Readers’ letters on the Middle East

FYI, From one school journalist (former) to another–

The following article was written by Oriana Fallaci, a prominent, non-Jewish, Italian journalist. It was the cover story in the current issue (4/18/02) of Panorama, one of Italy’s leading weekly news magazines.

All people have the right to voice their opinions. All journalists have the responsibility to find and report, as much as is humanly possible, the facts. But sometimes the facts kick you in the gut and conscience demands more. Here is Ms. Fallaci’s “letter” to the editor.

Elyse Rasky
Chicago, IL


Oriana Fallaci Panorama, April 18, 2002

(Unofficial Translation from the Italian by David A. Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee)

I find it shameful that in Italy there was a procession of individuals who, dressed as kamikazes, uttered vile insults at Israel, held up photos of Israeli leaders on whose foreheads they had drawn a swastika, inciting the populace to hate the Jews. And in order to see the Jews again in the extermination camps, in the gas chambers, in the crematoria of Dachau, Mauthausen, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, etc., they would sell their own mothers to a harem.

I find it shameful that the Catholic Church permits a bishop, moreover one housed in the Vatican, a “saintly” bishop, who, in Jerusalem was found with an arsenal of weapons and explosives hidden in special compartments of his sacred Mercedes, to participate in that procession and to place himself in front of a microphone to thank, in the name of God, the kamikazes who massacre the Jews in the pizzerias and supermarkets. He called them “martyrs who go to death as to a party.”

I find it shameful that in France – the France of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” -synagogues are torched, Jews are terrorized, and their cemeteries profaned. I find it shameful that in Holland and Germany and Denmark youngsters show off the kaffiyeh like the vanguard of Mussolini displayed the stick and the Fascist emblem. I find it shameful that in almost every European university Palestinian students take over and nurture anti-Semitism; that in Sweden they asked that the Nobel Peace Prize given to Shimon Peres in 1994 be withdrawn, and left solely in the hands of the dove with the olive branch in his mouth-that is, Arafat. I find it shameful that the esteemed members of the (Nobel) Committee, a committee that it seems makes choice based on politics and not merit, are taking the request into consideration and thinking of fulfilling it. To hell with the Nobel Prize and hooray to those who don’t receive it.

I find it shameful (we are back in Italy) that the government-controlled television stations contribute to the revival of anti-Semitism by crying over Palestinian deaths only, minimizing the importance of Israeli deaths, speaking in a brisk and dismissive tone about them. I find it shameful that in television discussions the scoundrels with the turban or kaffiyeh, who yesterday extolled the slaughter in New York and today praise the massacres in Jerusalem, Haifa, Netanya, and Tel Aviv, are received with such deference. I find it shameful that the press does the same-gets indignant because in Bethlehem Israeli tanks surround the Church of the Nativity, but doesn’t get upset that in the same church 200 Palestinian terrorists (among them various leaders of Hamas and Al-Aksa), well-armed with machine guns and explosives, are not unwelcome guests of the monks (and then accept from the tank soldiers bottles of mineral water and baskets of apples.) I find it shameful that, given the number of Israeli casualties since the onset of the second intifada (412), one well-known daily felt it appropriate to emphasize in bold headlines that more Israelis die in road accidents (600 per year).

I find it shameful that l’Oservatore Romano, that is, the newspaper of the pope- a pope who not too long ago left a note in the Wailing Wall apologizing to the Jews – accused a people exterminated by the millions by Christians, by Europeans, of extermination. I find it shameful that the survivors of this (Jewish) people-people who still carry a number on their arm-are denied the right to react, defend themselves, avoid being exterminated again, by that same newspaper. I find it shameful that, in the name of Jesus Christ (a Jew without whom they would all be unemployed), priests from our parishes or social centers or wherever flirt with the murderers of those who in Jerusalem cannot go to eat a pizza or buy an egg without being blown up. I find it shameful that they choose the side of the very people who launched terrorism by killing us on planes, in airports, at the Olympics; and today these same people make sport of killing Western journalists-shooting them, kidnapping them, slitting their throats, beheading them. (After the publication of my piece “The Anger and the Pride,” someone in Italy wanted to do the same to me. Citing Koranic verses, he exhorted his “brothers” in the name of Allah to kill me. Actually, to die with me. Since he is someone who speaks English well, I respond to him in English: “F–k you.”)

