Thursday 25th of July 2024


The US House of Representatives has passed a bill aimed at combating anti-Semitism in American universities amid continuing student protests against Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

The Antisemitism Awareness Act was approved by 320 votes to 91 on Wednesday, with 21 Republicans and 70 Democrats being among those opposing the legislation.

The bill would require the US Department of Education to adopt a broad definition of anti-Semitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which describes the phenomenon as “certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.”

It also contains a list of “contemporary examples of anti-Semitism,” which have been shared online by social media users, including Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has said.

Among the examples of hatred toward Jews mentioned in the document is “using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene was among the lawmakers who voted against the bill. “Antisemitism is wrong,” she wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday, but added that she would not support legislation that “could convict Christians of antisemitism for believing the Gospel that says Jesus was handed over to Herod to be crucified by the Jews.”

Other anti-Semitic actions mentioned in the bill include “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel… than to the interests of their own nations,” making allegations “about a world Jewish conspiracy and or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government,” as well as “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

Since mid-April, students have set up protest camps at more than 40 colleges across the US, demanding a stop to the violence in Gaza and an end to Washington’s support of Israel.

The demonstrations were initially peaceful, but clashes have erupted at Columbia University in New York, UCLA, and other colleges as police moved in to disperse the gatherings. Hundreds have been arrested amid the unrest.

READ MORE: WATCH pro-Palestine activists take over building at prestigious US university

Israel is facing increasing international criticism over the rising death toll among Palestinians following its latest invasion of Gaza. According to the enclave’s health ministry, more than 34,000 people have been killed in the ongoing airstrikes and ground offensive. The campaign was launched in response to the October 7 cross-border attack on Israel by Hamas, in which at least 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage.



the little children....


Weeping for the children in Gaza    By Barb Durance


For the past seven months, life as I knew it has stopped. The enormity of the genocide in Gaza inhabits me. My short nights of interrupted sleep are bookended with hours at the computer combing the news of Gaza. Meal times are now brief moments to gulp tasteless food. A sentence or a photo triggers enormous pain. I feel there is a flood rushing towards me and all I have is a spoon. If this is how I feel, in my safe, comfortable home in Sydney, how do Palestinians cope?

Friends with whom for years I have gone to watch movies about the Holocaust and to whom I have lent books on the suffering of Jews in Nazi Germany and elsewhere, do not say a word about Gaza. And their indifference cuts me deeply. One says she tries to avoid politics. Avoid politics? I wonder how she would feel if it were Belfast that was being bombed. I remember her anger at the suffering of Ukrainians. And I think ‘Children of a Lesser God’.

I read the horrifying facts and figures and try to imagine how I would have coped if I were in Gaza. If I had to evacuate my home, what would I be able to quickly salvage? How would I feel If I returned to find my home erased, and with it all the memories of 49 years lived there? If I were ordered to walk eight kilometres, would I be able to do it? How would my husband manage with his hip pain and walking stick? How would we cope without clean water or food? How would I feel if our son was killed by a sniper?

Over 14,000 children have been killed in Gaza by Israel’s bombs and snipers and others are buried under the rubble. The surviving children suffer unspeakable horrors. 14,000 children murdered. How can people treat this as a mere statistic? How can they read it and move on? How can they avert their gaze? I think of the unnamed children behind the statistic and their short, undocumented lives. The play that made them happy, the love that made them feel safe, their fears, their dreams and their hopes. I read of strategies and tactics, of leaders’ meetings, of political announcements, of think tanks, and of powerful interests. I try to comprehend the relationship between those grown-ups’ activities and the horrors suffered by Palestinian children. And it eludes me. It still sounds like a dystopian novel. What political interests can lead to children collecting the body parts of murdered parents and siblings? What strategies can justify blowing children’s faces off? Or starving them?

I try to imagine the pain of the Palestinians witnessing the suffering of their traumatised children. The sense of being utterly helpless to protect their children must be overwhelming. It is no longer a case of the periodic ‘mowing the lawn’ to be endured until it passes. This time the whole garden is to be uprooted and razed. Their previously besieged and precarious world has been bombed to smithereens.

