ROME (Dec. 7)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin this week called on Europe to remember the past and cry “never again” to mounting racism and anti- Semitism.
Allowed to go unchecked, attitudes of hatred do “not just threaten the Jewish people alone,” he said.
Rabin urged European nations to combat hatred as he addressed ceremonies commemorating Holocaust victims and honoring Italians who fought the Nazis and helped Jews during and after World War II.
On Monday, he honored 335 Romans, including 73 Jews, executed by the Nazis in March 1944 in reprisal for a partisan attack.
He laid a wreath at the monument to them at the Fosse Ardeatine, the Ardeatine Pits, where the Nazi massacre took place, before launching into a series of meetings with Italian leaders.
On Sunday evening, after his arrival, he also stressed the necessity of combating anti-Semitism and racism, during an award ceremony for four Italians who helped Jews immigrate clandestinely to the land of Israel after World War II.
At a ceremony hosted by Foreign Minister Emilio Colombo, Rabin said that it was impossible to look toward the future without remembering the past.
The current wave of hatred, he said, is “a cancer in the heart of European society.
“When I see what is happening in some parts of Europe, I think that people tend to forget history that took place less than 50 years ago,” he said.
“Together, we must cry, `Never again.’ Together, we must not permit that all this happens again,” he said.
Colombo, too, condemned the current wave of xenophobia.
“It is not enough to condemn it,” he said. “We must be present with laws” and strict interpretation of them, he said.
At the ceremony, four Italians were honored for helping Jews in 1945 to flee to what later became Israel.
In what was known as Aliyah Bet, as many as 20,000 Jews, most of them survivors of Nazi camps, passed through Italy en route to British-mandated Palestine immediately after the war.
They sailed secretly from Italian ports in converted fishing boats and other vessels, or flew in rickety planes.
The four Italians honored Sunday night were anti-Nazi partisans who helped in this operation.
Alberto Li Gobbi, now 72 and an army general, organized groups of former partisans to transport fleeing Jews to embarkation points.
Gualtiero Morpurgo and Mario Pavia converted cargo ships to passenger carriers. Marcello Cantoni, a doctor, offered medical care to hundreds of clandestine refugees.