The Italian politician and author talks about the East Jerusalem flap and makes some startling statements about the similarity of views between the European left and jihadists.
26 March '10
Posted before Shabbat
The Italian journalist Fiamma Nirenstein is the author of numerous books on anti-Semitism, Israel, and the Middle East conflict, including (in English) Israel is Us and Terror: the New Anti-Semitism and the War against the West.
In April 2008, she was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies as a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party. She is presently the vice-president of the chamber’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. In February, she accompanied Prime Minister Berlusconi on a three-day visit to Israel.
Stefan Frank spoke with Fiamma Nirenstein about Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, anti-Semitism on the left, European criticism of Israel, and the significance of Berlusconi’s recent visit.
Q: Jerusalem is presently the focus of a great deal of media attention. Some people say that by announcing the construction of new residential units in East Jerusalem, Israel has clouded the prospects for peace in the Middle East and angered the USA. Relations between the two countries are said to be in a deep crisis.
Fiamma Nirenstein: The 10-month freeze granted unilaterally by Netanyahu in December — which Obama welcomed enthusiastically — referred to West Bank settlements. East Jerusalem was never included. Jerusalem is an issue with which Israel and the Palestinians will deal only at the negotiating table. Most people are ignorant of the fact that what is commonly known as East Jerusalem was ruled by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Before then, the town had a Jewish majority for centuries.
In previous negotiations, like those between Arafat and Barak in 2000 or between Olmert and Abu Mazen in 2007, even the Palestinian side considered that many of the neighborhoods being called “settlements” by the newspapers, like Ramat Shlomo, could possibly be annexed to the Jewish part of the town in a final agreement. This is because most of these neighborhoods have been built either in deserted areas or in areas that had already been inhabited by Jews, who could not, however, live there under Jordanian rule because of the threat to their lives.
In short, the decision to build 1600 units was taken a long time ago. The Americans have seized on the bad timing of the announcement during Biden’s visit in order to push the peace process in the way Obama wants.
Q: You write a lot about leftist anti-Semitism. When and how did you discover its existence?
Fiamma Nirenstein: I made this discovery in theory and in practice. In 1967, as a young girl, I was a communist like all the other people of my age. My parents sent me to a kibbutz in northern Israel called Neot Mordechai. It was a leftist kibbutz, every week it dedicated one working day to the Vietcong. During the Six-Day-War, which broke out during my stay, I took care of the kids and brought them to the shelter.
(Read full interview)
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