By: Aryeh Savir
Israel’s president and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial expressed dismay and shock following the news that Holocaust survivor and Italian Senator-for-Life Liliana Segre has received hundreds of anti-Semitic death threats to the extent that the Milan police decided she required constant close protection.
Segre, 93, recently called on the Italian Parliament to fight anti-Semitism and hate crimes and to establish a parliamentary commission to combat them. After her proposal was accepted, Segre received hundreds of anti-Semitic messages threatening her life, and she now has round-the-clock police protection.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent Segre a letter of solidarity in which he wrote that he “was appalled to hear the news” and “deeply regret(s) 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,” he said in the missive.
“No words can adequately express my horror and disgust that you should be exposed to such criminal behavior. As a 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 told her.
He noted that her case “is yet another terrible example of the reality for Jews in Europe today, but I believe that the most appropriate response is to carry on doing what you believe in.”
He concluded by inviting her to Israel, “a great honor, personally and for the State of Israel.”
Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, stated Sunday that “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.”
Yad Vashem called upon the leaders of the world to “declare their commitment to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred.”
Segre and her family went into hiding after the 1938 Fascist-era racist laws discriminating against Jews were introduced. They were arrested in 1943 and deported from Milan to Nazi camps. Most of her family did not survive the Holocaust.
After years of silence about the horrors she encountered in Auschwitz, Segre began to speak in the 90s to students throughout Italy about the Holocaust.
Segre was announced Senator-for-Life in January 2018. She can vote in Parliament’s upper chamber along with elected senators. Senators-for-Life are considered role models because of their achievements.