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Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Foster Son of Jewish Mom Leads Italy to Final

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Mario Balotelli, who scored two amazing goals against Germany June 28, to take Italy into the Euro 12 soccer championship final against Spain on Sunday (which they lost 4-0, and were totally outclassed by the world champion) – grew up as the foster son of a Jewish mother.

Balotelli talked about his adoptive Jewish mother when the Italian national squad visited Auschwitz ahead of the start of the games (Many teams did it this year, possibly because the games were held this year in both Poland and the Ukraine. It’s probably a good thing to let the players know what their hosts are capable of.)

JTA reported that “a white supremacist website called Stormfront attacked Balotelli, who is black, with vicious racist and anti-Semitic insults.”

He's black and Jewish -- I wish he played for Israel...

He’s black and Jewish — I wish he played for Israel…

“He’s black and Jewish he should play for Israel not Italy,” wrote one commenter on Stormfront, as reported by JTA.

I searched the Stormfront site, a huge message board system, really, for the comment, which, frankly, didn’t register as so vicious and racist on my scale. But all I found there was another picture of Balotelli and his mom, with the statement: “Filthy disgusting nation wreckers.”

There was another message, celebrating the fact that JTA gave Stormfront a plug…

Oh, those Nazis and Jews, when will they ever learn to get along…

I’ve been a fan of the Italian team since 2006, when they made millions of Germans cry at the semifinals, scoring two consecutive goals in the last two minutes of an overtime period. This year, thanks to Mamma Silvia Balotelli’s kid, they did it again to the Germans, and made my day.

“At the final whistle, the Italy striker embraced Silvia Balotelli, who brought him up from the age of two after he was born in Italy to Ghanaian immigrants,” reported the website Footballcracy.

“After the game, when I went to my mum I said ‘these goals are for you‘,”Balotelli told reporters. “I waited for this moment for so long and I wanted to make my mamma happy. Tonight was the most beautiful of my life – but I hope that this Sunday is even better.”

Well, it wasn’t, Italy lost to Spain, 4-0 in Kiev, Ukraine, to my chagrin, too.

An article on Moked, the website of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, called the embrace “an emotion for all Italians and a special emotion for Italian Jews.”

JTA reported that Balotelli, who plays for Manchester City, was born Mario Barwuah to Ghanaian immigrant parents in Palermo. He suffered from health problems as a small child and eventually his financially strapped parents placed him in the care of Francesco and Silvia Balotelli.

A writer in the Italian Jewish monthly Pagine Ebraiche called Balotelli “the symbol of the commitment that brings together the experience of immigration, of acceptance and of success. But [he is] also a tribute to his adoptive mother, the Italian Jew who welcomed the child and whose family suffered during the dark years of the Shoah.”

See? It all comes together in the end. Wish they’d have beaten Spain, though, payback for 1492.

Eurocrisis: Russia Offers Its Services

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Europe’s politicians will not admit it openly but they are afraid that the dire economic situation in countries such as Greece and Spain might lead to revolution. In two weeks’ time, the Greeks will go to the voting booths again. The far-left Syriza party is leading in the polls. During the past months, violence has hit the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki. Desperate people are committing suicide in public, reminding Europe’s leaders that the so-called Arab Spring, which toppled many Arab regimes, was triggered in December 2010 by the self-immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia.

Later this month, Greece needs a new round of €5.2 billion in bailout funds from the other European Union countries. In return, the Greeks must pass €14.5 billion worth of austerity measures. With a newly elected Greek parliament unwilling to introduce them, however, and with Greek politicians threatening to annul prior loan agreements, other countries are unwilling to come forward with new funds. Meanwhile, Greek citizens are moving their money out of the country, exacerbating the situation of Greece’s banks. The prospect of a bankruptcy of Greece, and of the country leaving the eurozone, seems ever more likely. Grexit – as the European media call the scenario of Greece leaving the euro – is a possibility. But how will the Greek people react? If the level of anger and frustration keeps rising in Greece, the country might descend into chaos.

