Despite protests from Jews and left-wing politicians, Rome’s leftist mayor remains determined to rename a street after a top official in Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s government.
Mayor Francesco Rutelli has defended wanting to name the street after former Education Minister Giuseppe Bottai, who signed laws ordering Jews out of Italy’s schools, as a way for Italians to come to terms with their Fascist past.
The Italian Zionist Federation, the Evangelical Churches in Italy, Italian Jewish communities, B’nai B’rith and the Simon Wiesenthal Center are among those denouncing the idea.
The Wiesenthal Center also protested the Vatican’s endorsement of the plan. Bottai’s son is the Italian ambassador to the Vatican.
But Rome’s top rabbi, Elio Toaff, said naming the street was of minimal importance. “Street names come and go with great ease, and I know Rutelli too well to think this represents a tendency towards fascism,” the rabbi said.