Paris, 16 January 2022

The Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Dr Shimon Samuels, expressed outrage that, “yesterday, at a conference in Ferrara, Italy, organized by Jewish author Moni Ovadia, entitled ‘The Festival of Memories,’ MP Vittorio Sgarbi, known for his political rants, made an antisemitic outburst.”

Sgarbi is a main supporter for Silvio Berlusconi’s candidacy to become next President of the Italian Republic. Sgarbi came out with a disgraceful declaration just seconds into his speech: “One extermination that he [Ovadia], out of modesty, does not deal with, is that of the Palestinians... perpetrated by the State of Israel over the years...”

View the alert on his speech in Informazione Corretta: https://www.informazionecorretta.com/main.php?mediaId=115&sez=120&id=84205
English translation: Informazione_Corretta_15Jan2022_translated.pdf

This unacceptable statement adds to a long list of controversial positions that Sgarbi has taken over the decades, that have earned him a record list of defamatory charges.

Seemingly flirting with the motley “no-vax, no-mask, no-pass” campaigners, Sgarbi was recently manhandled out of Parliament because he refused to wear a mask, unlike all of his colleagues. On another occasion, he reportedly downplayed the need for police protection of Holocaust Survivor, Senator Liliana Segre, while she was receiving daily neo-Nazi death threats. Now, he has launched into a diatribe, using such words as “extermination” and “genocide” applied to Israel.

“Silvio Berlusconi – at the head of Mondadori editions – had published Simon Wiesenthal’s books in Italian, in particular Justice, Not Vengeance, that became a bestseller. As Prime Minister in the 90’s, he had backed the Wiesenthal Centre campaign for the extradition of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke from Argentina for trial in Italy. He supported us and the families of the Ardeatine Caves massacre victims in seeking justice,” recalled Samuels.

The Italian Parliament is due to elect the next President of the Republic in the last week of January. Many wonder what chances Berlusconi really has in obtaining the Presidency, especially if fraternizing with the likes of Sgarbi.

Meanwhile, the extreme right becomes more outspoken and daring (see the case of a Nazi flag draped over a coffin at a funeral in Rome), riding the waves of polarization to influence the public debate at a critical time – this year marks the centenary of the “March on Rome” by Mussolini’s Fascists in 1922.

“We hope that, whatever the outcome of this election, none of the candidates endorse Holocaust denial, conspiracy theories, incitement to antisemitism and all other forms of bigotry which disfigure Italy in and out of Parliament,” concluded Samuels.