The situation is equally unstable in Cyprus. The economic situation of this strategically located country is inextricably intertwined with that of Greece. A collapse of Greece will drag Cyprus along with it. Economists expect that to keep Cyprus afloat, it will need between €25 and 50 billion from the other EU countries. If the EU does not provide the money, others might. Last December, Russia already gave Cyprus a bilateral loan of €3 billion. Russia is definitely capable of bailing Cyprus out. The Russians, however, are likely to want something in return. If Russia steps in, the strategic situation in the entire Eastern Mediterranean could change. Given the large gas supplies in the waters around Cyprus, Turkey, too, is interested in gaining a stronger foothold in Cyprus. Can Israel tolerate this?

Greece and Cyprus are not the only countries in Southern Europe that are heading for political instability. In Portugal, Spain, and Italy there have also been street protests in response to austerity measures. The EU is particularly worried about Spain. Last week, the Spanish Socialist former Prime Minister Gonzalez said that his country is in a “state of total emergency.” Spain is heading full speed for a debacle.

Last month, panic-stricken Spanish citizens withdrew more than €70 billion from Spanish banks and moved it to foreign safe havens. While Greece is confronting Grexit, Spain is already in the grip of what the European media call Spanic. The Spanish banking sector is about to collapse. Bankia, Spain’s third largest bank, urgently needs the Spanish government to bail it out with €21 billion. Bankia, a state-owned institution which was formed last year out of the ruins of seven regional banks which could no longer shoulder the huge losses of the Spanish real estate crash, is virtually bankrupt. To save the Spanish banks, however, the debt-ridden government in Madrid needs at least €90 billion.

Meanwhile, with youth unemployment higher than 50%, Spain’s younger generation has no prospects whatever. They have nothing to lose and, hence, can be easily persuaded to rebel against a political system that seems incapable of offering them hope for a better future. This is a politically dangerous situation, which the United States should be taking into account. The whole of Southern Europe might soon be in turmoil.

If Spain goes down the drain, Italy is bound to follow. And if Italy, the third largest economy in the EU, goes, France is likely to go as well. The Europeans are preparing for disaster. In May, economic activity in the eurozone countries, including France and Germany, contracted at the fastest rate since June 2009.

Last week, the heads of government of the eurozone countries met in Brussels for their 19th emergency gathering since the eurocrisis began two years ago. Spain, Italy, and France have stated that they want the European Central Bank to intervene by issuing eurobonds, pooling the sovereign debts of all 17 eurozone countries.

Earthquake in Italy; At Least 3 Dead

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

At least three people are dead after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck northern Italy at 4:04am on Sunday.

Powerful aftershocks shook the area, which was littered with toppled buildings.  At least three were killed after a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck across a large swath of northern Italy Sunday at 4:04 a.m. The epicenter of the quake, Italy’s strongest in 3 years, was near Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of the Po River Valley.

Two of the victims died when factories they worked in – one ceramics and one polyester – collapsed on top of them.  Another woman, believed to be German, died of a heart attack.

Several historic sites, including castles and churches, were badly damaged by the earthquake.

Who Will Suffer As A Result of Euro Policies? The Jews.

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The European Union, and especially its common currency, the euro, is on the brink of collapse. The Greeks, unable to form a government after the May 6 elections, will have to go to the polls again next month. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is rapidly losing support. If she cares about her reelection next year, she had better push Greece out of the eurozone rather than keep that country afloat with German taxpayers’ money. If Greece leaves, the whole euro edifice might come down – a better outcome than the present situation, in which extremist parties on the Left and the Right (all of them anti-Semitic) are rapidly gaining electoral support at the expense of mainstream parties which keep clinging to the failed project of the common European currency.

A recent program on German television revealed that former German Chancellor Kohl had exchanged the strong D-mark for the crisis-prone euro because he wanted to atone for Germany’s role in the Second World War. Contemporary Germans, however, are not inclined to pay for the Greeks and other southern Europeans to make up for their grandfathers’ role in the Second World War.

The euro project was flawed from the beginning. It lumped various countries with widely divergent economies, cultures, and languages together in a single monetary union, imposing a “one size fits none” monetary policy on 17 countries which have little in common but the fact that they are all located on the European continent. It is as if the U.S. were to renounce the dollar for the ‘amro,’ a common currency with countries as different as Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina.

