New Guidelines on combatting antisemitism in schools in Italy

New Guidelines on combating antisemitism in schools in Italy have been presented to the Italian Minister of Public Education, Patrizio Bianchi.

“I am grateful to the minister for his sensitivity, on these issues the harmony has been great”, said Prof. Milena Santerini, Italy ‘s national coordinator for the fight against antisemitism at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

“It is also significant that the new phase of the strategy presented to the government in recent months started in schools, an area where future is most thought about and built”, said Mr. Bianchi, a strong advocate of the initiative.

The Guidelines are a concerted effort to help teachers in Italy “to face the old and new prejudices that weaken coexistence at school and in society”.

Elaborated with the contribution of a group of experts, the guidelines open with a reference to the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and with an overview of the different forms of contemporary antisemitism from traditional Jew-hatred to neo-Nazi and neo-fascist hatred, from Holocaust denial to Israel-related antisemitism.

The creation of study paths that make Jewish culture and history known in their entirety is hoped for. Generally neglected, the guidelines point out, is “the social and cultural contribution given over time by Jews in Europe, their living conditions, the presence and intertwining of populations in the various regions of Italy”.

The objective of the guidelines is clear: the fight against antisemitism concerns the community as a whole, without any exception. Therefore, avoiding the action is not possible. “Due to its historical, political, religious, and cultural specificities for other forms of discrimination, and for that unicum that is the Shoah, it represents an essential challenge in the general interest”, emphasised Professor Santerini in her introductory text. It is a challenge to be faced by involving “all members of the school community: pupils and students, teachers, families, staff, and managers”.

Minister Bianchi agreed: “There is a strong need to take up the challenge of memory and knowledge of the Holocaust”. In this perspective, he added, the guidelines are candidates to be “an important step for a common commitment, a new teaching tool aimed above all at the world of teachers and students”. It is an initiative born and developed with the aim of “cultivating young people awareness so that on the theme of antisemitism the whole society would assimilate the values that the Holocaust invites us not to forget: peace, equality of all human beings, and respect for the dignity of persons and the values of civil coexistence”.

The presentation of the guidelines was also addressed by the President of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) Noemi Di Segni, the head of the Department for the education and training system Stefano Versari, the director of ODIHR Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – OSCE Matteo Mecacci, the head of the Italian delegation to IHRA Luigi Maccotta, Melissa Sonnino of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe and of the director of the Directorate for Students, Inclusion and School Guidance Antimo Ponticiello.


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