ROME– Italian Jews are squabbling over a Jewish candidate for the country's
Sharon Nizza, an Italian Israeli who is running in the Feb.
24-25 general elections, is a candidate for former Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi’s center-right People of Freedom Party.
Fiamma Nirenstein, a
Jewish member of the parliament, in a statement issued Tuesday accused the
online news site of Italy’s umbrella Jewish organization of pandering to the
left and waging a “disgusting campaign of delegitimization” against the
Nizza, a Milan native who has lived in Israel since
2002, is one of several candidates seeking to represent Italian citizens who
live abroad. She has worked as a political aide to Nirenstein, a journalist who
was elected on Berlusconi’s ticket five years ago but is not running for
reelection. Nirenstein plans to move to Israel and continue writing.
her statement, Nirenstein attacked the L’Unione Informa news service of the
Union of Italian Jewish Communities, which in recent days has run Op-Eds by
several regular columnists critical of Nizza’s support for Berlusconi, the
former prime minister who outraged many Jews last month by praising some of the
fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s policies.
Nirenstein criticized what
she called a group of leftist “crusaders” and singled out the historian Anna
Foa, whom she accused of “arrogance” in writing Feb. 10 that for any Jew who
runs “as a Jew,” backing Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party “today enters in
conflict with the deepest values of Judaism.”
Two other commentators,
including the Italian-Israeli demographer Sergio Della Pergola, also had written
columns critical of Nizza, and Nizza herself had responded with her own
Nirenstein wrote that she had “always had the sensation” that
l’Unione Informa “was an instrument of disinformation that has nothing to do
Her attack was echoed by a column on the right-wing Jewish
website Informazione Corretta by commentator Ugo Volli.
On Feb. 11,
l’Unione Informa published a brief comment by Nizza, who responded to criticism
by saying that for her, “to delegitimize a political party as a whole is always
wrong in a democratic system.”
Afterward, the editor of l’Unione Informa
said the website would not publish any further articles on Nizza ahead of the
In Israel, meanwhile, dozens of Italian residents signed a
letter urging Italians living abroad not to vote for Nizza.