Rome, May 30th, 2022 – Twelve government ministers, including the Foreign Minister of Italy, Luigi Di Maio and the President of the Italian Senate, Elisabetta Alberti Casellati took part in a unique dedication ceremony of a new playground for children at Parco Yitzhak Rabin in central Rome on Thursday evening as ECI’s Founding Director Tomas Sandell spoke alongside government ministers and the Mayor of Rome. The ceremony took place just three days before the 55th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
In their speeches both Sandell and Israeli Ambassador Dror Eydar emphasized the central role of Yitzhak Rabin as the Chief of Staff of the Israeli armed forces in the Six-Day War which led to the reunification of Jerusalem. Sandell noted that Rabin was at the same time a war hero and a man of peace. His efforts to reach out to the Palestinians for peace resulting in the Oslo Accords were duly recognised when he in 1994 received the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
Having marked the 102nd anniversary of the San Remo Peace Conference just one month earlier in the north of Italy, Sandell reminded the audience of the longstanding connection between Italy and the Jewish people, stretching back more than two thousand years, but also about the special role which Italy played in the process which led to the rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948.
This connection was recognised by the Italian Prime Minister at the time of the 100th anniversary of the Peace Conference in 2020, Giuseppe Conte, who in a letter to European Coalition for Israel wrote, “One of the seeds of what would later become the iconic Israeli olive tree was planted in Italian soil in San Remo in 1920”.
The dedication ceremony was hosted by the Israeli Embassy to Italy and the European Coalition for Israel and concluded with the official opening of the playground together with the Mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. Other speakers included the Head of the Jewish Community in Italy, Noemi Di Segni. In the audience, apart from the ministers from the current centre-left government, were the party leader of Lega, Matteo Salvini and the main opposition leader Giorgia Meloni, thus illustrating the broad support for Israel among the political establishment in Italy, irrespectively of political persuasions.
Earlier in the day Tomas Sandell had met with the Italian coordinator in the combat against antisemitism, Professor Milena Santerini who promised her support for the work of ECI to foster Jewish life and combat antisemitism at the European Union and the United Nations as well as the plans for a Jewish Culture week in the north of Italy.