LIBERATION DAY – Celebrations overshadowed
by Pro-Palestinian protests

As Italy marked the 79th anniversary of its liberation from Nazi occupation and fascist rule on April 25, celebrations were overshadowed by pro-Palestinian protests, media controversies and occasional clashes between police and pro-Palestinian groups who voiced outrage at Israel’s actions in Gaza. In Milan, the Jewish Brigade’s standard, a symbol of Jewish participation in Italy’s liberation from Nazi-Fascism, was again paraded proudly. “It reminds us that our place is here,” emphasized UCEI Vice President Milo Hasbani. “Unfortunately, we are not experiencing April 25th as it should be: a national holiday,” he added.
Controversy arose over the National Association of Italian Partisans’ (ANPI) choice of the slogan “ceasefire everywhere,” which led the Jewish Community of Milan to forego official participation in the parade for the first time. Several members still attended, but only in a personal capacity. There was the traditional banner of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement: “From the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising to Today, Now and Always Resistance.”
As in past years, the atmosphere was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protests. A small group, gathered on Corso Venezia – the march’s starting point – hurling insults at those who parading with the Jewish Brigade, the British Army formation of Jewish recruits from Mandatory Palestine, and those carrying concentration camps symbols. Another, larger group of pro-Palestinian protesters tried to occupy Piazza del Duomo, where official speeches were held.
High-tension also marked April 25 celebrations in Rome. Pro-Palestinian and antagonistic groups threatened the memorial ceremony for the Jewish Brigade at Porta San Paolo with insults and intimidation. Jewish Community President Victor Fadlun denounced that “some even resorted to throwing objects and paper bombs.”
After laying a wreath with Rome’s Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni and UCEI President Noemi Di Segni in memory of the Jewish Brigade heroes, Fadlun expressed regret. “We live under protection, attempting to continue living a normal life,” he said. “Even today we had to demonstrate under escort, simply to remember the outstanding contribution of testimony and militancy of the Jewish people in resisting Nazi-Fascism 80 years ago.” A large contingent of police in riot gear separated those gathered to honour history from those who sought to exploit it.
As for many years now, the institutions of Italian and Roman Jewry opted out of the ANPI’s city parade, which was filled with Palestinian flags. Instead, they gathered at the Liberation History Museum on via Tasso where an oratorical marathon promoted by Radio Radicale was held, featuring speeches by Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri and Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, among others. “In the name of freedom, we cannot give a platform to just anyone, especially those who spread lies and misinformation,” said the UCEI president. Di Segni accused the ANPI of failing to uphold Remembrance, “juxtaposing the Resistance with entirely different movements.” She then criticized the left for being “forgetful” and condemned the “grave responsibilities of the right wing that does not have the courage to confront its own history.”