Anti-Semites in Europe (file)
Anti-Semites in Europe (file)Reuters

Last Friday the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a condemnation of remarks made by a spokesman for the Italian populist "Pitchfork Movement," remarks which the organization says show a "deep-seated anti-Semitic hatred."

Andrea Zunino, the protest leader of the Pitchfork Movement which is leading current anti-government protests in Italy, gave an interview to the Italian La Repubblica.

In his interview, Zunino espoused classic tropes of Jewish global domination. He remarked "we want the government to resign. We want the sovereignty of Italy, which is the slave of bankers like the Rothschilds. It's curious that five or six of the richest people in the world are Jewish."

Zunino also justified Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's genocidal Jew hatred, saying that Hitler, "who probably was crazy, used anti-Semitism to avenge the about-face of his initial American financial backers." In the World War II period, Germany and Italy were partners in the Axis alliance.

In response to the comments, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman issued a statement which reads, "these appalling comments display a deep-seated anti-Semitic hatred which never belongs in politics or anywhere in Italian society. Whatever grievances the Italian protest movement may have, anti-Semitism is simply unacceptable."

Foxman called on "responsible protest leaders" to "denounce Zunino's comments to make clear that bigotry is not condoned in their movement."

Zunino's comments show a noted similarity to the positions espoused by Beppe Grillo, the comedian turned politician, who in February became the leader of Italy's largest party, the "Five Star Movement."

Grillo has claimed a "Jewish conspiracy" controls the world media, controlling global opinion and lying about the situation in the Middle East.

In 2012 an ADL poll of anti-Semitism found that 43% of Italians, when asked if Jews have too much power in international financial markets, said the statement was "probably true." Likewise, 35% of Italians said at least 3 out of the 4 anti-Semitic stereotypes questioned were "probably true."

The results have been followed by more recent polls in November indicating more widescale anti-Semitic views on the rise throughout Europe.

This is not the first time the ADL has blown the whistle on Italian anti-Semitism. In 2012, ADL decried the Italian court ruling to impose a 25,000 euro ($34,428) fine on an Italian journalist who criticized an anti-Semitic cartoon.