Debating Mussolini's Jewish Mistress

There is little doubt that Benito Mussolini’s Venetian-born Jewish lover Margherita Sarfatti had a profound influence on the dictator’s career, but can she truly be called the “godmother of fascism,” as her biographer Brian R. Sullivan claims? Or did her contribution consist mainly of “smooth[ing] off the rough edges of Mussolini’s persona at the start of his political ascent to power,” as Michael McDonald argues? To McDonald, the question pivots not only on the correct interpretation of Sarfatti’s persona but also on the nature of fascism itself:

Sarfatti was less of an intellectual than a cultural impresario and spin doctor. Even if she had been an intellectual who had played a crucial role in conceptualizing fascism—which she wasn’t—it still would be wrong of Brian Sullivan to overstate her importance, as he does. I say this because I happen to agree with Robert Paxton that “fascism was an affair of the gut more than of the brain, and a study of the roots of fascism that treats only the thinkers and the writers misses the most powerful influences of all.” A study that treats only a “thinker” such as Sarfatti misses even more. To quote Paxton again, “fascism is more plausibly linked to a set of ‘mobilizing passions’ that shape fascist action than to a consistent and fully articulated philosophy.” As one fascist militant declared in 1920: “The fist is the synthesis of our theory.”

Read more at American Interest

More about: Benito Mussolini, Fascism, Italian Jewry, Margherita Sarfatti

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation