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November 3rd, 2014 - Cheshvan 10th, 5775

An Exemplary Ruling
by Guido Vitale*

In a landmark ruling issued in October (number 238/2014), the Italian Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional the Italian laws that prevented victims of Nazi war crimes from taking legal action against the German state in the Italian Civil Courts to obtain compensation.

On the basis of the principles established by this sentence, the rule of State immunity can no longer be considered valid in the cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other actions prejudicial to the inviolable fundamental right guaranteed by the Italian Constitution.

The leadership of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities has declared that this is an exemplary ruling of great moral value, which does justice to the victims of persecution and genocide and their descendants. This is a ruling that calls on all states to confront and to respect the values contained in the Constitution that the nascent Italian Republic enacted in 1948, following the final defeat of the Nazi and Fascist dictatorships and their racist policy of systematic extermination of entire populations as a practice of conquest and subjugation.
Italian Jews believe that this ruling is a further step towards freedom and equality of all human beings and towards removing an obstacle to the course of justice.

The sentence of the Italian Constitutional Court specifically relates to the case of 244 civilians who were murdered by German soldiers on June 29, 1944, in the town of Civitella in Val di Chiana, Cornia and San Pancrazio. However it is clear that the newly established principle that denies immunity to states accused of criminal acts against the civilian population is likely to trigger a number of other civil actions for compensation. There is now an expectation that the ruling will cause a clash with the German government, which does not seem willing to recognize the principles of the Italian Constitution, and especially the International Court of Justice in The Hague which in 2012 had confirmed state immunity at the request of the German government.

However things develop, the decision of the Constitutional Court of Rome, signed by its President Giuseppe Tesauro, has the merit of drawing attention to the principle that crimes committed by the Nazi and Fascist dictatorships can never be forgotten or covered by impunity, and that justice must not bow to the demands of governments.

*Guido Vitale is the editor-in-chief of Pagine Ebraiche.
Italian Word of the Week:
by Daniela Gross

It happened a little over one century ago. La “Marcia su Roma”, the “March onto Rome” took place in 1922, from 22 to 29 October. The march itself comprised fewer than 30,000 men, but its symbolic and political consequences were devastating. It marked, in fact, the coming to power of the dictator Benito Mussolini and of the National Fascist Party. For the Italian Jewry, that was a hard and dramatically painful time. The Jews were progressively deprived of their civil rights, excluded from public offices, higher education and professional careers, stripped of their assets, and finally physically persecuted.

Although the dramatic impact of the Fascist dictatorship is clearly recognized by the Italian public opinion, traces, memories and nostalgia of the Fascism periodically come back.  Obviously, anniversaries are key opportunities. Thus, a mass aimed at remembering Mussolini and the men fallen in Anzio and Nettuno in 1944 took place last week on the March on Rome recurrence, provoking a hard reaction by the Jewish Community of Rome as well as the National Partisans’ Associations. Another celebration, attended also by many students, recently took place in Predappio, the birthplace of Mussolini, with Fascist slogans and Roman salutes. Luckily, the same days registered also some better news.

In Predappio, the favorite location of nostalgic attitudes, the project of a new museum dedicated to Fascism is developing. “It will be a place for research and knowledge, certainly not for celebration”, explained the director Marcello Flores, professor of Contemporary History at the University of Siena and scientific director of the National Institute of the History of the Italian Liberation Movement. “We’ll try to show the entire reality, so everyone will be able to analyze it."
Italian Jews Congratulate Newly Appointed Foreign Minister

By Rossella Tercatin

Paolo Gentiloni, 60, a member of Parliament of the center-left Democratic Party is the new Italian Foreign Minister. Gentiloni was appointed on the post on October 31st, a day before his predecessor Federica Mogherini nomination as European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy became effective on November 1st (in the picture, the two of them together).
Gentiloni’s appointment was greeted by the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) Renzo Gattegna.

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Lucca Comics and Games,
the Success

By Ada Treves

More than four hundred thousand people: this is the final count of this last amazing edition of Lucca Comics and Games, the annual comic book and gaming convention that takes place every year in Tuscany. And every year Pagine Ebraiche presents in Lucca its special pages, called Comics&Jews, devoted to the relationship between the world of comics and Jewish culture. On the opening day Guido Vitale, the editor in chief of the newspaper of Italian Jewry has given a panoramic of the pages, and discussed its contents with Giovanni Russo - director of the comics section of the festival - and Emilio Varrà, responsible of BilBOlBul, Bologna Comics Festival.

