Italian officials condemn Jewish boycott

ROME (JTA) — Rome’s mayor and provincial president went shopping at Jewish-owned stores after a trade union called for a boycott to protest Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Politicians across the spectrum condemned the boycott appeal by the Flaica-CUB union, a small, independent leftist union in the retail services and food sector, saying it was reminiscent of the Fascist era. The boycott call was announced in a flier and  Flaica-CUB chief Giancarlo Desiderati told newspapers that a list of shops was being drawn up.

"It’s an idea that has an undeniable anti-Semitic flavor and that recalls the darkest pages of our history," Provincial President Nicola Zingaretti said after meeting Jewish shopkeepers Thursday in the historic Ghetto neighborhood.

Mayor Gianni Alemanno, joined by Rome’s Jewish community president Riccardo Pacifici, bought two shirts and a tie from a Jewish-owned clothing store in another neighborhood and expressed "firm and intrasigent condemnation" for the boycott call. He recalled that such calls in the 1930s led to the imposition of Fascist-era anti-Semitic laws in 1938.

Numerous other politicians and mainstream union leaders also condemned the initiative, and Jewish leaders and shopkeepers expressed shock and dismay. Pacifici said the Jewish community was considering suing the union for instigating racial hatred.

Desiderati later pulled back, telling reporters that the boycott was only aimed at Israeli-made goods.

The president of Lazio Region (where Rome is located) held a solidarity meeting with Jewish leaders Friday. He stressed that Israel’s security was at issue and that beyond being a political group, "Hamas is a terrorist organization" that attacks Israel. He said it was a dream that Israelis and Palestinians can one day live side by side in two states, but "you don’t get there by boycotting Jewish-owned shops."

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