Fiamma Nirenstein

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Widely regarded as a "staunch supporter of Israel,"[1] Fiamma Nirenstein is an Italian writer and member of the Italian Parliament as a legislator within Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing The People of Freedom party.[2] Since 1998 Nirenstein has been a resident of the Israeli settlement of Gilo[3] (located in East Jerusalem), which Israel annexed during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Development in the settlement has resulted in Palestinian house demolitions and the displacement of Palestinian residents for years, causing it to be referred to as a major obstacle to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.[4] Gilo is categorized as illegal by the United Nations,[5] the European Union[6] and the International Court of Justice.[7] Nirenstein divides her time between her homes in Italy and Israel with her Israeli husband, news photographer Ofer Eshed.[1] Nirenstein has worked in Israel and Europe and she contributes to the New York Post and Commentary Magazine.[2] According to Nirenstein's official biography, the "pivotal focus" of her work "is the fight against totalitarianism and terrorism as connected to anti-Semitism and hate for Israel."[2]

Early Life

The daughter of a former soldier in the Jewish brigade and a mother who allegedly fought against fascism in Italy, Nirenstein has stated that she spent part of her youth as a Leftist and feminist in Italy, but changed after returning from a Kibbutz in Israel where she lived during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war:

After the 1967 Six-Day War, a rift began to develop between her and her "communist comrades," who saw Israel as an occupying country. "I was confused for a long time," she says. "In 1982, I signed a petition against the First Lebanon War. Today I wouldn't sign it. What did Israel gain from the withdrawal from Lebanon?"[3]

Nirenstein argues that even though she has lived and worked in Israel, she has not obtained Israeli citizenship because it would hinder her work.[3] She attributes her fascination with Israel to her journalistic output on the region and her desire to defend it: "I had the feeling that this was the most interesting place in the world, and I also felt that the reporting on Israel was biased."[3]


Nirenstein completed "university studies"[2] in Modern History in Florence. Described as "specialist in foreign affairs"[2] in her official biography, Nirenstein has won multiple "journalistic and literary prizes"[2] for her journalistic output and books. She has also created several Italian TV documentaries, "the last by the title of "Settlers", about the disengagement seen through the lives of the people involved in it." [2]Between 1993-94 Nirenstein directed the Cultural Institute of the Italian Embassy in Tel Aviv.[2] She has taught Middle East History at Luiss University in Rome and is a board member of the Italian Foundation Magna Carta, as well as a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Hudson Institute. She is one of the 6 members of the steering committee of the Interparliamentary Coalition on Combating Antisemitism.[2]

Nirenstein's writings and public speaking are unabashedly pro-Israel, with a heavy focus on an alleged victimization of Israel by Leftists,[8] international human rights organizations such as the United Nations[9] and Muslim and Arab nations.[10] Nirenstein also argues that "every Jew in the world is an Israeli even if he's not aware of it. Anyone who doesn't know it is making a big mistake"[3] and stated during a speech in September 2010 that most allegations of anti-semitism are actually "anti-Israelism."[10]

In 2009 Nirenstein helped create a Zionist-funded[1] European Israel lobbying group called the European Forum of the Knesset, one of it's main aims being to "attack ferociously those who call to demonize Israel."[1]

Membership with Silvio Berlusconi's Party

In 2008 Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and "the former head of the neo-fascist party"[3] Gianfranco Fini requested that Nirenstein became a member of the Italian Parliament as a legislator within their right-wing The People of Freedom party.

Nirenstein reportedly openly campaigned on her pro-Israel positions:

In the elections, Nirenstein did not hide her Israeliness. Her campaign was centered on the view that Israel is Western democracy's vanguard in the struggle against world terror. "I ran for a place in parliament as a representative of the Liguria district. I held rallies in Genoa and other cities in the region," she recounts. "But I didn't talk with the people about local problems. I told them that the most important thing for their Italian identity is to stand by Israel's side." Nirenstein called her most recent book "Israele Siamo Noi" ("Israel Is Us"). By "us," she was referring, of course, to Italians.[3]

She argued that Israel and Italy are natural allies because they share mutual interests:

"I said that Italy can learn a lot from Israel. It can learn what a true democracy is, how a democracy can survive in conditions of conflict, without forsaking its fundamental principles. Israel is a culture of life, a culture of people who are always seeking peace. Our problem in Italy is that sometimes we don't know who we are. You can know who you are if you know your enemy and your friend. Israel is Italy's friend."[3]

