Mussolini's Daughter Says World Should 'Beg Forgiveness' From Israel

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:14 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - The granddaughter of Italy's World War II dictator, Benito Mussolini, said the whole world should "beg forgiveness" from Israel.

Alessandra Mussolini is a member of parliament in the National Alliance party, which is headed by Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini, who is currently in Israel on a four-day official visit.

Fini, in a 1994 interview with the Italian paper La Stamp a, touted dictator Mussolini as "the greatest statesman of the century," but he has since withdrawn those comments.

Fini, who visited the Yad V'Shem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on Monday, has said he plans to ask forgiveness of the Jewish people while he is in Israel.

Alessandra, who has in the past praised her grandfather, has also softened.

"Not only Gianfranco Fini, but the entire world, including the Vatican and the pope, should beg forgiveness of Israel," Alessandra was quoted as saying in an interview in the daily Ha'aretz .

Fini's party was once a neo-fascist faction but has shifted directions in recent years. Some predict that Fini will be Italy's next prime minister.

Fini's visit follows Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to Rome last week where he met with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is also the current head of the European Union .

Berlusconi and Fini are two of the few European leaders who support Israel's construction of a security barrier, which has caused some friction between Israel and Washington.

Berlusconi and Fini have both strongly denounced anti-Semitism in Europe, particularly the findings of a recent EU poll, in which 59 percent of respondents said they believed Israel is a threat to world peace, ahead of Iran and North Korea.

In related Italian development, politicians, priests, nuns and others joined Italy's small Jewish community for Sabbath services in synagogues across the country on Saturday in a show of solidarity following the suicide terrorist attacks on two synagogues last week in Istanbul.