In this fashion, a prosperous and industrious northern European country such as Germany, the economic powerhouse of Europe, renounced the D-mark for a euro, which also included a nation such as Greece, where corrupt politicians lied and cheated about the country’s dire economic situation.

A documentary on German television last week revealed that the political class in Europe knew that the Greeks were cooking the books, but did not care. The euro was a political project. Former European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein admitted as much in the documentary. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl renounced the D-mark for a euro which was to include as many countries as possible. “Kohl was a romantic as far as the EU was concerned,” Bolkestein said. “For Kohl, European unification was the way for Germany to atone for the Second World War. That is why he wanted to have as many countries in the eurozone as possible, whether they qualified or not.”

Bolkestein admitted that he had misgivings about the inclusion of countries such as Greece in the eurozone. In the same documentary, Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank from 2003 to 2011, admitted that the financial crisis in Greece, which is currently dragging the euro down with it, could only have happened because the EU refused to see the obvious. It was an eye-opening documentary that enraged many Germans viewers.

The euro crisis is leading to a general dissatisfaction of the Europeans with the governing political class, whether left, the right, or center. In less than one and a half years, 10 of the 17 government leaders of the eurozone have been brought down or voted out of office. This happened in February 2011 to Ireland’s centrist Prime Minister Brian Cowen; in April 2011 to Finland’s centrist Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi; in June 2011 to Portugal’s socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates; in September 2011 to Slovenia’s socialist Prime Minister Borut Pahor; in October 2011 to Slovakia’s center-right Prime Minister Iveta Radicova; in November 2011 to Italy’s center-right Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Greece’s socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou and Spain’s socialist Prime Minister Jose Zapatero; in April 2012 to the Netherlands’ center-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte; in May 2012 to France’s center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy.

All ten of them fell — directly or indirectly — as a result of the eurocrisis. It is generally expected that the same fate will befall Germany’s center-right Chancellor Angela Merkel in next year’s German general elections. Merkel is Helmut Kohl’s successor as leader of the Christian-Democrat Party CDU. In last Sunday’s state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populous state, where almost a quarter of all Germans live, the CDU lost its position as the biggest party in the state to the Socialists. The CDU lost a quarter of its votes, while the Pirate Party, some of whose leaders acknowledge that the party is infiltrated by neo-Nazis, entered the NRW state parliament.

The largest European countries – Germany, France and Italy – which were (or, in Germany’s case, are) led by center-right politicians, are shifting to the left. In countries where the left has lost the leadership, the extreme-left won significantly in the elections.

Antisemitism on the Rise in Europe

Monday, May 7th, 2012

The virus of antisemitism persists in haunting Europe. In recent months, antisemitism has been exhibited all too often in European countries, not just in theory but in practice. France has been the scene for the murder of Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse; attacks on Jewish property in Paris and Dijon; desecration of Jewish graves in Nice, and anti-Semitic graffiti throughout the country. Malmo, Sweden, with a now considerable Muslim population, has witnessed increasing outbreaks of violence against Jews. It is disquieting that Ilmar Reepalu, the mayor of the city, has denied these attacks, and dismissed criticism of his denials as the work of the “Israel lobby.”

Over the last decade, antisemitic incidents have occurred not just in France and Sweden but also throughout Europe; some of the more notable have been in the Kreuzberg section of Berlin populated by Palestinians and Turks; even more significantly, in other neighborhoods of Berlin that are not populated by Middle East immigrants; in Stockholm, Amsterdam, and major French cities besides Paris; on the island of Corfu in Greece, and in Rome.

In the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, the European Union called for joint efforts to combat prejudice and discrimination experienced by individuals and groups on the basis of their ethnic features, cultural background, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability. As a result of this treaty, comprehensive data and an analysis of the state of discrimination in Europe with special emphasis on antisemitism is now available in a just-published comprehensive study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Berlin.

