June 12, 2020

2019 Antisemitism report in Italy

The Osservatorio antisemitismo of the CDEC (Contemporary Jewish Documentation Center) Foundation in Milan is the only center on the Italian Peninsula that daily monitors, collects, compiles and studies antisemitic incidents (assault, threats, damage and desecration, abusive behavior, etc.) occurred in Italy. Osservatorio is especially engaged in monitoring antisemitism online due to its recent dramatic increase. 

Antisemitic incidents are reported to Osservatorio in a number of ways, most commonly by mail, through the Osservatorio’s website and by phone, in particular, through the 24hour hotline Antenna Antisemitismo (run on behalf of UCEI – Union of Italian Jewish Communities). It is a facility established to record and analyze reports (voiced by phone or by mail) of antisemitic incidents. 

Osservatorio disseminates collected information and data and supports initiatives that report and combat antisemitic acts. Its website (www.osservatorioantisemitismo.it), daily updated, numbers approximately 500 daily entries, at times it peaks 3,000. Web query from Google on the term “antisemitism” shows that Osservatorio website is on its page one, at the top of results. 

The total of antisemitic incidents recorded in 2019 by Osservatorio is only indicative, as the actual amount of antisemitic incidents is much larger. An accurate figure would be impossible to quantify. It is more frequent a serious antisemitics incident to be reported than a verbal or written one. Hence, the collected data mirror only the reported incidents and not the whole spectrum of antisemitic incidents occurred throughout the year in Italy. The under-reporting, namely the lack of reporting of antisemitic incidents, represents a significant problem as it distorts the real understanding of the phenomenon. A second relevant problem is the under-recording: police forces or the legal units fail in adjudging a crime to be antisemitic. In any case, it is undeniable that existing data indicate that Antisemitism is on the rise. Antsemitism keeps growing visibility on social media, it has become normalized and harassment is a daily occurrence. 

This report describes Antisemitic incidents perpetrated in Italy by single individuals or groups of extremists – neo-Nazis, haters of Israel, religious fanatics etc. – which disseminate their hatred mainly on online platforms. Whereas violent anti-Jewish acts distinguish the extremist political groups (right, left, etc.), prejudice against Jews is widely spread among socio-cultural classes and political and ideological groups. Prejudice emerges in many forms, from different sides of the political spectrum.