Wiesenthal Centre to Italian Prime Minister: "Prosecute the Listing and Boycott of Jewish-Owned Stores in Rome as Return to Mussolini's 'Aryanization' Campaign"

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE - EUROPE
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Wiesenthal Centre to Italian Prime Minister: "Prosecute the Listing and Boycott of Jewish-Owned Stores in Rome as Return to Mussolini's 'Aryanization' Campaign"

Paris, 9 January 2009

In a letter to the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, expressed outrage at the fascistic call by Giancarlo Desiderati, head of Flaica-Uniti-Club Union (which apparently represents 8,000 Roman shop assistants) for a campaign "to identify and boycott" Jewish-owned stores in Rome, as a response to the Israeli operation in Gaza.

Samuels defined this campaign as "a clear repetition of Benito Mussolini's measures under the antisemitic laws pronounced in Italy almost exactly seventy years ago."

The letter noted that "Desiderati has already called for boycotts of Israel; now he declares a boycott of Italian Jewish-owned or managed shops as 'the logical next step'. He has added that a list of Jewish shops was being compiled, and 'a list of streets in which a majority of the shops were Jewish would serve people to avoid these streets when shopping'. He reportedly continued that, 'for 50 years, we have been concerned for the Jews because of what they suffered in the Holocaust, but now it is time to be concerned for the Palestinians who are the Jews of today.'"

The Centre called for "the strongest condemnation by the Italian authorities and the prosecution of Desiderati - and the fascist Union that elected him - on grounds of incitement to racism, intimidation, threats to public order and justification of the Holocaust."

Samuels continued, "We commend the gesture by the Mayor of Rome to visit the Jewish stores targeted by this 'Aryanization' campaign", while considering "this initiative as an insufficient response".

The Centre urged the Prime Minister "to turn this scandal into a lesson on a dark chapter in Italy's history that must never recur."

"The listing of Italian Jewish citizens for direct discrimination is the most chilling symptom of the transposition of the Hamas antisemitism-terrorism agenda from Gaza to the soil of Europe. It must be expunged forcefully and immediately," concluded Samuels.

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33.609.77.01.58.