ADL Troubled by Former Prime Minister Berlusconi’s Remarks on The Authoritarian Leadership of Benito Mussolini

New York, NY, January 28, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed deep concern over former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s remarks praising certain aspects of Benito Mussolini’s leadership.

In a speech that coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day, former Prime Minister Berlusconi commended parts of Mussolini’s record as Italy's dictatorial leader for two decades which spanned the Holocaust, saying “The fact of the racial laws was the worst fault of a leader, Mussolini, who in many other ways did well.”

“It is inconceivable to see any circumstances in which Mussolini’s repressive dictatorial reign could be seen as beneficial to Italy,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor.  “It is certainly unimaginable to think there was anything positive that resulted from Mussolini’s alliance with Hitler and Nazi Germany.”

ADL welcomed Mr. Berlusconi's subsequent remarks that "There can be no misunderstanding about the fascist dictatorship."

In a letter to the former prime minister, ADL urged Mr. Berlusconi to further address the painful impact of his comments.

“It is especially painful to me, the Jewish community of Italy and Jews everywhere knowing you made these remarks on the day the world solemnly observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” Mr. Foxman wrote.  “I respectfully urge you to quickly find an appropriate way to publicly repair the damage your remarks have caused.”

The League’s letter noted that Mr. Berlusconi has in the past voiced sincere concern for the well-being of the Italian Jewish community and Jews around the world.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.