Rome (Jan. 15)
The holding of the next Zionist Congress at the Adriatic summer resort of Abbazia, in case the February Congress arranged for Carlsbad is postponed, is being recommended to the Zionist Executive in London by the Italian Zionist Federation.
Abbazia, it is pointed out, is not far from the big Jewish centres of Eastern and Central Europe, which is an advantage in the matter of communications, and it contains a number of suitable halls in which a Congress of this size and character could be conveniently held, as well as sufficient good hotel accommodation for the delegates.
The Italian Government has already been approached, the J.T.A. representative here learns, and has informed the Italian Zionist Federation that it has no objection to the Congress being held in Italy. The Italian press and public opinion, it is stated, would welcome the holding of the Congress on Italian territory.
The Italian Zionist Congress which concluded its sessions recently at Milan, has given occasion to a pointed article in the “Popolo di Roma”, which is understood to come direct from Signor Mussolini, the Rome Correspondent of the “Daily Telegraph” reported in the latter part of 1928. In this article, the Correspondent said, the Duce takes exception to the evident attitude of the Italian Zionists regarding nationality. He asks sharply whether they consider themselves a religion or a nation. Jews in Italy have, he declares, happily become merged in the general population and no antisemitism exists in Italy to-day. Three Premiers of the Jewish race have in recent times governed the country and no objection was raised. In reading the reports of the Italian Zionist Congress at Milan, the writer in the “Popolo di Roma” went on, one is surprised to find that Zionists seem to take it for granted that they are Jews and not Italians. The Italian people had hitherto imagined that Jewish subjects were Italians in nationality and Jewish only in religion. What is the inference that will eventually be drawn is not suggested in the article by Signor Mussolini, the “Telegraph” Correspondent concluded, but it is evident, he added, that the language of the Italian Zionists has caused some irritation.
The Presidium of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Italy immediately issued a statement on the article which was reprinted from the “Popolo di Roma” in other Italian papers. If it is demanded that the Italian Zionists should state whether they are a religion or a nation, the statement said, we refer to the patriotism of the Italian Jews, Zionists and non-Zionists alike, both in war and peace. The Italian Jews feel also deep attachment for Palestine, the land of their fathers, where God revealed himself to the Patriarchs. At the same time they regard themselves with good right as an integral part of the Italian people, with whom they stand together, now as in the past, and for all future. This statement was presented to Signor Mussolini and to the Ministers of Justice and of Education and Public Worship.
Dr. Weizmann, Mr. Nahum Sokolov, Dr. Victor Jacobson, and other leading Zionists have from time to time visited Rome in the interests of the Zionist work and have had interviews with Signor Mussolini, who has been understood to be sympathetic to Zionist aspirations. The late Lord Melchett when he was in Rome a couple of years ago had a lengthy audience with Signor Mussolini, after which he told the J.T.A. representative there that Signor Mussolini was very sympathetic to the Jewish colonisation efforts in Palestine.