(JTA) — Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano participated in a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of a terror attack on Rome’s main synagogue that killed a toddler.
Speaking Wednesday at the commemoration in Rome, the city’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, said the Oct. 9, 1982 attack had not been an “isolated event.” Di Segni said it had taken place amid a virulent “campaign to demonize Jews” in the wake of the Israeli war with Lebanon in the summer of 1982 and the massacre of civilians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in September that year.
Di Segni said “a collective myth of blame” had led to a sort of “sacrificial ritual in which we were the designated victims.”
In the attack, Palestinian terrorists believed to be part of the Abu Nidal group hurled hand grenades and fired on worshipers leaving the synagogue after Shemini Atzeret services.
Riccardo Pacifici, the president of the Rome Jewish community, said many “open questions” remain about the attack, which injured dozens.
Jewish leaders thanked Napolitano for taking part in the ceremony and for supporting the Jewish community. Napolitano presented a medal to the brother of Stefano Gay Tache, the child victim, recalling the toddler as a "victim of terrorism." Other senior political leaders also participated in the commemoration.
Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, praised Napolitano for past condemnations of anti-Jewish sentiment and for his pledge to fight anti-Semitism, “even when it masquerades itself as anti-Zionism.”