Matteo Salvini blasted the anti-Israel BDS movement and said that Italy will ‘absolutely’ recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
By Israel Hayom via JNS
Matteo Salvini, head of Italy’s right-wing Lega (League) Party who previously served as deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, recently spoke with Israel Hayom about a number of topics affecting the Jewish state.
Recent polls have projected that were elections to be held in Italy today, he would be elected prime minister.
Q: [If you] become prime minister, will Italy recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital?
A: Yes. Absolutely.
Q: Should the European Union ban the BDS movement for being an anti-Semitic movement?
Q: Should the European Union join the United States in issuing harsh sanctions on Iran and supporting an Iranian revolt against the Islamic regime?
A: Yes. To do so, we would need a strong and free Europe because nowadays, we are unfortunately hostage of economic interests and leftist prejudices that are anti-U.S. and anti-Israel.
Q: Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz, why are we again experiencing a surge in anti-Semitism in Europe?
A: I think that it has to do with the strengthening of Islamic extremism and fanaticism in [recent] years. Most importantly it is connected to the fact that some academics and media are mobilized against Israel and they create hate of Israel to justify anti-Semitism. There is, of course, anti-Semitism of small political minority groups—Nazis and communists. But now the massive presence in Europe of migrants coming from Muslim countries, among whom are many fanatics who are getting the full support of certain intellectuals, is spreading anti-Semitism, in Italy as well.
Q: But we are being told that this anti-Semitism is connected to the rise of new right-wing parties in Europe.
A: There is far-right anti-Semitism, and there is a far-left anti-Semitism, that is institutionalized. Think of [British Labour Leader] Jeremy Corbyn, or the leftist activists in Germany, who didn’t want to be like the Nazis and ended up boycotting Israeli products. I am sure, however, that the high number of Muslims in Europe is the main cause for the current anti-Semitism.
Q: You are being accused of having contacts with political organizations that are anti-Semitic. What is your reaction to this accusation?
A: We [Lega] have no relations whatsoever with such organizations. In the elections, parties like Forza Nuova, CasaPound [and] Fiamma are running against us. So there are no contacts with them. Those who believe in neo-Nazi and neo-fascist anti-Semitism are our enemies, as [are] those who believe in the anti-Semitism of the radical left and radical Islam. It’s an obligation to fight all those who claim that the Jews are the Nazis of our time.
Q: Why is it important to you that Italy adopts the international definition of anti-Semitism?
A: To put an end to the hypocrisy of the left-wing parties, which are talking about boycotting Israel. …There are those who fight for Palestinians’ statehood but deny self-determination for the Jews. This contradiction is based on hypocrisy. Italy has been too slow in adopting this international definition.
Q: You said that the hate for Israel is a dangerous crime. How can we bring the European Union to understand that and fight against it?
A: We should start working on it in the schools, among the youth. I spent nine years at the European Parliament, and I can say that the European institutions—let alone the institutions [of] the U.N.—are no friends of Israel. The European Parliament has today a majority that is not friendly to Israel. So, I believe we shouldn’t focus on these institutions but rather on the new generations. Those who want to erase the State of Israel should know that they will have in us an enemy. Israel is an ally. This should be taught in schools and universities.
Q: Do you regret leaving the government?
A: No, I would have done it again. I am sorry about one thing—that the current government is trying to dismantle our reforms on taxes, pensions and immigration, that were useful for Italy. But we will pass them again.
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Israel Hayom.