The “kefiah lobby” influencing Italian politics

It is a shame, and even a bit pathetic, that pro-Palestinian motions in the Italian Parliament should be voted the very day after a US court ruled that the Palestinian Authority must pay more than 650 million dollars to American citizens for attacks in Israel in the early 2000s. We are speaking of Abu Mazen’s Palestinian Authority, the one that reached an agreement with Hamas for a coalition government, the one that cannot go a day without a message of hatred for the Jews and of praise for the terrorists who it keeps sustaining in prison. It is a shame, because, in contrast with what all the presented and discussed motions say, the vote has been decided not to foster the peace process (which this way, on the contrary, will come to a stall), but because of the zealotry of a whole world of uncontrollable pro-Palestinians who act on slogans endlessly repeated by the powerful propaganda machine of the Palestinian lobby. Millions of people in Italy and Europe are part of it, and they have to be indulged. The pro-Palestinian lobby is actually anti-Israeli. Those who dare to say the word “anti-Semite” have to pay a fine, and I can say I know a thing or two about it.

The lobby has Italian fathers; a source of inspiration for a distorted vision that, as in the times when the world was divided in opposing blocs, makes the Palestinians a people persecuted by the US-Israeli imperialism and Israel a country of apartheid, genocide and so on. A heap of nonsense organized by hundreds of associations that engage in sit-ins, boycotts and voluntary work in Ramallah.

At the center of the Palestinian world has always been a former member of the European Parliament and member of CEPR, the Council for European Palestinian Relations, who was a regular in Ramallah even at the times of the second Intifada, when thousands of Jews were being blown up. The net of Italian and European movements is called ECCP (European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine). With a letter to Federica Mogherini in her capacity of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, ECCP called on the European Union to boycott Israel.

The group promotes the global campaign of political warfare against Israel called BDS (the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement) and gives help to “political prisoners”, that is to say to criminals duly put on trial by Israeli courts. Among the members of ECCP, there are associations like Luisa Morgantini’s Assopace Palestina, the Italian trade union Fiom CGIL, the non-profit organization Friends of the Palestine Red Crescent Society and many others.

The letter asked to put an end to the EU-Israeli agreement and 309 European associations and 33 from Italy signed it. Among them, many ARCI circles, the association Salaam Ragazzi dell’Olivo (financed by Italian Local Authorities), the Women in Black and the Italian BDS movements. But also Regions (Tuscany, Emilia Romagna), municipalities (in Naples they wanted to promote a new Gaza-bound flotilla), and many other local institutions are apparently eager to damage Israel. Of course, parties like the Five Stars Movement, Sel (Left, Ecology and Freedom) and part of the Democratic Party are going with the flow, also because the pro-Palestinian lobby has untouchable fathers and endless streams of money funneled toward certain NGOs. “Un ponte per”, “Operazione Colomba”, “Nexus Emilia Romagna” are just some of the hundreds of associations that are actively committed to the demonization of Israel.

Anti-Israeli NGOs received financial support for at least 180 million euros in ten years, and the taxpayer knows nothing about it. The figures are for the most part unavailable on the Regions’ websites, since they list only the last five years’ funding with no indication about the contribution’s size or the project’s costs. But that is the way things are: the projects all alike ultimately result in the boycott, the great and most modern way the lobby is doing so much to push. One of the last achievements was when Legambiente, WWF Italy and Greenpeace gave every assurance that they had no intention to cooperate with an excellent ecological project like Beautiful Israel.

Among the leaders, we have the journalist Michele Santoro, who has been the herald of the Palestinian cause for decades. In his talk show, Servizio Pubblico, Santoro hosted the Five Stars Movement party lawmaker Alessandro Di Battista, who said that the Arab world hates the West because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Is Isis included? But the political prince is former Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema for his promenade with the Hezbollah after the war in Lebanon and for his huge record of acrimonious statements on the matter.

The intellectual father is the philosopher Gianni Vattimo, who spoke about Israel as a “Nazi and Fascist rough State” and said he would want to fight side by side with Hamas. He will not do it, but still he is fueling the same engine of hatred that ultimately managed to bring a Parliament that had the merit to be still a friend of Israel to vote a pro-Palestinian motion.




This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (February 28, 2015)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.