MILAN – Keshet withdraws from Pride events: “Isolated and excluded, we call for dialogue”

For the first time in ten years, the flags of Keshet Italia, the organization representing Italian LGBTQ+ Jews, did not fly at the Pride events in Rome and Milan. “The decision not to participate was difficult, but necessary. The atmosphere within the movement has become unbearable for us, and we wanted to send a clear signal: change is needed. Given the numerous reactions and media attention, we are convinced we made the right choice,” the president of Keshet, Raffaele Sabbadini, said to Pagine Ebraiche.
After October 7, the climate of hostility towards Israel and the Jewish world deeply affected the Italian LGBT community. There were attacks, insults, and in some cases outright censorships. At the Pride event in Bergamo, organizers wrote that they did not want “Israeli flags or any symbols related to the State of Israel on display.” “This is true discrimination. It is unacceptable, especially within a movement priding itself on being inclusive,” remarked Sabbadini.” “We have felt isolated and excluded, muck like the entire Jewish community since October 7.” This led to the decision not to participate in any Pride events in Italy. “We cannot ignore what is happening, but our goal is not to splinter the movement. Instead, we want to initiate a dialogue to overcome this situation. If part of the movement feels attacked and in danger, it hurts us all.”
In Milan, a press conference was organized in solidarity with Keshet Italy. Various association and political parties were present, along with the Jewish Community of Milan and the reform congregation Lev Chadash. According to Davide Blei, communication manager of the Jewish Community, the situation in Italy is increasingly concerning. An explicit attack “to Jewish symbols and Jewish culture” is underway, he denounced in a message. In Milan for example, he noted, it was impossible to “safely hold a concert of Jewish music at the Parenti theater.”
Regarding this atmosphere, Blei and community leaders expressed strong criticisms of the municipality and Mayor Beppe Sala. “There have been too many ambiguities, such as the approval by the City Council of the motion for the recognition of the Palestinian state. An initiative useful only to divide and fuel attacks,” Blei said to Pagine Ebraiche. There have been no recent contacts with Sala and his administration. “We are always open to dialogue, but for now, there has been no input. The right conditions are needed for a discussion.” A similar assessment applies to the LGBT community, according to Sabbadini. “The priority should be to openly discuss and confront issues. I am optimistic. I’ve seen changes within our movement. It will take time, but we cannot afford isolation.”