Survey: 45 percent of Italians have anti-Jewish bias


ROME (JTA) — A new survey finds that 45 percent of the Italian population harbors some sort of prejudice against Jews.

A report on the survey, conducted by the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan, was published Monday in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The survey  identified three forms of anti-Jewish stereotypes that coexist in Italy but do not necessarily overlap. Some 10 percent of respondents appeared to harbor only "classic" stereotypes, such as "Jews are not really Italians at heart" or "Jews can’t be trusted," while 11 percent harbored only "modern" anti-Semitic stereotypes, such as Jews control politics and the media or are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries. Another 12 percent of respondents held "contingent" anti-Semitic stereotypes, largely linked to pro-Palestinian or anti-Zionist views.

The survey found that about 12 percent of respondents shared all three of these categories and could be considered "real anti-Semites."

Some 55 percent of respondents either held no anti-Semitic prejudice or were "indifferent."

The survey broke down the results by political and social categories, finding that the highest percentages of "real anti-Semites" were found in both the far right and far left. Leftists tended to hold "contingent" anti-Jewish views, while rightists were more prone to hold "classic" anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Italy’s president warned of a new rise in anti-Semitism during a ceremony to mark International Holocaust Memorial Day, which the country commemorated for a week with hundreds of events.

"We must all be more vigilant against the reappearance of the virus of anti-Semitism, against new aggressive campaigns against Jews and against the State of Israel," Giorgio Napolitano said in Rome.

Referring to the situation in Gaza, Napolitano said it was legitimate to criticize the Israeli government for its actions, but "the historic roots of the State of Israel, its democratic foundation and its right to exist in peace and security cannot be called into question."

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi issued a statement saying that the anti-Semitic racial laws Italy adopted during the Fascist era "remain a deep wound, inflicted not only on the Jewish community but on all Italian society as well."

Instituted in 2000, Holocaust Memorial Day takes place Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945.


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