Yad Vashem remembers the horrors of the Shoah, but also the courage of those who opposed it.
It reminds us of our duty to remember, to fight indifference and to counter anti-Semitism.
Italy is strongly committed to defending human dignity, to rejecting all forms of hatred and discrimination and to pursuing peace.
May the silence of this place help us to address the violence of our time.
All authorities present here today,
Dear members of the Italian community,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you today at the Italian Temple in Jerusalem.
This Temple has been a religious, cultural and social point of reference for Italians in Israel for the last sixty years.
As I have just learned, it was originally built in Conegliano Veneto back in the 18th century, and was then dismantled, transported and rebuilt here in Jerusalem.
Today, it continues to be a piece of Italy in Israel, just as you all are.
Development of the Italian Jewish community in Israel is above all linked to the terrible events during the twenty years of fascism, in particular the introduction of the racial laws in 1938, which were a forerunner to the Holocaust.
However, the horrors of Nazi-Fascism did not tarnish the spirit of the ancient Jewish diaspora in Italy, which, still today, is full of energy, spirit and tradition. Since the end of the Second World War, the bonds between our communities have become stronger, in all fields:
in research, thanks to both university collaboration and the work of individuals such as Giulio Racah, who made a significant contribution to the development of physics here in Israel;
in economics, thanks to the thriving businesses of Italian emigrants in Israel and of Israelis in Italy;
in the field of culture, from cinema to literature, from architecture to design.
Italy’s institutions and civil society have been active in the fight against anti-Semitism for many years, at both national and international level.
The Government is committed to strengthening Shoah remembrance and countering all forms of discrimination against Jewish people.
We are doing this through our National Strategy, coordinated by Professor Santerini, and Special Commission chaired by Senator Segre.
We have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism in order to tackle prejudice and stereotypes – from schools to the public administration.
We wish to promote awareness of Jewish culture in Italian museums and cultivate dialogue between religions and faiths in order to foster mutual understanding.
In this regard, the PhD in Jewish Studies at Bologna University, which had been inactive for a very long time, has now resumed.
These efforts are essential to safeguard human dignity, fight ignorance and overcome indifference.
At times of crisis, of uncertainty, of war – as we are experiencing at the moment – it is even more important to stand firm against the political use of hatred.
We must foster tolerance, mutual respect and love for our neighbours: these are the true ingredients for lasting peace.
Your community’s story is an example to be looked upon with pride.