This study, Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination: a European Report, was based on interviews with sample populations of 1,000 people in eight European countries. It examined negative attitudes and prejudices against groups defined as “other,” “foreign,” or “abnormal.” The overall result — showing widespread intolerance, racism, sexism, dislike of Muslims, concern about immigrants, opposition to homosexuals and gay marriage, and antisemitism — is dispiriting.

Although the prejudices against the various groups differ, the study suggests that they are interconnected: that people who denigrate one group are also very likely to target other groups. Prejudices against the different target groups are linked and share a common ideology, one that endangers democracy and leads to violence and conflicts. The problem that democratic countries and well-meaning people now face is how to confront and overcome these prejudices that are so observable.

The overall saddening conclusion of the report, which deals with a number of areas of discrimination, is that group-focused enmity towards immigrants, blacks, Muslims, and Jews is widespread throughout Europe; and that anti-Semitism is an important component of this hostility. The Report defines anti-Semitism as social prejudice directed against Jews simply because they are Jews. Being Jewish is seen as a negative characteristic. Current antisemitism takes many forms: political (the Jews have a world conspiracy); secular (the Jews are usurers); religious (the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus); racist (Jews through their genetics are not people to be trusted). The report continues with additional detail: Jews have too much influence; Jews try to take advantage of having been victims during the Nazi era; Jews in general do not care about anything or anybody but their own kind. Two additional troubling points of view were documented: the first is why people do not like Jews when one considers Israel’s policy; the second is the belief that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.

Even though the study deals with a limited number of individuals and European countries, its findings are significant. The details are a warning of possible future danger. The study shows that animosity against Jews is strongest in the Eastern European countries (Poland and Hungary) and in Germany, moderate in France, Italy, and Portugal, and weakest in the Netherlands and Britain. A recent shift appears to have occurred from traditional anti-Semitism to a new anti-Semitism in relation to the Holocaust. Ominously, an inversion of perpetrator and victim has taken place.

Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945, but the of the Final Solution seems to have been forgotten in the view of European citizens. The study shows that 72% of Poles, 68% of Hungarians, and 49% of Germans believe, strongly or somewhat, that the Jews today are benefitting from the memory of the camp and exploit the Holocaust. Even in the countries with the lowest expression of prejudice, the percentages of people who hold the view that Jews exploit the Holocaust are alarming. The figure for the Netherlands is 17% and in Britain 21%.

The most frequently expressed-anti-Semitic perception is the certitude that Jews have too much influence in the country of the respondent. Nearly 70% of Hungarians hold this view. In Poland, where few people even know a Jew since Poland has such a small Jewish community, some 50% hold this belief. The lowest figures are in the Netherlands where this view is held strongly by 6% and in Britain where 13.9% profess agreement with this assessment. The other four countries around 20% concur with this statement. On the question of Jews caring only about themselves, the range of views is different. Portugal joins Hungary and Poland in agreeing, 51-57%, while the other six vary between 20 and 30%. Somewhat surprisingly, a majority in all eight countries believe that Jews have enriched the culture of the country; the highest figures are in the Netherlands, (72%), Britain (71%) , and Germany (69%).

Italy: ‘Mosques Springing Up like Mushrooms’

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

More than 250 mosques across Italy have reached an agreement to create a new umbrella organization, the Italian Islamic Confederation (CII). The CII will be controlled by Morocco, and will compete with an existing Muslim umbrella organization, the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII).

The UCOII, which is estimated to control 60% of the mosques in Italy, is closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since its founding in 1990, the UCOII has used its virtual monopoly over the mosques in Italy to spread its Islamist ideology over the 1.5 million Muslims in the country. The UCOII has also worked to become the main interlocutor between the Muslim community and the Italian state.

But the Italian government has ruled out reaching an agreement with the UCOII because of its links to the Muslim Brotherhood. “There can be no accords with those like the UCOII, who de facto deny the existence of the state of Israel and hold ambiguous positions on terrorism at the national and local level,” according to Andrea Ronchi, Italy’s former Minister for Community Policy.

After it came to light that the majority of the mosques in Italy are controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni called for a moratorium on the building of new mosques until a new national law could be written to regulate the phenomenon.

