There’s been a lot of back-and-forth in Italy recently about the role of the governor of the Bank of Italy in blocking a foreign takeover of a domestic bank, and possibly showing favouritism to one of his mates in the process. This is creating a rift in the main government party, Forza Italia, between those (led by economy minister Domenico Siniscalco) who want to try to force him to resign, and those (including Berlusconi) who are trying to duck the issue. But there’s an accompanying story which, as far as I know, has received zero attention in the American press. A prominent member of Forza Italia has come out with his theory of why foreign bankers want to come to Italy – a conspiracy among the Elders of Zion. According to this editorial (English version here ) in Corriere della Sera, Guido Crosetto, a member of the Italian parliament’s finance committee, has announced that the Italian banking sector is (my translation) “proving tempting to many, above all to the hordes of Jewish and American freemasons who are already at the doors.” When asked to clarify, he “limited himself to pointing out that Merrill Lynch was ‘a particular institution in which the shareholders were specifically Jews.’”
I don’t need to stress how disgusting this is. But it’s also a little strange that it hasn’t been picked up in the US press and blogosphere (the Italian media didn’t do a great job either until the last day or two). There’s a minor cottage industry that tries (sometimes on the basis of quite remarkably dubious evidence) to identify instances of West European anti-Semitism, usually in order to insinuate that it’s the motivation behind European policies on the Middle East. But as a result, it focuses its attentions either on the European left, or on right-wingers (such as the French government) who opposed the Iraq war. The patently anti-Semitic outbursts of a politician in a party that’s one of the Bush administration’s few allies in Western Europe apparently don’t merit the same level of attention, just as Berlusconi’s own comments about Mussolini’s prison camps and his notorious cracks about concentration camp kapos were greeted with silence from the right.
Update: translation slightly modified and English version of editorial added thanks to comments.