DescriptionMoshe Sharett Typed Letter Signed. Two pages, 8" x 10.5", on The Jewish Agency for Palestine letterhead, in Hebrew, Jerusalem, March 7, 1938. Writing to D. Sirkis of Tel Aviv, Sharett expresses his concern for the rise of anti-Semitism in Fascist Italy. Though Adolf Hilter privately expressed his admiration for Benito Mussolini, the latter cared little for his Austrian counterpart early on. He disregarded the German racialism rampant in Nazi ideology, especially with regard to the Jews. There were Jews in the National Fascist Party and Mussolini recognized that Jews had inhabited parts of Italy "...since the days of the Kings of Rome." (Ethan J. Hollander. Italian Fascism and the Jews. 1997.) But by 1938, Hitler's influence (and his rabid anti-Semitism) became hard to deny.
In his letter to Sirkis, Sharett, Zionist leader and head of the Jewish Agency's political department, writes, in part: "The question has worried and occupied the State Department for many days and not a few efforts were done by us to prevent our press from a more severe response to the animosity that has arisen and has been discovered in the last few years from the Italian government and the press against our activities...it is natural and completely justified for our press to give its full support to England when it comes to world politics...the Italian government and press openly supported the Arabs and were against us. In the last year, especially, the anti-Zionist propaganda has increased and a rude anti-Semitic propaganda was awakened in the Italian press...We read week after week not only of sympathy and encouragement in their war against us but a distinct objection to Zionism and a vilifying of the Jewish people...If the British-Italian negotiations do not succeed, there is a fear of bitter escalation in the relations between the two countries that will increase the Italian animosity towards us which will then force us to react accordingly..."
Four months later, in an effort to strengthen ties between Germany and Italy, the Italian Fascists released the Manifesto of Race. The Manifesto preempted a set of laws, enacted in September 1938, which stripped the Jews of their citizenship status and excluded them from holding positions within the Italian government and other prominent positions.
Sharett (1894-1965) was a signer of the Israeli Declaration of Independence and served as Israel's first Foreign Affairs Minister and, on the retirement of David Ben-Gurion, became Israel's second prime minister.
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