Freedom week. Garrone on anti-Semitism

Foto di Luca Rüegg - Unsplash

Rome (NEV), 18 January 2020 – The Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) has chosen anti-Semitism as the main theme of the 2020 Freedom Week – an event held every year around February 17, the date on which in 1848 the civil rights to the Waldensians and, a few days later, to the Jews, were granted. The NEV Agency spoke about this choice with Daniele Garrone, professor of the Old Testament at the Waldensian Faculty of Theology of Rome and member of the FCEI Council.
There are increasing words and acts of hatred against Jews – Garrone declared -, in Italy especially on the web, elsewhere in Europe and in the world also with physical attacks, sometimes murders, desecration of cemeteries and other outrages. All this in a general framework that sees in public confrontation increasingly virulent tones, often outrageous, and in which frustrations, discomfort and fears are poured on alleged enemies. It is a breeding ground of this kind that saw the spread of anti-Semitism in the last decades of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The signs of anti-Semitism must be taken seriously first of all in solidarity with those who are subject to this infamy, but also for the defense of our parliamentary constitutional democracies, which wanted to react to the season of hatred.
The Christian tradition – Garrone continued – has contributed for a long time to spread a negative vision of Judaism. After the Holocaust, a process of denouncing the controversial visions of Judaism and the acknowledgement of their consequences began. Churches, also as training places, must cultivate the critical memory of their history and promote a non-conflicting relationship with the Jewish people.
Garrone recently edited the publication of a book entitled “Judaism. Guide for non-Jews “. The original title of the volume, published in Germany and distributed in more than 100,000 copies, is “What everyone must know about Judaism”. As for centuries the “ordinary Christian”, had in his /her baggage a whole series of prejudice and negative visions regarding the Jews, it is now a matter of coming to terms with this past, of knowing Judaism in its reality and of conceiving the Christian identity in non-polemical terms. With basic information, historical and theological reconstruction, the volume aims to contribute, in a language accessible to all, to developing a relationship between Christians and Jews based on knowledge, respect and solidarity.
About the Freedom Week 2020 Garrone hopes that the Italian Jews may feel the closeness of the Protestant churches in these dark times, and that churches will keep their vigilance over the degradation of hate speech and that they will make the “Week” an opportunity to reflect on how to deal with this historical step with responsibility and decision.