1938-2016: Italy’s professors betray the Jews

A group of Italian academics join the despicable and false slandering of the Jewish state by promoting BDS - at the price of their own academic integrity.

Giulio Meotti

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giulio meott
צילום: עצמי
The movement for the boycott of Israel officially arrived in Italy in February 2003, when a dozen professors from the University of Venice Ca’ Foscari invited their colleagues to boycott the Jewish State.

At the same time, at the University of Bologna, a group of professors circulated a chilling document: “We have always considered the Jewish people intelligent, sensitive, strong, perhaps more than many others because selected through suffering, persecutions and humiliations suffered for centuries, in pogroms and the Nazi death camps. Unfortunately we feel that our esteem and our love for you, for the Jews, is turning into painful anger for what you are doing to the Palestinian people”.

But even after that, Italy remained outside the major cultural initiatives against Jerusalem that were taking place in all the universities of Europe. Until now.

Two days ago Hamas posted on its official website: “The Movement for Islamic Resistance has welcomed a petition by Italian academics and researchers to boycott the Israeli research’s institutions and universities”. The reference is to a document, signed by 168 Italian academics, calling for a boycott of Israeli academia, starting from the Technion in Haifa, the cradle of four Nobel laureates.

The 168 teachers and Italian researchers have put down a real work program: “We will not accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions...
The 168 teachers and Italian researchers have put down a real work program: “We will not accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions; we will not act as referees in any of their processes; we will not participate in conferences funded, organized or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them”.

There are big names in Italian academia signed on that request: the physicist at the University of Florence, Angelo Baracca; Cristina Accornero, a professor at the University of Turin; the historian of the University of Rome, Piero Bevilacqua; Carlo Alberto Redi, a professor at the University of Pavia and member of the National Academy of the Lincei; Angelo Stefanini, doctor of the Center for International Health, University of Bologna; Giorgio Forti, University of Milan; the scholar of Nietzsche, Domenico Losurdo, and the historian Angelo D’Orsi.

Last October, the British newspaper the Guardian published a similar appeal with 300 signatures, including many Italian professors. A few months before that, 500 anthropologists had endorsed the boycott of Israel, and even then, there were many Italians among the signatories. As there are Italians in the appeal to the then European Commissioner for Research Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, asking for the exclusion of Israeli universities.

Next spring, the Italian Society of studies on the Middle East will hold a panel on Israel’s boycott during its annual conference. For the first time a university association will discuss how to isolate Israeli colleagues. The panel will be titled “Knowledge and Power” and is organized by Paola Rivetti of the University of Dublin - and will have as a guest Laleh Khalili, the academic of Iranian origins at the University of London who in 2005 promoted Israel’s boycott at the Association of University Teachers, the largest teachers’ union in the UK.

In Italy, this is nothing new. It happened once before - in 1938 - when the Italian Mathematical Union replaced a Jew as its representative at the committee of the German magazine Zentralblatt für Mathematik, the famous scientist Tullio Levi Civita, with two “Aryan” mathematicians, Francesco Enrico Severi and Bompiani. In addition to losing the chair, Levi Civita was banned at all the Italian academies of which he was a member and was even prohibited from reprinting his famous treatise of rational mechanics.

It is a prostitution of science and culture. Then. And now.