In Italy, April 25 marks the anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the Liberation from the Nazi-Fascist regime. The anniversary is celebrated every year with a national march in Milan, together with rallies in many Italian cities, paying tribute to all who fought for the freedom from tyranny. However, in the past few years, the events have been marred by controversies arising from the politicization of issues in the perspective of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Indeed, among those who fought for liberating Italy was the Jewish Brigade, a military formation of the British Army composed of Jews from Mandated Palestine. However, in the past years, its symbols and the people marching under the flag of the Jewish Brigade have been protested against and even harassed by pro-Palestinian activists. In Rome pro-Palestinian groups have been invited to the rally by the National Association of Italian Partisans (ANPI), the main organizer.
“Those who try to prevent the descendants and representatives of the Jewish Brigade the right to march in serenity and security, together with the Partisan Associations, fail in their mission and unequivocally forget history or are trying to change it. The same happens with those who, on behalf of all partisans are encouraged to attend groups and forces who not only ignore what happened but even use symbols and flags which at the time were at Hitler’s side in the project of annihilating the Jews,” commented the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities Noemi Di Segni, referring to choice of the ANPI in Rome. Di Segni also highlighted the importance of the anniversary of the Liberation, “Which reminds us of the centrality of the most precious value we were given, which has been with us for 70 years, thanks to the courage of those who opposed the dictatorship.”
The Jewish Community of Rome announced that they will not attend the march organized by the ANPI, but will organize an alternative rally. Also the representatives of the center left and ruling Democratic Party will join them, instead of attending the ANPI rally.
“We would like April 25 to once again be considered the celebration of all Italians who believe in the Constitution and in the principles of anti-fascism. For this reason, we invite everyone to our gathering,” said the president of the Jewish Community of Rome Ruth Dureghello.
In Milan, the leaders of the ANPI dissociated themselves from the decisions of the ANPI in Rome. The Jewish Community has just joined the organizing committee of the national march, and the representatives of the Jewish Brigade will join it.
In the meantime, the Italian Chamber of Deputies just approved the first reading of a bill to award the Jewish Brigade the Gold Medal for Military Valor.