Anti-Israeli and anti-Palestinian sentiment, following the recent operation in Gaza, is not the sole privilege of the common man in the street. Street demonstrations against Israel's aggression in the Palestinian enclave, which have spread over the last two weeks all across the world, are receiving now the intellectual and religious seal of approval.
Renowned Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo, for example, is not shy about expressing his wish to personally kill Israelis, as he recently said on the radio, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Wednesday.
Vattimo, a former member of the European Parliament, a self-declared gay-communist Catholic and a follower of Karl Marx, who is also known for his anti-Zionist views, told Italian Radio 24's show "La Zanzara" that he would like "to shoot those bastard Zionists." When asked whether he would like to see more Israelis killed, Vattimo responded: “Of course!”
Later, he said he “unfortunately can’t really shoot” because he was exempted from military service.
Vattimo, who early in 2014 co-edited a book on “Deconstructing Zionism. A Critique of Political Metaphysics,” also said he was planning to launch a fund-raising campaign to buy better weapons for Hamas, saying the militants are “fighting with toy rockets that don’t really kill anyone.”
According to Vattimo Europeans should form international brigades to fight along with Hamas, just as foreign volunteers fought Franco during the Spanish Civil War, adding that Israel was “a bit worse than the Nazis.”
Renzo Gattegna, leader of Italy’s Union of Jewish communities, issued a public statement calling Vattimo’s words “unacceptable, a mixture of the most heinous allegations” against Israel.
“Either Vattimo is completely nuts, or he was speaking in bad faith,” Stefano Jesurum, a Milan council member representing the city’s Jewish community, said. “I refuse to believe that a well-educated European, a scholar, can see any parallel between Israel and Spain under Franco’s regime.” “The debate was always tense in Italy, but in the past it used to be about ideology; now it’s more of an issue of psychiatric disorders,” said Jesurum.
In Germany, Muslim Sheikh Abu Bilal Ismail gave Friday a sermon at Berlin’s Al-Nur Mosque, in which the religious leader expressed support for Gaza and called for “the annihilation of Jews." “Gaza is the land of glory, the land of jihad, the land of honor, which is facing the strongest war machine, the Zionist Jews, these criminals, these slayers of prophets,” he said. “Oh Allah, destroy the Zionist Jews. They are no challenge for you,” he continued. “Count them and kill them to the very last one. Don’t spare a single one of them. Shake the ground beneath their feet. Make them suffer terribly. Deflect their bullets. Disperse them. They behave tyrannically all over the world and spread corruption.”
The German authorities have launched an investigation into the Imam's sermon following Berlin police's announcement of a ban on anti-Semitic slogans at demonstrations against Israel’s military incursion in the Gaza Strip.
Moreover, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged the country’s Jewish community Wednesday her unwavering support as she condemned anti-Semitic slurs and threats at pro-Palestinian demonstrations, a government spokesman said. The spokesman, Georg Streiter, said Germany would not tolerate aggression against the resurgent Jewish population, after protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza where violent slogans were used.
“The chancellor and the entire German government condemn the anti Semitic remarks made at pro Palestinian and anti Israeli demonstrations in Germany in the strongest terms,” Streiter told reporters. “These outbursts are an attack on freedom and tolerance and an attempt to shake the foundations of our free and democratic system. We cannot and will not tolerate this.”
Streiter said any violence against Jewish people or institutions would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. “The chancellor and the entire government welcome the revival of Jewish life in Germany and will continue to stand up for the security of Jewish citizens,” he said. He added that the German government saw Israel as a “friend and partner” and would work with “all its strength” to maintain those ties.
Meanwhile German President Joachim Gauck telephoned the leader of the country’s 200,000-strong Jewish community, Dieter Graumann, to discuss “dreadful anti-Semitic incidents” in recent days. Graumann said in a statement that Gauck told him he took Jewish fears “very seriously.” “Many members of our community are very shaken, worried and absolutely shocked by the worst anti Jewish slogans that some out-of-control crowds have shouted, calling for Jews to be ‘gassed’, ‘burned’ and ‘slaughtered’,” Graumann said.
German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier also issued a joint statement with his French and Italian counterparts Tuesday warning of a rise in anti Jewish incidents in Europe during the bloody conflict in Gaza.
In Germany, protesters waving Palestinian flags and signs of late leader Yasser Arafat in recent days shouted anti Semitic slogans at rallies against Israeli military action in Gaza. Exclaiming “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), crowds in Berlin have reportedly yelled “Death to Israel” and chanted “Zionists are fascists, killing children and civilians.”
British Liberal Democrat MP David Ward tweeted Tuesday he would likely fire a rocket at Israel if he lived in the Gaza Strip. “The big question is - if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes”, he wrote and then tweeted again, “Ich bin ein #palestinian - the West must make up its mind - which side is it on?”
The Liberal Democrats said, according to The Guardian, that the party “utterly condemns” the remarks made by their MP and that he would be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
On the flip side, Israeli religious leaders are also contributing their part in fueling incitement and hate speech against the Palestinians.
Controversial far-right Rabbi Dov Lior, the Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba settlements, has issued Monday a Jewish law code, allowing the destruction of Gaza. According to the rabbi, in times of war the Torah permits to fight back against the people, from which the aggressors come, even if innocent people get hurt in the process.
"In times of war the attacked people can punish the enemy's population as it sees fit, even if it means the destruction of all of Gaza in order to stop southern Israel from suffering," the rabbi wrote in his opinion, also sent also to Israel's Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon.
Watch Sheikh Abu Bilal Ismail's sermon: