Genoa Rabbi attacked with screwdriver in antisemitic attack

In a shocking incident that unfolded in the heart of Genoa’s historic center, Rabbi Haim Fabrizio Cipriani, 52, was threatened with a screwdriver and subjected to verbal antisemitic abuse by a homeless man on Monday.

The attack took place while Cipriani, who was wearing a kippah, a traditional Jewish head covering, was singled out. Responding to Cipriani’s call, the Genoa Police Headquarters promptly intervened, and fortunately, he emerged unharmed.

The incident was reported by Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which described how the 58-year-old attacker was apprehended by the police and taken to the police station. He faced charges of making threats and the aggravating circumstances outlined in the Mancino Law, which pertains to “racial insults.”

Moked, a Jewish Italian news site, covered the incident and quoted Cipriani’s response to the attack. “I am very shocked, but I am not surprised,” the rabbi is quoted saying.

“As a Jew, I know that these situations can occur and, lately, it is increasingly probable. In this period, after 7 October, antisemitism has worsened and become widespread throughout the world, even in Italy,” he said. “One pretext is as good as another for antisemitism — now the pretext is Israel — but antisemitism is the irrational evil par excellence.”

Cipriani, affiliated with the Conservative movement, went on to recount the terrifying encounter, mentioning that the attacker had threatened him with a screwdriver unleashed a barrage of antisemitic slurs, shouting, “Go away, you dirty Zionist f…, otherwise I’ll open the door for you,” urging him to “Go to Israel” and identifying him as a “Jew.” He even attempted to enlist passersby to join in the attack — though fortunately, no one heeded his call for violence.

Italians and members of the Israeli community attend a protest against Israeli government’s proposed judicial reform during the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Rome, Italy March 10, 2023. (credit: REMO CASSILI/REUTERS)

In a Facebook post following the incident, Cipriani expressed his gratitude and reassurance to his community. “I do not want to be late in expressing my deepest gratitude to all of you. I’ll do this with greater detail tomorrow… For now, a grateful hug and every blessing possible should be bestowed upon you; Am Israel Chai, the people of Israel are alive.”


Previous antisemitism in Europe Cipriani experienced

This disturbing incident is not the first time Cipriani has faced antisemitic hostility. He shared with Moked that similar attacks had occurred in France, where he was chased down the street in broad daylight in the French cities of Montpellier shortly after the multiple hijacked airline attack on September 11, 2001, and again a few years later in Nice. Despite these experiences abroad, this is the first time he has been subjected to such an attack in Italy, leading him to express concerns for the safety of his family.

In response to the incident, the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) issued a statement expressing “solidarity and closeness to Rav Haim Fabrizio Cipriani, victim of an antisemitic attack, which directly affects all Italian Jews.”

Aside from his role as a rabbi, Cipriani is also a renowned musician, a professional violinist who was a professor at the Niccolo Piccinni Conservatory in Bari, Italy.

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