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Italy’s new leader says she is a strong supporter of Israel

Considered far-right – even fascist – by her opponents, Meloni equates herself with Republican party in U.S., Likud in Israel

Giorgia Meloni celebrates after polls ratified Fratelli d'Italia as Italian party with the most votes in the parliamentary elections, Rome, Italy, Sept. 26 2022. (Photo: Elisa Gestri/Sipa USA)

Though Italy’s next likely prime minister has been scrutinized for her right-wing politics, Giorgia Meloni is a strong supporter of Israel and – despite her party being labeled by some as fascist – her victory does not worry the local Jewish community.

Meloni's party won the most votes in the country’s general elections on Sunday and is expected to form a ruling coalition and lead the country. She is the founder and leader of the right-wing populist and national-conservative Brothers of Italy political party.

While her election victory triggered fears of fascism returning to Italy and dark times for minority groups, Meloni is seen as a strong support of Israel and has Jewish allies in her party.

Last year, Meloni praised Israel at the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast event in Rome in which another prominent politician called on Italy to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Riccardo Pacifici, former president of Rome's Jewish community and current representative of the European Jewish Association in Italy, told The Jerusalem Post that he believes Meloni will crackdown on elements of fascism in her own party.

“She promised me that she will find these people who are nostalgic for fascism and will ban them from the party,” Pacifici told the Post.

Pacifici said more concerning than Meloni is a Jewish politician who is now in the opposition. Elly Schlein – who is highly critical of Israel – has been compared to progressive U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) for her far left-wing policies.

WHO ARE THE FRATELLI D'ITALIA?

The Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia, or FdI) was founded in 2012 and has connections to the Italian Social Movement – formed by supporters of Benito Mussolini after World War II. Mussolini’s granddaughter Rachelle, is a Brothers of Italy member, as well, according to The Times of Israel. She won the highest number of votes in local elections in Rome last October.

Meloni has carefully disassociated herself from any hint of fascism. 

“We have handed fascism over to history for decades now, firmly condemning the loss of democracy, the outrageous anti-Jewish laws and the tragedy of World War II,” Meloni said in a recent interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper. 

Meloni said she shares values with the United States' Republican Party, the Likud party in Israel and the Tories of Britain.

FdI is the party of the Italian conservatives; we support individual freedom, the centrality of the family, the preservation of the Western, European, and Italian cultural identities, as well as self-reliance and private economic initiative and social cohesion,” Meloni said. “We are a modern European and Western right-wing government, a pillar of the European Conservatives and Reformists Party, of which the prime ministers of Poland and Czech Republic are members, and which I have the honor of chairing.” 

MELONI AND ISRAEL

Meloni has visited Israel on previous occasions, supports Israel’s right to exist and stressed that her party is interested in cooperation with Israel.

“Israel represents the only fully-fledged democracy in the broader Middle East, and we defend without any reservations its right to exist and live in security. I believe that the existence of the State of Israel is vital, and Fratelli d’Italia will make every effort to invest in greater cooperation between our countries,” she said.

Meloni told Israel Hayom that she hopes to return to Israel “as soon as possible, this time as head of government, to discuss together with the new Israeli government about joint collaborations and strategies, starting with those for the supply of natural gas through the eastern Mediterranean Sea."

On a past visit to Israel, Meloni visited the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Yad Vashem, which she described as “a conscience-shaking experience.” 

Meloni told the Israeli paper that she believes that anti-Semitism today is closely linked to anti-Israel political movements, and that Europe and Israel must be allies in the effort to eradicate it.

“I also think that one of the most common manifestations of anti-Semitism today is anti-Israel propaganda, which Jews in Europe are most likely to encounter online,” she said. “Jews in Europe are also subjected to the threat coming not only from far-left and far-right factions but especially from radicalized Islamic immigrants who feed on resentment with regards to Israel. Israel is and ought to continue to be a crucial ally of the European Union in the endeavor to eradicate this evil worldwide.”

“We support efforts to increase young students’ understanding of Jewish history, religion and culture. This will support the elimination of societal prejudices and the full acceptance of Jewish customs in Europe.”

According to The Times of Israel, however, Meloni has also appeared to condemn Israel. During the 2014 Gaza War between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Meloni tweeted, “Another massacre of children in Gaza. No cause is just when it spills the blood of the innocent.”

In December 2018, The Times of Israel quoted her saying that “if not for Hezbollah and the rest of the pro-Assad front – which includes Iran and Russia  – Christians in Syria would no longer be able to display the nativity scene depicting Jesus Christ’s birth during Christmas.” Meloni did not mention Israel in those comments. 

Iran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah have repeatedly threatened Israel with extinction, and Meloni most likely made her comments at a time when Iran, Russia and Assad were fighting the Islamic State and related groups, which were ruthlessly murdering Christians and other minorities – such as the Yazidis – in Syria. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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