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Jews in Italy call for ban of pro-Palestinian rallies on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Contoversy over pro-Palestinian marches scheduled in Rome and Milan.

Jewish leaders in Rome and Milan have called on the Italian government to ban pro-Palestinian rallies planned on Saturday 27 January, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The president of Rome's Jewish community, Victor Fadlun, said the "anti-Semitic march" would be a "defeat for everyone" if it goes ahead, claiming that it would "reopen the wound of the Holocaust" and be a risk to "public order and security".

Organised by the Movement of Palestinian students in Italy, the "Stop the genocide against the people of Palestine" rally is scheduled to start in Piazza Vittorio at 15.00 before making its way to Piazza S. Giovanni.

Fadlun said it is "inexplicable" how the march was authorised in the first place, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, particularly "in the context of 7 October, an anti-Semitic massacre the likes of which had not been seen since Nazi times."

In the poster publicising the pro-Palestinian rally, organisers published a quotation by Holocaust survivor and author Primo Levi from his memoir If This Is a Man: "If understanding is impossible, knowing is imperative, because what happened could happen again. Consciences can be seduced and obscured again: even our own."

In a statement, organisers said the rally aims to "expose all the inconsistencies and hypocrisies" of a system that "beats its chest for the victims of a genocide that has already occurred while turning its indifferent and complicit gaze away from an ongoing genocide."

"We deeply respect the victims of the Holocaust" - the statement concludes - "but 27 January, as it is structured, is the tomb of truth, justice and coherence."

Noemi Di Segni, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), hit back at the rally's organisers, saying: "Leave Primo Levi to our memory. Have the dignity to express your thoughts without offending the memory of the survivors and look for quotations elsewhere."

The president of Milan's Jewish community, Walker Meghnagi, has also called on authorities to ban a pro-Palestinian march planned in the northern Italian city on 27 January.

Describing it as "a disturbing initiative", Meghnagi claimed that the rally's organisers include "associations whose symbol is a map without Israel, a clear genocidal programme."

Cover image: Demostrators wave Palestinian flags during a rally in Milan on 18 November 2023. Photo credit: pcruciatti / Shutterstock.com.

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