Italian Jews condemn right-wing parties for not backing anti-Semitism committee
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Italian Jews condemn right-wing parties for not backing anti-Semitism committee

Vatican also denounces Berlusconi’s party and 2 others for abstaining in vote; idea to form committee came from Holocaust survivor who gets daily online hate

Italian former prime minister and leader of 'Forza Italia' party Silvio Berlusconi votes in a polling station in Milan, March 4, 2018. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)
Italian former prime minister and leader of 'Forza Italia' party Silvio Berlusconi votes in a polling station in Milan, March 4, 2018. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)

The Jewish community of Rome on Thursday denounced right-wing Italian parties for refusing to support forming a parliamentary committee to combat hate, racism and anti-Semitism.

The commission was pushed by Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre, 89, a senator for life, who said this week that haters post an average of 200 social media messages against her every day.

The motion passed, supported by the ruling 5-Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party. However, the right-wing League, Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia parties all abstained, claiming it was politically biased, the Reuters news agency reported.

“The abstention of some parties is a bit dismaying. It’s a decision that we consider wrong and dangerous,” the president of Rome’s Jewish community, Ruth Dureghello, was quoted as saying after the vote.

Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre, file (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The Vatican’s No. 2, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, told reporters: “I am worried, in the sense that on some things like fundamental values we should all be united. There is a danger that all this gets politicized. We need to break clear of this.”

The League party said Segre’s motion was “ambiguous,” according to the report, since it listed nationalism and ethnocentricity as possible motives for racial hatred.

“By doing that you are outlawing Brothers of Italy. This is not a commission on anti-Semitism, as they want you believe, but rather a commission aimed at political censorship,” party senator Giovanbattista Fazzolari was quoted as saying.

Forza Italia, headed by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, is the most moderate of the three right-wing parties. Some of its members have publicly criticized the decision to abstain in the vote, including Mara Carfagna, seen as a possible future party leader.

“We are betraying our values and changing our skin. We are being dragged along without defending our identity,” she said of Berlusconi’s recent moves to align the party further with the League.

Segre and her family went into hiding after racist laws discriminating against Jews were introduced in 1938. They were arrested in 1943, and put onto trains departing from Milan toward Nazi-run deportation camps.

Only 25 of 775 Italian children survived the Nazi death camps.

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