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December 29, 2022 4:21 pm
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Italian Jews Infuriated By Parliament Speaker’s Celebration of Fascist Party’s Founding

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Ignazio La Russa, the speaker of the Italian parliament. Photo: Reuters/Mauro Scrobogna

Jewish leaders in Italy have forcefully condemned the speaker of the country’s parliament for celebrating the anniversary of the founding of the main Italian fascist party of the post-World War II era.

Ignazio La Russa — a senator from Milan who represents the ruling Brothers of Italy (FDI) Party of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni — caused outrage when he hailed the legacy of the Italian Social Movement (MSI) in a post on Instagram marking the fascist organization’s founding on Dec. 26, 1946 by supporters of the former dictator Benito Mussolini. Under Mussolini, Italian Jews were subject to antisemitic legislation introduced in 1938, prior to the murder of nearly 8,000 of Italy’s pre-war Jewish population of more than 44,000.

“In memory of my father, who was one of the founders of the Italian Social Movement in Sicily and who chose the path of free and democratic participation with the MSI throughout his life to defend his ideas respectful of the Italian Constitution,” La Russa wrote.

Meanwhile, Meloni — who decried antisemitism during a meeting in November with Italian Jewish leaders — also offered a generous assessment of the MSI.

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“I believe that the MSI had a role in the Republican history of ferrying towards democracy millions of Italians who emerged defeated from the (Second World) War,” Meloni said in comments reported by the Italian news agency ANSA.

She went on to insist that the MSI was in fact a “party of the democratic right, of democratic and republican Italy.”

Responding to La Russa, Noemi Di Segni — president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities — noted that Italians were also celebrating “the 75th anniversary of the promulgation of the Republican Constitution, the affirmation of our anti-fascist democracy.”

Writing in the La Repubblica news outlet, Di Segni remarked that “some believe they are celebrating another anniversary, that of the founding of the MSI, a party which, after the fall of the fascist regime, placed itself in the ideological and political continuity of the [Mussolini-era] RSI, the government of hard-line fascists who actively collaborated in the deportation of Italian Jews.”

In a separate statement, Ruth Dureghello — president of the Jewish Community of Rome — said that the Italian Republic “is anti-fascist and when we swear on the Constitution, we must do so knowing that there can no longer be any ambiguity or inconsistency in the matter.”

She added that “for Italians the only model to aspire to is that of the anti-fascist movements which, by their sacrifice, liberated Italy from Nazi-fascist yoke.”

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