Io radunerò tutte le nazioni e le farò scendere nella valle di Giosafat: e là verrò in giudizio con loro, a proposito del mio popolo e d'Israele, mia eredità, che esse hanno disperso fra le nazioni, e del mio paese, che hanno spartito fra di loro.
Gioele 3:2

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Open letter to Benjamin Netanyahu, nicknamed Bibi

Italy, 3 December 2012

Dear Bibi,
   I hope you will allow me to address you confidentially in this way even though we have never met. I am more advanced in years than you and I know, from the little I have already learnt of the Hebrew language, that your language does not distinguish between more and less formal modes of address. But, above all, I know that I will not offend you for the simple reason that you will not have occasion to read this letter. But imagining that I am writing to you helps me, both to clarify my ideas and in part to give vent to the sadness I feel for what is being said during these days about you and about your country.
   My first reason for writing is to apologize as an Italian. Naturally I do not have any personal responsibility for what has happened, but I am part of a nation whose government, a few days ago, committed a cowardly and mean act towards your country, aligning itself with nations that, as you well know and our government also knows, are driven by a desire to see Israel disappear from the world map. You Israelis were counting on our friendship: you thought you could trust us Italians. But instead you could not, unfortunately. You overrated us. I would like to apologize not only because my nation has approved the accumulation of lies and hate contained in the discourse delivered by the Arab-Palestinian speaker, but also for the words of "friendship" addressed to you subsequently by those who govern us, in an attempt to rectify the damage done. I am sure that, as an experienced politician, you will be accustomed to hypocritical language but I know that in certain moments such words do more harm than do the facts that they are meant to clarify.
Someone has said that the decision of the United Nations General Assembly, that has accorded to the Palestinian Authority the status of a non-member State, was "blessed" by the "spirit" of Yasser Arafat. I well believe it because Arafat's widow says as much and from where she speaks certain spirits are in the order of the day. In fact the UN General Assembly is permeated by the globalization of the Arafattian spirit of lies and hate. And our nation participated in this. For this reason I feel it is my duty, on the part of all the anonymous Italians like me who, although not in the majority, would have wished to have made their dissenting voice heard, to apologize to you and to the nation you represent for the ignoble choice made by Italy in the recent UN General Assembly.
   The second reason for addressing this letter to you personally is to thank you for what you have done for your nation, seeking to defend it in ways that your government has deemed appropriate and possible. Certainly it is possible to make mistakes but in certain circumstances who can be sure of not making any mistakes? Many are saying "Israel is now isolated", and perhaps they think they are making a profound statement, when in reality this is an obvious fact that has been true for years, I am tempted to say: has always been true. And who is to blame? Netanyahu. Or more precisely Israel that supports Netanyahu. Many say this, even among the friends of Israel and also among Jews. You are perhaps not aware how many wise analyses are made in these days, and are published in Italian Newspapers, not only in Haaretz, with a view of demonstrating that you have erred. And how many retroactive pieces of advice are directed at you (ideally, as these my own words) to instruct you concerning what you should have done and not done. If only you had been able to listen to them! In that case Israel would not be where it is. Now it is isolated. Otherwise now it would be… well, I don't know, because to tell the truth they don't say. But I have noticed one thing: in all of these analyses, or at least in those which I have had occasion to read, there is no concrete suggestion concerning what you should have done after many days of missiles being rained down on your heads. High level questions concerning political strategy, concerning relationships with the United Nations, America, Egypt, Europe and other such matters are discussed, but no one talks about the missiles that have fallen on the heads of Israelis, and will no doubt fall on them in the future. Or they merit a mere passing mention, to then resume talking about some question thought to be more important. But then, the question of the missiles does not attract attention because you need to know, in the event of you not having been aware of it, that for the majority of people the missiles the rain down your heads are less than half of what you deserve. So why do you complain? Besides, the general public is interested in peace and peace is not threatened by Islamic missiles that destroy the homes of Jews, but rather by the construction of homes for Jews that you, with shameful impudence have allowed to be authorized in the capital city of your State.
It is written in the prophecy of Zechariah that in the Last Days God will make Jerusalem "a cup that sends all the surrounding nations reeling". One would say that this has already begun, because the quantity of foolish things that even the most sensible people manage to say when they begin talking about Jerusalem is astounding. Perhaps the implicit advice contained in the silences of those commenting the events is that you should have let the missiles fall on your heads and dedicate yourself to high level politics, as they do. This, of course, would not have been looked upon with approval by the rest of the Israelis and you knew it. So you acted and they supported you. If you have been criticized it has been mainly when you stopped. Did you do well to commence the attack? Was it a mistake to leave it too long before commencing it? Did you stop too soon? I don't know. I only know that you did your best to defend your country, which was your duty, while others do their best to denigrate it and destroy it. For this I thank you, because I too have the good of the nation of Israel on my heart, even though I am neither a Jew nor an Israeli, just as many others like me, who are neither Jews nor Israelis, care about Israel.
   I know that you are aware, in the sense that you are informed of the love that many Evangical Christians (but not all) have for Israel, and you know that they are sincere. I am one of these and I think it is comforting for Jewish Israelis to know that there are people who are not Jews or Israelis who stand with Israel without any personal motives.
The comfort is reciprocal when it is felt that this love is recognized and believed. In my last visit to Israel I had the pleasure of hearing Dan Bahat, the scientist who for many years has been the official Jerusalem archaeologist, say these words: "Do you know why America supports Israel? Not because of the presence of the Jewish lobby, as many say, but because of the presence of millions of Evangelical Christians who stand with Israel". Hearing these words gave me immense pleasure which they were quite unexpected and because they came from the mouth of an extremely well-informed, intelligent secular Jew who had no reason to utter them were it not that they corresponded to the reality as he had been able to ascertain it, without prejudice, as he had shown himself to be while giving us highly informative historical and archeological data and commentary during the visit to Israel that we had the honor to make with him as our precious guide.
   So, dear Bibi, confident of interpreting the sincere sentiments of many of my brothers in faith, I renew my apologies for what we Italians have done and my thanks for what you have done for your countrymen. And even if these words do not reach you personally, they will perhaps be read by someone who agrees with what you are and what you represent for Israel.
   With esteem and sympathy,
   Marcello Cicchese

(Notizie su Israele, 3 dicembre 2012 - trad. Rinaldo Diprose)


The answer of Netanyahu


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