An anti-American, anti-Israel demonstration in Rome backfired badly last Saturday, The Jerusalem Post reports.
Three cloth mannequins draped with an Israeli, a US and an Italian flag were publicly set on fire in front of Rome’s central monument to the Unknown Soldier on Saturday, while a chorus of “10, 100, 1000 Nassariyahs” (referring to an Iraqi suicide attack in which Italian soldiers were killed) were chanted. Public outrage over this profanation of Italian patriotic feelings and pathos for the young volunteers who had paid with their lives was extended to the US and Israeli effigies, linking them in public perception against extremism.
The rally, attended by about 20,000 and organized by the small Communist party (PDCI) together with the Forum for Palestine and the extreme Left’s social youth movement, took place in Rome simultaneously with a much larger and more mainstream demonstration in Milan for “Two Peoples, Two States.” All coalition parties, represented by their political leaders (including Fausto Bertinotti, leader of the “Re-established Communist Party” and Speaker of the Senate), major Italian NGOs and unions participated in the Milan event whose turnout was estimated at 50,000.
Prime Minister Romano Prodi has called to task the Communist leader Oliviero Diliberto for having attended the Rome rally while fully aware of the extremist elements attached to his parade.
Diliberto, a long-time sympathizer and friend of Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, marched up to Piazza Venezia but left in protest when masked and keffiyeh-wearing Palestinian Forum participants began the bonfire. The Israeli mannequin’s helmet was marked “Nazi-Zionism.”
“They are harming the Palestinian cause,” Diliberto later exclaimed, but his excuses did not prevent the prime minister from deprecating his “last minute disassociation” and accusing him of “playing populist games.”
“One simply must not participate in certain rallies,” Prodi admonished.
A hard-learned lesson for many.