The Complexity Of Blind Hatred
Today I attended the 25th International Book Fair in Jerusalem. I don't have my finger on the statistics, but Israelis, the "people of the book", are said to buy more books per capita than any other nation on earth.
One of the pleasures of the book fair are the literary discourses and lectures that abound. I attended a round-table discussion between David Ehrlich and Angelo Pezzana. David is a published Israeli author (in Hebrew). Angelo has published five books, in Italian. Both own and run bookstores, David's in Jerusalem, Angelo's in Turin.
David asked Angelo what price he had had to pay as an "out" gay man in Italy, having come out 40 years ago. "To be honest," said the Italian, "I never had to pay any price. On the contrary: Although Italy lags way behind Israel and most of Europe in legislation protecting the homosexual community, nobody bothered me. Because I was open, I never lived the false, double life that drags one down so miserably. I was open, and people accepted me at face value".
His next words shocked the audience. "However, in 1988, when I was a member of the Piedmont Regional Council, I ran a series of workshops and lectures on Israel, a cultural program similar to others run by the Council.
"The result was horrifying. My bookshop, which is one of the oldest and best in Turin, was boycotted for a week by communist and left-wing groups. Flyers and leaflets warned potential customers that the books were 'bathed in Palestinian blood'. When the boycott failed, the agitators smashed the storefront one night and firebombed the store. Luckily the fire brigade arrived quickly, so only half the shop was burned. I paid a very high price for supporting Israel".
It's worth noting that Angelo Pezzana is not Jewish. Except for selling books and Judaica, he has no connection with Judaism or Israel.
Blind hatred is indeed very complex.
Jonathan Danilowitz is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist