Pick Your Poison


L’chaim it ain’t.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, is calling for a global boycott of a line of wine whose labels feature Hitler and other demons of 20th-century history.

“How sickening is it that such a company operates in a country which first embraced Fascism and later, when occupied by the Germans, saw many of its countrymen executed by the Nazi Third Reich?” said Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper issued by the center, a human rights organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the Holocaust and genocide.

The company, Vini Lunardelli, sells its wine both in stores and through a website which offers a “Classic Line,” of, for example, whites, and an eclectic “Historical Line,” that includes an “Italian army” group, “Bikers” and a whole range called “Der Fuhrer” with one label reading “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer!”

Presumably, Hitler would be dismayed to find himself in company with Jewish communist Leon Trotsky, who is featured in the “Communist Collection.” Benito Mussolini, Hitler’s ally, has pride of place in “Il ventennio,” the group that commemorates Italy’s twenty years of Fascist rule.

“We have started with this Historical Line for a joke under a request from one of our customer,” wrote winemaker Allesandro Lunardelli in an e-mail to the Wisenthal Center, shared with the Jewish Week, when he rejected their demand that his company stop making Hitler-labeled wine. “Now we sell many bottles, but we never want to do politics or to eulogize Hitler and his men or Mussolini or to offend someone.”

The center first asked Lunardelli to stop selling the stuff almost twenty years ago, spokesman Marcial Lavina told the Jewish Week.

But he refused then as well, and Israeli travellers touring Italy’s Dolomites region found it recently on a wine shop’s shelves, inspiring Ynet.com to write an article and the Wisenthal Center to up the ante with its call that distributors boycott the bottles.

“Enough is enough,” said Rabbis Hier and Cooper in the statement.“We reject the cynical notion by the company’s owner that this wine is marketed as a ‘joke gift.’”

helenatjewishweek@gmail.com; @thesimplechild