Milan probes death threat to Jews at nightclub, dozens of antisemitic incidents

‘Jews to death, rats we are coming to get you in your sewers,’ and ‘Nazi Jews you will pay’ scrawled on bathroom wall; Jewish community on high alert amid Israel-Hamas war

A protester sets the Israeli flag on fire during a pro-Palestinian rally in Milan, Italy, on October 21, 2023. (Piero CRUCIATTI/AFP)
A protester sets the Israeli flag on fire during a pro-Palestinian rally in Milan, Italy, on October 21, 2023. (Piero CRUCIATTI/AFP)

Italian officials are reportedly investigating dozens of antisemitic incidents in Milan tied to the Israel-Hamas war, including one in the bathroom of a nightclub that called for killing Jews.

Messages translated in Italian media to “Jews to death, rats we are coming to get you in your sewers” and “Nazi Jews you will pay,” accompanied by drawings of Arabic crescents and crossed-out Stars of David, were reportedly found in the Bande Nere club in Milan’s former Jewish Quarter on Friday.

“There is a tense and hate-filled atmosphere in the neighborhood that affects everyone,” said one employee at Bande Nere, which is not under Jewish management. Another told Il Giornale, “For now, it’s just writing on the walls, but who can guarantee that something even more serious might not happen tomorrow?”

Local Jewish communal institutions, as they have been throughout the continent since Hamas’s devastating incursion in Israel on October 7, are on high alert in Milan, which is home to around 10,000 Jews — the second-largest community in Italy after Rome. Groups have issued guidelines to individuals and families, advising them to remain vigilant and to not linger in public places for long.

Almost half of parents with children at the Hebrew School of Milan, which has 500 students, had kept them at home immediately after Hamas’s massacre. But the school’s principal, Marco Camerini, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper on Friday that “attendance is back to regular.”

Walker Meghnagi, president of the Jewish Community of Milan, lost a granddaughter in the October 7 onslaught. Having just returned from Tel Aviv, he has emphasized maintaining a sense of calm.

“The Community of Milan continues to live quietly as it has always done, keeping its guard up… I can confirm that we have not, and I have not received any threats related to what is happening in Israel; we have no reason to worry. And above all, we do not engage in politics,” he told La Reppublica.

Tensions were palpable during a demonstration in Milan on Saturday, where approximately 4,000 protesters rallied in support of the Palestinian cause. Some chanted “Open the borders so we can kill the Zionists,” La Reppublica reported, and some held signs with the image of Anne Frank wearing a keffiyeh, or Arabic scarf.

Responding to the rally, Meghnagi said: “In Milan, for now, there are no problems; let’s hope it goes on like this; let’s think about what is happening in Israel instead.”

There has been a spike in reported antisemitic incidents around the world since Hamas’s brutal assault, in which terrorists slaughtered over 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and took at least 220 hostages in Gaza.

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