Paris, 28 December 2020
Mr. Prime Minister,
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is an international Jewish human rights NGO. Founded in Los Angeles in 1977, the Centre has a constituency of over 400,000 members. It applies the lessons of the Holocaust to fight antisemitism and other contemporary forms of discrimination and hate. The Centre is accredited as an NGO at the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) and the Council of Europe.
Our members around the world were deeply moved by your message to mark the centenary of the1920 San Remo Conference. The Jewish State was born in San Remo, “where the leading world powers of the time accepted the principle of a home for the Jews in the land of Israel.”
In January 2020, the Italian Government “adopted the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) Definition of Antisemitism.” Italy has complied with the Alliance’s recommendation to establish a National Coordinator, Prof. Milena Santerini, who has recently reiterated the need to foster the adoption of the Definition in all administration and business sectors. She also suggests concrete changes to the criminal code and a major implementation of hate crime monitoring within ministries and institutions.
Mr. Prime Minister, the Definition of antisemitism is a major educational tool in identifying Jew-hatred, as a paradigm for other forms of discrimination. It has been endorsed by a growing number of States, international organizations – such as the European Union and the Council of Europe, both of which Italy is a member-State –, universities, football clubs and sport federations and a growing group of NGOs, in Europe and worldwide.
Nevertheless, Wiesenthal Centre Italian members have brought to our attention – in some national newspapers and social media – of both extreme right and far left political figures expressing their opposition towards the IHRA Definition, in particular their selective bias with its set of examples of antisemitism. This includes, on the one hand, Holocaust denial, and on the other, “anti-Zionism.” The latter denotes a camouflage for antisemitism: to deny the Jewish people its sovereign right to self-determination is, in itself, tantamount to antisemitism.
The IHRA Definition is not a Pandemic vaccine to be administered with a booster. It is an integral and indivisible body. Likewise, the language of the Alliance is not ambiguous, but precise. The Definition is not passively “accepted,” but actively “adopted” and thus enforced through legislation and policies.
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the adoption by Italy of the IHRA Definition, we count on you, Mr. Prime Minister, to resist the pressure from extremists who wish to weaken Italy’s standing in Europe and among the world democracies. From the San Remo Conference to the adoption of the IHRA Definition in its entirety, Italy is following a coherent path of truth and justice.
Wishing Italy a prompt recovery from this year's Pandemic, that has deeply affected society in so many ways.
Dr. Shimon Samuels
Director for International Relations
Simon Wiesenthal Centre
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Please contact us if you are a witness or victim of antisemitism or other forms of discrimination on social media.
“Hate is a boomerang, which comes back for everyone and spares no one, neither the weak nor the powerful.” Simon Wiesenthal, 1908-2005 (quote from his book “Justice Not Vengeance”)