There have been so many distressing images from Gaza. One image lives in my mind. A little girl rushing behind the body of her dead mother, weeping and beseeching her in Arabic to” Get up mother. Get up”. I wade through the words of politicians about the “conflict’ and think of this little girl and all the other children whose world has fallen apart. I see the headlines in the mainstream media and I am dumbfounded. How can they lead with trivialities? Until the slaughter in Gaza stops, shouldn’t the headlines scream about it, daily? I watch the confected exasperation of Biden and I think ‘You can stop this apocalypse now’. I read our politicians’ words and watch their inaction, and mourn the loss of Australia’s sovereignty.

In happier times, knowing my love of all things Italian, my friends used to joke that, with me, all conversations lead to Rome. Nowadays, everything in my life leads to the children in Gaza. I go for a walk with a water bottle and I think of the little children drinking dirty water in Gaza. I open my fridge and think of hungry children queuing for hours to get meagre food rations. I do the laundry and think of children living in the same clothes for weeks. I step into the hot shower and I think of hundreds sharing one bathroom with cold water. I get into my warm, comfortable bed and think of the children of Gaza sleeping on the floor in makeshift tents.

And I weep for their children of Gaza. Children who are wondering whether they will be alive tomorrow instead of thinking “When I grow up, I would like to be..”, children who are searching for wood so that Mama can make a fire, when they should be at school. Children who want their legs back. Children who have seen countless dead bodies instead of hearing the adults discuss whether they are old enough to be taken to ‘grandpa’s funeral’. Children who are worried about waking up under the rubble instead of worrying about an overdue homework assignment. Children whose laughter has been extinguished.

In the middle of all the darkness and despair of the past seven months, I have been enormously comforted by the writings of all those wonderful independent journalists, scholars and historians. They have kept the eyes of the world focused on the crimes committed against the Palestinians. They have analysed, argued, reminded, explained, and rebutted. For me, they are, and have always been, the only hope that one day we will see peace with justice. For the Palestinians and for all other oppressed people. My gratitude to them is immense. As is my gratitude to all those brave Jews who have continued to support Palestinians, risking being isolated and smeared by their own community. When I see them marching with us at the weekly rallies, I am truly awed and heartened.





letter from an E-C....

BY Kaddour NAÏMI [Algerian in Rome]


Dear parents, I am writing to you from Rome, a day like any other, Rome, the capital of the rich, of Westerners, of Christians, with a Pope E-C, that is to say Extra-Community: he comes from Argentina. The Italians call E-C the Foreigners from poor countries, poor because, in the past, the Europeans, militarily stronger, had attacked and pillaged them.


In Rome, immigrants have been coming and going since the Romans, two thousand years ago, invaded foreign countries and brought slaves to Rome: blacks, whites, browns, Jews and many others. To the point that today, at the sight of a Roman citizen, "of more than seven generations", as they say here, we cannot affirm the identity of his ancestors, with all the minestrone constituted between the peoples during the Roman Empire, and its production of legitimate children, illegitimate children, children of free citizens, children of slaves and children of no one. However, an Italian general recently stated: Italianness is proven by the whiteness of the skin. Does he really know the history of Italy? Does he have good eye vision? Once a boy amused me to the point of laughter. He raised his arm in the fascist salute and shouted: “Long live the white race!” ". Yet his black hair and dark skin looked like mine. I would smile if some descendant of slaves, not entirely white-skinned, in ignorance of his genealogy, disguised himself as a “racist, anti-immigrant skinhead”; he did not attend university to learn the amusing law of heredity. Ancient brewing is ignored or, more seriously, obscured.


I learned that a saint here, one of the most important, called Saint Augustine, is Algerian! Yes ! Yes ! Algerian doc! an E-C doctor! Amazigh, as we say today, in any case a child of Algerian land. Most Romans today are unaware or obscure his origin. For them, it is not chic to consider one of their most respected saints is non-European.


Now I will tell you about the majority of people here, with a few exceptions.


In Rome, the majority of residents believe in the Messiah; but, in the churches, the priests never tell them that Jesus was Palestinian, poor, an immigrant from Nazareth to Jerusalem. Why this silence ?


The descendants of what we call the Eternal City suffer from a certain little complex. As we Algerians have in relation to Rome, Paris or other Western capitals, they manifest a complex in relation to another Rome, the Rome of today: New York. An example: if your name is Ali Sarrasin, they consider it strange, difficult to pronounce; if your name is Wellington Mac O'Hara, they go into ecstasies, everyone tries to declaim Wellington Mac O'Hara with the best American accent, without realizing this ridiculous anticy. These Italians seem obsessed with emigrating to New York, like the Algerians to Western capitals.


