Holocaust and Jenin Refugee Camp Link Draws Ire at Italian Memorial

Northern city of Magenta forced to remove exhibit of drawings by Palestinian children from program.

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The Jenin refugee camp.
The Jenin refugee camp.Credit: Miki Kratsman

An Italian city's annual Holocaust Memorial has drawn ire after part of its program drew a connection between the Holocaust and a Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin.

The dispute led the city of Magenta, located half an hour west of Milan, to remove a planned exhibit of drawings by Palestinian children from the program.

The main square of the city of Magenta, Italy, in March 2007.Credit: Russelljtdyer/Wikimedia Commons

The town’s annual Holocaust Memorial, set for January 21-28, had planned to host a photo exhibit dedicated to Palestinian children in Jenin. The January 26 exhibit, “The Dream of Freedom,” was set to include a collection of drawings made by Palestinian kids there.

On the Holocaust Memorial's official poster, the exhibit was described as “The Shoah of Yesterday and of Today.”

The title prompted a member of the Italian parliament’s chamber of deputies, Emanuele Fiano, to write a letter of protest to Giammarco Invernizzi, the mayor of Magenta.

“I don’t understand the comparison between the kids of Gaza with the Holocaust,” Fiano wrote, adding, “I will never accept the comparison between the genocide committed by the Nazis and the Fascists in World War II with the dramatic outcomes of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

“It is our job to explain the unique characteristics of each historical event without comparing events that have nothing in common.”

Fiano, a member of the center-left Democratic Party of Italy, emphasized the importance of distinguishing the the Holocaust and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, “given the most recent violent Islamic terroristic attacks in Europe.”

In response to the letter, Invernizzi apologized, saying that the Holocaust and the Israel-Palestinian conflict were unrelated, and took the exhibit on Palestinian children off the Holocaust memorial schedule. He did not say when or whether the exhibit would be displayed.