Giuseppe Pecoraro: “We are witnessing a disturbing increase in cases of antisemitism in Italy”

The Italian Coordinator Against Antisemitism Giuseppe Pecoraro gave an interview to Il Mattino discussing the increasing prevalence of antisemitism in Italy and the necessary measures to address it.

“In Italy, we are witnessing a disturbing increase in cases of antisemitism. To stem this trend, I believe a change is needed, starting with the modification of Article 604 of the penal code, no longer sufficient to punish illicit behaviors” said Pecoraro.

“The situation is complex, with various aspects to consider. One concerns the protection of those currently threatened by these racist surges. The measures taken at the direction of the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior are more than adequate. However, there is still a lack of suitable legal protection. Therefore, I intend to propose to the government a modification of the penal code, starting with the integration and adoption, in the relevant norm, of the definition of antisemitism provided by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.”

“I have informally contacted the Ministry of Justice. This is a path that cannot be realized in this particular moment, amid an ongoing war. However, once this crisis phase is over, I believe the time will be ripe to insert the following principle into the code: ‘Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews that can be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Manifestations of verbal and physical anti-Semitism are directed towards Jews or non-Jews, their properties, Jewish community institutions, and buildings used for worship.’ Our goal is to bring clarity to the criminal norm regarding anti-Semitism, making it more accessible for investigators and those called to judge.”

“As a prefect, from my privileged observatory, what concerns me the most is the lack of cultural and historical foundations among those who defame and target Jews. One should understand the history before making hasty statements or taking sides against Israel. All attempts by Israeli prime ministers, with their peace offers to the Palestinian counterpart, failed not due to the fault of the Jerusalem government. Despite Camp David and Oslo, the situation has never progressed towards a serious and real prospect of peace for the two peoples.”

“Of course, today is even more challenging after the horrors unleashed by Hamas against Israeli civilians. We all hope for the establishment of a Palestinian state capable of living in peace with Israel. The atrocities committed with the massacres of civilians and the kidnapping of hostages have taken a further step back on the path to peace. But returning to your question, what else concerns me, there is something else.”

“What is it?”

“The bad teachers.”

“To whom are you referring, prefect?”

“Certain episodes we have recorded in universities, followed by an appeal by over three thousand professors to boycott Israeli research institutions, closely resemble what happened during the terrorism period in Italy in the years of lead when those bad teachers climbed certain chairs. Being Neapolitan, there is something particular that has struck me the most in recent days regarding declared anti-Semitism in Naples.”

“I found the occupation of the Università Orientale decidedly negative, with a deplorable attitude from students and professors. Or rather, to be even clearer: aside from the clear distancing by Rector Tottoli, who condemned the act, the silence of the faculty followed the students’ occupation. To that episode, others have been added, starting with the occupation of Liceo Vico.”

“And what has saddened you the most?”

“In general, the lack of attention and, I would say, almost total estrangement of public opinion. From what I have seen, no one remembered the sufferings and the very high price already paid in the past in cities like Naples and Rome by Jewish communities. Communities that were forced to endure so much suffering in indifference. Allow me to make another reflection about Naples on this matter.”


“No one has remembered in all these years a great Neapolitan Jew: Giorgio Ascarelli, who, besides being the entrepreneur who founded Calcio Napoli, was also a great and generous philanthropist capable of doing so much for the city and for Neapolitans. Now I know that, finally, there is an association taking care to recover and honor his memory, including initiatives to restore the Jewish cemetery where he is buried. But Ascarelli deserved the support of the entire city and its institutions. And still today, we await a street or square to be named after him.”

“Staying on the sports side: what do you think of the fact that, after the massacres of October 7, no football institution has had the sensitivity to honor the memory of those innocent dead with a minute of silence in the stadiums?”

“I would have expected that minute of reflection for the innocent victims and for the civilians taken hostage. It did not happen, and thus a good opportunity was lost. I was a federal prosecutor for the FIGC, and I remember that once we examined the case of a football match preceded by a minute of silence to honor the death of a well-known convicted top fan. Thinking about the missed opportunity for the Israelis killed by terrorists, I am left speechless.”


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