Italians are descended from emperors: that’s why they see themselves as great, so great! Hence their contempt for what they call “Third World”; except for cheap exotic vacations. As these Italians are also descended from slaves, they see themselves as small, small, small until they admire “the America!” ". It is, perhaps, this double descent which gives the Romans a rare quality: self-irony. Their reading of the famous S.P.Q.R. imperial, which decorates their town hall, they distort it: “Sono Porci Questi Romani”, that is to say “These Romans are Pigs”. Funny, right?


Here, the nicest people smile at me very exceptionally, the less nice ones give me a suspicious or hostile look. Why, if not because I am an immigrant? However, ah! How much they are touched by the sight of the film E-T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Is this where the expression by which they label me comes from: E-C, Extra-Community?


Here, money suppresses friendship. Worse than back home. No money ? Die! We won't tell you: a smile of the occasion expresses it. However, “by Bachus!” ", as they say here, Rome is the capital of the Christian God. A bank is called “Banco di Santo Spirito” (Bank of the Holy Spirit). Yes ! I am not joking. If you want to know why Holy Spirit is attached to the bank, we answer you: “the Ways of the Lord are impenetrable”.


I visited the Mecca of Christians, Saint Peter's Basilica. It’s a temple full of gold, shiny things, things of the rich, things that catch the eye! Even in both eyes to the point of dizziness! They say this is all to the glory of Jesus! I don't understand: would this humble, simple, poor man, friend of the poor, who condemned the rich, like this “glory” made up of such a display of gold? Perhaps I, not having been subjected to catechism, understand nothing about the religion of the Crucified. I asked myself: what would he have thought? And what would the Christian martyrs who were eaten by lions have thought in this temple of barbarism, even more barbaric because it was practiced for pleasure alone: the Colosseum? Imagine, in 2000 years, tourists who, visiting the Auschwitz extermination camps, would exclaim: “Oh! Ah! The admirable monument of German civilization!", as today tourists exclaim in front of the Colosseum: “Oh! Ah!... The admirable monument of Roman civilization!"...But maybe I don't understand anything about civilization.


Speaking of civilization and barbarism, I often walk around Rome when I'm not working. The main street is Via dei Fori Imperiali (Avenue of the Imperial Forums): everywhere, statues of emperors, a little soiled by the digestion of pigeons. I looked for statues of famous slaves, for example, one that I really like, also an E-C: Spartacus. Nothing!


As I am stubborn or, rather, optimistic, I looked for at least one street that bears his name. Oh joy! I found it!... Guess where. In the dormitory outskirts, an ugly area of the city. Logic: yesterday's bosses among today's bosses, yesterday's slaves with today's slaves.


You asked me why I didn't get married in Rome. I don't have a bank account, my employer, a leech, gives me an infamous salary, the owner of my miserable lodging demands an unfair rent. Employer and owner behave like human carrion: “It’s the law of the market!” they say, declaring themselves proud Christians.


I live in a room the size of a prison cell, in a humid underground in summer and winter, in the extreme suburbs of Rome. The girls here, beautiful or ugly, don't appreciate a guy in my condition. In addition, here they have a proverb: “Donna e buoi dai paesi tuoi” (Woman and cow, take them from your country). Eh yes ! They make an exception: the pretender with good financial assets.


I only say these words to you. If I said them here, out loud, I would risk “Hey, you stupid Arab! You're only here to do the job that disgusts us! If you're not happy, go back to your mess!" They are right, in a way: if, in the country of my birth, I had the means to live with dignity, why come to Rome if not as a tourist?


In any case, I love this city for certain spirits who inhabit it: Brutus, Spartacus, Michelangelo, Giordano Bruno. Hey! Hey! The first name of this Italian philosopher is Arabic: Giordano, the Jordan River.


I also like popular Roman songs. The one that touches me the most evokes a kind of E-C, too: “Barcarolo romano” (a Roman man who uses a boat). We celebrate the boat of life, the river of time, the bad luck of going against the tide. If you promise not to cry too much, I will send you the song with its translation.


About this man on a boat, the people here say “Poor Christ!" And speaking of Christ, I must tell you that Rome is full of churches. Churches! Churches! Churches everywhere! More than the mosques here. You can't look anywhere without seeing a church! Perhaps the authorities of the time, convinced that the Roman people were naturally pagan, built a beautiful church on every street corner: Pray! Accept your destiny! Hallelujah! But the people are clever, they say: “A Roma si fa la fede, e fori Roma ci si crede” (In Rome one makes faith, and outside Rome one believes in it).


