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Increase in Neo-fascist Anti-semitic Activity Seen As Test of Public Opinion on Eve of General Elect

May 2, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Leaders of Italy’s Jewish community warned yesterday that a rash of anti-Semitic acts by Italian neo-Fascists were intended to test whether Italian public opinion would tolerate such acts on the eve of the general elections to be held May 7-8. Sergio Piperno, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, and Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff spoke at ceremonies reconsecrating the 18th century synagogue in Gorizia which was broken into and vandalized last week by unknown persons believed to be neo-Fascists.

Piperno disclosed that the attack on the Gorizia synagogue was only the latest in a series of assaults on Jewish property. He said the synagogue in Ferrara and Jewish cemeteries in Pisa and Viareggio were recently vandalized and that Jewish personalities have received offensive and threatening letters. Piperno attributed these acts to neo-Fascist organizations which are particularly strong in the Veneto region.

These actions should sound the alarm for Italian Jews who “know from experience that such anti-Semitic manifestations constitute a prologue to the outright persecution of Jews,” he said. The neo-Fascist groups are centered in Padua and Udine where an anti-Semitic booklet titled “The Star of David, The Cross and The Swastika” recently appeared. Piperno said it was obvious that the Gorizia synagogue was attacked by Fascist vandals because “holy books were destroyed and pages were torn out of prayer books.”

Rabbi Toaff said that “by representing themselves by actions of this kind, the Fascists are attempting to test public reaction on the eve of the elections. They want to see whether Italians are ready to tolerate this type of Fascist activity.”

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