"The Greatest Lie of Modern Times”. This is how French scholar Robert Faurisson defined the Holocaust in an article published this week by the Italian daily Rinascita, a leftist national newspaper financed by Italy’s government.
Faurisson’s essay sparked an uproar after Rome's Jewish community denounced the state-funded newspaper for denial of the gas chambers.
“The general belief on the part of the Western world is that ‘the Holocaust’ has long been the sword and shield of Zionism”, writes Faurisson. “But today Revisionism is putting this belief in peril”, he concluded.
Faurisson first appeared on the scene in the 1970s and he is now known as “the dean of deniers”. Arab and Iranian “experts” on the Holocaust frequently cite Mr. Faurisson’s theories. He is quoted in the 1982 doctoral dissertation written by Mahmoud Abbas, the PA’s President.
When Iran's Ahmadinejad described the Holocaust as “a myth”, Mr. Faurisson sent him a letter “expressing full support for his remarks”. The letter was heralded in the Iranian press.
Faurisson’s latest essay raises the awareness of rampant anti-Semitism in Italy, where a jarring 44% of citizens are “prejudiced or hostile towards Jews”, according to a research study released by the Italian Parliament just last autumn.
In November 2008 in Rome, a Holocaust-denying high school teacher was suspended. Several days ago, on the eve of the Remembrance Day events, an Italian judge condemned a journalist who denounced as anti-Semitic a cartoon, entitled “Fiamma Frankenstein”, depicting Italian MP Fiamma Nirenstein, who is Jewish, with a hooked nose, the symbol of fascist Italy and the Star of David.
Instead of being considered an illiterate, the cartoonist was celebrated as a champion of freedom of expression and the journalist condemned to pay.
Italy’s media has a long tradition of anti-Jewish prejudice. Sergio Romano, Italy’s ex ambassador and editorial contributor to the most important Italian newspaper Il Corriere Della Sera, claimed that the memory of the Shoah has become an insurance policy and is used by Israel as a diplomatic weapon, while Israel itself is “a war-mongering, imperialist, arrogant nation” and “an unscrupulous liar”.
Barbara Spinelli, the leading journalist for La Repubblica newspaper, wrote that “Israel constitutes a scandal…for the way in which Moses’ religion inhabits our placet”. She also attacks the “double and contradictory loyalty” of the Jews.
Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish contempt have gone mainstream in Italy's dolce vita.
Giulio Meotti is an Italian journalist with Il Foglio and writes a column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage, Commentary and the Israeli media.