A few years ago a truly historic event took place in Rome. The authorities finally celebrated, after two thousand years of opposition, hesitation, declarations of good intentions, the first mosque in Rome. Arabia should return the courtesy to the Christians: authorize the construction of a church in Mecca, right?


Rome contains specific mysteries. For example, the presence of an angel in the Chamber of Deputies. You can laugh, but a member of Parliament said it, the newspapers confirmed it. It is undemocratic, since this angel was not elected by anyone.


Another mystery of Rome: in the city center, the most beautiful palaces built by good human genius, while on the outskirts you will be disgusted by the most horrible constructions. It is said that another angel of the “palazzinaro” type (building manufacturer) intervened: he allowed the appearance not of the Madonna, but of “Accattone”, a child of poverty who became a pimp, and of “Mamma Roma”, a woman of the same poverty, who became what we call here “a woman of bad morals”.


This real estate angel is spiritual: one of the peripheral districts was named Centocelle, that is to say Hundred Cells; there, one of the most disgusting main streets is called Via della Primavera! (Rue du Printemps!).


But, as you taught me, Mom and Dad, it’s better to talk about beautiful things.


I walk down certain streets with intoxication, at the thought of the footsteps of men and women, slaves or free citizens, who walked on these same streets in previous centuries, people who also came from Numidia, as the island was called. Algeria.


Dear parents, in Rome, educated people who proclaim themselves left-wing claim to want the best for me, but I see that they use me in their favorite game: the administrative chair which guarantees them a comfortable income. Maybe these people don't eat enough fish to remember a little inhabitant of an Italian island, also a species of E-C. : Antonio Gramsci. He was imprisoned for life by a guy who had a name similar to the word "Muslim". It is said that this dictator came from a population which, in the Middle Ages, was made up of Muslims established in Italy. This man was called Mussolini because, some researchers say, it is a distortion of the word “mussulmani”, with two “s”. Here, people don't know it; it may be a state secret.


Mussolini's parents named their son Benito. As we know, Ben is the prefix that means “son of” in Arabic and Jewish names. Italy was led by a famous leader: Ben Ito Mussolini. Fun, right? Is this why the Romans said: “Tutto il mondo è paese” (The whole world is one country)?


The distortion of foreign names amuses Europeans. We, too, distort foreign names: Westerners are still called “Rumi” today. In Arabic it means, as you know, “who come from Rome”. In fact, to the inhabitants of the southern Mediterranean, especially during the Crusades, people arriving from the north declared that they were coming in the name of Rome. Today, the migratory wind has changed direction: it is me, son of Saracens, perhaps descendant of some Roman established in the distant past in the land of my birth, it is me who comes to Rome. With one difference: I am not here as an invader, a swordsman, a thief; I do not covet spices, lands to colonize, gold; I'm only looking for a job, a house and, if one day I have children, a school for them, with the hope that the teachers are worthy of their past civilization, the one that gave the world Leonardo and Galileo, not the one that , in a very beautiful square in the city, poetically called Campo de' Fiori (Field of Flowers), Giordano Bruno burned alive because of his free thought.


I live very close to a square. It is not named after a flower, but after a certain Vittorio Emanuele: a king from the past. You know that my freedom ignores any form of imposed authority. But, I love this place: it has become a place of the world, with people from all continents, all religions, all the colors of the human rainbow, all music, of all the languages on the planet. Only the Extra-Terrestrials are missing; there are us, the Extra-Community People.


Unfortunately, among them, there are people poor in money and culture, victims of the cursed social system that dominates the planet. To these unfortunate people, no one taught that one should not urinate in the street, that one should not sell drugs, get drunk to death, steal, force young girls to sell themselves in the street.


These “poor Christs” have too few Christs to understand them, to help them. Ah, capital of Christianity! On the occasion of the Jubilee, you declared yourself capable of welcoming thirty million pilgrims, in such a way that they "do not feel foreign", but you remain with no other response than prayers before three hundred thousand "poor Christs" extra-community. Crucified!... Why don't you come back to Saint Peter's Square, and repeat on television, in mondovision: "I am a poor person among the poor, an extra-community member too! I came and I return not only to pray, but also to act, first of all for the Extra-, all the Extra-, those excluded from everything, even the right to change country. Cursed, the society where vulgar merchandise circulates freely, because it generates despicable profit, while human beings are rejected because they do not provide the same vile profit! Be cursed, you whose hypocritical mouth evokes God or Christ, while the vicious brain adores the demonic Silver!"


