Italian police have refused to handle security for an Israeli exhibit at a central Milan square next week due to threats of violence by Palestinian activists, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.
The exhibit, set to take place at Piazza Duomo, has been planned in honor of 'Israel Week' in the city. It includes 15 towers showcasing Israeli culture, technology, agriculture, economics, and art "to present the unfamiliar Israel".
But pro-Palestinian organizations are threatening to target the exhibit. Over the past few days the groups have been urging internet users to sign a petition to cancel the exhibit.
Web posters issued by the groups threaten to "ignite the city" and say, "No to Israeli occupation of Milano".
It seems that the problems have been solved, and the ten day festival is staring today. From Time, translating an article at La Stampa:
"Unexpected Israel," an exhibition celebrating Israel, will go ahead as planned in Milan's central Duomo piazza, despite protests from pro-Palestinian activists. Milan authorities have confirmed the location of the biggest Israeli cultural event ever organized abroad, set to take place June 13-23.
Pro-Palestinian activists have posted an online plea against the event, and have threatened to organize a rally against it on June 18. "We do not want Milan to become the stage for Zionist imperialism's propaganda," they wrote.
Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, and Roberto Jarach, president of the Milan Jewish community, responded in a joint statement: "Giving up under threat would be a political victory for those who bring prejudice and hate."
After meeting a representative of the mayor, the pro-Palestinian activists said in a statement that they claim their right "to peacefully question and expose this whitewashing operation of Israeli politics." Opening next Monday, Unexpected Israel will exhibit an installation consisting of 15 columns and 15 monitors, which will be placed in Duomo's vast square to illustrate Israel's diverse realities. On June 14, there will be an Italo-Israeli business-forum. On June 15, writer Davis Grossman will talk in the Teatro Nuovo, while the singer Noa will perform in concert. The main exhibitions will be hosted in a 900-square-meter pavilion.
[Mayor] Pisapia, who just came into office as the city's first center-left mayor in 20 years, had the last word. "Milan is an open and hospital city for everyone. It cannot be the place to reproduce a fight that for too long has not been solved peacefully," he said. "Milan is a sister city of Tel Aviv and Bethlehem, and it must continue being a meeting point for cultures and peoples."