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Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre’s words shed light on anti-vaxxers hatred

As Italian media outlets relaunched with great evidence the words of the Holocaust survivor and Senator for life Liliana Segre firmly condemning any comparison between the Shoah and the vaccines, a new wave of antisemitic hatred surged online. The interview released to Pagine Ebraiche by Liliana Segre sparked remarkable reactions all across the country, so confirming the impact of her testimony on the public conversation.
Auschwitz survivor and symbol of the struggle against hatred and indifference, the Senator stressed that protests comparing the racist laws and the Green Pass vaccine passport to access restaurants, pools, gyms, and open-air events in Italy as well as travel abroad are “follies, gestures in which bad taste meets ignorance”.
Segre’s message to the anti-vaccine conspirators is clear. “If one wants to see conspiracy everywhere, well stay at home. Alone. You don’t go around the streets, you don’t go into the world, you don’t harm others. But I know, those who make those kinds of choices usually don’t care about others”.
Anti-vaxxers – whose public manifestations are led by the extreme right-wing – reacted by pouring their hate on social media. Shameful comments appeared on Twitter, stating that on the contrary, the green pass is the new yellow Star of David that came to symbolize the persecution against the Jews during the Holocaust. Someone expressed doubts about the tragic experience of Liliana Segre in the concentration camps. Someone crazily affirmed that is “from anti-Nazi to Nazi, it is just a moment”. Someone stated that the Senator’s words were an invitation to “ghettoize anti-vaxxers” and “send them to the lagers”.
It is the digital madness of a small but vocal minority that presents itself as a defender of freedom, of a world that pretends to be the victim of a supposed “health dictatorship”. Although last week’s anti-vaxxer demonstrations were a flop, their voice must not be underestimated, stressed the President of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities Noemi Di Segni. “Minimizing no-vaxxers and being defensive about the pseudo ‘scientific’ or historical arguments does not help to develop a widespread and deep-rooted culture of awareness in our country. As for bringing up the Shoah, it is a distorted use of history and of an immense tragedy. In one way or another, the Jew, especially in times of crisis, is always used by negationists of all sorts”.
“That of vaccines and health security – she concluded – should be a transversal commitment between political forces. It is not a matter of being right or left. The effort must be to put in place, at the service of the community, the best science, the best methodologies, and the best governance of processes. On this we can discuss, but not whether it is right or not to provide health security to people. And on the abuse of utilizing symbols and concepts of a past that is part of the responsibility and identity of the whole of Italy, politics cannot make a joke. Political forces cannot allow for the distortion of history and its abuse. It is not just Jewish history that is being listened to out of pity. It is the history and responsibility of Italy as a whole”.