OpEd | Antisemitism Today and the Offense Against Memory - World Jewish Congress

OpEd | Antisemitism Today and the Offense Against Memory

Noemi Di Segni
Noemi Di Segni
WJC Member of the Executive, Union of Italian Jewish Communities President
OpEd | Antisemitism Today and the Offense Against Memory

Until a month ago we thought we had completed the systematic picture of all the antisemitism and massacres that had occurred, also putting a certain conceptual order for the work done on the strategy to combat antisemitism in Italy. Of course, we had no presumption of providing answers to the most tiring reasons of our existence but of providing a useful framework for understanding the spread of the phenomenon. The definition provided by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) clearly mentions the delegitimization and demonization of Israel but nothing of what we saw on the 7th can be so linearly classifiable in that scheme. 

Add up all the evil and pain, all the conceptual warnings, the precise threats, and the concrete implementations. The horror heralded by the terror that chants the cry of 'Allah-u-Akbar', who perpetrated a massacre, does not surprise us in its ferocity. But the naivety or superficiality of the proclamations of immediate peace and unilateral appeals for the salvation of Gaza, and the people coming from voices of civil society (but also religious) here in our cities, is truly dismaying and raises the question mark on how to explain antisemitism and the dangers of a blind drift incapable of understanding history and the present that we live in. Just as those who hate and flaunt contempt make us reflect, those who propose to defend antisemitism make us reflect.

Defense is not a menu chosen based on one's preferences (defense of Israel, defense of the dead of the Shoah, defense of the sacredness and of the universal D.O., etc.) as unfortunately happens with many actively involved subjects but it must have the framework of together and complete with what happened and what is tragically happening today. Our fight against antisemitism made of Hasbarà and daily commitment to coexistence must, however, continue undaunted through participation and contributions in every possible forum: The media that interview supporters of terror and irresponsibly spread demonizing news against Israel, school textbooks full of words and geographical maps that reflect the wishes of the authors but not the geographical reality, matches with slogans that abuse the Shoah, laws, and sentences that still superficially codify the concept of antisemitism and incitement to racial hatred. We will continue to live and carry out Jewish activities in our homes and in our communities with greater attention and greater protection thanks to collaboration with the police and we will not hide or disappear into thin air as many would like. 

With the ceremonies and numerous initiatives dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the deportation of Italian Jews, which have begun in recent weeks, that affirmation of the uniqueness of the Shoah on which we have always insisted in the historical analysis and in the way of approaching other tragedies and genocides, he hesitates. Today, no one can draw conclusions of a historiographical nature even in the midst of the pages of the horror that is unfolding, but the first sentences, feelings, and words uttered by the survivors of the massacre recall those terms and concepts. There is a plan for extermination and it must be recognized, a machine of military planning, physical annihilation, and sophisticated finance has unfortunately clearly been set in motion. 

Thus the individual date of deportation, January 27, already on the horizon will no longer be just an imperative memory of what happened in the past narrated in history books and by the few witnesses still alive, no longer a warning for a theoretical future respectful of freedoms so laboriously regained with the launch of the Republican Constitution, the constitution of the United Nations and then the European Community. After last October 7, the horror and the sabers of terrorism, the insults to the memory of those burned and the threats of physical persecution, and the betrayal of the high mission entrusted to international and humanitarian organizations, our words are the appeal to recognize the dark face that already carries out the threat of annihilation in a timely and precise manner. It is channeled into the dark tunnel of anti-Israeli hatred and propagates against every Jew and every safeguard of civilization and the concept of democracy.

Trauma is already part of us since every face and every moment of the day spent next to our little ones or within the family, unit photographs them as an imaginary snapshot of the horror that could or will befall them too. A thought that doesn't leave me and makes me hold my breath. 

In honor of the victims of the massacres and the fallen soldiers and in their memory while alive, in homage to the hostages for whom the heart yearns, to our cry of pain that unites us collectively like eight million Jobs, a choral palpitation of pride is added for being Jewish, being part of a people who rush to help others, to defend life, to hope. “Beyachad nenazeach” (together we will win).

This article was originally written in Italian by SHALOM.