Fall Of Lim
Blamed On Jews
Rome (JTA) — Italy's labor min-
ister has triggered accusations of
anti-Semitism against Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi's be-
leaguered government by blam-
ing a "Jewish lobby" in New York
for helping to undermine the Ital-
Labor Minister Clemente Mas-
tella was quoted in newspapers
last week as blaming the current
nose dive of the Italian lira at
least partly on worries by New
York Jewish financiers about the
presence of the neo-fascist-led Na-
tional Affiance Party in the right-
wing governing coalition.
Following an international
furor over his remarks, Mr. Mas-
Squabbling in Mr.
coalition sent the
lira plunging to
tella issued a statement saying
his remarks were misinterpret-
, ed by the media. He said he had
only attempted to calm interna-
tional fears about the country's
He made his controversial
comments last week, after squab-
bling in Mr. Berlusconi's shaky
coalition sent the lira plunging to
record lows against the German
mark and forced Italy's central
bank to raise interest rates.
"The presence of the National
Alliance in the government wor-
ries New York's Jewish lobby,"
Mr. Mastella was quoted as say-
The National Alliance is a
right-wing movement created
from the neo-fascist Italian So-
cial Movement and is one of the
three main partners in the coali-
Its presence in the coalition—
the first time since World War II
that a far-right party has been
part of the governing coalition—
has sparked widespread contro-
versy both here and abroad.
Mr. Mastella's remarks
touched off expressions of outrage
among Italy's 35,000 member
Tullia Zevi, the president of the
Union of Italian Jewish Com-
munities, sent a scathing letter
to Mr. Berlusconi saying Mr.
Mastella's comments discredited
Mr. Mastella's remarks pro-
voked sharp criticisms from U.S.-
based Jewish groups.
The Anti-Defamation League
called on Mr. Berlusconi to pub-
licly condemn the remarks.
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