New York, NY, July 1, 2008 … Meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome, Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), praised Italy for its special relationship with the U.S. and Israel and for standing firm against a nuclear Iran, and said Italy was uniquely positioned to play an important role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Italy's standing as friend of the Arab world, friend of Israel, friend of the Palestinians and friend of the United States could give it a special role in helping bring the parties together," said Mr. Foxman, who spent a week in Rome, June 23-27, meeting with officials in the newly elected Italian government, as well as with Jewish community leaders and Vatican representatives.
During his meeting with the prime minister, Mr. Foxman praised Italy's strong stance against Iranian nuclear ambitions and complimented Mr. Berlusconi for isolating President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his recent visit to Rome.
Mr. Foxman said relations between Western Europe and Israel were improving. "Today in Europe with Prime Minister Berlusconi, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, there is a coming together of a very clear position, which is to say to Iran that we take this threat seriously," Mr. Foxman said.
The ADL leader discussed with Mr. Berlusconi the prospect of Israel's membership in the European Union and NATO, as well as issues of immigration and racism in Italy.
Mr. Foxman also conferred with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, opposition leader Walter Veltroni, President of Parliament Gianfranco Fini; and had meetings with the Mayor of Rome, the Chief of the Carabinieri, the President of the Italian Union of Jewish Communities, Rome's Chief Rabbi, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, Israel's ambassadors to Italy and the Holy See, and Italy's Chief of Police.