A populist leader of a protest group told the La Repubblica newspaper Friday that Italy is “slave to the bankers, like the Rothschilds” and that “It is curious that five or six of the richest people in the world are Jews, but this is something I need to investigate.”
The claims by Andrea Zunino, spokesman for the Forconi, or Pitchforks Movement, which spearheaded widespread anti-government and anti-austerity protests in Italy last week, drew immediate and harsh condemnation from Jewish leaders.
Zunino “is powered by the most violent and sinister anti-Semitic stereotypes,” Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, said in a statement. In doing so, Gattegna said, he offends not only the memory of Holocaust victims but “above all the intelligence, democratic conscience, and maturity of the Italian people whose instances he wants to represent, clearly inadequately, in streets and piazzas across the country.”
Condemnation of Forconi’s statement also came from outside the Jewish world. According to Il Messaggero newspaper, Foad Aodi, president of the Community of the Arab World in Italy organization, called Zunino’s words “delusional, dangerous and manipulative regarding religions and the Jewish religion.”
The Anti-Defamation League also condemned the remarks. “These appalling comments display a deep-seated anti-Semitic hatred which never belongs in politics or anywhere in Italian society. Whatever grievances the Italian protest movement may have, anti-Semitism is simply unacceptable,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement.
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