by Gary Fouse
This past week, I translated a video of ex-Italian Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, speaking in Rome on January 16. The topic was anti-Semitism, and the occasion was a one-day conference he and his Lega Party had called. Aside from Salvini, the Israeli ambassador to Italy also spoke as well as others. The video of Salvini's 11-minute talk was posted -now with English sub-titles.
Having lived in Italy for five years, I follow the sad events there regarding the invasion of mostly African migrants coming by boat across the Mediterranean. As interior minister, Salvini ordered the ports closed to NGO ships, mostly flying other nations' flags, who pick the migrants up at sea off the coast of Libya and bring them to Italian ports. Salvini's stance put him in opposition to the EU, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, and the Italian courts. He actually may be prosecuted for "kidnapping" in Sicily since he is out of government, and the Italian Parliament has lifted his Parliamentary immunity.
Salvini, much like Donald Trump (whom he idolizes) is a controversial figure, wildly loved in Italy, but also hated by many of the left. His party, La Lega (the League), formally the Northern League, was originally formed to resist the financial burden carried by northern Italy in order to support the poorer south. That earned it charges of racism, charges which persist to this day, but in a different manner since the Lega has now turned its attention to the mass migration of people from Africa and the Middle East and the resultant crime wave it has produced, both in Italy and other parts of Western Europe. Much like Trump. Salvini is blunt and minces no words in his criticism of other politicians, the EU, the Euro, and other European leaders like Merkel and Macron. He is a man of action who is not afraid to put his life and liberty at risk.
Salvini, who is now out of government but campaigning for his party in this year's elections, may still become the next prime minister of Italy, now led by a weak and feckless coalition with Giuseppe Conte as prime minister. It was Conte who, in a parliamentary move with the Cinque Stelle (Five Stars) party, forced Salvini out of office earlier this year. Wherever Salvini goes, he draws huge and enthusiastic crowds.
So now it is this man, despised and called a racist (unfairly) by so many in Europe, who is taking the bull by the horns and leading the fight against anti-Semitism in Europe. Salvini is a friend to Israel and Benyamin Netanyahu. Now he is working to get the Italian Parliament to endorse the definition of anti-Semitism as laid out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. One key point is that opposition to the right of Jews to self-determination in their own homeland is anti-Semitism. Thus, it would single out people and organizations who work for the destruction of the Jewish state, which would, of course, include the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel.
Salvini puts the Merkels, Macrons and Contes to shame because the question should be asked, "Where are the Merkels, Macrons and Contes?' They are too busy trying to repress the right and bring in more and more migrants from mostly Muslim majority countries. Currently, the ports are once again open in Italy with more European nations agreeing to accept a share of the migrants. That spells more danger for European Jews, who are targeted daily by Jew-hating Muslims on European streets. As a result, Jews are leaving Europe by the thousands. Like our own president in the US, Salvini is leading the way when it comes to stopping anti-Semitism as so-called liberals, who are always talking about human rights for other groups, remain largely silent. It will be to Europe's lasting disgrace, especially after having experienced the Holocaust in the past century, if it becomes "Judenrein" because Jews can no longer live there.
Salvini's speech is eloquent-in his own style- and is well worth a listen. It can only be hoped that he becomes Italy's next prime minister.