Anti-Semitic Remarks Hurled at Italian Parliamentary Debate

Senator asks if dissident party members 'already ordered kippahs?' And adds, 'He who betrays once, always betrays."

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An Anti-Semitic insult was hurled at dissident members of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party on Thursday. Speaking ahead of a confidence vote on a set of government proposals presented by Berlusconi, Senator Giuseppe Ciarrapico accused those within the party who are against the measures of being "traitors."

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reacts after delivering a speech at the Senate, in Rome, Sept 30, 2010Credit: AP

The group of dissidents is headed by Senator Gianfranco Fini, a former neo-fascist who has shifted to more traditional right-wing views over the past two decades. He is currently Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the parliament of Italy.

A 2003 visit by Fini to Israel, where he denounced Nazi and Fascist crimes in World War II, sparked controversy. Posters of him wearing a kippah, the traditional Jewish skullcap, at Yad Vashem and branding him a traitor subsequently appeared in Rome.

Senator Ciarrapico asked the assembly, "Has Fini's group already ordered kippahs?" He added, "He who betrays once, always betrays."

The Democratic Party's senate leader, Anna Finocchiaro, called on Berlusconi "to dissociate himself in an official and clear way from the unacceptable anti-Semitic remarks made by Senator Ciarrapico in the Senate chamber."

Fini co-founded the People of Freedom party with Berlusconi in 2008, however he was effectively expelled from the party in July after repeated disagreements with the prime minister.

A 2003 visit by Fini to Israel, where he denounced Nazi and Fascist crimes in World War II, sparked controversy. Posters of him wearing a kippah at Yad Vashem and branding him a traitor subsequently appeared in Rome.

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