Italian Jewish leader slams use of Holocaust survivor quote by group planning anti-Israel protest

MILAN (AP) — An Italian Jewish leader on Tuesday protested a citation of Holocaust survivor Primo Levi on flyers for a planned pro-Palestinian demonstration in the Italian capital on Saturday, coinciding with International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Leave Primo Levi to our memory,’’ Noemi Di Segni, head of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, was quoted by the news agency ANSA as saying. “Have the dignity to show your thoughts without offending the memory of a survivor, and find other citations.”


A poster for the pro-Palestinian demonstration includes a reference to a Levi quote about the need to remember “because what happened could happen again,” but used to implicitly refer to Gaza, not the Holocaust as Levi wrote.

The incident exemplified Di Segni’s concerns, expressed at a news conference in Rome earlier in the day, that the memory of the Holocaust was being used “out of context, abused, turned against Israel or the Jews.” She noted that “we have heard distorted words from rectors, teachers, politicians and institutional figures.”

Italys Jewish community is outraged over what they view as misuse of the words of a Holocaust survivor.

Given the rise in anti-Semitic sentiment around the Israel-Hamas war, Di Segni acknowledged a temptation for Italy’s Jewish communities to observe Remembrance Day privately, but said that a schedule of hundreds of events would go ahead mostly as planned out of duty.

“We don’t celebrate the memory to ask to cry over the Jews, and for the Jews or with the Jews or with the survivors, but to be aware of the responsibilities also of Italy and of fascism for what happened to them,” she told the press conference at Palazzo Chigi with Premier Giorgia Meloni’s undersecretary of state Alfredo Mantovano.

Despite the Italian government’s assurances that it would provide maximum security, plans to hold traditional marathon foot races in several Italian cities to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday were canceled.

“Of course security was organized, but for this year it seems impossible to think of running in the streets of Italy,’’ she said, noting with irony that “those who raise their arms in a fascist salute … are almost protected by constitutional freedoms.”


She cited fascist salutes at a recent far-right rally in Rome, as well as a high-court ruling last week that the fascist salute is not a crime unless it risks sparking violence or is aimed at reviving the fascist party.

In another example, Italian media have reported that a partisan’s association in a Tuscan town was planning a demonstration for Remembrance Day on Saturday using the “Never Again,” phrase associated with the lessons of the Holocaust, to demonstrate against “the genocide against the Palestinian people by the Israeli state.”

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