Rabin Making Trip to Rome to Discuss Racism in Europe

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin arrived in Rome on Sunday for a two-day official visit, during which he planned to discuss the rise of racism and anti-Semitism in Europe with Italian leaders and members of the Italian Jewish community.

The first item on his crowded agenda was a ceremony, hosted by Foreign Minister Emilio Colombo, in honor of four Italians who helped Jews immigrate clandestinely to Palestine after World War II.

In addition to talks with Colombo and Jewish community leaders, Rabin was scheduled to meet with President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, Defense Minister Salvatore Ando and other political leaders.

He was to lay a wreath at the Fosse Ardeatine, the Ardeatine Pits, in memory of the 335 Romans including 73 Jews executed there by the Nazis on March 24, 1944 in reprisal for a partisan attack.

While in Rome, Rabin and his wife planned to take in some culture, with a gala concert at the opera Monday night and a visit Tuesday to ancient Roman ruins before his departure for London.

The Israeli Embassy said the visit, one of the few foreign trips since Rabin’s election last summer, “will contribute another important element in the development of good bilateral relations.”

It added, “Prime Minister Rabin wanted to dedicate a part of his visit to the very serious problems that we are witnessing recently in all of Europe, concerning the reappearance of anti-Semitism, Nazism and racism.

“It’s because of this that he wanted to pay homage to the innocent victims at the Fosse Ardeatine, as well as to express personally the recognition of the Israeli people to the Italians who right after the Holocaust helped Jewish survivors by assisting their emigration, at that time clandestine, to the land of Israel.”

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