A New Book Exposes Italian Complicity in the Holocaust

Oct. 10 2018

Reviewing The Italian Executioners, a recent book on the Holocaust in Italy by Simon Levis Sullam, Michael M. Rosen writes:

Levis Sullam [revisits] the historiography of Italian wartime conduct, finding that the reigning paradigm adds insult to injury by celebrating the righteous Gentiles within the Italian resistance while whitewashing the perpetration of [mass murder] by thousands of their fellow citizens. Nearly 10,000 fascist apparatchiks received a postwar amnesty in the spirit of national reconciliation, a process that spawned what has been called the “myth of the good Italian.” . . .

The hinge moment [in the Italian Shoah] arrived in September 1943, when, after a brief non-fascist interregnum following the (temporary) ouster of Mussolini, the Nazis seized the northern half of the country and helped establish the Italian Social Republic, whose intellectuals . . . “laid the ideological and propagandistic groundwork necessary to prepare, justify, and support [fighting a] civil war and participation” in the Holocaust.

But Levis Sullam attributes the murder of Italy’s Jews less to the government’s grand elevated theory than to its quotidian bureaucratic practice. He reckons that Italians were responsible for 2,210, or roughly half, of all arrests and deportations of Jews, most on their own but some in conjunction with German officers. Yet even the remainder of arrests, which the Germans alone executed, universally relied on “the help of information and organizational support from the Italians”—most prominently the 1938 census that identified the names and addresses of all Jews residing in the country. . . .

Of course, the tragedy in Italy pales in comparison to the ruination of the communities of Eastern Europe; some 6,000 Italian Jews perished, representing 10 percent of the country’s total Jewish population and only one-tenth of one percent of the Jews who were lost to the Shoah. Although there was a surprising thoroughness and efficiency to the efforts of many Italians to solve the “Jewish problem,” the fascist regime did not act with the same urgency as the Nazis did.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Benito Mussolini, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Italian Jewry, Italy

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror