, visited Italy in 2011. His book, The Invention of the Jewish People, has been translated into many languages. Sand claims that the Jewish people never existed. All this is part of the political war against Israel. It employs subtle techniques and thus seems even more convincing.
“Through these manipulations the Shoah has become an effective tool against Israel. Using the excuse of the memory of 6 million murdered Jews, an effort is made to obtain the same results with respect to 6 million living Jews.
The intention of the Italian Parliament was radically different, yet Law 211 is providing an unexpected platform for all those who seek in any way possible to defame the image of the State of Israel.”