Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Italian Jews or Jewish Italians?

י' לחודש השישי תשע״ה

This was an odd, news report which caught my attention.
YNET: Israeli envoy appointment raises 'dual loyalty' concerns among Italy's Jews
Members of Rome's Jewish community have expressed anger at Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to name Jewish journalist and former Italian MP Fiamma Nirenstein as Israel's next ambassador to Italy.

Daniel Bettini, 08.13.15

Italy's Jewish community is furious over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to appoint Jewish journalist Fiamma Nirenstein as Israel's ambassador in Rome. Many Jews fear that the appointment will be used by those who claim Italian Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their homeland.

Nirenstein, a former Italian parliament member, is an official member of Rome's Jewish community council. In addition, only two months ago she competed for the position of president of the Italian capital's Jewish community, but lost.

Although Nirenstein will have to give up her Italian citizenship if the appointment is approved, many are asking who will she really represent as ambassador – Rome's Jews or Israel?

Many Jews in Rome have voiced concerns of physical harm following the decision. "Netanyahu has turned us into a fifth column in our country," one Jewish official said in a closed forum. "If a former Italian parliament member, a Jew, becomes Israel's ambassador, it basically means that we recognize the fact that each of us, and every store we own, is in fact Israeli. People will think we have dual loyalty, and this holds disastrous consequences."

The Italian press has also been dealing with the issue. The La Stampa daily, which Nirenstein used to work for as a correspondent, addressed the question Jewish identity in the country, focusing on the comments of Rome's Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni. "Fiamma is an excellent journalist, period," the rabbi said, "but I'm concerned there will be problems."

The Rome-based Il Messaggero newspaper chose to focus on Nirenstein's right-wing views.

Italian website Dagospia, which deals with political and social issues in the country, reported that one of Nirenstein's sons serves in the Italian intelligence agency. According to the website, the appointment has created a lot of confusion in the intelligence agency, as under the rules employees are not allowed to have any family ties to foreign diplomats.
Esser Agaroth (2¢):
I am still not entirely sure what to make of the details reported in this piece. Jews in Italy are concerned with how Nirenstein's appointment will affect them and their standing in the eyes of their fellow Italians. They seem to be especially concerned with the issue of dual loyalties, how Nirenstein will be seen as having dual loyalties, and how this might affect the way in which they are seen, as having dual loyalties.

Italian Jewish Fantasy
Former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who had promised to defend
Italy's Jews, speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations [CFR]
Galuth (exile) fear still exists? You mean assimilation into Italian society is not enough to ease your fears?

Good. It shouldn't.

It has never worked before, not in Spain, not in Germany, and hopefully Jews will now see that it is not working in America either. Why on earth should Jews think should it work in Italy, or for that matter, anywhere else, and especially now?

This reminds me of Torah I learned from Rabbi Moshe Lichtner in his book Eretz Yisra'el in the Parsha, which I will paraphrase here.
Yosef ben Ya'aqov was whisked away from Eretz Yisra'el at the age of 17, and became the primary force in establishing Am Yisra'el's exilic, albeit necessary and temporary, presence in Egypt (Gen. 37). While working in the house of Yosef was accused of an unspeakable act, by the lying and reprehensible wife of Potifar, an adviser to Pharoah. In her accusation, she referred to Yosef as "that Hebrew" (Gen. 39:6-14).

Jewish Italian Identity Reality
About 250 years later, Moshe Rabbeinu, a native of Egypt, ran away from his birthplace, and arrived in Midian. There he happened upon the daughters of Yithro, and saved them from being harassed by the locals there. Invited into Yithro's home, Moshe had been identified as he daughters of Yithro "an Egyptian" (Ex. 2:16-20).

Yosef never denied his true identity as a Hebrew, and thus never denied his inherent connection to Eretz Yisra'el. Moshe Rabbeinu did not correct the daughters of Yithro's identification of him as an Egyptian, and thus did not show his connection to the Land.

The results, as suggested in Eretz Yisrael in the Parsha book, were that Yosef eventually buried in Eretz Yisra'el, but Moshe Rabbeinu was not.
Italian Jewish Identity Fantasy
Nirenstein's motivations, views, and any possible consequences to Italy's Jews resulting from her appointment as Israel's ambassador to Italy are actually irrelevant.

The God-given identity and heritage of the Jews is all that is relevant,... whether the Italian Jews like it or not

How the goyim view us is all just part of the plan, to keep us the "separate and distinct people" that we are, and to keep us from becoming too comfortable in lands, which are only supposed to serve as temporary dwelling places, just like Egypt.

Will these Italian Jews, who are so desperately concerned with their image among their Italian neighbors, make it out of their temporarily dwelling place? Or will the be lost like the 80 percent of B'nei Yisrael who never made it out of Egypt?

Jewish Italian Reality: 
Jews getting the boot!
These Jews do not see the blessing in the possibility of being kicked out, now that it is a realistic option to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel), The Almighty doing for them, what they are apparently unable to do for themselves.

Ariel Ben-Yochanan of The Torah Revolution provided information which helped me in writing this piece.

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