[The good news, of course, is that the Italian minister of higher education has denounced the list. In his statement he recalled the 1938 law which barred Jews from teaching at Italian universities.]
Donatella Ester Di Cesare is a professor of philosophy at Università di Roma "Sapienza." Last semester she was a visiting professor at Penn State University. For more on her work and publications you can visit her bi-lingual website www.donadice.com
She asks for a ' word" or "gesture" of solidarity. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org
A LETTER FROM ITALY
Dear students, dear colleagues, dear friends,
Many of you, in Italy and abroad, might already know that yesterday in a neo-Nazi blog, appeared on the Web site “il cannocchiale”, has been published a list of Jewish professors labelled as “Jewish lobby” that would monopolize Italian universities. The names in the list are about 160 (some are not Jews). The Web site has been shut down yesterday by the Italian Postal Police under initiative of the Minister of Interior Amado. At the same time, the Minister of University and Research has self-represented.
The professors stigmatized in the list are accused of being Jews, of being Zionists, of being philo-Israeli, of living in Italy while obeying, instead, to a “sovranational community”, namely Israel, and hence of corrupting young people. The list was surrounded by slogans inciting to boycott Israel, but also to “boycott the Jewish community”. The distance is after all short.
I would have never thought to see my name in a list like that, or rather I would have never imagined to see a suchlike list in my life, and let alone in Italy. For a while I thought I was reading a report of the 30’s. But next to mine there were many other names, of friends and of colleagues I know.
Unfortunately the political and cultural climate in Italy has already degenerated quite a long time ago. For those who live abroad this is hardly presumable. All that went with the controversies around the Turin International Book Fair, around the “boycott of Israel”, invited to take part in it on the occasion of the anniversary of the foundation of the state of Israel, is a clear sign.
The new anti-Semitism comes from afar but, precisely, is rather new. It nourishes itself on the Middle East Conflict, it sternly profits from the tragedy of two peoples. Who goes along with the boycott of Israel has to take his responsibilities, has to be conscious of the effects it produces.
The hate once directed against Jews is now addressed against the state of Israel, which has become the pariah state, the symbol of any evil in the world. The Jews, “celebrated” as victims on the Remembrance Day, become the day after the Israeli “executioners”.
The accusations addressed against the Jewish professors in the neo-Nazi site are eloquent.
The recent positions of the Catholic Church, which respond in no way to the ideas and to the feelings of the Catholics, and, above all, the last declarations of Pope Benedict XVI, his reactionary initiatives (for instance the one to restore the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews) do not help the dialogged at all.
On the contrary, they have contributed, and still contribute, to creatin rg a climate of a useless and harmful hostility and contraposition.
It is not even a chance that the ones to be addressed are university professors – in particular those from Università di Roma "Sapienza." The aggression towards intellectuals is the first sign of the savagery.
We ask your solidarity. A word, a gesture could be important. We have learned it from history. I send you this letter to let you know so that you can inform friends and colleagues.