I thank you very much for the words of solidarity that you had for Italy with reference to the earthquake that has recently struck many Municipalities in different Regions of Central Italy, compounding the effects of the quake that hit other Municipalities at the end of August.
These are sad days for Italy. The earthquake has strongly damaged - and in August also caused numerous casualties - Municipalities that have a long history, are architecturally fascinating, rich in monuments and in the bustle of everyday life. During the next months and years Italy is and will continue to be committed to rebuilding them exactly as they were.
Allow me to express my sincere thanks to the President of the University for the invitation extended to me which has brought me to be here with you today, the eminent professors of this University, and its students, to whom I would like to particularly address these few words. It is a very special emotion being here with you in Jerusalem, this extraordinary city.
This is why I would like to warmly thank the President and the Authorities of this University for having invited me to deliver the inaugural lecture for the new academic year of a University that constitutes the throbbing heart of scientific and humanistic studies and whose prestige reaches well beyond the borders of this Country.
Here is where great scholars, academicians and several Nobel Prize winners cultivated their talents. To all of them Mankind owes the achievement of horizons of knowledge that have favoured the growth of our societies in every possible field.
The cornerstone of the Hebrew University was laid almost one hundred years ago, bearing the names of its distinguished founders: Freud, Buber, Bialik.
Bearing witness to the admiration felt for this University, Albert Einstein himself decided to donate to it his personal records and the exploitation of his image rights.
I am very grateful to Professor Ben-Sasson for offering me the opportunity to admire some of the notes of the scientist - but above all an extraordinary man - who paved the way for unprecedented discoveries and knowledge, plotting courses of thought that we still follow today and that have ushered us into a world in which technologies, considered futuristic up to only a few years ago, are now within everybody's reach.
The knowledge that scientific research has given us enables us to dialogue, interconnecting us without difficulty from one corner of the Earth to another, and to drastically reduce mortality rates, thus increasing life expectancy.
Historically speaking, the achievement of extraordinary scientific and technological results has not corresponded to or matched the advancement of our human and civil sensitivities.
It is as if, concomitantly to the increase in the number of instruments we dispose of, in some instance there might have been a progressive oblivion of some of the elements of knowledge which, among other things, had contributed to a positive evolution in cohabitation over the centuries.
Something similar happened a few centuries ago, in the Rome at the time of a waning Empire, which witnessed an impressive regression. Emblematic was a phenomenon that enables to reflect on the extent to which that society - organised, complex, articulate and rather free, and therefore in many ways similar to numerous modern-day societies - had progressed but had, little by little wasted the knowledge that it had accumulated and on which it had founded its success and its development.
The devastating plundering to which Rome was submitted spared the thermal baths, with their significance as a meeting place, and the Romans continued to go there. They were in buildings that had required sophisticated engineering techniques to build and to make work.
In the years following the fall of the Empire, when the baths' water supply pipes deteriorated and the whole waterworks collapsed, Romans discovered they no longer possessed the skills to put them back into operation. One of the civilisation's best achievements had been lost.
The knowledge underlying technological progress had been lost and, with it, a not secondary aspect of cohabitation.
The fatal error was made to consider it a condition acquired forever.
Is something similar perhaps also happening today?
Are we taking for granted conditions, knowledge, ideas and goals for which research has continuously worked and for which generations have fought without realising that they are instead permanently at risk?
Are there ideas, knowledge and capacities inborn in human beings that are losing strength in us?
The squandering of memories entails, for new generations, the risk of repeating the errors committed in the past by previous generations.
We have the feeling that these matters lie at the heart of the big problems that our societies are called upon to solve.
The world has been made small by globalization - and its way of life is necessarily more "shared" - and this has made inequalities more evident and sharper and unsustainable in the long-term, besides being morally inacceptable.
The gap in technical and scientific knowledge has turned into an almost unsurmountable barrier.
It has become extremely easy and even common-sense to think that everybody can now access similar levels of knowledge. But every day the reality of things shows us otherwise.
Suffice it to think that today over one billion two-hundred million people do not have access to electricity.
The extraordinary technological progress made in the past fifty years - which should be hopefully enjoyed by everybody - has often turned into an ulterior divisive factor in the deep cleavage that runs across our societies, undeliberately separating those who benefit from this progress from those who are in any case left behind.
These are the people who are ever-more frequently called the "losers" of globalization, on the margins of developed societies and inside Developing Countries.
It is a reality that has widespread repercussions, and not only in Western societies.
Indicative of this is the problem of migration, which has given rise to a fiery debate within the European Union - which is far from being over - and driven the public opinion of some of the Member States to take unprecedented positions of closure.
We are, and will continue to be in the future, called upon to join forces in meeting the needs of a growing portion of the world's population which must be put in the position - in a congruous lapse of time - of sharing the level of knowledge and wellbeing achieved by our societies.
This is the deep-set significance of the solidarity that societies as developed as ours, have the duty to make effective.
Technology and science are not sufficient, on their own, to help us overcome the irrational fear of others.
We need an adequate vision of Man and of his state.
The idea of simply reacting by "closing up" within our own space can perhaps reassure us on the short term but it can't be a long-term strategy. Phenomena must be understood and governed, not only tackled with defensive measures.
We are now called on to face this situation with a renewed spirit of solidarity and to respond through what is configured as an immense - but unpostponable - commitment, also educational.
Unlike what happens in the field of science, where modern-day progress sums up to the progress already achieved, the possibilities of "accumulating", so to speak, are much more limited in the field of education.