Nirenstein also expresses opposition to Muslim immigration because she argues that her characterization of Muslim values and practices clash with Italian culture:

"Rome is a very symbolic place in the eyes of radical Islam. Italy, with its Catholic culture, is an enemy in the eyes of Islam."..."People feel that immigration is threatening their cities, their culture," Nirenstein explains. "Maybe it's exaggerated, but the residents of Florence, for example, think of their city as a temple for the works of art that were created there. When they see the steps of the Duomo filled with immigrants, they're in shock."..."It's changed a lot. There are entire quarters that you can't enter at night. There's rape, there are assaults, there's drug dealing. There are schools for immigrants where they don't hang the crucifix. The immigrants have contempt for our culture. We gave them work and they scorn our values. There's a deep contradiction between the more radical Islam and Italy's values..."The problem is that there is hardly any moderate Islam in Italy. Just the opposite. In Rome they built an enormous mosque. There are a lot of mosques in Italy, and very anti-Western madrasas operate in them. There's polygamy, there's wife-battering - it's very common. There's a father who killed his daughter for 'family honor.' It's logical that Italians would notice and that there would be reactions."[3]

Allegations of ties with Fascism

During the 2008 Italian election campaign one of Silvio Berlusconi's candidates declared that he was and continues to be a fascist. As the daughter of a father who was a member of the Jewish brigade during World II and a mother who fought against Nazism and Fascism in Italy, this caused "discomfort." When asked about how she felt about belonging to a party with members like Giuseppe Ciarrapico Nirenstein replied: "He was a fascist like I was a communist, when I was indifferent to what Pol Pot did, when I admired Che Guevara. I see him as someone who has since developed."[3]



Nirenstein openly advocates her pro-Israeli views in both her writings and her speeches.

In 2008 Nirenstein argued that European countries could learn from Israel's model of democracy:

"Israel is the vanguard of all the democracies in the world, and the time has come for Europe to recognize that."[3]

During the 2008 Italian election season Nirenstein ran on her pro-Israel views, arguing that Israel and Italy were natural allies and that Italy could learn from it:

"I said that Italy can learn a lot from Israel. It can learn what a true democracy is, how a democracy can survive in conditions of conflict, without forsaking its fundamental principles. Israel is a culture of life, a culture of people who are always seeking peace. Our problem in Italy is that sometimes we don't know who we are. You can know who you are if you know your enemy and your friend. Israel is Italy's friend."[3]

Nirenstein explained in 2009 why she believes Europe is superior to Israel:

"You have to realize that Israeli society has something Europe longs for," she says. "Europe is lost. It longs for a society of values defending its people, for a society which is still able to produce three children per couple. But you have to have the courage to say that you are different than Europe."[1]

Nirenstein argues that advocates for Israel must take a hard line with those who oppose Israeli policies:

"Israel has the chance to prove itself for what it really is: the outpost of the fight against terrorism and the defense of democracy. That is no small thing. But, we the Jews pose as victims and hide from this chance because using it puts us in conflict with our ancient sponsors and their legitimization. We have to realize that legitimization is really in our own hands and we never used it."[8]

In a 2010 speech at the World Jewish Congress Nirenstein made recommendations about how to counter criticism of Israel:

You have to work with the possible opposition. You have to always try to be bipartisan and never try to be bipartisan saying yes, Israel did its own mistake. This has nothing to do with it. Just try to face the issues and the way they are and try to bring it to a reasonable table.[11]

Nirenstein argues that Israelis need to admit they are at war with Palestinians:

"You Israelis must have courage to say you are at war and how much it costs you," she proposed, despite the militaristic image of Israel that this may reinforce.[1]


Nirenstein regularly accuses leftists that criticize Israeli policies with being anti-semitic. She has stated that in her youth she was a Leftist herself (involved in feminist and communist circles) but this changed after she returned to Italy from living in a Kibbutz during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and her Leftist friends accused her of siding with an occupying power: "When I went back to Italy, some of my fellow students stared at me as somebody new, an enemy, a wicked person who would soon become an imperialist. My life was about to change. I didn’t yet know that, because I simply thought that Israel rightly won a war after having been assaulted with an incredible number of harassments."[8] Nirenstein argues that the Left and Israeli Jews could have forged a mutually beneficial alliance which she tried unsuccessfully to build, but that this was impossible because Leftists are now part of a "new anti-semitism."[8]

