ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 55

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From darkness to blue-white

Rome’s Arch of Titus lit up in tribute to Israel

Roman landmark celebrating ancient destruction of Jerusalem is colored blue and white to show solidarity in wake of brutal Hamas atrocities

Screen capture from video of the Arch of Titus in Rome lit up in blue and white to show solidarity with Israel, October 11, 2023. (X. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of the Arch of Titus in Rome lit up in blue and white to show solidarity with Israel, October 11, 2023. (X. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

JTA — When Rome lit up a landmark this week in blue and white following Hamas’s deadly invasion of southern Israel, it joined many other cities and countries across the globe that have bathed their most prominent buildings in the colors of the Israeli flag, including the White House, the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House.

The landmark Rome chose, however, isn’t its most iconic building, nor its biggest. But it does hold a special resonance for Jews.

The Arch of Titus, in the city’s historic center, was built nearly 2,000 years ago to celebrate the eponymous Roman general’s conquering of Jerusalem and destruction of its Holy Temple. Erected about eight years after the conflict, it shows the soon-to-be emperor leading a procession of Roman soldiers and captured Jews bearing the spoils of the temple, including its menorah.

On Tuesday night, the arch bore another Jewish symbol: an image of the flag of Israel projected onto its top. Beneath the arch, which usually requires a ticket for entry, a crowd gathered waving Israeli flags.

It’s not the first time that sympathy for Israel drew a crowd to the site: Days after the United Nations voted on November 29, 1947, to approve a plan for a Jewish state, Italian Jews made their way to the arch in celebration.

A similar scene to Tuesday’s played out in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate on Saturday night, just hours after the beginning of the attack that has killed and wounded thousands. Built in the late 18th century, the gate was draped with Nazi flags in 1933 after Adolf Hitler assumed power, and his stormtroopers marched and drove to it in chilling photos that were published worldwide, a presaging of 12 years of murderous fascism and genocide of the Jews.

On Saturday night, the gate was lit up with an image of the Israeli flag, and streaks of blue and white. “In solidarity with Israel,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz posted on X, along with the image.

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