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"We Want Rita on Our Coins"
By Daniela Gross

The life, the career and the charisma of Rita Levi-Montalcini have always been noteworthy, and even now, three years after her death, the scientist continues to deeply influence Italian public opinion. A petition, posted on the website change.org less than two weeks ago, suggested to the Bank of Italy and the government, to print her face on the 1 euro coin, the most common in Europe. Within a few days the idea collected approximately 20,000 signatures, a tangible sign of the respect and the love that she inspired during all her life.

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Italien ist in guter Verfassung

Von Guido Vitale

IchItalienische Opfer von NS-Kriegsverbrechen sollen weiterhin das Recht haben, vor italienischen Gerichten den deutschen Staat als Rechtsnachfolger des NS-Regimes zu verklagen. Das hat das italienische Verfassungsgericht festgestellt,  und damit Gesetze, die solche Klagen verhindern sollen, als verfassungswidrig  erklärt. Dieses Urteil bedeutet, dass die sogenannte Staatenimmunität nicht im Falle von Kriegsverbrechen oder Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit angewandt werden darf. Wenn in der Verfassung als unantastbar festgelegte Rechte verletzt werden, darf eine juristische Verfolgung nicht eingeschränkt werden.

Die Union der Jüdischen Gemeinden Italiens hat dieses Urteil als beispielhaft und mit hohem moralischen Wert begrüßt. Es verhelfe den Opfern von Verfolgung und Völkermord und deren Nachkommen zu Gerechtigkeit. Dieses Urteil zwinge alle Staaten dazu, die Verfassung, die sich Italien 1948 nach der endgültigen Niederlage der nationalsozialischen und faschistischen Diktaturen und ihrer systematischen Ausrottungspolitik gegeben hat, zu respektieren. Die italienischen Juden glauben, dass dieses Urteil ein wichtiger Schritt ist in Richtung der Freiheit und der Gleichheit aller Menschen.

Das Urteil des Gerichts bezieht sich konkret auf den Fall von 244 Zivilisten, die von deutschen Soldaten am 29. Juni 1944 in den Städten Civitella in Val di Chiana, Cornia und San Pancrazio ermordet wurden. Es ist jedoch klar, dass der jetzt festgelegte Grundsatz, dass es keine Immunität für Staaten, die strafbarer Handlungen gegen die Zivilbevölkerung beschuldigt werden, geben darf, eine Reihe anderer Schadensersatzklagen nach sich ziehen wird. Das wird zum Konflikt mit der deutschen Bundesregierung führen. Offenbar ist Deutschland nicht bereit, die Prinzipien der italienischen Verfassung zu respektieren. Das gilt auch für den Internationalen Gerichtshof in Den Haag, der die deutsche Auffassung im Jahr 2012 bestätigt hatte.

Doch die Dinge entwickeln sich. Das Urteil des italienischen Verfassungsgerichts hat das große Verdienst, klargestellt zu haben, dass die Verbrechen der nationalsozialistischen und faschistischen Diktaturen niemals vergessen werden dürfen und dass es für sie nie Straffreiheit geben kann. Anders formuliert: Dass sich Gerechtigkeit nicht den Forderungen von Regierungen beugen muss.

(Jüdische Allgemeine Wochenzeitung, 30. Oktober 2014)

Weiter lesen

Tohu and Bohu: Chaotic Confusion

By Yaakov Mascetti*

The narration representing the creation of the universe leads the reader, I think, from the nothingness that precedes moment of Divine speech, "Let there be light," through the gradual separation and simplification of created matter. While in the first verse of Genesis God is presented as creating the heavens and the earth, and in the second verse that very earth is mysteriously defined as "formless and void," darkness covers the surface of the abyss, and the "Spirit of God" hovers over the "surface of the waters." I would like to focus on the two words the Torah uses in order to represent the "earth" right after it has been created ex-nihilo (tohu va-vohu), and reconnect my interpretation to what I have always seen as Rashi's obscure reading of the first words of the Torah.