The Left blessed the Jews as the victim “par excellence,” always a great partner in the struggle for the rights of the weak against the wicked. In return for being coddled, published, filmed, considered artists, intellectuals and moral judges, Jews, even during the Soviet anti-Semitic persecutions, gave the Left moral support and invited it to cry with them at Holocaust memorials. Today the game is clearly over. The left has proved itself the real cradle of contemporary anti-Semitism.[8]

Some of Nirenstein's statements on the Left:

  • "You called Jenin a slaughter? Then you are an anti-Semite, just like the old anti-Semites you pretend to hate."[8]
  • "No left and no right. We won’t give the Left the power to decide where we stand. We will decide our alliances by ourselves according to the actual position of our potential partners."[8]

International Law & International Organizations

A member of NGO Monitor and various other lobbying groups that combat criticism of Israeli policy, Nirenstein routinely accuses those groups that report on Israeli violations of international law of anti-semitism.[12]

After Israel killed 9 activists on board a Turkish aid convoy headed for Gaza in international waters (several organizations including the United Nations found Israel guilty of human rights and international law violations)[13] Nirenstein defended Israel's refusal to cooperate with international investigative commissions:

Israel is showing courage on the issue of a [international investigating] commission. Jerusalem has many good reasons for rejecting an international commission that, according to the UN Council for Human Rights (Italy voted No), is supposed to investigate the behavior of the Jewish State during the unfortunate boarding and takeover of the ship Marmara.[12]

Nirenstein focuses the majority of her attacks on the United Nations because she believes it has:

become increasingly characterized by a larger membership and by immediate anti-Western majorities that were before under the USSR umbrella. Today they are under the umbrella of Islam and totalitarianism.[14]

Nirenstein also rejected the Goldstone Report which was headed by judge Richard Goldstone (who "doesn't mind"[15] being called a Zionist and describes himself as a "friend of Israel")[15] of being biased in favor of the Palestinians even though the report revealed both Israeli and Palestinian violations of international law:

In general, Israel’s experience with investigating commissions, with UN institutions moreover, has been disastrous. An outstanding illustration was the commission directed by Judge Goldstone which used only sources sympathetic to the Palestinians to draw up a devastating report about the Gaza War. In fact, it forbade Israel to defend itself and quoted only activist-witnesses that call armed units and human shields for Hamas “civilians.”[12]


In 2010 Nirenstein characterized the Muslim world as follows:

Israel is surrounded by a Muslim world that hangs homosexuals and stones women"[11]

When Switzerland decided to ban minarets Nirenstein voiced her support for what she described as a Swiss move to prevent the "expansion of Islam"[16] even though in all of Switzerland there are only 4 mosques with minarets,[17] Nirenstein justified her position by describing Islam accordingly:

It is forbidden to laugh for some cartoons that talkabout Islam. It is forbidden to deal with the terrifying oppression ofwomen, it is disgraceful to stress that there is an evidentidentification between the Islam and totalitarian regimes. It ishorrible to raise the issue of honor killing, polygamy and ofdisfiguring women with acid that push us back in time (yes, many ofthese episodes result from tribal and not by religious habits, butplease let us look at the geographical and sociological distribution ofthese episodes) and especially it is generic to speak about jihad...And then, since whatever is concrete is forbidden, the reaction isagainst the symbols of the Islam.[16]


Nirenstein considers Iran to be the greatest threat to Israel's regional dominance in the Middle East and regularly lobbies for it to be sanctioned and put on terror lists:[18]

Iran is the most important issue. We have to deal with Iran with the threat it is for all the world...There must be a reason why such a bad guy like Iran wants to kill Israel first. This is something that everybody can understand and I think we must work much more on the issue.[11]

Nirenstein and Caspian Makan

In March 2010 Nirenstein was photographed at a press conference with Caspian Makan,[19] an Iranian exile who gained fame after he claimed that he was the fiancé of a Neda Agha-Soltan[20] who was killed during a protest in Iran in June 2009. Makan visited Italy with Nirenstein's support to testify about human rights in Iran at a hearing in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.[21] Days later Makan appeared in Israeli media in Israel where he met with Israeli president Shimon Peres who welcomed him with gifts.[22]



