Since one of my end-of-year projects is done, I figured I’d share with you the results. For At Home in Rome, we had to write a paper that examined a sociological issue of contemporary Rome or Italy. One of our classes took us on a walking lecture to the Jewish ghetto, and my paper topic was generated from that trip.
It was strange to academically research the topic, because I was raised Jewish, got bat mitzvahed, and went to Holocaust museums yearly. American public schools focus heavily on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism when covering WWII in history classes. The fact that anti-Semtism = bad is nearly a given. I wasn’t really expecting to find a lot of modern research. My paper was meant to originally examine antisemitism during the Fascist period, and go from there.
It turns out, antisemitism is still very much alive today, and it’s a significant problem in Italy. My paper morphed into an examination of why antisemitism is so prevalent in Italy specifically, and how to counteract it.
Here are some sobering statistics:
44% of Italians express dislike of Jews
12% of those Italians are pure anti-Semites
70% of the Italian population has never had direct contact with a Jewish person.
25% of Italian youth held a negative opinion of sitting at the same dinner table as a Jew.
My research turned up some other statistics, reports and anecdotes that made me wonder how thsi report could have been issued in 2011 rather than `1939. Even worse, Italy is seen to be on the “more tolerant end of the scale.
The paper I wrote was horrifying in and of itself, but to me, it is doubly scary because I’ve been learning how Italy treats other minorities as well. Minorities, immigrants, and refugees get some of the shoddiest treatment in Italy. Throughout the course of this semester, I’ve come to know Italy as a rather xenophobic nation, with laws that make it nearly impossible for non-Italians to get by. Reconciling myself to the fact that I live in the capital of such a country has been a long and difficult process, but I’m glad I know what I do. I’d much rather see the ugly sides of a country that blindly assume that they are being fair. Any possibility of living in Italy for a duration of my life is officially on hold until they make some drastic policy changes.