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Rome’s Jews Concerned After Protestors Fight Jewish Youth

February 3, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Leaders of the Jewish community here have requested an urgent meeting with Interior Minister Amintore Fanfani following fist fights between young Jews and pro-Palestinian leftists outside the main synagogue in the historic ghetto here Saturday evening.

Six people were injured before police broke up the melee.

The Jewish community has charged that the leftists deliberately entered the ghetto after a march and mass rally for the Palestinian cause in downtown Rome.

The rally, sponsored by the ultra-left Proletarian Democracy Party, drew more than 8,000 people from all over Italy. The party secretary, Giovanni Russo Spena, said his people entered the ghetto by mistake on their way to their buses and were set upon by Jewish youths.

The party issued a statement later saying it opposed all forms of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism had no part in the spirit of the rally.

According to a communique issued by the Jewish community, about 30 leftist demonstrators gathered at the main synagogue at about 7:30 p.m., some 90 minutes after the rally had ended. Some wore kaffiyehs, the traditional Arab headdress, and carried Palestinian flags. They shouted pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic slogans.

The statement said this deliberate anti-Semitic provocation led to the fight with Jewish youth.

Rome’s Jews are especially sensitive and protective of the ghetto area since a terrorist machine gun and grenade attack on the main synagogue in 1982 that left a 2-year-old Jewish child dead.

They are concerned now over an anti-Semitic backlash in Italy because of the measures Israeli troops have taken to quell disturbances in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Tullia Zevi, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, has held several meetings on this subject in recent weeks with leaders of Italy’s major political parties.

Some leftist parties have been extremely vocal in support of the Palestinians. Communist Party leader Alessandro Natta visited Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat in Tunis last week. But the Communists have assured Zevi that they share her concern over renewed anti-Semitism in Italy and will help fight it.

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