"I would like him to say something about these inferences of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel (remarks)," she said.
With unemployment climbing, nearly daily revelations of political corruption and austerity measures eating away at family income, foreign policy got virtually no airing in the campaign.
The concerns being raised abroad about Grillo's anti-Semitic comments have gotten scant attention in the mainstream media.
Turin daily La Stampa became one of the few newspapers to examine the issue with an article this week headlined "American Jews in alarm: anti-Semites among the 5-Star" supporters. It cited the conservative publication American Thinker's warning that "dangerous times" lie ahead for Europe if a "Clown hates the Jews" — a reference to Grillo.
Asked why Italian society seems unperturbed by suspicions of anti-Semitism swirling about Grillo, Palmieri-Billig replied that it might be because "there is a section of Italian public opinion that follows this line (of) stereotypical conditioning."
Grillo's 5-Star lawmakers are all neophytes to politics, with such fresh faces as a 25-year-old unemployed Neapolitan woman who studied theater. By a show of hands, the Movement's lawmakers selected as their whip for the Chamber of Deputies a young Roman woman who in a blog posting a few weeks ago praised Benito Mussolini's fascist rule, saying it showed a "very high sense of state and protection for families."
"The whip praises 'good' fascism,'" Rome daily La Repubblica wrote in a headline on Tuesday. That same day, the whip, Roberta Lombardi, contended that her words about fascism were taken out of "historical context."
Only a few days after that January posting, Berlusconi, trying for a comeback in the election, drew outrage when he said on the sidelines of a Holocaust commemoration ceremony that, apart for Mussolini's anti-Jewish laws, the dictator accomplished "good things."
"There has been a revival of legitimization of neo-fascist ideas," said Palmieri-Billig. "And there's been a lessening of the taboo of anti-Semitism and racism."
AP writer Verena Dobnik contributed from New York.
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