There was a time worse than this, when anti-Israeli (and anti-Semitic) hatred and terrorist attacks were joined day after day until they paved a long and comfortable road for the attack on the synagogue on October 9, 1982. At 11:55 in the morning, a Palestinian commando assaulted the Great Synagogue of Rome from which mainly children were leaving, holding hands with their parents because it was Shemini Atzeret, with the traditional blessing of the children. Two-year-old Stefano Gay Taché was killed. Thirty-seven persons were injured, some very seriously.

A book published by Viella, Assault on the Synagogue, subtitled Rome, October 9, 1982, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Italy, written by Arturo Marzano and Guri Schwarz, unforgivingly takes us back to that day and shows us that it could not have been avoided. Because the burden of hate of the Palestinian shots had unlikely support: in Italian public opinion (and in any case in the media, except for Il Giornale, Il Resto del Carlino, and Il Secolo d’Italia, according to the authors), Israelis and Jews were almost universally considered to be colonizing Fascists and neo-Nazis, and increasingly so from the war in 1967 to the Lebanese war in 1982.

On the other hand, the Palestinians were applauded as partisans, brothers of the Cubans, the Vietnamese, the anti-Fascist liberation movement in Italy. In the background, the book sheds light on an agreement in the Italian government, the so-called “Moro Award” that gave Palestinian terrorists an open field against their Israeli Jewish enemies (and then also against Italian Jews, as we have seen) with the understanding that they were not to lay a hand on Italians. The assault on the Synagogue, as the book shows, was not a sporadic manifestation but rather the fruit of an ideological war that enveloped both the Italy and the Europe of that time, to the point of gripping Stefano in its coils. Marzano and Schwarz tell how in the years of the energy crisis, while there was no shortage of terrorism of ethnic and religious (Basques, Irish Catholics) as well as political origin (Red Brigades, Baader-Meinhof, various neo-Nazi groups), Islamic terrorism was already gaining a foothold, with Palestinian terrorism as its prime mover. There was an incredible number of attacks: the SIOT pipeline, the exploding record player in the hold of an El Al airplane, a missile attack on Fiumicino Airport that was dodged almost by chance, an attempt on our soil against Golda Meir during a visit, a car bomb in Piazza Barberini in Rome, the two frightful massacres of Fiumicino in 1973 and 1985, with dozens dead, always at the hands of Palestinians… and so many others.

In Europe it was the same thing. It is enough to recall the attack on the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1982, with the world not even giving a damn, to the point that the games continued. The logic by which in 1985 the Italian government rescued the Palestinian assassins who killed the wheelchair-bound American Jew Klinghoffer on the Achille Lauro vessel and threw him into the sea, is written in the pages of the cold war. Once upon a time there was a world of the disinherited and oppressed, their every action — even the most perverse — justified by their role as victims; and on the other side, the oppressing, imperialistic colonizers, the Americans and Israelis.

There is something akin to sexual perversion in what was written about Israel and the Jews in those years still close to the Holocaust. Europe loses its head when it talks about Jews. Israel is described in most political articles and texts as a serial killer, the “Nazi-Zionism” formula having become common in the press and in demonstrations, including that of CGIL (Italian General Confederation of Labor), which placed a black coffin right in front of the synagogue before the attack. For years this formula has been universally accepted and reproduced in cartoons (even by Forattini) and jokes (even by Dario Fo, the Nobel Prize winner). Giancarlo Pajetta, Rodinson, Avneri and many others have created the theoretical groundwork for promoting anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish hatred, to the point of murder.

The “Moro Award” did not work. The massacres also involved Italians, but that violation was explained by saying that the attack on Fiumicino had been aimed at the Israeli airline. If Aldo Moro was the one who made the agreement with the PLO, nothing could be more tragically ironic, since his end was chosen by those Red Brigades, who exchanged arms and advice with the Palestinian organizations, who, thanks to the award, were free to roam around our territory. It is a sad parable about the damage caused by believing in placating the aggressor, helping him to blame his victim.
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (October 16, 2013); English copyright, The Gatestone Institute