Silvio Berlusconi Insists He Is Friend of Jews

Jailbound Ex-Premier Claimed Germans Deny Shoah

getty images

By JTA

Published April 29, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reiterated his claim to be a friend of the Jewish people and Israel and said it was “surreal” to call him anti-German.

His assertions, made in a statement posted Monday on the website of his Forza Italia party, came in the wake of international outrage over remarks that seemed to imply that Germany did not acknowledge the existence of Nazi concentration camps.

Berlusconi, 77, is campaigning for his party in upcoming European Parliament elections despite a conviction for tax fraud. He accused leftist opponents of taking out of context a remark he made about center-left German politician Martin Schultz, the president of the European Parliament, who is running to head the European Commission.

Berlusconi has sparred in the past with Schulz, once going so far as to compare him to a concentration camp kapo. At a rally on Saturday he accused Schultz of being anti-Italian, and added: “According to the Germans, there never were concentration camps.”

His words sparked a furor, with Jean-Claude Juncker, the center-right candidate for European Commission chief, saying that the statement had “sickened” him. He called on Berlusconi to withdraw his remarks “immediately” and “to apologize to the survivors of the Holocaust and to the citizens of Germany.”

In his statement Monday, Berlusconi called it “surreal to attribute anti-German sentiments to me, or a presumed hostility to the German people, of whom I am a friend.” He said he claimed his “role as a longtime friend of the Jewish people and the state of Israel, which is and remains a unique defense of freedom and democracy throughout the Middle East.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.