Italian Justice Minister Strongly Denounces Anti-Semitism
New York, NY October 11, 2007 … Italy's Minister of Justice strongly condemned anti-Semitism and said his government supports the implementation of tough laws against anti-Semitic acts, and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly reiterated NYPD's strong commitment to fighting hate and terrorism at an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) meeting. Their remarks came at an October 9 event presenting the inaugural ADL Giovanni Palatucci Courageous Leadership Award, named for an Italian police chief who defied the Nazis and saved thousands of Jewish lives during the Holocaust. NYPD Deputy Commissioner David Cohen received the award for his efforts helping New York City fight terrorism.
"Anti-Semitism is a very dangerous ideology," said Italian Justice Minister Clemente Mastella. "I believe that nobody should be attacked because of his nationality, because of his race or because of his religion. My government is prepared to fight against and prevent all forms of anti-Semitism in the country – and across the continent."
Minister Mastella also expressed his support for continuing Holocaust education. "The people of Italy must never forget the memory of the Holocaust. The message has to be strong and the words have to be clear so that we can talk to the next generation."
"Commissioner Cohen works against forces of hatred and extremism to make New York City safe for people of all backgrounds to live, work and worship" said Mr. Foxman, who presented the award. "The Talmud says that 'He who saves one life, saves the world.' By that reckoning, David Cohen has followed this injunction many times over. Commissioner Cohen, like Chief Palatucci, represents the best of his profession and of humanity."
Commissioner Cohen, a 35-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, was appointed to the newly created post of Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence in 2002. He is the senior advisor on intelligence matters to the Police Commissioner and the Department at large.
"It is humbling to receive this honor, knowing what Giovanni Palatucci did during his short life," said Commissioner Cohen. "There are now four generations of what could be called 'Palatucci Survivors' - the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of his original protectees. Like Fiume, New York City stands as a beacon."
"One of the finest and best decisions that I ever made was to hire David Cohen," said NYPD Commissioner Kelly. "No one in the Police Department is more committed to freedom and human rights. He is truly a hero for our times."
Giovanni Palatucci, the Chief of Police of Fiume, Italy, saved the lives of over 3,500 Jews destined for Nazi death camps. Palatucci forged documents and visas and protected them with the help of his uncle, the Bishop of Campagna. Palatucci was arrested in September, 1944, accused of conspiracy, and deported to Dachau concentration camp, where he died shortly before the camp was liberated.
ADL established the Palatucci Courageous Leadership Award to recognize Italian and American police officers who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the fight against extremism, bigotry and terrorism. To further memorialize the life and legacy of Giovanni Palatucci, the League created a lesson plan for students to learn about the life of Palatucci and help them consider the moral choices that must be made by ordinary individuals in the face of injustice.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.