*Yaakov Mascetti holds a Ph.D. and teaches at the Department of Comparative Literature, Bar Ilan University.

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moked è il portale dell'ebraismo italiano

This newsletter is published under difficult conditions. The editors of this newsletter are Italian journalists whose native language is Italian. They are willing to offer their energy and their skills to give international readers the opportunity of learning more about the Italian Jewish world, its values, its culture and its traditions.
In spite of all our efforts to avoid this, readers may find an occasional language mistake. We count on your understanding and on your help and advice to correct these mistakes and improve our publication.

Pagine Ebraiche International Edition is published by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI). UCEI publications encourage an understanding of the Jewish world and the debate within it. The articles and opinions published by Pagine Ebraiche International Edition, unless expressly stated otherwise, cannot be interpreted as the official position of UCEI, but only as the self-expression of the people who sign them, offering their comments to UCEI publications. Readers who are interested in making their own contribution should email us at desk@ucei.it 
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© UCEI - All rights reserved - The articles may only be reproduced after obtaining the written permission of the editor-in-chief. Pagine Ebraiche - Reg Rome Court 199/2009 – Editor in Chief: Guido Vitale - Managing Editor: Daniela Gross.
Special thanks to: Francesco Moises Bassano, Susanna Barki, Monica Bizzio, Angelica Edna Calò Livne, Eliezer Di Martino, Alain Elkann, Daniela Fubini, Benedetta Guetta, Sarah Kaminski, Daniel Leisawitz, Annette Leckart, Gadi Luzzatto Voghera, Yaakov Mascetti, Francesca Matalon, Anna Momigliano, Giovanni Montenero, Elèna Mortara, Lisa Palmieri Billig, Shirley Piperno, Giandomenico Pozzi, Daniel Reichel, Rachel Silvera, Adam Smulevich, Simone Somekh, Rossella Tercatin, Ada Treves.

Questo notiziario è realizzato in condizioni di particolare difficoltà. I redattori di questo notiziario sono giornalisti italiani di madrelingua italiana. Mettono a disposizione le loro energie e le loro competenze per raccontare in lingua inglese l'ebraismo italiano, i suoi valori, la sua cultura e i suoi valori. Nonostante il nostro impegno il lettore potrebbe trovare errori e imperfezioni nell'utilizzo del linguaggio che faremo del nostro meglio per evitare. Contiamo sulla vostra comprensione e soprattutto sul vostro aiuto e sul vostro consiglio per correggere gli errori e migliorare.

Pagine Ebraiche International Edition è una pubblicazione edita dall'Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane. L'UCEI sviluppa mezzi di comunicazione che incoraggiano la conoscenza e il confronto delle realtà ebraiche. Gli articoli e i commenti pubblicati, a meno che non sia espressamente indicato il contrario, non possono essere intesi come una presa di posizione ufficiale, ma solo come la autonoma espressione delle persone che li firmano e che si sono rese gratuitamente disponibili. Gli utenti che fossero interessati a offrire un proprio contributo possono rivolgersi all'indirizzo  desk@ucei.it

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© UCEI - Tutti i diritti riservati - I testi possono essere riprodotti solo dopo aver ottenuto l'autorizzazione scritta della Direzione. Pagine Ebraiche International Edition - notiziario dell'ebraismo italiano - Reg. Tribunale di Roma 199/2009 - direttore responsabile: Guido Vitale -
Coordinamento: Daniela Gross.
Realizzato con il contributo di:
Francesco Moises Bassano, Susanna Barki, Monica Bizzio, Angelica Edna Calò Livne, Eliezer Di Martino, Alain Elkann, Daniela Fubini, Benedetta Guetta, Sarah Kaminski, Daniel Leisawitz, Annette Leckart, Gadi Luzzatto Voghera, Yaakov Mascetti, Francesca Matalon, Anna Momigliano, Giovanni Montenero, Elèna Mortara, Lisa Palmieri Billig, Shirley Piperno, Giandomenico Pozzi, Daniel Reichel, Rachel Silvera, Adam Smulevich, Simone Somekh, Rossella Tercatin, Ada Treves.