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December 06, 1991 - Image 102

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-12-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Italian Activist To Appear
At Israeli Convention

Rome (JTA) — The suc-
cessor to Italy's once power-
ful Communist Party is
taking steps to patch up any
differences it had with Israel
and strengthen its ties with
Jews.
"We are retying loose ends
with the whole of Jewish
culture, one of the historic
cultures of the left,"
declared Piero Fassino, a
Democratic Party of the Left
activist who was heading a
delegation to the opening of
the Israeli Labor Party's
convention in Jerusalem.
The Democratic Party of
the Left, or PDS, is the name
chosen by the former Italian
Communist Party after the
1989 revolution in Eastern
Europe, when it declared
itself part of the Social Dem-
ocratic mainstream in
Europe.
Recently, it "twinned"
with Mapam, a small left-
wing party in Israel. The
PDS delegation plans to
meet with all shades of polit-
ical opinion in Israel, Mr.
Fassino told the daily
L'Independente.
At its peak in the decades
after World War II, the
Italian Communist Party
was the largest Communist
party in the West and second
in size only to the Christian
Democrats in Italy. About a
third of Italian voters
regularly voted Communist.
Although the Italian
Communists largely ignored
the Moscow party line, they
subscribed to the pro-Arab
policy of most of the Com-
munist world, especially
after the Six-Day War.
"For Italian Communists,
as for those all over the
worlds Israel was the enemy,
the expression of American
imperialism in the Middle
East," L'Independente
wrote.
"In that period, to be Jew-
ish and a Communist in Ita-
ly was almost impossible,"
Mr. Fassino told the news-
paper. "The majority of the
Jewish members felt forced
to choose one side or an-
other. Those who remained
in the party left the (Jewish)
community. Those who
chose the community left the
party."
A change began in recent
years. In 1987, Italian
Communists, led by Mr.
Fassino, set up a working
group "for relations with the
Jewish world."
Actually, the first change
of attitude occurred in 1982,
when Communists were
deeply impressed by the

huge turnouts of Israelis
protesting the invasion of
Lebanon.
"We began to measure
ourselves against an image
of Israel that was different
than what we had until
then," Mr. Fassino said.
Contacts, including visits
and exchanges, began in
1986. They culminated when
PDS Secretary General
Achille Occhetto visited
Israel last April.
He met not only with lef-
tists and Palestinians but
with Prime Minister Yit-
zhak Shamir.
He also paid a visit to the
World Jewish Congress
headquarters in New York,
at the suggestion of Tullia
Zevi, president of the Union
of Jewish Communities in
Italy.
Mr. Fassino said PDS
policy toward the Palestin-
ians has not changed. "It is
summed up by the slogan of
the Israeli pacifists and by
the Palestinians involved in
dialogue: Two peoples, two
states."

Budget Bill
Creates Crisis

Jerusalem (JTA) — Repre-
sentatives of the Likud-led
coalition withdrew the
budget bill from the Knesset
agenda to forestall a vote
that might have toppled
Prime Minister Yitzhak
Shamir's government on the
eve of bilateral peace talks.
The budget, which must be
enacted by the end of the
year, has to pass its final
readings in the plenum. But
what should have been a
routine roll call became a
coalition crisis when the Na-
tional Religious Party
threatened to cast its five
votes against.the measure.
The NRP, which is af-
filiated with the religious
Zionist movement, Marachi,
has refused to support a
budget that includes
"special funding" for in-
stitutions of the non-Zionist
Haredi bloc, consisting of the
Orthodox Shas, Agudat
Yisrael and Degel HaTorah
parties.
The Haredi parties will not
vote for a budget that does
not contain the special fun-
ding.
In either case, the
government probably would
fall.
Mr. Shamir offered a com-
promise acceptable to the
Haredi parties. But the NRP
balked, and the vote was
postponed again.

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