Although the country lags behind many other European nations for attacks on Jewish citizens, Italy is beginning to experience a serious increase in antisemitic hate crimes. There were 70 reported incidents in 2012 and 2013 began with a vicious New Year's Day assault on a young American Yeshiva student who was visiting his relatives for the holidays. The attack took place Tuesday in Venice, a city beloved for its gondolas, canals, and ancient cathedrals.
The victim, who remains unnamed out of fear for his family's safety, was savagely pummeled into unconsciousness by approximately 15 Arab youths. The assailants used various weapons in their assault and only fled when onlookers began to shout at them, telling the attackers that police and paramedics were on the way. Observers speculated that only the quick thinking actions of the bystanders saved the victim from permanent injury or death.
The New Year's Day attack on an unfortunate Jewish tourist is a worrisome start for 2013. Many Jewish leaders, including Observatory researcher Stefano Gatti, put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Italian politicians:
"Italian pundits and politicians such as Silvio Berlusconi, Beppe Grillo or Piergiorgio Odifreddi are now writing discriminatory posts and telling racist jokes. Making certain issues seem normal, even funny, is one of the root causes of the rise in anti-Semitic episodes in Italy."
The Jerusalem Post published an unsettling description of some of Lazio's fans and their fondness for racial hatred:
"Lazio have long had fans with extreme right-wing sympathies, notorious for making Nazi salutes, unfurling anti-Semitic banners and chanting racist insults against black players."
Attacks on Jews have seen a marked increase in the last few years, including the senseless and horrifying murders of three young Jewish children and a Rabbi in Toulouse, France on March 19, 2012. Mohammed Merah went on a Jihadi rampage of terror that not only led to the deaths of his four Jewish victims, chosen specifically for their religion, but also included the murder of three young French Muslim soldiers. In the sick mind of the terrorist Merah, the soldiers deserved to die for being apostates and traitors against Islam by serving in the French Military. As is often the case, innocent Muslims were the victims of Jihadist rage against anyone who fails to meet their insane standards of Islamic piety.
Jerusalem Post Editor, Caroline Glick, spoke about the lack of understanding of the roots of Jew hate and the mindset of Islamists:
"Time after time, Merah and his ilk throughout the Western world show us who they are and what they want. And time after time, the Western elites, and even much of the Jewish leadership, turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to their cries of murder and calls for the destruction of Western civilization."
In Norway, a 16 year old Jewish schoolboy was actually branded by a classmate on the back of his neck with a red hot coin. Unbelievably, the attack took place in the classroom in full view of the teacher and students. No one came to the child's defense and he told authorities " he must stay clear of Norwegian and Muslim children and hide his parentage to avoid continued anti-Semitic attacks."
"This attack was the culmination of two full years of abuse, much of which had been reported to the police and school authorities. The child's family has stated that there was no help at all from the authorities or any effort to protect the boy, who was being persecuted because he was Jewish and his father was Israeli."
Dr. Heni described the current situation in Europe and expressed little hope for the future of Europe's Jewish citizens:
"In Germany every Jewish kindergarten, synagogue, and Jewish community center need police protection... Neo-Nazis are still besmearing Jewish cemeteries in Germany, because just a few Jewish cemeteries are guarded by the police. The neo-Nazis can't stand the very remembrance of Jews. In cities in Germany it is indeed not easily possible to wear a Kippah. We had attacks on Jews wearing a Kippah in Berlin. If you show an Israeli flag in public, depending on your neighborhood, you get massive problems, particularly in times of demonstrations. In 2009 the police confiscated two Israeli flags displayed in a student apartment, because an angry and aggressive Muslim crowd urged the police to do so... Scandinavia, like Norway or Sweden, has become a very dangerous place for Jews. We know of statements from Jews in Sweden and the Netherlands that they see no future for them in these countries, due to mostly (young) Muslim antisemites."