Throughout history, rabbinical community leaders often had to choose between appeasing a local ruler or fighting for Jewish values. A fascinating publication I recently acquired reflects one such choice: a Hebrew biography of Arnaldo Mussolini by his brother Benito Mussolini, translated to Hebrew by Rav Gustavo Menachem Calò, a rabbi in Mantua, Italy. Interwoven in the biography is Italian politics and propaganda.
Benito Mussolini was the fascist dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943. Mussolini had a brother, Arnaldo (1885-1931), who was one of the most important developers of fascist ideology. Arnaldo was an Italian journalist and politician and used his newspaper and journalistic skills to promote fascism and his brother’s career.
At the time of this publication, Benito Mussolini was considered benevolent towards the Jews, but once his partnership with the Nazis was confirmed in 1939, he adopted racial policies that eventually led to the persecution of Jews.