Italian Word of the Week ANTISEMITISMO

italicsBy Daniela Gross

Unfortunately “antisemitismo”, so similar to the English term “anti-Semitism”, is still a very alive word and, what is worse, a current mental habit: in Italy as in the rest of Europe. According to a recent survey commissioned by Anti-Defamation League about the attitudes toward Jews around the world, 20% of Italians hold traditionally anti-Semitic stereotypes. Maybe not so bad, in front of the incredible scores of Greece (69%), Hungary (41%) or France (37%). But incredibly worrying, in absolute terms and compared to the reality of Northern European countries such as Denmark or Sweden (9% and 4%) or to the U.S. (here 9 per cent of those surveyed revealed anti-Semitic views).
An Italian Jew has to cope, since the childhood, with behaviors and statements inspired by clichés or prejudice and also the public speech often reflects that kind of attitudes. The Observatory on Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Prejudice in Italy, in 2013 registered about fifty episodes of anti-Semitism, not more than in the precedent three years. They consist mainly in offensive graffiti, email or other communications to Jewish institutions or leaders, public declarations, insulting chants and banners during soccer games (the extremism in the stadiums is a disturbing and increasing phenomenon). And in this frame the internet plays, in Italy like over the world, an impressive role in spreading hatred words.
Therefore the dramatic events in Brussels renewed fears and concerns never dead. And reminded us that even 70 years after the D-Day the world is not free of anti-Semitism.