October 03, 2010

Berlusconi's funny bone

Italian Prime Minister Berlusconni has a funny bone. To emphasize why he intends to stay in power, he told his adoring supporters at a rally a joke about the late Fuehrer: after the end of the war, according to this h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s joke, Hitler's supporters discover he is hiding in South America. They implore him to return to power, to which Hitler replies "Yes, but this time I'm going to be evil."

You can go here, for some other, even funnier jokes about Jews and the holocaust that tickle the Italian Prime Minister, as well as some examples of the Tycoon's great appreciation for women. For good measure, just days after Berlusconi amused his listeners with tales of the Fuehrer, his key supporter in the Senate, Giuseppe Ciarrapico, suggested that the not fascist enough dissidents in Berlusconi's party, who are challenging Berlusconi's leadership, should wear "Jewish skullcaps" because "“he who betrays once, always betrays.”

Do not forget that Berlusconi holds a distinguished Stateman Award from no other than the Anti-Defamation-League. You might say that the ADL could not have known then the kind of jokes that would fly in the fascist rallies of Berlusconi today, except that there was plenty of advance notice; the award was given days after Berlusconi expressed his respect to Mussolini and without input from the Italian Jewish community, which was outraged.

The on-the-record reply of the ADL to the outraged spokespersons of the Italian Jewish community is worth quoting in full, especially in the light of the above:
the New York-based Anti-Defamation League said Mr Berlusconi deserved its Distinguished Statesman Award for his help to fight a revival of anti-Semitism in Europe, his support for Israel and his commitment to the war on terror (my emphasis). (BBC)
For next weekend, in Rome, a large demonstration in support for Israel is planned. It is promoted among others by the Jewish Settler in Residence in the Italian parliament, Fiamma Nirenstein. I bet you didn't know that the Italian Parliament has a settler in residence! Well, since 1996, Nirenstein divides her residence between Rome and the settlement of Gilo in East Jerusalem. In Rome, she is a member of the "post" fascist "Freedom Party" of Silvio Berlusconi. Her biography reads almost like it was written by a computer. Every check box in a model neo-conservative, islamophobic career has a check in it. She is, for example, a former student of Bernard Lewis, a board member of the Hudson Institute and of the Global Forum against Antisemitism of Nathan Sharansky, and, of course, a leading islamophobe in Italy.

On her blog she characterizes the coming pro-apartheid rally, whose title is "For Truth, For Israel" as a rally "against all intolerance and antisemitism". Somewhat comically, the judeophobic quip of Senator Ciarrapico upset her cart, revealing the confusion amidst the new fascists in Italy, who find the dramatic redefinition of the enemy -- love Jews, hate Muslims -- somewhat difficult to follow. Not missing a heartbeat, Nirenstein issued a statement claiming to be outraged. But in that statement she also assured her readers that "Berlusconi, during the answering period in parliament, declared that he is attached as ever to the Jewish world and to Israel". I guess that settles it!

One can easily find reasons why Nirenstein sees no evil in the Prime Minister. For example, earlier this year, Berlusconi performed an optical miracle when he traveled by car from Jerusalem to Bethlehem but "didn't notice" the apartheid wall. It's a fine day when a corrupt, criminal, fascist, sexist, antisemitic pig can be the honored "friend of the Jews" provided that he is also blind.

(Thanks to Paola Canarutto for all the pointers for this entry)

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