ROME (Jul. 6)
Calling for vigilance against right-wing extremism and neo-fascism in Italy, officials of the Italian Jewish community say international Jewish organizations should bear in mind local Jewish opinion before meeting with right-wing Italian politicians.
The call came in a two-page resolution passed unanimously Tuesday by the Congress of the Union of Jewish Communities in Italy, the official policy-making body representing Italy’s 35,000 Jews.
The resolution called for vigilance to insure that “there not be any compromise or yielding of the values of democracy, pluralism and freedom that are at the basis of our civilization.”
“We want (international Jewish organizations) to consult us and to see things in context,” Tullia Zevi, president of the union, said in an interview.
“They must not allow themselves to be used as propaganda platforms,” she said. “They must realize that whatever contact they have will be thoroughly utilized (by the far right) as a full endorsement of their ideology and policy.”
The resolution was passed in the wake of recent electoral successes by the neo-fascist-led National Alliance and the inclusion of five National Alliance ministers in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s 25-member cabinet.
Following the general election at the end of March, Italy was swept by public debate over the role of fascism in the country’s history and its legacy for the present.
Congress delegates expressed concern that Gianfranco Fini, leader of the National Alliance, was invited to a Fourth of July celebration held at the U.S. ambassador’s residence this week.
It marked the first time that a leader of the Italian Social Movement — which forms the neo-fascist core of the National Alliance — was invited to the celebration.
Fini is planning a trip to the United States later this year, and delegates expressed concern that he might meet with Jewish groups in the United States and use such meetings to legitimize his position.
“The Congress notes with concern that Italy is the first country in the European Union in which forces that have their roots in fascism, or do not renounce (fascism), or consider anti-fascist prejudice to be irrelevant, have entered and form part of the (parliamentary) majority and the government,” the resolution said.
The three-day congress was given wide coverage in the Italian media.
Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro opened the meetings on Sunday with a speech underlining the importance of Jewish culture in Italian life.