An Italian newspaper included a Jewish skullcap in its center insert Wednesday as a symbolic gesture to protest what it described as the “West’s cultural retreat” and “surrender” in the face of radical Islam that has forced French Jews to avoid wearing symbols of their faith for fear of being attacked.
The right-leaning Il Foglio’s editor-in-chief, Claudio Cerasa, explained the reasoning behind the skullcap gift – known in Hebrew as a kippah – and asked readers to take selfies wearing them to show that “the West shall not hide.”
— Andrea Camaiora (@AndreaCamaiora) January 27, 2016
“A Jew who hides in fear of being recognized as a Jew is the perfect symbol of a world that forces the West to hide for fear of provoking a reaction among those who want to stab the West,” Cerasa wrote, declaring, “The Jews shall not hide. The West shall not hide.”
— Marco Sermoneta 🇮🇱 (@MarcoCSermoneta) January 27, 2016
The skullcaps were distributed the same day Italy’s culture minister expressed dismay over a Rome museum’s move Tuesday to cover up naked statues in deference to the visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Wednesday also marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In his op-ed, which the paper made of point of translating to English, Il Foglio’s editor blasted apologists for Islamic terrorism — including those in the U.S. — who suggest that violence is a natural reaction to Western military activities:
Of course it is our fault if there is an Islamist who blows himself up in Mosul, a terrorist who kills cartoonists, a fundamentalist who stabs Israelis, a couple of integralists who carry out a massacre in a center for people with disabilities, a man who in the name of ISIS fires thirteen gunshots against a Philadelphia police officer. The responsibility lies always with the West.
He also lambasted those who avoid connecting Islam with terrorism:
[I]t is better not to speak of Islam, say the “mainstream progressives,” better avoid the nonsense, better not to call things by their name. It is better, far better, to take care to cover the roots of evil and violence under a veil of hypocrisy. … Better to refrain from speaking of the real problems, of the connection between the use of violence and the interpretation of Islam.
Cerasa suggested that progressives and journalists who shun connecting radical Islam with violence feed the “West’s cultural retreat.”
“The West’s cultural retreat is an issue that unfortunately is quite present in news reports around the world,” he wrote. “However, when the retreat turns into surrender, it is high time to stop whistling, stop pretending nothing is happening, and start looking at reality with different eyes.”
The editor noted the huge spike in anti-Semitic attacks in France, forcing Jews to remove their kippahs and Jewish stars in public “in the very same Europe where Islamic veils are proliferating, where women are ready to cover their faces to protest against Islamophobia, where Christian symbols are hidden in the name of political correctness, where the principals of some schools in Amsterdam were in favor of replacing in the school calendar one day of Christian holiday for a day of an Islamic festivity.”
“[W]e cannot keep ignoring that the respect for certain religious identities (you know which ones) is making us cover under a veil, literally hide, other religious identities (you know which ones)? No, we cannot,” the editor wrote.
Giulio Meotti who writes for Il Foglio and for Israel’s Arutz Sheva explained the symbolism of the kippah handout.
“Solidarity is the only weapon we have. That little kippah is the symbol of our greatest and most precious freedoms,” he told Arutz Sheva.
Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini on Wednesday said that neither he nor Premier Matteo Renzi had been told the Rome museum’s statues would be covered in deference to the Iranian leader who later said that Iran had not asked for the statues to be covered.
The Associated Press reported that some Italian politicians accused the government of caving to “cultural submission.”
“I think there easily would have been other ways to not offend an important foreign guest without this incomprehensible choice of covering up the statues,” Franceschini told reporters.
Rouhani later expressed appreciation that the nude statues had been covered.
“I know that Italians are a very hospitable people, a people who try to do the most to put their guests at ease, and I thank you for this,” he said.