Monday, November 11, 2013

Berlusconi says his family feels “like Jews under Hitler”

So, now it’s definitely proved: Berlusconi physically can’t stay too long without saying something unbelievably stupid and absurd, something that can make the headlines all around the world and make me feel like never leaving the house again.
I am little late in publishing this, but it still is worth mentioning.
Four days ago, Silvio Berlusconi shocked the whole world by claiming that he is so persecuted that his kids “feel like Jews under Hitler”, because of the Italian judiciary that “persecutes” him even if he is innocent, and that makes his family feel like “the whole world is against them”.

Berlusconi with his family

Apart from the completely inappropriate remark, the sad thing is that it was not his first one. He had already claimed that Mussolini “never killed anyone” because he just “sent people on holiday”, and that the racial laws were “Mussolini’s only fault” (see
Now, I am trying to imagine what would happen here in the UK if a politician, any politician, said something of that sort. I can already picture the criticizing headlines of all newspapers and the condemning speeches of all party leaders, not to mention the critics from the public.  Yet, in Italy, even the Jewish community did not react as strongly as we would expect it to do elsewhere.
It’s so depressing to see that in Italy we became so unresponsive that we will be able to forget even this new outrage. Lately, I got really mad when I saw plenty of people on Facebook angrily protesting against a tax increase on beer but closing both eyes on any other thing. Should I deduce that it is more insulting to levy a tax on beer than to compare one’s trials with the Holocaust?

Honestly, what kind of a country does that make us? Maybe we just deserve our political class, after all. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

The New York Times: "Italy breaks your heart"- it certainly breaks mine

Over the last days, an article published by The New York Times titled “Italy breaks your heart” has gone viral on social networks in Italy.
I read the whole article and found it sadly realistic. However, the part that struck me the most is the following:

“Italy is what happens when a country knows full well what its problems are but can’t summon the discipline and will to fix them. It’s what happens when political dysfunction grinds on and on and good governance becomes a mirage, a myth, a joke. [...] There’s so much beauty and promise here, and so much waste. Italy breaks your heart.”

And it’s so true: Italy does break my heart.

It breaks my heart a little every time that, during a Politics lecture, Italy comes up as the bad example for any single issue (media, electoral system, government stability- you name it, Italy is a bad example).
It breaks my heart when I open the webpage of the BBC and I find headlines regarding Berlusconi’s trials, or a government crisis, or yet another corruption scandal. Not to mention the heartbreak when I turn to Italian newspapers.
It breaks my heart when I suddenly feel homesick and I wish I could be there to enjoy the good food and the sun, but then I realise that, even when I do go back, I feel like leaving after two days because I can’t even stand to watch a whole news bulletin without getting a stomach ache.
It breaks my heart when I see pictures of beautiful cities like Florence, Venice or Rome, and I feel a surge of pride, but then I think that all those wonderful places would deserve a better country.
And, above all, it really, deeply, truly breaks my heart when people question me on the defensive “So you really don’t want to move back here?”, as if I were just being difficult and as if it were easy for me to be away from my friends and family.
I realise that this is just another nostalgic rant from an expat. But The New York Times managed to capture in one sentence exactly what watching Italy sink does to you: it breaks your heart. And as popular wisdom has it, it takes time to mend a broken heart.