You will ask me: what about the Algerians who live in Rome? Among them, too, the demonic Money dominates: every man for himself; if necessary, turn to God. Those who have “succeeded”, as they say, isolate themselves in their cave or run in search of a more profitable “success”; Losers lose themselves more in losing activities. Among the “intellectual elite”, the behavior is lone wolf, with an excuse: “When two Algerians get together, three ideas oppose each other”.

Dear parents, very dear sisters and brothers, rest assured for my life, for my dignity. The Colosseum is no longer an arena of horrible public assassinations, there are no longer gladiators, martyrs, slaves whose spilled blood provokes sadistic howls of pleasure from the so-called civilized Romans. Rotten brains do not build crematoriums for Extra-community people. I must thank the democratic system, democratic to a certain limit which diminishes, diminishes: I see it in the worried, closed, aggressive faces, in the official imprisonment of freedom of expression, guilty of protesting against the state massacre citizens of other countries, citizens whose fault is to defend their right to dignity.


Dear parents, dear sisters and brothers, forgive me for these observations. You know: I do not want to ignore what is wrong on this earth, first of all where I live.


If you close your eyes to the unpleasant aspects, Rome is a paradise! Pretty blue lakes lit by an often azure sky, hills of vines everywhere, roofs of a pleasant red, sunsets that stimulate the imagination, multiple hundred-year-old trees, the sea not far away. Everything is a dream to amazed eyes, a painting by the artist of artists: nature!


Rome is also a theater stage: sometimes, someone imitates the nightingale, croons while working “Roma non fa’ la stupida…” (Rome don’t act stupid…). Words and melody come from the soul of the people, from the human condition, the most tender part. You could tell me: where do you find these pretty words? My free time I devote to reading; it teaches me how to express myself better.


For me, Rome is not that of overturned nails, stolen from other countries, which we call obelisks, not that of the mentally handicapped. Rome! For me, you are a woman of very special charm. Without playing macho, I admire the rounded breasts of your domes, the red lips of your roofs (an unwise metaphor, but these roofs suggest lips to me), the nonchalant curvature of your belly-dancing river. Rome! In Trastevere I love your alleys ideal for kissing, the beauty of your ancient squares and Bernini's sculptures, your still open fountains of drinking water, your cats which wander nonchalantly.


Rome! I love you especially at night, especially in the month of August: abandoned by your noisy inhabitants, you offer yourself, sweet and languid, at my feet, to my eyes, to my fanciful desires...


However, Roma Amor mio! There are times, ah! these moments: I would give everything to return, for a moment, a single moment, among you, my family, then wander around the neighborhood and the city where I was born. I don't have, you don't have the price of the trip.


So, I think: stupid me! This entire planet is the neighborhood where I was born, even if in some parts they call me an Extra!... Isn't every human being an extra-ordinary: a miracle on this ball that rolls in the infinite universe?


When it comes to travel, the truth is, money is not the problem. The real motive? Freedom. Outside of my homeland, I am less limited in the expression of my opinions, even in this period when denouncing a crime against humanity could result in a conviction, a fine, or prison.


Perhaps I am a coward compared to the compatriots who stayed in the country to conquer freedom. Often this thought whispers in my brain, prevents me from looking at the mirror: “You love freedom, but you let others conquer it for you... Is this worthy of you? »


Please, dear mom and dad, dear sisters and brothers, do not say the opposite of what I said in this letter, to make people believe that I am happy where I live: that in Rome, I finds the money on the ground, that all the pretty women throw themselves into my arms, that I have many friends, that I live in a Paradise. If you say that, Rome would be filled with compatriots in search of happiness; without means of subsistence, how would they survive? If all these malcontents leave the country, who would free it from its injustices? What is a beautiful homeland if not one where we love to live? Is this love a concession from the authorities or a citizen conquest?


Dear mom and dad, dear sisters and brothers, excuse the length of my letter. I have tried to tell you about the salt and honey of my existence. My mind and my heart are torn between here, where my body is, and where I experienced my first emotions.


From Rome, I send you my dearest kisses, my most tender thoughts, with so much nostalgia.


This version is revised and updated compared to a previous one, published in 2005, in the collection The latest news from Rome, Éditions Librairie Française de Rome La Procure and Palombi Editori (Rome).