Italian Life Senator Liliana Segre, a Holocaust survivor, recently succeeded in convincing the Italian parliament to better tackle anti-Semitism, including setting up a parliamentary commission on the issue. In response, Segre has received hundreds of anti-Semitic death threats and now requires ongoing police protection. On Sunday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent Segre a letter expressing solidarity in the face of such hate.
“No words can adequately express my horror and disgust that you should be exposed to such criminal behavior,” wrote Rivlin, whose letter was published by an Israeli press release that highlighted Serge’s situation. “…Your case, unfortunately, is yet another terrible example of the reality for Jews in Europe today, but I believe that the most appropriate response is to carry on doing what you believe in.”
Rivlin went on to invite Segre to Jerusalem, saying it would be a “great honor” for Israel. He said he was “appalled” to hear that the threats require police protection for Segre and praised her for her work. “Your personal mission, your strength and your bravery are a role model for us in Israel and for Jewish communities around the world.”
Rivlin wasn’t alone in Israel in decrying the threats against Segre. Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, in a press release offered her support. “It is unacceptable that hate and xenophobia still plague our post-Holocaust society,” said the Yad Vashem statement. “Holocaust survivors like Senator Segre are living witnesses to the horrors that are possible when anti-Semitism goes unchecked. In addition, Yad Vashem calls upon the leaders of the world to declare their commitment to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred.”
Like Yad Vashem, Rivlin noted the significance of Segre’s personal history—and not just her tragedy, but also her triumphs.
“As Holocaust survivor, you have seen the terrible and tragic consequences of anti-Semitism if not stopped; as a Life Senator of the Italian Republic, you have been recognized ‘for outstanding patriotic merits’; as a campaigner for justice and against racism and anti-Semitism, you work tirelessly for a better world,” wrote Rivlin in his letter to her.
Rivlin also noted that the values countering hate are core principals of Judaism and critical to humanity being the best version of itself.
“Equality, human rights, accepting the other and tolerance are key to Judaism and universal human values,” wrote Rivlin. “They are the foundations on which our lives are based, and without them, we are lesser people.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, November 11, 2019)