  • (2007) Israele Siamo Noi, On the State of Israel as archetype for a liberal democracy at war with terror.
  • (2006) La Sabbia di Gaza, On the Israeli disengagement from Gaza.
  • (2005) Terror: The New Anti-Semitism and the War Against the West,An English-language selection of various articles.
  • (2004) Gli Antisemiti Progressisti, A look at the new anti-Semitism.
  • (2003) Islam, la guerra e la speranza, An interview with Bernard Lewis.
  • (2002) L'Abbandono, come l'Occidente ha tradito gli ebrei, A book that argues the West has betrayed the Jewish people.
  • (2001) Un solo Dio, tre verità, (One god, three truths)
  • (1998) Come le cinque dita di una mano – una famiglia di ebrei da Firenze a Gerusalemme, Written with her family.
  • (1996) Israele: una pace in guerra, Israel, at peace in war
  • (1990) Il Razzista Democratico, The Democratic Racist




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Cnaan Liphshiz, "'Israel should drop apologetic tactics, admit it is at war'", Haaretz, 8 August 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Fiamma Nirenstein, "Biography", Fiamma Nirenstein official website, accessed on 16 October 2010
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 Meron Rapoport, "Haaretz: Nirenstein makes history", Fiamma Nirenstein website, 18 April 2008, accessed on 16 October 2010
  4. DPA, "UN official: Gilo expansion threatens Middle East peace", Haaretz, 24 November 2009
  5. UN New Centre, "Ban deplores Israeli decision to expand Jerusalem settlement", UN News Centre, 17 November 2009
  6. Leigh Phillips, "EU rebukes Israel for Jerusalem settlement expansion", EU Observer, 19 November 2009
  7. Victor Kattan, "The US-Israel Standoff over Settlements", Jurist, 7 April 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 "How I became an "Unconscious Facist", Mideast Outpost, accessed on 16 October 2010
  9. Fiamma Nirenstein, "The Left Is Now Rethinking: Enough Mud on Israel", Fiamma Nirenstein website, 9 June 2010, accessed on 16 October 2010
  10. 10.0 10.1 Fiamma Nirenstein, "Fiamma Nirenstein at the WJC Governing Board", World Jewish Congress, 1 September 2010
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Fiamma Nirenstein Speech, World Jewish Congress, 1 September 2010, accessed 16 October 2010
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Fiamma Nirenstein, "The Left Is Now Rethinking: Enough Mud on Israel", Fiamma Nirenstein website, 9 June 2010, accessed on 16 October 2010
  13. UN Human Rights Council, "Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance"), OHCHR, 27 September 2010, accessed on 18 October 2010
  14. Fiamma Nirenstein, "The disappearance of human rights and the advent of Palestinism", Fiamma Nirenstein website, 9 October 2009, accessed on 18 October 2010
  15. 15.0 15.1 Ian Williams, "The NS Interview: Richard Goldstone", New Statesman, 30 December 2009
  16. 16.0 16.1 Fiamma Nirenstein, "But religion has nothing to do with it: minarets are political symbols", Fiamma Nirenstein website, 3 December 2009, accessed on 18 October 2010
  17. NICK CUMMING-BRUCE and STEVEN ERLANGER, "Swiss Ban Building of Minarets on Mosques", New York Times, 29 November 2009, accessed on 18 October 2010
  18. Fiamma Nirenstein, "Iranian Revolutionary Guards Must Be Included in EU List of Terrorist Organizations", Hudson New York, 17 May 2010, accessed on 18 October 2010
  19. Flickr, "caspian fiamma parliament", Flickr, accessed on 1 November 2010
  20. Iason Athanasiadis, "Setting the record straight on Caspian Makan", Global Post, 4 April 2010
  21. Italian Parliament, "Reports of the Executive and Committees", Italian Parliament website (English translation), 18 March 2010, accessed on 1 November 2010
  22. Batsheva Sobelman, ["ISRAEL: Iranian exile linked to Neda meets with President Shimon Peres"], LA Times Blog, 23 March 2010
  23. Democracy and Security Conference, List of Participants, Accessed 25-February-2009
  24. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Our Key People, Accessed, 12 September 2007
  25. Fiamma Nirenstein Global Forum contro l'Antisemitismo, accessed 8 August 2010
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 NGO Monitor Fiamma Nirenstein, accessed 8 August 2010
  27. NGO Monitor International Advisory Board Profiles, accessed 8 August 2010
  28. Text of Conference Invite Email