It's not every day that a contributor to our newspaper gets elected to parliament, but that is what happened this week to Fiamma Nirenstein, who will become a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies following the landslide victory of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party. Ms. Nirenstein has written for our pages and for another New York-based publication, Commentary, from Israel and from the West Bank and Gaza about the struggle for freedom and democracy and security in the Middle East. Now she will have the chance to affect policy in Rome and Europe through more than her writing.
In the course of the campaign she endured anti-Semitic vitriol. The Anti-Defamation League rebuked a communist newspaper that ran a cartoon depicting her as "Fiamma Frankenstein" with a Star of David, a campaign button, and a fascist insignia. The voters did not fall for that, though; the communists won not a single seat in either house of the Parliament, for the first time since the end of World War II. When we reached Ms. Nirenstein by telephone yesterday to offer her our congratulations, she was upbeat, not only because of the result in Italy, but of the promise it held for Europe, which, in France, Germany, and now Italy, has installed a series of more pro-American leaders. "It's a little signal, but it is a signal of change," she said of her own election.
This is, among other things, a part of the vindication of President Bush, who has been derided for supposedly poisoning our foreign relations only to have one after another pro-American leader accede on the Continent. On top of that, Mr. Berlusconi has said he plans to make his first foreign trip as prime minister to Israel to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish state, and Ms. Nirenstein has offered to accompany him. It would almost certainly be the first time an Italian prime minister visited Israel accompanied by a Hebrew-speaking member of parliament from his own party. Meanwhile, those pessimists who describe Europe as slouching irreparably toward Eurabia — well, let them meet the Honorable Nirenstein.