According to Manes Bernardini, a politician with the Northern League in Bologna, “Mosques are springing up like mushrooms, and mayors can do nothing about it because there is no national law to regulate the proliferation of these structures.”

In this context, the creation of the CII on March 22 is an attempt by the Moroccan government to establish a new Muslim umbrella organization that would represent a more “moderate” face of Islam vis-à-vis the Italian government.

CII’s founding document states that it “respects the holiness of life” and “rejects every form of violence.” The document also says the CII “respects the principles of moderation, tolerance and respect towards others,” and will “promote and defend the rights of Muslim women in Italy.”

The primary motive behind the creation of the CII, which is being run by a Moroccan named Fihri Wahid, appears to be an effort to persuade the Italian government to approve and subsidize the construction of more mosques in the country. CII’s founding document states: “Creating the best conditions in order to guarantee dignity and freedom of worship, underlining the importance that places of worship reflect the creative genius and the splendor of Italian culture towards the prospect of integration and dialogue with the other religions present in the country.”

According to Hassan Abouyoub, the Moroccan Ambassador to Italy, the establishment of the CII is “an historic achievement. It will finally allow the Muslim population in Italy to have a new voice.” Abouyoub added: “The mosques which are taking part in this new confederation are only of the Maliki tradition, which respect a moderate Islam.”

The Maliki tradition refers to a school of Islamic Sharia law that is practiced in Morocco and other parts of North Africa. In fact, the “moderate” Maliki school of Islam is the official state religion in Morocco, where Christians are frequently harassed and often expelled from the country without due process, allegedly for proselytizing.

With the creation of the CII, Morocco is attempting to export to Italy a religious control strategy that is working very well in neighboring Spain, where the Moroccan government has been using an umbrella organization called the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI), to exert control over the religious and cultural beliefs and practices of the nearly one million Moroccan immigrants who reside in Spain.

According to a leaked secret report prepared by Spain’s National Intelligence Center (CNI), excerpts of which have been published by the Madrid-based El País newspaper, the Moroccan government is aggressively implementing “a strategy of great magnitude” that involves establishing a parallel Muslim society in Spain by discouraging Moroccans from integrating into their host country, and by encouraging them instead to live an Islamic lifestyle isolated from Spanish society.

The document also states that Rabat is financing the construction of hundreds of mosques in Spain whose imams are directly appointed by the Moroccan government. Moreover, the North African country is attempting to impose Muslim religious instruction in Spanish public schools, and is pressuring Moroccan families to remove their children from those schools that fail to comply.

A separate CNI report about financing Jihad in Spain provides other examples of how the Moroccan government is using Islam for political ends. For example, in November 2008, “the Moroccan Minister of Islamic Affairs organized and paid for a meeting in Marrakesh which was attended by a considerable number of imams and leaders of the Islamic communities in Spain,” according to the CNI.

No Kosher Food at Malta Jewish Conference

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

The European Jewish Press reports that the European Jewish media is criticizing Malta for agreeing to host 120 Jewish students in delegations from 16 countries last week, and then providing no kosher food.

Organizers of the February 9-12, four-day “launch conference” (as opposed to lunch conference) of the Jewish European Professionals (JEP) said it was a real challenge to bring kosher food to “the small and remote Mediterranean island.”

From press reports it appears those organizers simply didn’t know that Jews consumed nothing but kosher food at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and during round the clock coffee breaks.

In the end they apparently decided on a quick and expensive fix, combining some air deliveries with a seven ton truck that set out from Brussels to Italy, where it boarded a ferry to Sicily, then was ferried to Valletta, Malta. Then the food transport had to go through clearance, as did the kosher wine. It took quite a few hours.

All imported food had to be shared carefully, since no additional kosher could be purchased during the program.

JEP is a sister organization of Brussels-based ECJS (European Center of Jewish Students). It provides young professionals, aged 27-39 personal and professional networking opportunities.

It is designed to create a vibrant young Jewish community focused on making a positive contribution to the world. The organization will hold three major European events each year.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/no-kosher-food-at-malta-jewish-conference/2012/02/23/

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