Bepi Pezzulli
International counsel & foreign policy adviser

Five Stars spur row in anti-semitic rant. Again

Here they go again. The Five Star Movement (M5S) has again been caught red handed in an anti-Semitic spat. Yet, their latest repetition from within the ranks of the populist horde founded by comedian Beppe Grillo is a particularly nasty one.

A cartoon of a Fascist-style caricature of a Jew with a knife hidden behind his back appeared on the Facebook wall of M5S councillor of Turin Monica Amore.

Born in 1975 and with solely a middle school diploma to her name, Amore is known for openly expressing her conspiratorial ideas as demonstrated by her numerous recent statements against Italian Prime Minister-designate Mario Draghi. Back in 2017, when the Bilderberg Group met at Turin’s industrial district of Lingotto, Amore said: “I am very worried about their presence in Turin. [Bildenberg] is a secretive elite of financial neo-oligarchies devoted to the most extreme neoliberalism, in one word: the arrogance of power.”

To mitigate the damage made by Amore, the Five Star Movement of Turin sought to come the rescue. In an official statement released to the press they observed that “Councillor Amore [ … ] wanted to make a statement about publishers and the press.” However, its attempt to avert controversy only made things worse because the publishing house to which the stereotyped cartoon referred, the GEDI group, is owned by John Elkann, the scion of a Jewish dynasty and the Editor-in-Chief Maurizio Molinari of the Italian daily La Repubblica it owns is also a Jew.

Across Turin’s political spectrum heated reaction to Amore’s post arose. The Speaker of the Piedmont Assembly Stefano Allasia was trenchant: “We cannot tolerate any form of anti-Semitism and there can be no justification for posting that cartoon.”

Senator Anna Rossomando of Italy’s Democratic Party (PD) invited Amore to step down: “Sometimes an apology isn’t enough. The councillor should independently understand that some words are not compatible with the function that elected representatives carry out in democratic institutions.”

Fabrizio Ricca of the Northern League, who holds the post as minority whip in the City Council stated: “This blunder cannot be justified as simply a mistake. The city expects an apology.”

MP Silvia Fregolent of Matteo Renzi’s center-left party Italia Viva categorically denounced the M5S with her remarks. She said, “There cannot be any political cooperation with the M5S. The shameful anti-Semitic cartoon posted by a Councillor of the M5S is the best response to those who still insist and want to make an alliance with the grillini in the upcoming municipal elections.”

Amore’s antics hit a sore spot. The city of Turin’s Jewish community was decimated in the Shoah. The Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, who penned If this is a man, has become one of the city’s icons and Turin itself was awarded a medal of honour in recognition of its resistance against Nazi-Fascism during WWII. No, Turin is not a city in which Amore’s despicable post will be tolerated. Her anti-Semitic slip will not go unpunished.

About the Author
Bepi Pezzulli is a Solicitor specialised in International law and a foreign policy adviser covering Israel, the UK and the US. In 2018, he published "The other Brexit" (Milano Finanza Books), investigating the economic and geopolitical implications of Brexit. Currently, he is Editor-in-Chief of La Voce Repubblicana; a columnist for the Italian daily financial newspaper Milano Finanza; and a pundit for the financial TV channel CNBC. He received degrees at Luiss Guido Carli in Rome (LLB), New York University (LLM), and Columbia University (JD).
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