I find it shameful that virtually the entire Left, that Left which 20 years ago permitted a trade-union procession to place a coffin (a Mafia-like warning) in front of the synagogue in Rome, has forgotten the contribution of the Jews to the anti-fascist struggle: of Carlo and Nello Rosselli, for example; of Leone Ginzburg, Umberto Terracini, Leo Valiani, Emilio Serani; of women such as my friend Anna Maria Enriques Agnoletti, shot in Florence on June 12, 1944; of 74 of the 335 victims of Fosse Ardeatine; of the infinite other deaths under torture or in combat or in front of the firing squads; the friends, the teachers of my childhood and of my early youth. I find it shameful that, in part because of the fault of the Left- no, especially because of the fault of the Left (think of the Left that begins its congresses applauding the PLO representative in Italy, who represents here the Palestinians who seek Israel’s destruction)- the Jews in Italian cities once again are frightened. And in French and Dutch and Danish and German cities, it is the same. I find it shameful that when the scoundrels dressed as kamikazes march, (Jews) shudder as they trembled in Berlin during Kristallnacht, that is, the night on which Hitler began the hunt of the Jews.

I find it shameful that, obeying the stupid, vile, dishonest, and, for them, the extremely opportunistic fashion of political correctness, the usual opportunists – no, the usual parasites -exploit the word “peace.” In the name of the word “peace,” now more devalued than the words “love” and “humanity,” they absolve just one side of hate and bestiality. In the name of pacifism (read conformity) from the mouths of shrill voices, the same voices that earlier genuflected to Pol Pot, they now incite people who are confused, na‹ve, or intimidated. They cheat them, corrupt them, take them back half a century, that is, to the yellow star on the coat. These charlatans care as much about the Palestinians as I care about them (the charlatans), i.e., not at all.

I find it shameful that so many Italians and so many Europeans have chosen as a role model Mister – and I use the word advisedly – Arafat, this nonentity who, thanks to the money of the Saudi royal family, acts like Mussolini in perpetuity and in his megalomania believes he will go down in history as the George Washington of Palestine. This uneducated man who, when I interviewed him, could not even put together a complete sentence, an articulate thought. Therefore, to put a piece together, to write it, to publish it, is such a hard ordeal that one concludes that, compared to Arafat, even (Libyan leader) Gadhafi becomes Leonardo da Vinci. This fake warrior who always goes around in uniform like Pinochet, who never wears civilian clothes, and yet who has nev
er participated in a single battle. He leaves war, and has always left war, to others, in other words, to those unfortunate ones who believe in him. This pompous incompetent who, playing the role of head of state, caused the failure of the Camp David negotiations and the mediation efforts of Clinton. “No, no, I want all of Jerusalem to myself.” This eternal liar who has a flash of sincerity only when (in private) he denies Israel’s right to exist, and who, as I wrote in my book, lies every five seconds. He always plays a game of duplicity; he lies even if you ask him what time it is, and, therefore, you can never trust him. Never! One is systematically betrayed by him. This eternal terrorist who only knows how to be a terrorist (from a safe distance), and who in the 1970s – that is, when I interviewed him-also trained the Baader- Meinhof terrorists. And now with them, he trains (Palestinian) children who were ten years old. Poor kids. (Now they are trained to become kamikazes. One hundred baby kamikazes are ready for action: 100!) This opportunist who keeps his wife in Paris, cared for and revered as a queen, while he keeps his people in the shit. From the shit he removes them only to send them to die, to kill and to die, like the 18-year-old girls who, to achieve equality with men, have to fill themselves with explosives and blow themselves up together with their victims. And yet so many Italians love him-yes, just as they loved Mussolini. And so many other Europeans do as well.

I find it shameful, and I see in all of this the growth of a new fascism, of a new nazism – a fascism, a nazism, so much more malevolent and repulsive because it is conducted and nourished by those who hypocritically play the part of the good guys, the progressives, the communists, pacifists, Catholics and even more, the Christians, who have the gall to call those like me who shout truth at them a warmonger. I see it, yes, and therefore I will state the following: to the tragic and Shakespearean Sharon, I never gave him a break. (“I know that you came to add a scalp to your necklace,” he murmured almost with sadness when I went to interview him in 1982.) With the Israelis, I’ve argued often and bitterly, and in the past I defended the Palestinians quite a bit, maybe more than they deserved. But I am with Israel, I am with the Jews. I am with them now, as I was with them as a young girl-in other words, from the time when I was in the trenches with them and the Anne Maries were shot to death. I defend their right to exist, to defend themselves, to avoid a second extermination. And disgusted by the anti-Semitism of many Italians, of many
Europeans, I am ashamed by this shame that dishonors my country and Europe, in the best of cases, not a community of nations (e.g., Europe) but a well of Pontius Pilates. And even if all the inhabitants of this planet think differently, I will continue to think this way.