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

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security