ROME (JTA) — Rome’s mayor and provincial president shopped at Jewish-owned stores after a trade union called for a boycott of Jewish merchants to protest the Gaza Strip war.
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 flyer, and Flaica-CUB chief Giancarlo Desiderati told newspapers that a list of shops was being drawn up. He later backpedalled, telling reporters that the boycott was only aimed at Israeli-made goods.
"It’s an idea that has an undeniable anti-Semitic flavor and that recalls the darkest pages of our history," Nicola Zingaretti, Rome’s provincial president, 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 stores in another neighborhood, and expressed "firm and intransigent condemnation" for the boycott call. Alemanno 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.
The President of Lazio Region, where Rome is located, held a solidarity meeting with Jewish leaders Friday. Piero Marrazzo 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 the dream was that Israelis and Palestinians may one day live side by side in two states, but "you don’t get there by boycotting Jewish-owned shops."