Ital­ian soli dar­ity

Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter stands up against boycott of Is­rael

Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By LI­DAR GRAVÉ-LAZI (Alex Perga­ment)

Italy stands firmly against boycott, di­vest­ment and sanc­tions, Ital­ian Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, Univer­sity and Re­search Ste­fa­nia Gian­nini told The Jerusalem Post.

The min­is­ter was in Is­rael to cel­e­brate Ital­ian Na­tional Day, held an­nu­ally on June 2, at a re­cep­tion at the res­i­dence of Ital­ian Am­bas­sador Francesco M. Talo.

“We are mark­ing 70 years of the Ital­ian Repub­lic, a turn­ing point of Ital­ian his­tory and Ital­ian democ­racy,” she said. “Our fathers and our moth­ers de­cided to leave be­hind the pe­riod of Fas­cism and the dark time of racial law, and so to be here is to give a clear sign of friend­ship on this oc­ca­sion for both Is­rael and Italy.”

Gian­nini was also in Is­rael, along with a del­e­ga­tion of over 50 Ital­ian aca­demics, to com­mem­o­rate the 15th an­niver­sary of the Ital­ian-Is­raeli Govern­ment to Govern­ment Agree­ment on Sci­en­tific, Tech­no­log­i­cal and In­dus­trial Col­lab­o­ra­tion, signed in Bologna in 2000 and en­tered into force in 2001.

“We are here to re­new an agree­ment that was signed 15 years ago, and since that time our re­la­tion­ship has got­ten stronger and stronger,” she said.

Gian­nini said that this re­search col­lab­o­ra­tion and the prom­i­nent del­e­ga­tion of aca­demics and univer­sity rec­tors vis­it­ing Is­rael sig­ni­fies Italy’s stance against the BDS move­ment.

“We are the only coun­try which of­fi­cially de­clared its own po­si­tion,” she said. “We did this both as a govern­ment with a per­sonal let­ter that I signed and also with a dec­la­ra­tion from the pro­fes­sors and rec­tors – with a strong, clear cut state­ment that Italy is against boy­cotts.”

While the BDS move­ment has been sweep­ing across the US, UK and parts of Europe, it has failed to gain trac­tion in Italy.

When asked why she be­lieved this was the case, Gian­nini replied that it could per­haps be at­trib­uted to the cur­ricu­lum taught in Ital­ian schools on Jewish cul­ture and the Holo­caust.

“We have an ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy about He­brew tra­di­tion and cul­ture, and knowl­edge of the Shoah,” she ex­plained.

“This is­sue is quite present, we are one of the few coun­tries, which has in­di­cated by law, that one day a year is ded­i­cated to the mem­ory of the Shoah – on the 27th of Jan­uary. This is the day where all Ital­ian schools re­mem­ber,” she said.

“Se­condly we are very ac­tive with trips of knowl­edge to Auschwitz. Once a year stu­dents go to visit a con­cen­tra­tion camp to fo­cus di­rectly on the Shoah,” she added.

Gian­nini said the Ital­ian school cur­ricu­lum en­gages in these ac­tiv­i­ties which she be­lieves “help the dis­sem­i­na­tion of good sen­ti­ments.”

“There is good sen­ti­ment of Ital­ians to Is­rael – we are aware that we be­long to the same cul­ture and the same iden­tity,” she said. “We are from dif­fer­ent re­li­gions but the roots are the same.”

In fact, as part of her visit, the first Ital­ian trans­la­tion of the Tal­mud was pre­sented to Is­rael at the Na­tional Day cer­e­mony. The trans­la­tion project was de­vel­oped with a €5 mil­lion con­tri­bu­tion of the Ital­ian govern­ment and an in­no­va­tive soft­ware un­der the su­per­vi­sion of Rabbi Adin Stein­saltz and Rabbi Ric­cardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome.

While in Is­rael, Gian­nini also met with se­nior of­fi­cials in­clud­ing for­mer pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­nett, and Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, and Space Min­is­ter Ofir Aku­nis, who on Sun­day thanked her and the Ital­ian govern­ment for its stance against BDS.

With re­gards to the con­tin­ued sci­en­tific col­lab­o­ra­tion, she said that the main fo­cus of re­search would be cen­tered on health, water, and re­new­able en­ergy, which can ben­e­fit both coun­tries.

“Sci­ence has no bound­aries. Sci­ence is blind to dis­crim­i­na­tion,” she said. “I be­lieve we need more sci­ence, more ed­u­ca­tion, more cul­ture in order to have a bet­ter so­ci­ety.”

ITAL­IAN AM­BAS­SADOR Francesco Talo (left) and Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, Univer­sity and Re­search Ste­fa­nia Gian­nini (right) present Na­tional In­fra­struc­ture, En­ergy and Water Re­sources Min­is­ter Yu­val Steinitz (cen­ter) with a copy of the first Ital­ian trans­la­tion of the Tal­mud at the Am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence in Ra­mat Gan at a re­cep­tion Thurs­day mark­ing Ital­ian Na­tional Day.

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