As violence escalates in Gaza, Gianni Vattimo also called on Europeans to club together to buy Hamas, the Palestinian militant Islamist organization, “better weapons”.
The former member of the European Parliament made the remarks on Italy’s Radio 24 but they were soon picked up by Israeli media, including Haaretz and i24 News.
In response to whether he would like to see more Israelis killed Vattimo, who co-edited a booked called Deconstructing Zionism. A Critique of Political Metaphysics, replied: “Of course! But unfortunately, I can’t really shoot”, due to being exempt from military service.
He also said Europeans should get together to fight along with Hamas, akin to the foreign volunteers who fought dictator Francisco Franco Bahamonde during the Spanish Civil War.
His comments sparked condemnation in Italy, with Renzo Gattegna, the leader of Italy’s Union of Jewish communities, saying in a statement that Vattimo’s words were “unacceptable” and “a mixture of the most heinous allegations” against Israel.
Rabbi Barbara Aiello, Italy's first female rabbi, told The Local that “anti-Israeli sentiment is anti-semitism dressed up in fancy clothes”.
“Imagine if what is said about Jews was said about Italians. For example: ‘I don't object to Italians I just don't believe that Italy has a right to exist!"
“Anti-Israeli sentiment makes about as much sense.”
Stefano Jesurum, a Milan council member representing the city’s Jewish community, was cited on i24 News as saying, ““Either Vattimo is completely nuts, or he was speaking in bad faith.
“I refuse to believe that a well-educated European, a scholar, can see any parallel between Israel and Spain under Franco’s regime. The debate was always tense in Italy, but in the past it used to be about ideology; now it’s more of an issue of psychiatric disorders.”
Vattimo was unavailable for comment when contacted by The Local.
Meanwhile, an investigation is underway in Germany after Muslim Sheikh Abu Bilal Ismail called for “the annihilation of Jews” during a sermon at Berlin’s Al-Nur Mosque on Friday.
The furore comes as foreign ministers for Italy, France and Germany condemned anti-Semitic slurs and violence at pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Europe and pledged to take firm action.