A videotaped speech by Rav Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations, opened the panel. The Rabbi said: “The problem of anti-Semitism does not just concern the Jews. It is actually the sign of great dangers that inevitably end up affecting the whole of society, and with devastating consequences.” Concerns were expressed regarding the hatred towards Jews, that is currently connected to the refusal to recognise the State of Israel. The Rabbi stated: “Large part of anti-Semitism comes from that part of the world.”
According to rav Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, we have to consider three essential points and act accordingly. We have to make sure that the religious leaders of every creed are educated to respect pluralism; secondly, sources of funding must be strictly controlled; finally, a supervisor must be introduced in every community to monitor the danger of radicalism.
Rav Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, noted: “The key point is our relationship with the Scriptures, with what is written in them and with the interpretations that result from them.” He then said that the approach taken by the Catholic Church has been meaningful, in particular from the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate. This has also been the subject of the declaration “Tra Gerusalemme e Roma” (“Between Jerusalem and Rome”), signed by notable members of the Orthodox rabbinate and submitted to Pope Francis last summer.
Ambrogio Spreafico, Chairman of the Commission for ecumenism and dialogue of the Episcopal Conference of Italy, said: “The best way to build a healthy coexistence is to give value to the differences, while always respecting each other.” While imam Izzeddin Elzir, President of the UCOII (Union of the Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy), called for “a global alliance against anti-Semitism, an evil that cannot but hurt us”, and claimed that “globally spread war and terrorism are no help to us in abandoning the prejudices that we have against each other.”
Other speakers during the panel were: historian Dina Porat, who intervened in representation of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust; Cleopas, metropolitan bishop of the Orthodox Church; Farid El Asri, representative of a Moroccan centre for dialogue; and OSCE member Salvatore Martinez.
During the press conference, minister Angelino Alfano said: “Dialogue is essential, because religions must communicate with each other, just like countries, to build a society that can accept every diversity.” Special thanks were given to councillor Alessandro Ruben for his ideas and for helping with the organization.
Translated by Sara Volpe, student at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of Trieste University, intern at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.