NEWS UCEI: “Universities should adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism”

By Pagine Ebraiche staff

“If we want to invest in new generations, universities should embrace programmes, initiatives and a code of conduct that orient knowledge and educate people so that tomorrow they can participate in the civil life of this country, affirming its constitutional principles and understanding that the freedom they enjoy today was the reason for the fight against Nazi-fascism, which was a hard experience for the young people of the past.” This is what UCEI President Noemi Di Segni wrote in a message addressed to Francesco Frati, Dean of the University of Siena, and for information to Gaetano Manfredi, president of the Board of Deans of Italian Universities, and to the Minister for Education, University and Research Lorenzo Fioramonti.

Her intervention was made necessary by some pro-Nazi utterances made by Professor Emanuele Castrucci, lecturer at the University of Siena, against whom the dean in person, after an early hesitation, has taken steps to report him to the authorities and ask the disciplinary board of the university to suspend him and consequently remove him from his position.

The decision, albeit “quick, responsible, and suited to give a sense of awareness and historical and moral discipline in students and teachers’ conscience”, is not enough “to limit the phenomenon we are all living, everyone and everywhere, and not just observing from a distance”. For this reason, as already said in Pisa in 2018, when the Italian academic world presented its solemn apologies for the promulgation of the Racial Laws 80 years before, an appeal has been launched to adopt the definition of antisemitism given by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and thus “complement the code of conduct”.

“The Holocaust, Resistance, Fascism and world destruction are historical truths on which Italy was rebuilt after the war” said UCEI President in her message. Historical denial can’t benefit “of the sacred principles of freedom of thought and speech, particularly when distortion becomes the very object of academic education”. The appeal has been extended to the Board of Deans and to the Italian Government “for them to appoint a referent for the fight against antisemitism” and to integrate the definition “revising criminal legislation to address the numerous episodes of promotion of Fascism”.

Among the suggestions was also the creation of specific programmes, already in pre-school, meant to “stress the urgency of the issue and the necessity to act”.

This should happen not only to defend Italian Jews, who have lived in this country for more than two thousand years, “but for the whole Italian community”.

Translated by Rachele Ferin and revised by Mattia Stefani, 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.