I feel pained and confused by the recent far-fetched judgment condemning Peppino Caldarola, who tried to defend the truth, and acquitting the author of a cartoon depicting me with a monstrous appearance and a hooked nose, typical of anti-Semitic iconography, combining the star of David and the fasces lictoriae on my chest. I’m referring to Vauro’s cartoon on the front page of Manifesto from March 13 2008, in the middle of the parliamentary electoral campaign. At the time, Peppino Caldarola wrote an article criticizing this cartoon. He has now been sentenced to pay 25000€ to Vauro for slander.
We’re talking about a cartoon that has been published again and again by several anti-Semitic and Holocaust denying websites over the years. Today, they actually received juridical authorization to show me as depicted by the cartoon, thus exposing me to hatred and to extremely dangerous personal consequences.
Look at this link and tell me that it is not an anti-Semitic cartoon. At that time I received solidarity and affection messages by so many personalities and institutions, both national and international, including the Anti-Defamation League.
This sentence has perilously advocated a double standard: Vauro’s satirical cartoon is legitimate, while Caldarola’s satirical comment to stigmatize it, is illegitimate. All of this is extremely worrying, as it comes during a period of many ceremonies against anti-Semitism aheadof the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
I suggest you read the article below by Pierluigi Battista in Corriere della Sera on this outrageous decision.
Satire and hooked nose in 2012’s Italy
Corriere della Sera, January 23, 2012
by Pierluigi Battista
Some lessons on the situation in Italy in 2012, on the eve of the solemn celebrations for the Holocaust Remembrance Day.
First lesson: on the eve of the Remembrance Day celebrations, a judge has just condemned a journalist, Peppino Caldarola, for having satirically criticised a satirical cartoon by Vauro Senesi published on Il Manifesto. The cartoon caricatures an Italian Jewish woman, Fiamma Nirenstein, with a hooked nose, according to an anti-Semitic iconographic tradition that certainly Vauro does not ignore (we must phrase it in this way, otherwise if we criticize Vauro too much, we’re going to lose in court) and which dates back to the front pages of «Difesa della Razza» (defence of the race) and to the even older «The Protocols of the Elders of Zion».
Second lesson: you criticize a satirical cartoon in a satirical container called Mambo, as in the case of Caldarola, but the judge tips over the plea of not guilty submitted by the prosecutor and decides that the author of the non politically correct satire shall immediately pay the politically correct one (because attacking the Jews and Israel is considered politically correct in principle).
Third lesson: in the few days before the solemn celebrations of the Remembrance Day, if an Italian and Jewish citizen is depicted combining the star of David and the fascie lictoriae, the aggrieved party – i.e. the Italian and Jewish citizen represented in her Jewish character through the Star of David – is forced to bear her humiliation in silence. Instead the offender can cash in the sum of money to be paid by Caldarola – who tried to support the offended Italian and Jewish citizen – on the basis of a decision made on behalf of the Italian people (not Arian, Italian).
Fourth lesson: on the eve of the solemn celebrations of the Remembrance Day, if your name Fiamma Nirenstein, if you are an Italian and Jewish citizen and you even dare run in the election campaign with Pdl Party, then you deserve a vilifying cartoon depicting you with a hooked nose (satirical freedom) and no one can sympathize with you, even when your name, as in this case, is simultaneously indicated as a target to be hit and destroyed in an infinite number of openly anti-Semitic websites, thus obliging you to always go around under police protection (like Saviano).
Fifth lesson: on the eve of the solemn celebrations of the Remembrance Day, you can completely ignore the difference between ‘Jewish” and “Israeli”, you can depict a “Jewish and non «Israeli» person with the star of David, thus remarking that the target of your cartoon is indeed “Jewish”, to be vilified as “Jewish”, and instead of being considered an illiterate, you are seen as a champion of freedom of expression.
A final lesson with a (rhetorical) question: what is the situation of anti-Semitism in Italy on the eve of the solemn celebrations of the Remembrance Day?