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January 20, 2020 2:26 pm

Italian Jews Praise Appointment of Expert Milena Santerini to Combat Rising Antisemitism

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

An Italian flag on display in Rome. Photo: Reuters / Guglielmo Mangiapane.

Jewish leaders in Italy have warmly welcomed the appointment by the government of a national coordinator against antisemitism, Prof. Milena Santerini.

The appointment of the Milan-based academic to the new post by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last Friday was praised by the head of the Italian Jewish community for bringing Italy into line with other European countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom — both of whom have appointed senior officials to combat rising antisemitism in the last two years, along with formally adopting of the definition of antisemitism endorsed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

“In the fight against this growing threat…we need to send a strong signal,” Noemi di Segni — president of UCEI, Italian Jewry’s communal representative body — said in a statement on Monday. “The choice of Professor Santerini, an authoritative figure who has been engaged in this field for years, is an important step in the right direction.”

The 66-year-old Santerini spent much of her career as a professor in the Education Department of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. As an academic, her research interests included Holocaust education in public schools. In 2013, Santerini was elected to the Italian Parliament on the ticket of the centrist Civic Choice party.

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Both Santerini’s appointment and Italy’s adoption of the IHRA definition were welcomed by US Jewish leaders as well.

“We salute Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the Italian government for adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, and for appointing Professor Milena Santerini as national coordinator for the fight against antisemitism,” Arthur Stark, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said in a statement on Monday.

The statement further noted that “Italy joins a growing list of other countries in Europe and elsewhere which have committed to combatting Jew-hatred by adopting this important standard. It is encouraging to see this increasingly urgent issue being met with appropriate action by so many nations, and we hope to see more governments act in the days ahead.”

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