Naming of Ex-Italian Politician as Israeli Envoy in Rome Sparks Dual-Loyalty Fears
JNS.org – Italian Jews are expressing concern over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appointment of Jewish journalist and former Italian parliament member Fiamma Nirenstein as the new Israel ambassador in Rome, fearing that Nirenstein’s position will be used as evidence by those who claim that Italian Jews are more loyal to Israel than to Italy.
Nirenstein, who made aliyah in 2013, will need to renounce her Italian citizenship in order to accept the diplomatic position. At the same time, Nirenstein’s cousin is a parliament member of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s party and is running in the Milan mayoral elections, while her son works in the Italian intelligence service. These factors have served to further increase concerns by the Italian Jewish community.
“Netanyahu has turned us into a fifth column in our country,” one Jewish official said in a closed forum, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. “If a former Italian parliament member, a Jew, becomes Israel’s ambassador, it basically means that we recognize the fact that each of us, and every store we own, is in fact Israeli. People will think we have dual loyalty, and this holds disastrous consequences.”
Rome Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni was quoted by the Italian newspaper La Stampa as saying, “Fiamma is an excellent journalist, period… but I’m concerned there will be problems.”
Another member of the Jewish community, who remained anonymous in the La Stampa report, took a harsher tone.
“Over the years, the Jew is always suspected of being a traitor to his country. Placing her in Italy, on the other side of the table, could harm Italian Jews’ identity. The absolute majority of them are Zionists, but they’re also citizens with all the rights and duties. It’s not something to be trifled with,” he said.