ROME (Jun. 6)
Strong police units guarded today all approaches to the midtown district of the former Jewish ghetto in Rome as an aftermath to two days of violent clashes between neo-fascists and Jews in which two Jews and seven Rightists were wounded.
Four Jews were arrested in the first clashes on Monday and one was still under arrest today. None of the members of the Movimento Sociale Italiano were arrested. The disorders erupted when Rightist campaigners in Rome’s hard-fought election campaign came into the Jewish area. Jewish community leaders said that the neo-fascist propaganda in the ghetto section was clearly provocatory.
Witnesses said the Rightists shouted anti-Semitic slogans and that a shot was fired from one of the campaign cars which came into the Jewish section. Angry Jews attacked and mauled the campaigners.
Last night, another file of right wing election cars were driven past the main synagogue and occupants showered stones on the building. The wounding of the two Jews occurred in a clash at that time. Police planned special protection for the synagogue until after the municipal elections are held Sunday.
Dr. Elio Toaff, Chief Rabbi of Rome, issued the following statement in the name of the Rome Jewish community:
“After all that Jews, and especially Rome’s Jews, suffered from Nazism and Fasism, any provocation would inevitably result in a violent reaction. The events yesterday proved it again and it is only due to the tact of the police force and its efficiency and the moderating action of Jewish community officials that no worse incidents occurred. The Jews of Rome want only to be left in peace and to dedicate themselves to their occupations. The best way to achieve this is to avoid vexing contacts.”
The area of the clashes is a lower middle class district which was once the compulsory dwelling place of Rome’s Jews. About a third of Rome’s 12,000 Jews live in the old ghetto.