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Yad Vashem Responds to Poll in Italy Revealing Widespread Holocaust Denial and Antisemitism

11 November 2003

In light of the poll conducted yesterday in Italy, Yad Vashem calls upon the Italian government to step up educational efforts among its teachers and students, and to tighten its partnership with Yad Vashem in the field of education - including the sending of teachers from Italy to seminars held at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies. The International School has conducted seminars in seven languages for teachers from many countries around the world.

Among the findings from yesterday’s poll: 11% claim that the Jews are lying when they say millions were murdered in gas chambers, 8% believe Italian Jews ought to leave the country, and 22% say Jewish citizens of Italy “are not true Italians.”

Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Avner Shalev, said “I call upon Italy, which in February 2004 will become the chair of the Taskforce for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research, to take the findings of the survey to heart and take decisive action to end antisemitism and Holocaust denial in its borders. We believe in the use of pedagogical tools and all methods of public communication to fight the ignorance that leads to racism and antisemitism.”

The Taskforce was established in May 1998, and today 15 nations belong to it. The Taskforce is a political vehicle, in which experts on the Holocaust from the participating nations play an integral part in the deliberations. The main goal is to provide a political umbrella for the efforts made to increase initiatives and activities in the field of teaching the Holocaust in the educational arena.