Milan pro-Israel event to be held despite protests

ROME (JTA) — A 10-day exhibition celebrating Israel will go ahead as planned in downtown Milan despite protests from pro-Palestinian activists.

Milan city  authorities on Tuesday confirmed that the exhibition, called "Unexpected Israel," will take place June 12-23 in the piazza outside Milan’s cathedral and will not be moved to another location for security reasons as had been suggested earlier in the week.

"Unexpected Israel," to be mounted in a pavilion as part of a broader Tourism Week initiative, will include concerts, exhibits, readings, discussions and other activities showcasing Israeli creativity and innovation.  

Pro-Palestinian activists had launched a protest and Internet campaign against  what they called "an Israeli occupation of Milan" and promised demonstrations against it, including a protest called for June 18.

Some 250 Milan Jewish  intellectuals and cultural figures had written an open letter to the city urging  the exhibition to take place as planned and not give in to extremists.

In a similar statement, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities and  the president of the Milan Jewish community said that "Civilization does not bow its head before threats but, on the contrary, reinforces its determination to  demand from all respect for legality, for freedom and, in this case, respect for a country that is a friend of Italy, that is, Israel."

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