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November 4, 2019 10:46 am

Rome’s Jewish Community, Catholic Church Criticize Parties for Not Backing Antisemitism Committee

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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte holds his end-of-year news conference in Rome, Italy, December 28, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi. – The Roman Catholic Church and Rome’s Jewish community expressed disappointment on Thursday after far-right parties in Italy refused to back the creation of a parliamentary committee to investigate hate, racism and antisemitism, Reuters reported.

The 5-Star Movement and center-left Democratic Party backed the motion on Wednesday, but the far-right League and its allies—the Brothers of Italy and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia—all abstained.

“The abstention of some parties is a bit dismaying. It’s a decision that we consider wrong and dangerous,” said the president of Rome’s Jewish community, Ruth Dureghello, while 5-Star lawmaker Elisa Tripodi said that “this abstention seems to legitimize a culture of hatred that is reflected in society. It is a shameful page in our political life.”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin from the Vatican added, “I am worried, in the sense that on some things like fundamental values we should all be united. There is a danger that all this gets politicized. We need to break clear of this.”

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The League and its allies said they abstained because the motion was unclear in citing, in one example, nationalism and ethnocentricity as possible forces leading to racial hatred.

“By doing that, you are outlawing Brothers of Italy,” said one of the party’s senators, Giovanbattista Fazzolari. “This is not a commission on antisemitism, as they want you believe, but rather a commission aimed at political censorship.”

The Senate committee will still be set up despite the abstention. Holocaust survivor and life senator Liliana Segre had the idea for the committee in response to the daily social-media abuse she receives.

Born in Milan in 1930, Segre was expelled from her school in her young age after the promulgation of Italian Racial Laws in 1938. In 1943, she was arrested with other family members and deported to the camp of Auschwitz. After 1990, she started to speak to the public, especially young people, about her experience.

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