THE PERMANENT CULTURAL\ZIONIST ATTACHE and Italy`s submissive foreign policy.
Strange things happen in Italy. A cultural attache appointed over eight years ago is still in office, even though the normal length of mission is four years. Her name is Simonetta Della Seta and she is based in Tel Aviv, at the Italian Embassy. Israel warrants exceptions. Della Seta was appointed directly by the Italian Ministry Foreign Affairs, not through a professional, competitive examination, as is usually the case. Political expediency at its worst. The former Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, and the entire conservative government led by Berlusconi, were eager to pander to the wishes of the Italian Jewish community, that wanted Della Seta as their cultural envoy in Israel.
In 2003 Ambassador to Israel Giulio Terzi was assigned a mission; he had to convince the Israeli government to invite Mr Gianfranco Fini, now President of the Chamber of Deputies, to Jerusalem. Initially, most Italian Jews were against such a historic visit, and understandably so. Mr Fini had been a staunch admirer of Benito Mussolini, whom, only a few years before, he had eulogised as the "greatest statesman of the twentieth century". Mussolini, a close ally and friend of Hitler, eagerly implemented racial laws against Italian Jews. And, towards the end of the war, Mussolini orderd his Fascist thugs to lend a helping had to the Nazis, who at that time were swarming through Italy in order to round up Jews.
In post war Italy, the heirs of Mussolini founded a political movement, Movimento sociale, of which Fini himself would become a leader. The founder, friend and sponsor of Mr Fini, was Giorgio Almirante, a prominent Fascist and a journalist of the racist magazine "In defence of the Italian race" in the war years.
He denied having harboured anti semitic feelings, he simply went with the flow.
The Italian neo Fascists were kept to the fringes of the Italian political system for decades. Until the 1990s, when Berlusconi struck up an alliance with them. This is where the likes of Simonetta Della Seta come into play. A good number of Italian Jews, including relatives of people who had been persecuted by the Fascists, sided with Berlusconi and his neo Fascist friends. The reason? Well, the Italian right wing coalition was unshamedly pro Israel, especially pro Likud, and totally ignored the plight of the Palestinians.
Fini wanted to become Minister of Foreign Affirs and therefore had to bow to pressure from the U.S.A., he was told to patch up his relationship with the Jews. Fini started to bend over backwards in order to please the Zionists, and became a sturdy and unflinching supporter of Israel.
Most Israelis did not react. Who cared about Fini s democratic credentials and his murky past? Friends in need are friends indeed. So it happened that most of the former neo Fascists followed in Fini s footspets and became ardent Zionists.  The ironies of history: only a few decades before, their forefathers and role models had been busy dispatching Italian Jews to Auschwitz.
Only the leftists, that is, the idealistic Jews ... unfortunately, there is only a handful of them ... opposed this opportunistic policy of appeasement with their erstwhile enemise.
But idealism can be swept aside easily when there are juicy prizes to be grabed. Most Zionists, some of whom harbour their own version of Fascism, welcomed Fini into their fold. But they imposed a hefty price for the bargain. Italians would have to accept a string of humiliating concessions in Foreign policy. They had to give Israel a free hand in the Middle East and forget the rights of the Palestinians.
The Zionists also demanded to have a say in the appointment of the cultural attache at the Italian Embassy in Tel Aviv. They wanted a person they could trust. They wanted a Zionist. They wanted Simonetta Della SEta.
This was unheard of. But Ambassador Terzi is not the kind of person who would have second thoughts about compromising on his country s national interests. After all, he was dealing with one of the most powerful lobbies in the world. And he was amply compensated for his services. When he competed for the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs, he was sponsored by the Zionist lobby and got the job. So much for the independence of Italian foreign policy.
All diplomatic rules and customs were broken in order to honour the promise made to the right wing Zionists. Mrs Della Seta would become a permanent cultural attache. Palestinians and Italians residing in Israel have been complaining about the zionisation of the Italian Cultural Institute in Tel Aviv.  To no avail. Mrs Della Seta was allowed and encouraged to play a political role rather than a purely cultural one. After all, she had the perfect C V and portfolio for the job. The candidate of the most powerful Jewish community in Italy, the one based in Rome, she had joined the Berlusconi>Fini camp early on.
Like all lackeys, she was amply rewarded. She got a job as a journalis for Mediaset, the Berlusconiowned and controlled media conglomerate. Needless to say, she was not sympathetic to the Palestinians. A Zionist journalist who extolled Berlusconi and Fini was perfect for the post of cultural attach in Israel.
The Israeli were incensed when Berlusconi s right had man, Mr Frattini, appointed a person of such a breadth of vision to be in charge of promoting Italian / or perhaps we should say Jewish / culture in Israel. One of the pseudo cultural projects Mrs Della Seta worked on ... the exhibition Italia ebraica, that is, Italy s Jewisheness ... was devoted to promoting the idea that the deepest roots of Italian culture are in Judaism. Apparently a good enough reason to bolster the political relations between Italy and Israel.
Just stop for a moment and think about it. How would Italian rightwingers react if the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs were to appoint an Italian Muslim as a cultural envoy to an Arab country? And what if that same cultural envoy invested Italian tax payers money into an exhibition emphasizing the Arab and Islamic roots of Italian culture? Surely, the Arabs, who colonized vast swathes of Sounthern Italy for centuries, influenced Italian culture a lot more than the Jews. Well, you can imagine. All hell would break loose. But, hey, we are dealing with Israel here, a country that is entitled to being regarded as an excpetion to every conceivable rule.





العودة الى الصفحة الرئيسية - 25-11-2012