Jewish leaders in Italy on Thursday condemned recent newspaper advertisements likening Israel's military offensive against Hizbullah operatives in Lebanon to Nazi massacres and fascism.
In a statement issued at the end of a meeting with Interior Minister Giuliano Amato, the Committee Against Discrimination and Anti-Semitism said the ads also generated intolerance and hostility toward the Jewish community at a delicate time.
The committee deems "the statements printed in national and international newspapers comparing Israel to Nazism and fascism to be inadmissible and distorting," the group said in a statement released by the Interior Ministry.
The ads "violated a founding sentiment of Italian and European democracy, meaning abhorrence for the Holocaust as a planned and lucidly executed extermination of anyone of Hebrew religion, and as such incomparable to any other event of our time," the statement continued.
At issue are ads published Saturday in some Italian newspapers by the Union of Islamic Communities, an Italian Muslim group with a reputation for radicalism.
The advertisements, which appeared in newspapers including Il Giorno, a small Milan daily, likened Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon to massacres carried out in Italy by German occupiers during World War II.
The ads prompted Amato to call Thursday's meeting with the Committee Against Discrimination, as well as another one Monday of a council on Islam relations.
The statement's mention of international newspapers was an apparent reference to a full-page ad Wednesday in the International Herald Tribune, in which a Kuwaiti contracting company criticized US support for Israel in the war with Hizbullah and implied that Israelis were fascists.