“Israel Is Us” — an Italian Parliamentarian’s Platform

Ha’aretz speaks with Fiamma Nirenstein, an Italian Jewish journalist and longtime resident of Israel who was recently elected to Italian parliament after running an unusual campaign.

“I ran for a place in parliament as a representative of the Liguria district. I held rallies in Genoa and other cities in the region,” she told Ha’aretz. “But I didn’t talk with the people about local problems. I told them that the most important thing for their Italian identity is to stand by Israel’s side.”

Nirenstein, a former communist who has moved to the right, is the author, most recently, of “Israele Siamo Noi” (“Israel Is Us”). “Italy can learn a lot from Israel,” she said. “It can learn what a true democracy is, how a democracy can survive in conditions of conflict, without forsaking its fundamental principles. Israel is a culture of life, a culture of people who are always seeking peace. Our problem in Italy is that sometimes we don’t know who we are. You can know who you are if you know your enemy and your friend. Israel is Italy’s friend.”

She was elected to parliament on the Party of Liberty list put together by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Gianfranco Fini, the former head of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement who went on to serve as Berlusconi’s foreign minister. Asked how she, a Jew whose mother was an anti-Nazi partisan, feels about her alliance with a former fascist like Fini, Nirenstein answered: “He was a fascist like I was a communist, when I was indifferent to what Pol Pot did, when I admired Che Guevara. I see him as someone who has since developed.”

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