Israeli president reaches out to threatened Jewish-Italian senator


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin reached out to Lilianna Segre, a Jewish-Italian senator who is under police protection due to threats on her life.

Milan Police last week decided to provide Segre, 89, who is a Holocaust survivor, with a police escort due to the threats. Segre said she receives about 200 hate messages a day.

“I was appalled to hear the news that anti-Semitic threats against you require you to receive protection to ensure your safety, and deeply regret that the circumstances of me writing to you are so distressing. Your personal mission, your strength and your bravery are a role model for us in Israel and for Jewish communities around the world,” Rivlin wrote.

Rivlin also invited Serge to visit him in Jerusalem.

“No words can adequately express my horror and disgust that you should be exposed to such criminal behavior. 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,” Rivlin also wrote.

Segre was deported to Auschwitz in 1944, when she was 13. Last year she was appointed senator for life by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem said in a statement: “It is unacceptable that hate and xenophobia still plague our post-Holocaust society. Holocaust survivors like Senator Segre are living witnesses to the horrors that are possible when anti-Semitism goes unchecked.”

The statement noted that Mattarella was scheduled to attend in January the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, under the banner, “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Anti-Semitism.”

Recommended from JTA