Under Berlusconi Italians Are Strong Friends of Israel
I’ve posted about Italy previously, in relation mostly to Italian elections out of concern that the election of Prodi over Berlusconi would harm Israeli / Italian relations.. That’s precisely what happened when Prodi won. His large Communist block was viciously anti-Israel and Italian Anti-Semitism spiked. My efforts then got me onto the frontpage of Libero.it, Italy’s largest web portal, a nice honor which warmed my heart further.
Thankfully for Italian Israeli relations Prodi is gonzo, and Berlusconi is once again leading Italy.
Which means we have a close friend restored to the Italian driver’s seat. Both commercial & military cooperation will continue to flourish benefiting both countries. But now via Haaretz we are learning that there are added benefits to this strong relationship & they are far from trivial. Specifically in the form of Italy stepping forward to heal the massive rift that has opened between Israel & Sweden over the libelous, absurd, world famous, and very anti-semitic ‘Organ Harvesting’ article in the Aftonbladet Swedish tabloid (I refuse to link to this trash).
Is the crisis in relations between Israel and Sweden coming to an end? That is what Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, would like to believe.
In a telephone conversation with Haaretz, Frattini said he recently met with his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt, and the two agreed that at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers later this week, they will work to pass a resolution making it clear that the EU, under the Swedish presidency, strongly condemns anti-Semitism and will take action against any manifestation of it on the continent.
Frattini said he intends to demand that the meeting’s summary statement explicitly condemn the article published in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, which claimed that Israeli soldiers harvested the organs of dead Palestinians. He said his proposed statement would declare articles of this sort to be “acts of blatant anti-Semitism.” “There are limits to freedom of the press that stem from respect for the truth and the duty of every journalist to prove his claims,” Frattini explained.
The accusations in the Aftonbladet article are “terrible conclusions, lying and hurtful, and they have the power to assist all those who seek to incite against Jews or who oppose the existence of the State of Israel,” he added. However, Frattini stressed, “the state cannot intervene in the work of the press. The journalists are the ones who must set limits for themselves and must find the right balance within the framework of the journalistic code of behavior.” [...]
This Italian initiative is the strongest European condemnation we have seen of this affair to date, and make no mistake – Our friends in Italy have gone to bat for us here in Israel in a big way. Nothing remotely of the sort has come out of Sweden, they’ve been on the fence for far too long.
If Italy’s Foreign Minister in conjunction with Sweden can pull this off, the affair will hopefully be behind us all. This will benefit both Israel & Sweden, and the friendship we have come to rely on from Italy especially under Berlusconi is solid & valued. We are short on allies, Italy is one of them.
Grazie Berlusconi, Grazie tanto Italy!
(I hope I got that right..)