Attacked by Anti-Semites for Her Jewish Roots, an Italian Politician Gives Credence to Anti-Semitism

In an electoral upset last month, Elly Schlein was chosen to be the new leader of Italy’s Democratic party. Schlein, the daughter of a Jewish political scientist, represents her party’s radical wing, and her victory over the centrists has been compared to Jeremy Corbyn’s takeover of the British Labor party from the Blairites in 2015. She has also been the subject of a great deal of ugly ad-hominem abuse—concerning her personal life, her Jewish forbears, and her supposedly Semitic nose. Asked about this at a press conference, she pointed out that she is not Jewish (since her mother is a Gentile) and, moreover, that she possesses “a typically Etruscan nose.” Ben Cohen comments:

Technically, of course, she is correct: in terms of halakhah, Jewish religious law, she is not Jewish. But under the definition of a Jew outlined in the infamous Nazi racial laws, she most certainly is—and would be entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Israeli Law of Return as a consequence.

[T]he phrasing of Schlein’s objections suggested that the anti-Semitic barbs she faced didn’t really make sense because she’s not Jewish after all, and that’s what bothered her. The implication here is that these would be more understandable if they were directed at an individual with two Jewish parents.

But there is something more sinister here at work; essentially, she is saying that while she does indeed possess a large nose, it’s an organically Italian one, rather than a foreign Jewish one. What is implicit here is not a protest against anti-Semitism but a complaint about being lumped in with Jews. That is why Schlein’s past comments about Israel—while fairly standard from someone on the European left—give rise to an extra layer of concern. The core challenge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she insists, is its “asymmetrical” nature, with the Israelis holding all the power and the Palestinians none. As a result, she declared in a May 2021 statement during the eleven-day conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, the Jewish state is guilty of “ethnic cleansing.” . . .

To hear these words from a leading politician who also believes that there is such a thing as a “Jewish nose” is unsettling, to put it mildly. If Schlein doesn’t want to get labeled as an Italian Jeremy Corbyn—and perhaps she does—then she needs to reverse course now.

Read more at JNS

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Italy

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy