Previous posts in this discussion:
PostStateless and With No Friends: The Palestinians (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 04/12/21 4:27 am)
Many stateless peoples with no friends have existed and have disappeared throughout history, but we have also had stateless peoples with no friends becoming a great state, and even turning into the oppressor and exercising ethnic cleansing towards other peoples.
At present we can focus on one state that has almost everybody as a friend, maybe out of convenience or fear. Even history has been rewritten for it.
A small example: By now when we read about the first sailing of Columbus in 1492 it is very easy to find the note "at the same time, ships full of exiled Jews were taking to the sea." Some have even seen in this moment the future dooming of the Spanish Empire "only" 200 years later. See the famous painting by Emilio Sala Frances. But now some Spanish historians are stating that in reality only 20,000 Jewish Spaniards were exiled for good. After a while others could return, and at least 50,000 converted to Christianity.
On the contrary, nobody remembers the expulsion of 300,000 Moriscos in 1609. However, in this instance, the Spanish King had the justification that the Moriscos were considered unreliable citizens supporting the Ottoman Empire and the Saracen Pirates attacking the Spanish shores.
The state in question is Israel.
When finally--at least in Western Europe as in the US strong anti-Semitism lasted at least until the episode of the SS Saint Louis in 1939--the Jews had been accepted within society, the Zionists decided to establish their own state thanks to the great personality of Theodor Herzl and the money of Edmond James Rothschild.
In December 1946 the 22nd Zionist Congress had three options on the table:
1) Construction of a Jewish state in part of Palestine;
2) Establishment of a bi-national state based on equality between Arabs and Jews;
3) Creation of a Jewish state in all Palestine.
Option 1 was chosen but option 3 was adopted in reality, except, of course, for the great concentration camp of Gaza.
The people of the Palestinian Nation are doomed for the present. They have become only a rather secondary pariah state with a strange medieval government plus the courageous Jewish Voice for Peace defending the Palestinian Nation, which existed and still exists in spite of the old claim of Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper in 1843: "A land without a people for a people without a land."
JE comments: Eugenio, I must be misunderstanding your timeline of the "acceptance" of Jewish Europeans. Certainly you mean after 1946? Regardless, I'd like to learn more about the myth of Palestine being "peopleless." Was this Cooper's invention? By the by, there have been several Anthony Ashley Coopers, dating back to the 17th century. All of them were Earls of Shaftesbury. The 10th such Earl was murdered in 2004 by his estranged wife and brother-in-law.
Jewish Supporters of Italian Fascism
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
04/17/21 4:37 AM)
When I mentioned the acceptance of the Jewish population in Western Europe (April 12th), I was referring to the late 1800s. A renewal of suspicious attitude toward the Jewish people was caused by the Zionists more or less claiming that Jewish loyalties should be for the future state of Israel. (Of course the case of Nazi Germany is something different entirely.)
In Italy, the Jewish people were welcomed everywhere, at least from the start of the movement for the Unity of Italy.
In 1905, Italy had its first Jewish PM, Alessandro Forti, followed the following year by Stanley Sonnino and in 1910 by Luigi Luzzati.
During the Great War, the person who received the most decorations was the Jewish General Emanuele Pugliese. Forty-nine other generals were Jewish.
Upon the creation of Fascism on 23 March 1919, five of the founders were Jewish.
At least three Jews are remembered among the martyrs of the Rivoluzione Fascista: Duilio Sinigaglia, Gino Bolaffi and Bruno Mondolfo.
Moreover, there were some 230 Jewish participants in the "Marcia su Roma" on 28 October 1922. Later, more than 20% of the Jewish population became card-carrying Fascists.
In 1930 the Jewish Community, thankful for the extremely favorable concordat, law IX 30 October 1930, struck a medal dedicated to the king and Mussolini. Such a medal now is extremely difficult to find (it is no longer politically correct) and expensive. We have already mentioned the great minister Guido Jung.
Perhaps the foreign relations with international Zionism started to sour when Mussolini sent a delegation of Italian Jews to his old friend Chaim Weizmann in London to ask for interceding in favor of Italy in the 1935-'36 sanctions crisis. But Weizmann refused, as he was a strong supporter of the UK.
JE comments: Interesting. Eugenio, do you believe that early Jewish support for fascism was due to the movement's "secularism"--more specifically, a nationalism separate from the Catholic church?
Over the years I've asked you nearly every Mussolini question possible, but not this one: are the claims that Mussolini was an atheist true?
"The Jews of Italy: From Equality to Persecution"
(Leo Goldberger, USA
04/19/21 3:30 PM)
As a potential supplement and elaboration to Eugenio Battaglia's always first-rate historic information, especially on Italy, of course, I would also highly recommend another source for additional information on the subject of the Jews of Italy: the English translation of Michele Sarfatti's authoritative volume, The Jews of Italy--From Equality to Persecution, U of Wisconsin Press, 2007.
Getting closer to the more contemporary Italian history, especially in the wake of our past presidential misfit, there are the historic books by (an old family friend) Alexander Stille, a journalist and professor at Columbia. One of his several prize-winning books deals with the lives of five Jewish-Italian families during the Holocaust, while another is especially intriguing in the wake of our recent presidential misfit as it zeroes in on ..."how a beautiful European country with a fabled history was taken over by a man named Berlusconi."
JE comments: Thanks for the recommendation, Leo. Here's a question we could ask about far too many nations: "How a beautiful country with a fabled history was taken over by a man named... [insert name here]."
Margherita Grassini Sarfatti, Mussolini's Lover
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
04/21/21 2:12 PM)
I wish to thank Leo Goldberger (April 19th) for his informative post and kind words.
I'd like to devote a few words to a fantastic lady that Leo has brought to mind.
Margherita Grassini Sarfatti (1880-1961), was an exceptionally well-educated lady who spoke four languages. At first she gravitated to the socialist world of Anna Kuliscioff. She later became a Catholic, but always maintained her old Jewish culture. She met the young socialist Mussolini in 1912, and became his lover (and advisor) for at least 20 years. The relationship finally ended in 1936.
In a certain way, she was replaced in the heart of Mussolini by the younger and beautiful Claretta Petacci. In spite of all respect due to Claretta, who sacrificed her life for him, it was a terrible mistake.
Claretta, an admirer of the Duce from childhood, finally met him in April 1932 when the dictator was driving alone from Rome to the sea. It is quite surprising that a dictator would travel around without escort and be approached by a female admirer.
Michele Sarfatti does not seem to be related to Margherita and unfortunately, I have not read his book. His father was a general of the Italian Army who left Italy in 1938 and during WWII, joined the British Army as a volunteer.
About Berlusconi, I would not be critical of him. He has at least two great achievements:
1) In the Italian elections of 1994, he organized in a very short time his new party and defeated the former Communists, already certain of a great victory.
2) He succeeded, alas for a short time, in bringing Russia in as a real friendly partner with the West. Such a thing would be imperative in a showdown against China.
Berlusconi was practically eliminated in 2011 following the intrigues of the president of the Republic, a former fascist, former Stalinist, and then lackey of the EU and the Empire. Two years later he was further marginalized by a judiciary coup, probably because he was too independent. See the book and inquiries of Alain Friedman.
Anyway, Berlusconi is back in politics while his TV productions are very powerful, even if for my taste some of them are decadent or silly.
On another topic, between Erdogan and Putin, I believe, but my point of view is from Italy and not from the US, that the former is more dangerous. Erdogan acts. Putin only reacts to the Empire's provocations, just see the latest work of Oliver Stone, Ukraine on Fire.
About meddling in foreign elections, I would say the Empire, in the last 80 years, always gets the Oscar, even if during the Cold War the Soviet Empire was a strong competitor.
JE comments: Eugenio, ahem, what about Crimea, the first "successful" territorial grab since WWII? About Margherita Sarfatti, she spent the years 1938-'47 in Argentina and Uruguay, practicing journalism. She later returned to Italy where she became a highly visible sponsor of the arts.
Who remembers the 1999 film Cradle Will Rock? Sarfatti is featured in the "mostly historic" film, played by the iconic actor Susan Sarandon.
- Was Mussolini an Atheist? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 06/23/21 5:09 AM)
Some time ago (April 17th), John E asked about Mussolini's purported atheism.
He was born in a family where the mother was a devout Catholic and the father was a socialist mangiapreti (priest-eater). Mussolini at first was under the influence of the mother but then grew up under the powerful influence of his blacksmith father. Furthermore, the period passed in a strict religious school of the Salesian Fathers, from which at the end of the final exams the principal recommended that he should go somewhere else, did not help his youthful devotion.
The Mussolini of this period is remembered especially for his pronouncement during a socialist manifestation: "If God exists, I give Him two minutes to strike me down." But apparently God had something else to do at the time.
In any case, the venerable (from 1850) magazine La Civiltà Cattolica in an article about Mussolini's Catholicism at first calls him "a devout atheist" but then remembers his sincere private devotion and confirms that as PM he was always very respectful to the Church. See the famous Concordato of 1929 which granted the Vatican the status of a foreign country plus many privileges (too many?). However the following year he practically granted the same privileges to the Italian Jewish community.
In conversations with Emil Ludwig in 1932, Mussolini said: "When young I was not a believer, I had prayed to God to save my mother but she died." Then he added: "In recent years, my faith has strengthened inside me." Ludwig asked if he had a Christian faith and the answer was: "Men can pray to God in many ways: It is imperative that each one be free to worship at his own way:"
On 19 December 1925, he married the great, admirable Donna Rachele in a Catholic church, but they were already married according to a civil ceremony in 1915.
The famous Don Ennio Innocenti published a book confirming the Catholic faith of Mussolini, quoting a small note written by Mussolini from his reclusion on 31 August 1943: "I was born Catholic, and I want to die Catholic. I do not want a funeral or any funerary honors."
Mussolini at his home in his final years kept Giuseppte Ricciotti's The Life of Jesus Christ next to his bed. Fra Ginepro da Pompeiana's 1945 book I confessed Mussolini (published posthumously in 1973) relates among other things that he confessed Mussolini a few days before his murder, but it is known that Mussolini also went to confession after the execution of his son-in-law Galeazzo Ciano.
Fra Ginepro, born Giuseppe Conio, 1903-1962, wrote many books about his experience as a military chaplain from the war of Abyssinia through the RSI period.
It has been reported that Pope Pius XII stated in 1952, "Mussolini is the greatest man known by me, and without any doubt among the most good. On this matter, I have many proofs to demonstrate it."
Therefore as Mussolini wanted: he was born and died in the Catholic faith having, however, also experienced a short period of genuine atheism. By the way, he did not have a funeral or funerary honors, but many people still pay homage to his tomb. It is a strong experience.
A personal remembrance: The TV was full of funerary honors for the recent death of Prince Philip. I remember that when George VI of England died, I was threatened with expulsion from school because I raised hell against lowering the Italian flag to half-mast. My reason: what the hell had we to do with a former enemy king?
JE comments: No atheists in foxholes? Il Duce from 1943 was in the political equivalent of a foxhole. Mussolini's conversion from ardent socialist to, well, Mussolini is one of the more interesting political transformations in history. The religion factor is likewise compelling. Eugenio, what do we know about Mussolini's father and his influence? I would welcome a synopsis. For this Latin Americanist, one of the more memorable Duce "factoids" is that his father named him after the Mexican patriot Benito Juárez.
Ever notice the number of parenting teams with a pious mother and a "priest-eating," anticlerical father? One almost never sees the opposite situation.
- Was Mussolini an Atheist? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 06/23/21 5:09 AM)
- Margherita Grassini Sarfatti, Mussolini's Lover (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 04/21/21 2:12 PM)
- "The Jews of Italy: From Equality to Persecution" (Leo Goldberger, USA 04/19/21 3:30 PM)