Every person is ever-new, just like every generation is ever-new.
One generation can put the following one in the condition of inheriting its goods and knowledge but it will only be able to convey its values through a constant, capillary, diffused effort.
Values of course can only be handed down if they are continued to be lived, in a spirit of dialogue, responsibility and solidarity.
Therefore, if we firmly believe in those same values so laboriously laid at the foundations of our society - characterised by rights, guarantees, liberties and duties, the rejection of war-mongering, terrorism and all other forms of subjugation - if we want those values to continue to be the linchpin that guarantees the prevalence of democracy and dialogue, if we want the enforcement of the law and peace to prevail, then we have to make a serious effort to protect them where they exist and to disseminate them where they are absent.
Therefore, we are called upon to shoulder a great responsibility.
A responsibility that for ancient societies - which, like ours, have their roots in a millennium-long history - is perhaps even greater.
Ideas, lifestyles, legal models, orientations and the thrust of ideals of the Nations in which we live constitute an important catalyst that can - and must - help transmit to the new generations, and to share with those who come into contact with us, the foundations of democratic societies so that the new generations can continuously improve them and shape them into new and more ambitious positive goals.
In consideration of these aspirations, we must responsibly think of the tumultuous migration phenomenon and of our neighbours in the Mediterranean and in the East, who are closest to us.
We must be alarmed at thinking of the tragedy of conflicts that are shedding blood throughout the Middle Eastern region, with unspeakable suffering for the civilian population.
In the panorama that I have attempted to trace, Israel, with its democracy, reminds us of the culture and the responsibility of remembrance, as well as its continuous drive towards modernity and progress. This remembrance above all tells the story of the struggle to assert the dignity of every person, regardless of the Country and latitude at which this person lives or of his/her status.
The memory of the Shoah, a founding value of Israel's society, pushes us in this direction. The Shoah has also become a constituent trait of our Country.
The republican Italy, was born out of the rubble of a regime that had led the Country and its citizens into the abyss of war; a regime that had heinously repudiated a portion of its own people, the people of Jewish origin, who had always contributed to the Country's civil life ever since the founding epoch of the Risorgimento.
Today Italy vaunts solid foundations and has reconciled with the authentic history of its people, made exactly with the value of the words "never again", which constitute an ever-present warning.
This is the profound significance of the silent tribute that, every year, is paid to the victims of the Fosse Ardeatine, the sorrowful symbol of hatred and repression.
It reflects the sense of responsibility of those who intend to cultivate the remembrance of events in order to develop the antibodies against any possible reoccurrence of a radical upheaval in the values of civil coexistence, such as to lead a State, yesterday like today, to rebel against its own citizens, against harmless human beings.
The cult of memory of course should not aim at fuelling conflicts, making them eternal.
On the contrary, it must be relied on in order to overcome conflicts in the name of Humanity and must represent an element on which to hinge our commitment and our responsibility vis-à-vis future generations and the hordes of people who come knocking on our door.
The coexistence of different souls within a society - multiculturality - is an established fact in our world even if the difficulties posed by language barriers and, even more, by the difference of creeds and traditions, continue to be relevant and insidious.
However, the wisdom of ancient societies, like the ones to which we belong, also includes the capacity to tackle apparently impossible challenges.
Perhaps our epoch too is well described by Paul Klee's "Angelus Novus", which was made immortal by the words of Walter Benjamin.
The angel of history, his gaze looking to the past and his shoulders to the future, while the stormy onslaught of the world ruffles his wings.
The future, paradoxically, is behind him, unknown and fraught with dangers.
The past can be seen at a glance. It's there before us, we see it, we contemplate it and, at times, we draw comfort from it.
However, we cannot indulge in this delusional serenity.
The wind of history gusts violently and we don't know how strong it will be and how much time we will have to equip ourselves to govern it.
Our primary responsibility is to understand that in that unknown future also lie opportunities, possibilities that we must grasp in order to make the world we live in safer, more advanced and fitting.
However, the challenge does not only lie in our capacity to grasp these opportunities but mainly in being capable of converting them into results to be shared.
openness to the future, commitment and responsibility are the most deeply rooted values of our societies.
And this is what makes the relations between our two Countries live a new season of mutual interest, friendship and curiosity at every change of generation.
Curiosity, in the words of Einstein: "is a delicate little plant that, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom".
The freedom that characterises our societies and that we must learn to share with other peoples.
Because freedom is indivisible. You can only fully enjoy it together with everybody else.
It is the foundation of a solid, deep-set, multidimensional bilateral relationship that sees its points of excellence in culture, research and scientific cooperation.
The Italian translation of Talmud edited by the Presidency of the Council, the Ministry of Education, University and Research and the National Research Council in conjunction with the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, as well as the National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah, are further proof of the relevance and wealth of the cultural fabric that link our two Countries.
It is for this reason that I am particularly happy to be in Jerusalem concomitantly to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of two of the greatest writers in the Italian language of the 20th century, Giorgio Bassani and Natalia Ginzburg.
It is important to recall how two figures who have so contributed to determining the distinctive traits of contemporary Italian literature are so deeply imbued with the Jewish culture, in narrating the pace and the heart-rending emotions of their soul-searching.
Theirs are memories that neither reflect regret nor nostalgia. They are memories that become a driving force that stirs consciences, stimulates, educates and forms civil awareness and culture.
They are examples of which we all, Israelis and Italians, can be proud of.