In the wake of the pandemic, beware of hatred
Against hatred and antisemitism, a strategy needs to be adopted – sporadic interventions are not enough. Just like in chess, you need to have a clear goal, said the long-time president of the Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky. “It is necessary to work on multiple levels of society and to have a clear outline of antisemitism”. If you do not know who is in front of you, you don’t know how to fight them. For this reason, it is important to keep in mind the IHRA – International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition for antisemitism” – Sharansky explains to Pagine Ebraiche. Thus, starting from that definition, we should deconstruct the many forms of antisemitic hatred.
Sharansky’s fear – shared by many – concerns the risk of a reappearing hatred in this social and health crisis, which would be characterised by an alarming intensity thanks to the various social platforms. This is underlined in the latest annual report on antisemitism in Italy by the Antisemitism Observatory of the CDEC – Contemporary Jewish Documentation Foundation.
“Looking above all at social networks, the theme of conspiracy has significantly re-emerged, in particular of the economic power of Jews – explains sociologist and head of the CDEC Observatory Betti Guetta – and has been connected to the theme of Covid. In the emergency, ancient stereotypes reappeared: as happened during the plague of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, returns the lie of Jews spreading the virus to make money”. Lies that find fertile ground, continues the sociologist, in today’s Italy where there has been growing deterioration, the economic crisis had already left tangible marks and the social ladder is blocked, if not worse.
In the report from the CDEC Observatory: “According to Censis, when the virus problem will be solved, the pandemic will leave behind a society that is more uncertain and frightened, poorer and with employment problems. 90.2% of Italians believe that the coronavirus emergency has harmed the most vulnerable people to a greater extent, thus widening social inequalities”. In this context, widespread disorientation has led some to look for scapegoats to concentrate their frustration on: doctors, politicians, international organizations, minorities, women. This was recently told by a Rai program investigation entitled Le strade dell’odio (Streets of hate), which presents a disturbing picture of how online hatred is spreading exponentially and eroding the foundations of our democratic system.
Referring to antisemitism, Guetta said “The problem is that we are facing an increasingly liquid phenomenon, not necessarily attributable to political factions or cultural environments, but more transversal” which finds a powerful means for diffusion through the web. On the one hand there is extreme right’s antisemitism and on the other hand there is extreme left’s hatred of Israel. However, Guetta considers it worth highlighting “the widespread prejudice of people we can define as antisemitic militants, and also of people who relaunches conspiracy theories”.
As we can read in the report “The conspiratorial strategy aims to instil uncertainty and spread doubts concerning the ability of liberal democracies to deal with people’s problems and feed hatred of foreigners and phantom elites”.
(Above, the distribution of hate speech on social media platforms)
Translated by Antonella Losavio and revised by Silvia Bozzo, students at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of Trieste University, interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.